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Innovation Polychromes Strings!!!

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by SeayBass, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. SeayBass

    SeayBass Supporting Member

    So I put a set of Innovation on my bass at the end of summer 2017. I bought them on a whim, though I did some research first. Before I was using most Dominants, Flexocor (92's), Flexocor Originals, Spirocores, in various configurations. I have tried almost every string out people put a bow on, including most all of the varieties from D'Addario, Thomastik, Pirastro, Velvet, Jargar brands.
    My bass is 3/4 flatback 100+ yr old Italian which runs pretty tight, so even light strings often end up tight-feeling. . It's not big, so I'm always trying to find a string that is big sounding and soft feeling. I am very pleased with these Polychrome strings on my bass.
    I play 100% arco gigs and 100% pizz gigs with the same bass. I own only one- so I have to have a versatile setup. It’s a relatively small bass, so I’m often challenged to get a big sound or a lot of volume.
    So basically what I believe a hybrid string should be is one that responds very well to the bow, amplifies well, is bright enough for jazz with a respectable amount of sustain. Even better if the strings are soft feeling under both hands.

    Innovations Polychrome Strings Review:

    These are touted to be hybrid strings, and they are. These just might fly off the shelves inasmuch as bass strings can. Be aware that these do sound more old-school than steel strings. They sound less metallic and less dense- more spread and thump.

    I bought a set of Polychromes to try out from Gollihur Music. These strings are new to the market, and billed as a hybrid string. They are in thickness a little bit thinner than Spiro Med/Mittel/Orch in the lower strings, and fatter than most strings on the G string. They are a bit stiffer than Spiros out of the package (less stiff than dominants), but feel softer and more flexible than Spirocores when strung on the bass.

    Day 1 First impressions:

    · These bow beautifully. I am shocked. And thrilled.

    · They are fat feeling but soft, and get a big dense tone.

    · They are even comfortable up in thumb position.

    · Less sustain and growl than Spiros, but respectable in both aspects.

    · Not very bright, but articulate pizzicato, with a top end similar to obligatos (without the roll)

    · They are not as loud as Dominants, but get a big full sound and plenty loud.

    6+ months: Still the best set I’ve tried on this bass.

    · The strings never slipped out of tune. After the first day and only a little stretching, these strings held the pitch. That’s unusual.

    · They have darkened a bit. The brilliance on top is not as noticeable now, but there is still clarity in the pizz articulation.

    · They bow very well, and have remained in balance as they’ve settled. In fact, I don’t think I’ve used a set of strings that have responded better to the bow for me on this instrument.

    · These strings get a big fat woody sound that I absolutely love. And they are thumpy too. They also growl and amplify very well- I do have to turn the bass down.

    · Dynamic. Comfy. Powerful. And I can play 400 beats per minute more comfortably on these strings than any I've used before.

    Let’s compare them to my experience with 3 popular strings: Flexocor (92), Spirocore, and Pirazzi strings.

    Flexocors bow very well, but are brutal on my right hand for jazz. They also lack clarity in pizz articulation. These Polychromes bow every bit as well, but offer a sound I prefer, and are easier on my right hand. They also have more pizz clarity. I’m comfortable playing both strings in the upper register. Polychromes give more volume and a bigger sound on this bass. They are no less comfortable to play with a bow.

    Spircores are resistant to bowing on this bass. The bow doesn’t always bite. They are bright and sometimes too metallic under the bow. The Polychromes bow much more easily on my bass, and offer a more woody tone. There is some brightness, but it’s not like Thomastik strings, which all have a metallic sound quality to my ears. The brightness is on top of the tone, rather than an integral part of the tone.

    Pirazzi strings have a great thump with some clarity. They bow OK, but the bowed response is slow. I also find I have to beat on them to get any sound out of my bass when I use them. So for me, they don’t bow well. It’s my opinion that these Polychromes are what the Pirazzi bass strings want to be when they grow up. I have found that the Pirazzi Long E is a good choice under these for basses with C extension. The Pirazzi C string feels tighter and brighter under these strings than it does under 3 Pirazzi's.

    To summarize:

    These new Polychromes are the best I've tried on my bass. They bow very well on my bass- as well as anything I’ve ever used. They get a big woody sound out of my bass with enough clarity and growl to use as a jazz/amplified string (not for magnetic pickups). They are easy to play up high, as well- easy on the left hand. The Polychromes are bright on top, but not metallic. They offer a nice clarity of articulation while presenting a very woody tone with a lot of thump. They are also easy on the both hands pizz and arco.

    I suspect these strings will feel rather soft, even too soft/light, on some instruments. My bass runs tight, and I am very happy with the softer feel these offer. I’ll bet these will work very well on new basses.

    I can play these comfortably with the soundpost up near the bridge. With the previous steel core strings setup, I had the post as far south as I could in order to bow the bass comfortably.

    I hope this helps somebody. I recommend these strings to professional orchestra players as well as full time Jazz or Bluegrass/ Acoustic musicians. They bow that well and sound that good to me.
    Karl Kaminski, Cheez, jmlee and 11 others like this.
  2. Jonas Nilsson

    Jonas Nilsson

    Mar 1, 2018

    bskts247 likes this.
  3. Mrlen613


    Jul 19, 2008
    I take it you like them ;):thumbsup:
    bskts247 and Jonas Nilsson like this.
  4. Selim

    Selim Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    New York City
    I started another thread on these in order to get more feedback on them because a while back, another player on talkbass said they were best synthetic core string he’s had on his bass in 15 years.

