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Looking for a lower tension strings instead of Jazzers

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by psdziobak, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. psdziobak


    May 16, 2011
    Hi everyone, I'm new here and that's my first post.

    Before I decided to make a new thread I did the searching and read a lot of topics but I really didn't find what I was looking for and I got confused after all that I read.

    So, here's the deal. I have a 109cm (43.42 inches) plywood bass with a set of Jazzers on it. These are my first sitrngs, I don't have any experience with others. I really like the sound but they're too stiff and the tension is too high for me. When I play them my hands are getting tired quick. I must say that I'm not a totally newbie guy. I play DB for a 6 years now, but I started to play pizzicato one year ago. On this bass I play only pizz in a jazz ensemble so I don't need strings for arco playing. As far as I know, Jazzers are for the 3/4 bass and my bass is 4/4. If I put a 4/4 strings will it solve the problem? Or maybe I should just lower down the strings? Now they're setted 1cm over the end of the fingerboard, so I think it's pretty low.

    I don't know if I should lower the strings or buy a new ones with lower tension? If so, what string would be the best choice? I read that Thomastik Superflexible are good choice for a pizz and I can have an orchestra set for 135$. It's a very good price here where I live (Poland). I also read that buying a solo set and tuning them down might be good, but there's a thing that's confusing me. I checked out the tensions of the Superflexes and the solo ones have higher tension than the orchestral set. That kinda makes no sense for me. The solo set is also much more expensive. My total budget is 200$, but I'd really like to spent less amount of money.

    I think the sound that I'm looking for is quite dark, with long sustain, similat to Jazzers. I don't like thumpy sound and I don't want gut strings :).

    Thanks in advance for being tolerant and for your help ;) Although I play a DB for a several years, I'm a newbie to technical stuff like strings, setting the bass etc.

    Greetings from Poland,
  2. I understand your problems, since they have been my own for a long time.

    Thomastik 4/4 strings (Spirocore and Superflexible) are the only strings I know that differ from the 3/4 sets made. They a lighter per length unit, so that they get the same tension on 110 cm than the 3/4 strings on a 105 cm scale (or 106 cm, can't remember exactly).
    Superflexibles are a bit darker than Spiros, but not very much.
    I won't think Jazzers are dark, just not too bright.

    I also play a 110cm scale bass, first with Spirocore Mittel 4/4 and a bit higher action. I had problems after the first set of a gig with them. Then I lowered the action, got Spirocore Weich 4/4 and it was easy to play them, only the E was a bit weak (the Spiro Mittel was a bit too much).
    Since I also play a high C which is very thin in steel (less than 1mm) I looked for some synthetic core strings that I can also bow. I like the british Innovation 140B (Braided) very much for a soft and round pizz as well as bowing. They are also rather inexpensive and could be ordered with free postage from some british string discounters like StringExpress. But maybe too dark for your taste.

    If you only want to pizz you may want to have a look at Presto strings which are made in Poland. For pizz only the Presto Nylonwound (Eurosonic in the USA) might be what you want. They are thicker than steel core strings and not as bright. I don't know the price in Poland, but in Germany they are only a little bit more expensive than the Superflexible.
    If you still want to stay with metal core strings, the Presto Balance series is nice and not bright. The middle tension is rather low compared to Spiros or Jazzers, but there are still light and ultralight tension. They are also nice to bow.
    Superflexibles may last longer than the other string choices, except the Spirocore, but they might not give you the sound you want and tension is still on the higher side.

    The mentioned tensions for solo strings are correct when tuned in solo tuning, which is a whole tone higher than orchestra tuning. Expect about 15% to 20% less tension at orchestra tuning. Also the lower strings in solo sets have about the same tension as the higher ones, most orchestra string sets have more tension on the lower strings than on the higher ones. For the higher strings the tension difference from Mittel to Weich is roughly the same difference than from Weich to downtuned Solo.

    It would be interesting to know your string height at the the end of the fingerboard for all of your strings. Maybe it is only a setup problem.
  3. psdziobak


    May 16, 2011
    Thanks a lot, this really helped me.

    Actually I live in Gdańsk, where Presto strings are made :) And their much cheaper than Superflexibles here. I think I'll go to their shop and ask for advice. I've never considered to buy them because when I was a kid their strings (mostly for guitars) where thought to be really bad :) But I maybe it changed and their products are good quality nowadays. I checked out this site: http://www.hervejeanne.de/saitenmatrix.php and I really like Presto Balance. Nylonwounds's sound is not what I'm looking for, I'll stay with steel ones. The only problem is... they are for 3/4 bass. That's what is written on the package. And my bass is 4/4. But, as I said, I don't know if it matters or not? I don't know if I understood what You said here:

    Do You mean that 4/4 Spiro and Supeflex set on the 4/4 bass have the same tension as 3/4 set on the 3/4 bass?

