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light gauge strings for upright

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by JazznFunk, Dec 12, 2001.


  1. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I am just getting into playing upright after playing electric, mostly in jazz settings, for about 5 years. I prefer a low action with light strings on electric and am wanting to set up my upright in much the same fashion. I know that light strings and a low action don't project as well as higher action/heavy gauge strings, but for the sake of my fingers and sanity I'd like to at least find a middle ground. I am leaning toward Thomastik-Infeld strings, but am clueless as to how they are categorized for URB. If anyone has any suggestions for a light/medium gauge strings for pizzicato playing, perferably in TI's line, I'd appreciate it!
     
  2. Bijoux

    Bijoux

    Aug 13, 2001
    Denver-CO-USA
    You can try the Da'darios light gauge, even the mwdium gauge are a bit lighter then the Tomastiks, I'd say the Da'Darios light gauge are a good place to start, when you build up your strengh so then you can think of something else or just get a different gauge, I use the Heavy gauge set, it seems to me that they respond fast and I get a lot more volume out of my bass, by the way try the Da'dario light gauge Helicore Hybrids, they are supposed to sound good with the bow and pizzicato, the sound with the bow is not very good but at least is not annoying and You'll need to practice with the bow even if you never perform with it, hope it helps, have fun, enjoy the bass!
     
  3. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    Ed,
    Sorry to give that impression, but that's certainly not the case. I'm already playing an upright that's set up quite differently from the way I described, and am progressing well with it. I'm studying positions, technique, etc. with a teacher and am playing in a trio/quartet setting already. All I was asking was if there were a light gauge string available to perhaps reduce the tension slightly. I know a setup with extremely low action and light strings sounds like crap, which is why I'm looking for a middle ground. I need a setup that is more suited to how my hands are. I know what constitutes a good setup/sound, and know that it's different for each player.

    I'm not looking for an easy road with upright, I just wanted some information on strings. In the future, please don't rip me for asking a simple question if it's unwarranted.
     
  4. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    In addition to Bijoux's suggestion with light gauge Helicores, let me add Corellis.
    They're available in three gauges (medium, forte and extra-forte) and even the extra-forte is a thin string, easy to play.
    They are also known as a good hybrid string. (for both arco and pizz playing)
    Thomastik's Spirocore and Superflexible brands are also available in solo gauge, which means they're thin and easy to play.
    The Superflexibles are also quite affordable.
    The Spirocores, in addition to the solo-gauge, are available in three gauges.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. JazzisFun:
    People have their favorite strings, which they'll tell you about. But reading your background and your goals, I would recommend Spirocores, which, I think, are the most widely used jazz string. They have long sustain, which I suspect you want. The orchestras are most popular, but also higher tension. Personally, I think that's much ado about nothing. But, Spirocore also makes a Weich Spirocore, which translates to 'soft'. The other trick is to buy Spirocore solo strings, but only tune them up to E,A,D,G rather than F# B E A.
    Now for the big secret: No matter what you buy now, you're going to end up owning a good half dozen different brands. It's classic DB pathology. In fact, if you don't we will hunt you down and make you buy more strings like the rest of us.
     
  6. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    Don (and Francois),
    Thanks for your help. It's much appreciated. It sounds like I'll be looking at the Spirocores since they sound like what I'm looking for. I suspect I will go through multiple sets before I settle on what I like. I did it with electric, so I'll do it with upright too! :)

    Thanks again!
     
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My experience on both the Slab and the Bass is that if you set it up with heavier gauge strings low rather that light strings at any height, you end up with a softer feeling setup.

    Low, light strings don't work on The Bass as the string length allows to much travel to get light strings low. You would have to compensate with more curve in the fingerboard, which then just raises the strings back up. Thomastik orchestrals (red, red) can be set up at about 4mm/6mm (G-E) and feel loose, have little rattle, and still get a sound out of the bass.
     
  8. This explains my experience, which I've not taken the time to analyze. I'm at 4.5 and 7
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I use these, but my setup is closer to 6mm/12mm (G-E). Does this make me a masochist? :D
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think it would depend on a few things. On my old plywood, with a 41 1/2" string length and a relatively flatish angle over the bridge, I played my strings at about 8mm and 10mm. Plywoods tend to have a less severe angle over the bridge, giving less tension. My Juzek was about 43" with a high bridge, and so I was playing at about 4mm & 6mm. My 7/8 Italian is a bit shy of 42" with its current setup, tall bridge, and I play at about 5mm and 8mm. I guess height alone isn't too indicative.

    I've never been into the testosteronal string-height thing. I find that there is a point where if you go below a certain height, there is a drastic loss of sound quality. I keep my strings right at that line. On my current and last bass, if I raise them more than a mm or two over that height the strings seem to get too mean to allow me to play my sh*t. Lower strings require that you do more work with your right hand to get the sound out, though. If I were playing arco exclusively I could definitely raise the strings quite a bit and still be comfortable, but in experimenting, higher strings don't seem to gain me much in volume or tone.
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Oh, and for reference, I guess Scotty played guts at 5mm and 8mm with the 41" Prescott. Shank mentioned this to me when we finally got my bass setup the way that I like it...
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm with you on this one...my setup just seems to be where "that line" is on my bass. If I go lower, I lose the focus and clarity of the sound. If I go higher, I lose the growl. I've heard your bass, and there's not a damn thing wrong with the sound at those string heights on that thing.

    Soooooomme__ Daaaaayyyyy, my Baaaaasssss will Coooommmmme____ .....



    (I'll be really proud if folks manage to refrain from making sawdust jokes at this point...DOH!)
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    At the risk of decency and action by the moderators, do basses come sawdust? Just making sure that I understood you, Chris. :)