    If nothing else, I can agree with that 100%.
    longfinger and bskts247 like this.
  5. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    Well, should I tire of my Doms... the Polychromes are on my short list of try-these-next.
  6. SeayBass

    SeayBass Supporting Member

    Can't argue with the price vs dominant. Heh

    I used dominant strings for years , sometimes just put a dominant G over spiros
    these innovation strings are definitely easier on my hands. I am definitely less self-conscious in Orchestral or chamber music playing,
  7. Jon Mush

    Jon Mush

    Jun 3, 2015
    Winnipeg, MB
    Damn. Looks like I’m buying these in the future.

    The reviews really seem to dovetail with my experiences with Spiros, EPs, and what drew me away. The Braided were a great string for me, and it looks like these only improve on the platform.

    Anyone know the scoop on the core? I play a Chadwick , and the braided held up like steels for me. If these are similar, then I’m sold!
  8. SeayBass

    SeayBass Supporting Member

    lnnovation's website says the Polychromes are braided core, too.

    Hey- if anyone out there has tried Innovation honey and braided strings, I'd love to know your thoughts.
  9. Selim

    Selim Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    New York City
    Gollihur website says “polymer” core. I was under the impression that these are synthetic core strings similar to Zyex.
  10. Mrlen613


    Jul 19, 2008
    Yes, looks like braided polymer core. I bought these a while back. I did have the E break on me after a month but the others have been fine and I ordered a replacement and it's been fine since. I have to imagine it was just a bad string and not any longevity problems. I'm still very happy with them with both the bow and pizz. I play in a community orchestra and they blend in nicely but also sound great with the smaller jazz band.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  11. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    Yes - a polymer is a synthesized material; so for the purposes of identifying the core of the strings, it means the same thing.
  12. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    Zyex fibres are made from Victrex peek polymer
  13. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Anybody know how these compare to Sensiocores (perlon)? Thanks
  14. SeayBass

    SeayBass Supporting Member

    yes- the polymer is the material. I.e. not steel core strings, but synthetic material like dominant, obligato, zyex. I assume it's basically nylon-like. Their strings have polymer cores- some are solid and some are braided polymer fibers. The honeys are solid core, for example.

    I seem to remember sensicores feeling really stiff. These Innovations strings are the opposite of stiff feeling. I also remember sensicores sounding stiff and brittle. These are warmer and fuller sounding, and easier to play for both hands. I've never used sensicores on a fine instrument, so my impressions may be off.
  15. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks. I actually have Sensicores on a small Italian bass right now and they are a very good alternative to Dominants (on this bass); the G is a bit thin. The Polychromes certainly sound interesting.
  16. I have played Braided and tried Honeys. I also have early prototypes that later developed into the Polychromes.

    I liked the Braided. They went a bit darker after a while and pizz is soft, so I always played at the very end of the fingerboard. Bowing is really good, pizz is not bad, but a bit more bite would be nice. They have a little bit of air (whereas the Honeys don't) so they are sounding a bit modern.

    The Honeys are really dark with no air at all (except the G). Might work for older jazz styles, but not for a modern sound. They bow less good than the Braided (and also less good than my prototypes) and have a bit more tension than the Braided. Not what I like personally.

    The prototypes were mixed in tension. I selected the higher tension ones for me (same tension as the Braided, the lower tension ones were what Innovation selects for further development into the Polychromes) and they had the bite (E, G and high C), the lower tension A and D were replaced by the Braided which fit well tensionwise but miss the bite a bit. Arco was not as easy as the Braided, but not bad. If I'm sloppy with the bow you can hear that. The Braided might work better in a section, the prototypes are more direct and might be better for arco soloing (but I don't do that for classical and seldom for jazz). The A and D had a tension like tuning down the Braided or higher tension prototypes by a halftone.

    I would like to try the Polychromes, but might like the higher tension prototypes better since this is the tension I like on my longer scale (110 cm) 5-string DB with a high C string. Unfortunately I don't have the budget to buy a set in the near future and anyway need the high C too.
    Selim and longfinger like this.
  17. Selim

    Selim Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    New York City
    Do you know how similar/different the finalized polychromes are from the prototypes you tested?

    On my bass anyway, they bow a far cry better than "not bad". They start easily and sound great - woody tone with good clarity, and full top to bottom.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  18. I never had Polychomes myself but was told by the developers that the lower tension prototypes have the tension they want for the Polychromes.
    My bowing is not very good. I can work with broken-in Spiros and the prototypes are easier, but if I don't control the bow well they are less forgiving than the Braided.
    I think it is more my lack of bow control than the string.
    BTW, I had a lot more problems bowing Compas 180, since they need a light bowing. Spiros worked well with a pressure impulse when starting the bow for a well defined note start, that does not work with the Compas 180 as far as I can remember.
    Selim likes this.
  19. SeayBass

    SeayBass Supporting Member

    I used Compas 180's over the years on a few basses. I had a similar experience with the bow- they bowed ok, I guess, but speak slowly, which makes them a challenge for serious arco work.
  20. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    So, I put a set of Polychromes on my bass last night. Laminate, 7/8ths, composite tailpiece, carbon fiber endpin, formerly wearing EP Weichs for 100% pizz. Obviously too soon to make any comments on sound (other than clearly darker in nature), but I did notice one result I wasn't expecting. String height was higher. I assume it is because the Polychromes are lower in tension, so the top doesn't have as much pressure on it, and the bridge ended up slightly higher? How does that sound to you string experts? Most noticeable on the E, which ended up about 2mm higher.

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