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LOW F# - what strings?

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Jagdmusik, Dec 18, 2006.


  1. I'm fixin' to to get myself a 5-string Ergo EUB, planning to tune it way down to F#-B-E-A-D for uber-bottom-dwelling underneath a group also containing bass guitar and/or low keyboard playing.

    I plan to both pluck and bow. This will not be traditional music, so I don't need to pull off genuine classic jazz or arco tones or whatever; but I want it to sound good, defined with some bite if possible, not boomy or totally tubbed-out. I'm primarily a bass guitarist and have minimal upright experience, so I don't need it to feel "normal" for an upright or good for fancy lines; but I want it to be playable.

    What kind of strings would be best for me? Are there any sets available that are intended to be tuned as low as I'm going?

    Jesse at Ergo recommended simply detuning a steel B-E-A-D-G set. I'm a bit suspicious of that, coming as I am from bass guitars with their puny scale length, but I can see how it's feasible given the Ergo's 42". If I were to use this approach, I'd be inclined to use the most brutally high-tensioned BEADG 3/4 set in existence. Who makes that? Also, might 1/2-scale strings have higher tension? Would they be long enough to fit?
     
  2. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Seattle
    I would say that Thomastik Spirocore Starks might be your best bet. They are very high tension and have the definition and bite you are looking for. Whether or not they would retain that definition and bite when tuned down that far is a question that I can't answer. I'm not sure I could even hear that low F# anyway! Good luck.
     
  3. You want the F# that's a fourth lower than the low B?
    :eek:
    That's 23.1 Hz!
    I don't know if a stark low B is available, but that's about the only string you could try, and it's likely to be too floppy for anything than open note!
     
  4. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    One night in Ye Olde Bass Rume at U of Toronto, me and my drunken friend tuned my low-C string as far down as it could go and still vibrate back and forth with a bow.

    By playing one of the higher harmonics, we concluded it was a low-F (4 semitones lower than the lowest A on a piano, then again, maybe it was the octave below that).

    All you could hear was the put-put-put of the string going back and forth. It kind of reminded us of a small motorboat engine.

    If you're interested in low instruments, try this website:
    www.contrabass.com/
     
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Thomastik has a custom shop. I would suggest contacting them directly. Perhaps they would wind one for you.

    If they are willing to make it, it will be ridiculously expensive, but the upside is that it will last a long time. I think I our own Paul W. has used the same B string on his fiver since the Vietnam era.
     
  6. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    TB'er "JAUQO III-X" has had strings custom-made for him for sub-contra BG, so he may be able to give you some helpful info.
     
  7. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Yep - he has a BG strung low C# (yes!!) - F# - B - E.

    That bottom string is a sharpened fifth below the lowest note on a piano! But when you listen to his recordings, it actually seems to work. Obviously it's felt as much as it's heard...
     
  8. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    It's very much heard as well :)
     
  9. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Okay, Jauqo - I edited my post to correct the interval and clarify my comment. ;)
     
  10. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    :)
     
  11. Hrm. Seems I posted this thread to something other than the Strings forum. Apologies to the moderator.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice. I've asked Jesse to set me up with some Starks. I figure I'll give detuning a try before I get into custom strings.

    Just to make sure: there shouldn't be any problem with the fact that using the Starks would mean 4/4 strings on a 42" scale... right?
     
  12. In fact no, you posted it on the Strings forum, but since it's EUB related, and since the EUB forum include everything about EUBs (see the forum description on the main DB forums listing), I moved it here.

    Best regards,
    François
     
  13. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy easy there, Ned Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA
    I've been toying with this idea too for my NS, and I thought that a roundwound construction might be the easiest to get that thick and that long.

    Jauqo- any thoughts on getting a 42" roundwound Low F made? by whom?
     
  14. JAUQO III-X

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    CHICAGO,IL.
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Your best approach would be to contact one of the smaller URB string companies,they might be willing to give it a try or you can just experiment with various gauges from one of the bigger established companies,but it really is a tough call.
     
  15. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA


    The stock NS B string is fairly stiff on my CR5M, though I would expect a TI Stark B string to much stiffer.

    You might be able to get away with de-tuning a stark B.
     
  16. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Virginia
    i use a set of medium helicore hybrids on my nscr5m and sucessfully detune the b to an f#. it requires a lighter touch of course,
    but retains enough tension to play arco as well as pizz.
    i think the b is a standard guage, for use with all other guage sets
    if i'm not mistaken.
     

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