    So does it mean that if I have a 4/4 bass with Jazzers on it (which are 3/4 strings) the tension is higher than if I would have a 3/4 bass?

    This is really complicated :)

    The main question is: Does the 'size' of the string (whether they are 3/4 or 4/4) change the tension on diffrent size basses? If I have 4/4 bass should I buy 4/4 strings to have a proper tension or I can go for 3/4 strings and still have the same tension as with 3/4 strings?

    The action of my strings is:

    E - 8mm, A - 7mm, D - 8mm, G - 7,5mm

    I know it's not correct, I need to fix that so that the G will be the lowest one above the fingerboard. But I think I want lower tension on my strings anyway, even if I'll set them a liitle bit lower.

  4. Hi Peter,

    DoubleMIDI always gives very good advice. He has huge knowledge on different strings and is very helpful.

    To give some details on tension, this matrix will help:


    I think Spirocore solo (S43) tuned down to orchestra pitch might be the right string for you.

    Presto strings are great! I have played on Balance Orchestra (light) on my bass with 107.5 mensur. Great arco strings. I think the Presto's will work on your bass as well
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Peter, First try the bridge adjustment so your strings are 5-8mm G to E. That will make a huge difference in playability. Make sure everything else is set up correctly, too. If you decide to try spiros, the 4/4 sets are correct for your long string length. The solos are darker sounding than the weichs, IME.
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I'd take a look at Spiro Solo's but tune them orch instead. It's what i use now and I stopped using jazzers because the string tension went way up after a repair. Bass sounds better than it ever has.

    But before you buy strings, you might want to get a setup done and have your bass looked at. Getting a false nut made to shorten the string length might be a good idea at 43"+.
  7. Hi Piotr,

    Presto Balance Hybrid Medium
    D-string (usually the longest you need):
    167,5 cm total string length (excluding the ball end), 13,2 cm silk wrap on ball end, 28,5 cm silk on top end.
    Check if it will fit and don't forget you need some windings on the peg.
    I think it was a bit short for my 5-string 4/4, but might fit a 4-string bass.

    Your E-string looks a bit low to me, same with the A, the G and D a bit high. I'm not sure if you can get this corrected without a new bridge or by installing adjusters into the bridge. I would use something in between 9-11 mm on E and 5-6 mm on G, the other string so that you have the same bowing angle for each string.
    Maybe try to get the D down to 6,5 mm and the G to 5,5 mm. Might be easier to play. But usually I start with the outer string heights and try to adjust in small steps the string heighth on the middle strings together. Don't got too low with the middle string heights or the overall bowing angle will decrease. If you don't know how to do that visit a luthier.

    About the different strings for 3/4 and 4/4:
    You did understand correctly, the tensions are only valid for a certain string length. It is easy to understand. A 3/4 string scale is roughly about 5 cm shorter than a 4/4 string scale. This is also very roughly the vibrating string length difference of a halftone relative to the open string. So if you tune your G string fingered at a halftone to a G, you get less tension and the open string is a halftone lower. That way you simulate how this string feels and sounds on a 3/4 scale. If you tune a string on a 3/4 scale a halftone higher, You will get the tension of this string on a 4/4 scale. (But tuning up is not a recommended procedure, since it may change the string permanantly in a way bassists don't like. So if you try that, quickly tune down again to keep this string on that bass.

    Most 3/4 strings are long enough for a 110cm scale, including Pirastro, Innovation, Corelli, etc. (Pyramid strings are a bit short, but you can order custom made lengths without price difference.) Never tried D'Addarios. I know that I don't need to talk about gut.
    If the Prestos are too short, ask the factory for a custom made set about 7cm longer, this should fit. If they don't like to do that, ask Jonas Lohse (www.kontrabass-atelier.de, www.presto-saiten.de) from Germany, he is involved in the development of Presto strings and might help you getting longer strings.

    I'm a bit curious: what is the price in Poland for a set of Presto Balance? I might look for a set in the summer when I'm going to Kraków.

