How much progress have we ACTUALLY made?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Dutch Williams, May 8, 2021.

  1. Dutch Williams

    Dutch Williams Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2021
    IMG_0957-1.jpeg IMG_0958.jpeg so just picked up two NOS strings .. thanks @as606 !!!

    Pirastro WONDERTONE (how's that for a ~r e t r o~ name) G
    Thomastik "Precision Steel" A

    (they both came with a couple String Protectors!!! - apparently fitting over/around the bridge string groove - anyone have any info on these? they seem to have gone by the by ... )

    and they feel/sound like .... NEW .... strings ....

    not retro or vintage or ...

    maybe we've just made progress in "durability" and "longevity" ... we'll see how long these last ... and how they "break in" of course.

    interesting sidebar: the pirastro G first strung up was SUPER zingy, like unbearably so, I did the old string wipe down, about 50x til she was nice and hot and boom, zing gone. must've wiped whatever was on top of that string right off. dulled it out nicely.

    fyi got an obligato on D and old mittel (20 yrs) on E ...

    don't know what i was expecting exactly but i'm just .... surprised!

    and they're super great strings! shout out thomastik x pirastro ... as always ...

    ps would love ANY info any of you OG's have about these ...

    Hoyt and as606 like this.
  2. The name of the string migh have changed, but I'm pretty sure that the catalog number is still the same.
    The Thomastik Precision is a solid steel core string, probably rather bright. No idea about the Pirastro Wondertone, but might be a multi strand steel core like the Thomastik Superflexible.
    Hoyt and Dutch Williams like this.
  3. The Pirastro Wondertone was in fact the « Ultra-Sensitive » brand.
    They were replaced by Chromcors a few decades ago.
    Chromcors (bass) were discontinued one or two years ago.
    These strings, as well the Ultra-Sensitives, were using a solid steel core.
    Chromcors are still available for cellos, violas and violins though.
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
    Hoyt and Dutch Williams like this.
  4. Dutch Williams

    Dutch Williams Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2021
    Seems like the string package art has evolved more than the strings themselves ....
    Hoyt, james condino and kwd like this.
  5. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I would say that no manufacturers are developing solid steel core strings anymore so we've at least come that far...
  6. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    It certainly looks like rope/braided cores were the step change that made steel strings attractive to jazz bassists as the switch seems to coincide with Lycons and Spirocores appearing. Effective synthetic cores are another relatively recent development, though whether that's progress depends on whether the strings are to your taste.
    Dutch Williams, Hoyt and eerbrev like this.
  7. Thanks Francois, I did know the Chromcors, but not any earlier strings from Pirastro.
    Maybe with a small exception, but I found that out just a few years ago:
    Decades ago I got a small violone with unknown gut core strings. Got some NOS double bass strings that were Pirastro Gold which had the same silk colors, so now I know the violone strings were Pirastro Gold too. The DB strings were discontinued for a longer time but also the violone strings since a few years.

    Maybe we should collect information about discontinued strings including silk colors, material and general construction and, if available in existing data or by string measurement, also diameter and tension data. Would be a really long term project, but could be helpful for others. I'm sure there would be a lot of empty entries, probably forever, but that should not stop trying this. I think I or anybody else might open a new thread for this for discussion (in a few days in my case).
  8. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Agreed and I would think that Spirocore was developed with purely orchestra in mind. The order of importance for Thomastik (and Pirastro) was most likely violin then cello then bass/viola or viola/bass. The more flexible rope core has more overtones and harmonic content than solid steel and that just trickled down to the bass section. I imagine jazz bass wasn't on their radar yet.
    Luigir and Dutch Williams like this.
  9. Dutch Williams

    Dutch Williams Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2021
    Not that I’d be of any help, but I second this.
    Luigir likes this.
  10. Dutch Williams

    Dutch Williams Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2021
    To think ...
  11. I would rather say that a more flexible string produces partials that are closer to the (mathematically exact) harmonics than a stiffer string.
    I don't want to speculate about the volume amount of higher partials...
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  12. Inky13


    Nov 13, 2016
    Buffalo NY
    I remember those string guides. The theory was that they gave the string a more gentle/consistent break angle over the bridge.
    Every luthier I spoke to considered them as mutes and never used them. I don’t think they ever caught on.
  13. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    ... Wasn't Ray Brown consulted when they made Spiros? Maybe that's apocryphal. I don't think it's fair to say Jazz wasn't on their mind, however.
  14. It depends what is meant here with string guides/protectors.

    There are two accessories that can ship with a string:

    A) The tone filter which is a rubber disc with a hole in the middle. This goes between bridge and string, the string presses the disc downward the bridge groove is visible at the hole and the string goes into the bridge groove.
    This is intended to be a filter and only for use while a string is too bright before the break-in period is over. To be removed afterwards.

    B) I don’t know a name for it, but it is a bent half-tube which goes between bridge groove and string. Maybe meant to reduce friction, maybe meant to save the bridge slot (for thin strings).

    I have seen both from different manufacturers (Thomastik, Pirastro, Super Sensitive), but nowadays they hardly ship with a new string but are often available on request.
  15. Selim

    Selim Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    New York City
    It’s possible but my understanding is that Spiros were purposefully designed as an orchestral string for old/dark sounding basses.
    JeffKissell likes this.
  16. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Spirocores were designed as violin strings first and foremost. Maybe because we're bass players, we think it's all about us? I'm only speculating but I don't think the relatively small number of American jazz bass players factored into Euro string making until later.
    Povl Carstensen and AGCurry like this.
  17. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Are you sure there's such a thing as Spirocore violin strings?
  18. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Edited: Spirocores are still made for violin...

    At this point I don't know but according to Thomastik, all of the early string designs were for violin originally. Infeld was the engineer who designed the winding machines.
    FWIW, there is a pencil drawing timeline/history on their website.
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  19. You may mix that up with Lycons. I think there was a special Ray Brown Lycon set.
    But I may mix things up as well.

    And I talked to the string makers from Thomastik and they told me that the strings were designed for european symphony orchestras. It was later that they became popular to jazz DB players.

    Before the Spiros the Lycons (at least the A and E) were popular with jazz bass players. But even the Lycon hadn’t been designed for jazz players.
    JeffKissell likes this.
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