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in search of a lower tension string that GROWLS!

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Bibby, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. Bibby


    Aug 24, 2000
    hello all!

    i am fairly new to the dark side with about a years worth of playing under my belt. i have played very few basses other than my own.

    now that i'm comfortable with my bass i would like to try a new string and try to make my bass sound closer to the sound in my head as well as find 'my tone'.

    here are the details to help you wise ones make an informed recommendation. :)

    my bass is a 60-80 year old carved german pfretzschner, 3/4. very solid with a fairly thick top. it is currently strung with helicore orchs, med. my impression of the tone is warm and round, kinda tubby. nice sustain. the d and g sound big, but the e and a lack oomph. i play about 70% pizz, 30%arco.

    here is what i am looking for. i would like a lower tension string that has more growl and bite and is a little less 'polite'. medium sustain. a punchier e and a would be nice. a sharper focus on pizz sound, but not at the full expense of the bow.

    i've scoured the archives and from my notes the pirastro obligs seem like they might be a nice fit. maybe the helicore hybrid lights, though i didn't find much info on those.

    so, whaddya think? thanks in advance!
  2. Spirocore weichs are rather growly, although the heavier gauges are more so. They're pretty punchy and have nice sustain, too.
  3. I'm gonna go ahead and say what you're thinking, Bibby. Generally, and I stress generally, the more tension, the more growl. Of course we're talking pizz. The very growly starts with Thomastik Starks..Your moderator Chris loves these and as i've said before, Chris doesn't bow so I can't say about arco. Next, for me is Thomastik Orchesras. These for most jazz players are probably the most growly. Depending on the bass, these strings can be workable with the bow, but a big percentage of people hate trying to bow them.
    I suggest, again, a mixed set. In terms of growl, I assume you're talking about the E mostly, so I would start with the Thomastik Orchesra E,then work your way up, hopefully, with more advice on this thread.
    The Weichs work for some and the de-tuned Thomastik solos work on some basses.
  4. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    A couple years ago I was trying out different strings like crazy, and as I recall Pirastro Jazzers had a huge growl to them, on my bass anyway. I don't really remember the tension though and I don't think I even tried to bow them. They were on and off fairly quickly because I was looking for something else in sound at the time.

  5. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    You may want to consider Thomastik Superflexibles. Compared to Spirocores, they are slightly darker and considerably easier to bow, particularly if you are at the front end of the bow learning curve. But they also have a nice pizz sound with plenty of sustain. Tension-wise, they fall between Spiro weichs and mediums; if you're interested in numbers, check out www.quinnviolins.com. While there is no perfect hybrid string, the Superflexibles do a decent job, and they are very affordable.
  6. I can fully endorse what Jim says about superfexibles. As David Gage points out, no matter how you theorise you can't guarantee what you'll end up with on your bass. I moved from these to spiro weins and back but used to use jazzers. On my bass the superf is a richer more complex sound, with slightly less front end oomph to the note than the spiros but made up for in a distinctive shape to the note. If all that sounds too good to be true the down side is a tendancy towards an electric fretless sound, though there is no mistaking the two. However, the highish action and tension on my bass may make it so. I've been trying to get hold of some John Clayton recording where I can hear him clearly enough to see what he sounds like. Its all a compromise.
  7. Mike -- what is your opinion of the ease of bowing for the Superflexibles? Did you also find them easier to bow than Spiros?
  8. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    I find the Superflexibles to be a little easier to bow than Spiro Weichs and a lot easier to bow than Spiro mediums. They are less scratchy than Spiros with more fundamental. I do feel that, like Spiros, their forte is as a pizz string. I will be interested in hearing Mike's comments as well.
  9. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    The thread discussion has moved toward Superflexibles away from Spiros as bow-ability has entered the equation. As I've followed the discussion it's not clear to me how the Superflexibles rate -compared against Spiros- in growl. I have played Weichs so I have that data point.
  10. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    Compared to Spiro Weichs, the Superflexible growl is just a little less due to it being a slightly darker string. But not by much - don't take this to mean that the SF doesn't growl, it is definitely a brighter string on the overall spectrum.
  11. I find SuperFs to bow a lot easier than Spiros, but I am going through a patch my bowing technique improving rapidly. This won't continue - never does. Growl? It's as good as I want it.

    All the string debates reminds me very much of discussions about reeds and mouthpeices that the woodwind fraternity get up to. It goes like this: you get fed up and stuck in a rut, change the mouthpeice, think you sound different, a few months later realise you don't and change back to what you started out with.

    Having gone through this lunacy on both woodwind and bass, I think the thing to do is find the string that can deliver the best compromise between what you want to sound like and what your string/bass combination can deliver, then stick with it for long enough to learn what your input is as oposed to the string. I remember reading (I think it was D Gage) talking about using the dark/bright properties of the string to compensate for oposite properties in your bass.

    Going back to the start of the thread, less tension, punchier, & etc can be mutually exclusive.

    I keep reading comments about 'finding' your sound but I go back to woodwind advice: listen to lots and lots of players and let the sound form in your head, otherwise how can you get your instrument to produce it? but remember that you might not be able to afford a bass as good as your heros.

    What I came to realise with woodwind is I couldn't have all the different good sounds I wanted to produce, I had to choose. And I think so it is with bass. As the song goes, there's a load of commpromisin' on the road to maaa horizin.
  12. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley

    Thanks for bringing me to my senses. Whenever I'm scufflin' I start feeling this urge to find a panacea in new strings.

    I was a trumpet player in a past life and trumpet players go through the same thing. I remember when the extended mass mouthpieces came out and everyone had to have one. It was as if you couldn't play acceptably if you didn't have one. Now, hardly anyone uses them.

    I'm keeping my current strings on for as long as possible. I will avert my eyes from glossy double bass string advertisements and String Forum discussions.
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Mike,I believe that was the first time I've ever seen a quote from Glen Campbell in the DB forums. And from a guy from Manchester, no less! Surreal..
  14. You wimp. Don't you know that real bass players all have 800 dollars' worth of strings in a drawer someplace?
  15. i have some Obligatos on my bass and they growl like crazy! In fact, I am looking for a less growly string now.
  16. neptoon

    neptoon Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Melbourne, FL

    jeez, i play electric and i've got at least that much in strings stowed away :D
  17. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    Okay, I give. I've got $200 worth of strings in the back of a file drawer. I know it's short of the $800 standard but I'm working on it.
  18. My other 2 cents is that the bass has far more to do with growl than the type of string.
  19. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Donosaurus is right on--and I'd like to amplify his thought by adding this; sound comes from the heart, brain, fingers and instrument. A great player is recognizable even on someone else's instrument.