    I would take a Presto light set first, because of your long scale. I use the medium on a 105 cm scale and they are good there, but light might feel the same on a 110cm scale. If it is still too much you might want to use the ultralight. Perhaps try a single G instead a full set first (if possible) and then decide if it is OK to get the rest of the set or if you want the lighter ultralights. Might save some Zlotys.
  8. psdziobak


    May 16, 2011
    Ok, thanks for all of You for advice. This is really helpful. :)

    This is what I'm going to do: firts adjust the string heights as You said. If it's still too hard too play I'll buy Presto Balance. They come in Light and Medium tension only, the only ultralights are Nylonwound. I've been in Presto shop today, here's what I found out. There are 2 kinds of Balance sets: Orchestra and Hybrid. The orchestra also comes in Solo tuning. I'm wondering which one should i choose: Hybrid Light or Orchestra Solo and tune them down? Which one would have lower tension? They also said that all of their strings match a 4/4 bass, but I'll check it out anyway. In Presto shop all the Balance sets costs 380zł (about 92 euros), but I found them in the other polish music shops for 285-320zł (depends on type).

    Once again, thanks for all Your help, now I know (almost ;) ) what to do.

  9. Hybrid Light. They are better for pizz than the orchestrals. The Orchestra Solos should be lighter than Hybrid light when tuned to orchestra tuning.

    I would try the hybrid Lights first, I think the tesion might be OK for you and they sound better for jazz (longer sustain, a bit brighter sound, but not too bright).

    Thanks for the prices, in Germany the Balance set costs about 130 Euro. So worth to get some in Poland.

    If you want to use Spirocore (because they may last a lot longer) I would use a 4/4 Weich or a downtuned 3/4 Solo set, and if this is still too much, the 4/4 Solo set. They are one step higher in tension than the name suggests compared to the Presto balance.

    Good luck with your string choice.
  10. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Thomastik-Infeld Spirocore S42 4/4 Weich.
  11. I have found success with a general action of 5mm on the G string to 10-11mm on the E string with a rounded fingerboard (no bevel). I am primarily a jazz player, mostly pizzicato and like the Velvet Blue strings. They have a very low tension, great sustain, they are very loud and bow well enough. Pirastro Obligato strings are good for jazz as well, nice sound and good sustain and they bow easier than the Velvet Blues. Have fun!
  12. The 4/4 Spiro Weich are S42W, not S42. S42 are the 4/4 Mittel.
  13. Peter:

    Forget the Superflexibles....their Orchestra strings are close to the tension of Spiro Orchestra's! Lot's of tension.
    Have you been playing a lot on the DB? I am surprised you find the Jazzers have too much tension. They are somewhere between Spiro Weichs and Mittels...which should not be too difficult to handle. My problems with the Jazzers is the tinny D and G strings. I am now exerimenting with Jazzer E and A/ Zyex medium D and G. So far so good. The Zyex project much better than any Innovation or Obligato string I have used. Also better than Dominant Solo's which are quite light when it comes to tension.

    Here are my suggestions based on your requirements....you might want to try Zyex Mediums or Lights.
    And..being in Europe, the Pyramid Soloflex worked very well on my Kay and King plywoods...and also on my current Eberle. The tension is really easy to handle without being weak. However, they are almost impossible to find here in North America so I quit using them.
    Corelli 380 TX (Nickel) may work too but the G string is very thin and "pingy".
    Most guts will also work well if that is the way you want to go...and so will Velvet Garbo's if you like the "old" sound.

    There are probably a few more options available for you...but I wanted to relate my own experiences with strings that I liked on plywood basses.
  14. davidprice


    Jan 1, 2005
    Just another positive word for the Presto strings. I really like the double bass strings but understand the negative reputation Presto strings have for some as I didn't care for their electric bass strings at all. I found one shop in Zielona Góra that had the nylon wraps for 190 zł (around 250 is more typical).

    I can't speak to the sets they make other than the nylon wraps but I much prefer their "ultralight" set to the light which I also tried. The lights were too dark on my particular bass for my taste. Despite the name, the ultralights still feel fairly substantial.

  15. ricobasso


    Jan 18, 2007
    UK, South East
    Sorry to come in a bit late with this one but I tried Jazzers on my DB first and found them too high in tension. So, I bought a high C Jazzer, used it as my G string (tuned to G) and moved all the strings down one. I used the G as a D string, the D as an A and the A as an E. I didn't use the E at all. I thought it might be too loose but it worked very well. However, I do like the old fashioned thumpy sound so I eventually went over to gut.

    The high C trick might work for you though and it's very cheap to try, compared to a new set of something else.
  16. Tuning down by a fourth is not a good idea. The string get soo loose, even looser than gut. I think very few people could accet that. It is more wise to tune down Solo strings that are made for a tuning a whole tone higher than normal. That way you get approximately 20% less tension. Tuning down by a fourth is about half the tension.
    Even the string manufacturers advise against the downtuning of solo strings, probably because they often won't work well with the bow then.

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