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Low C string for fifth tuning

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by PhilB, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. PhilB


    Mar 20, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    Can anyone recommend a good resonant steel string to use as a low C string?

    A few months back I started to switch to 5th tuning (A, D, G and low C open strings). I've had to re-string my bass and now have Original Steel Chrome on all strings, solo A, orchestral D, solo F# tuned up to G, and a solo C# tuned down to C. I play a lot of orchestral music, but also shows and jazz for which I use a magnetic Krivo pick-up, so I need steel strings. The A D and G are OK. The C# string is OK for arco, but does not ring at all, just a dead thud. So I need a more resonant steel string to use for low C. Anyone got any suggestions?
  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
  3. The Spirocore Weich Low C string works quite well. If you need metal core strings, that's all I can think of. I personally use Velvet Compas 180, and really enjoy them both for classical and jazz, but they will not work with magnetic pickups. How's the 5ths going ?
  4. bassist14


    Oct 17, 2005
  5. I play with fifths tuning in a symphony orchestra. I have tried the obligato low C string and would highly recommend that you do NOT buy one. I thought it sounded completely dead.
    I have tried just about every low C string out there and I keep coming back to Spirocore. It will definitely give you the pizz sound you want.
    Welcome to the fifths tuning club!
  6. I use a medium gauge Spirocore low C. The one from the Red Mitchell set. It is a touch lower in tension. I found the weich low C to bow easily, but it did not give me enough sound for heavy orchestral playing.
  7. So what strings do you use for the rest of the set ? I currently have what I call a Joel Quarrington set on one of my basses (solo dominant A and F# tuned to G, with orchestral Dominant D and Spirocore Weich low C). The other is strung with Velvets, which sound a lot better for Jazz, and bow almost as well as the dominants.
  8. Flexocor solo A and D string. Corelli solo F# tuned up to G.
    I have tried the Dominants but they break too easily. I have to change the strings regularly and the Dominants will break if I take them off and on.
    Thomastik has been promising me for a year that they will make me a fifths tuning Bel Canto set, but I fear it may be a very long wait.
    I would love to have a better option for a low G than the Corelli, but every F# string I have tried is just too much tension and doesn't respond fast enough. (not on my bass, anyway)
  9. PhilB


    Mar 20, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    Thanks for the advice. Re the Spirocore Low C, can you tell me how much more the medium C gives you and how much harder is to bow than the weich low C? Is there much in it?

    Re the Bel Cantos, I was playing on those until I switched tuning (last gig in 4ths at the end of December). They are good and I was retuning my bass back and forward between 4ths and 5ths to learn to play in 5ths - even detuned by a tone, the Bel Cantos were surprisingly good. Are there enough people playing in 5ths for us to get together and convince Thomastik to make a set?
  10. The more companies that are convinced to make a set, the better.

    The Spirocore low C was decent, I forget if it was weich or not. It was the one from the Red Mitchell set. it was a bit too growly for me though when playing jazz, and bowing wise I am preferring the Obligato low C.

    I guess the Obligato C depends on the bass, cause I love it. The G was the weakest sounding string in my set but I actually have really come to like the C. It doesn't have excessive sustain, a little bit of growl but not too much, and a nice deep fundamental that I felt like was missing from the Spirocore.

    Why a magnetic pickup by the way?

    Oh and concerning the Velvet Compas 180, anyone know about how long they last before dieing? I wanted to try them but at that price...
  11. Send an email to Bernhard Rieger at Thomastik about getting a Belcanto set in fifths tuning made. Last time I spoke to him he said that they still plan on making them, but that, in reality, it will be a long time before they can get to it. They still haven't finished producing an ext. E/C or a solo set. So, they won't start working on the fifths strings until those strings are on the market.
    You can also get in touch with Pirastro. They have been helpful in making a few strings for me in the past. You may want to emphasize that the low G and low C need higher tension. The problem with the 5ths Obligato set they came out with, was that the low strings didn't have enough cajones for heavy orchestral playing. They made a low G Flexocor for me last year and it had the same problem.

    Re: Spirocore low C
    Medium gauge is really the way to go. For some reason it bows easier than any of the Pirstro low C strings. It's not ideal in sound but the pitch is clear and it speaks. The weich bows even better, but you lose sound. Part of the problem is trying to balance the tension across all 4 strings. The weich strings require a higher action then a standard string. I also found the Helicore Hybrid low C to be good, but it is extremely thick and not worth the effort.

    Bare in mind that all basses respond a little differently. Yours may handle high tension well. I play on 200 year old Italian bass and too much tension chokes the sound, while too little tension does not produce enough volume.
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The C should be as easy as the D string. That floppy B that most 5ers complain about? Buy it and tune it up a half step. When I played 5 for a while I tuned to either B or C as needed. The B worked just fine either way, but at least as good if not better as a C string.
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The low C from the Red Mitchell set became my favorite also, whether bowed or plucked. Before that, I had tried corelli and d'addario low C's.

    It was the weich though and I didn't ever try it in an orchestra setting. I would try it, though, were I still playing in 5ths tuning and in a big orchestra.
  14. I use a Pirasto Permanent low B, tuned up a semitone. Great for both pizz and arco.

  15. PhilB


    Mar 20, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    Once again thanks for the help. I've ordered the Spirocore medium low C.

    On the subject of tuning a low B string up to C, my 5 string bass is fitting with Evah Pirazzi strings, including the low B, which I just tried tuning up to C. This worked very well. I'll post back my opinion of how it compares to the Spirocore.
  16. Paul, I had the old Obligato low C and that's a quite correct assessment, it was poor. I used a Spirocore low B instead. When I heard they had reformulated the G and C, I bought both and i have been quite pleased with them. If you have not tried the new Obligato low C, please tell me, but my experience with it has been good.
  17. Yes, the reformulated Fifths Tuning Obligatos are MUCH better. I like them, they work well for jazz and have an acceptable orchestral sound. They are just not powerful enough for heavy orchestral playing, so I go back and forth between them and my custom Genssler strings.
  18. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    JQ uses the genssler C (and possibly the G). My friend studies with him and managed to get a few hand-me down strings. pretty sweet if I do say so!

  19. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I have been using the Bel Canto low B string on my bass in 5ths. It sounds great for orchestra playing, but doesn’t have a lot of bite for jazz. The Permanent low B is great, The Spirocore C sounds good for jazz, but not everyone likes it with the bow. Check out the Pirastro Jazzer. A 5 string playing teacher of mine has it on his bass and loves it.