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Low Tension Strings for Arco & Pizzicato

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by MOTORHEADBANGER, Jan 30, 2013.


    MOTORHEADBANGER Spud-boy looking for a real tomato

    Dec 23, 2008
    Sidney, Indiana
    Finally time for string shopping. The bass I have been playing for the past year at the university is in need of new strings. It has a set of D'addario Helicore Ochestra strings (not sure of what guage) that I have never found comfortable and, as a result, I am looking to replace.

    I am looking for a string with low tension and good arco response, but with enough growl to be suitable for jazz. I play in both an orchestra and jazz ensemble, thus needing a string capable of suitable tones for both. I have small hands and problems with them (mainly from strain) which make a somewhat lower tension much easier for me.

    I have had suggestions all across the board locally (from Corelli's to Obligato's to Spirocore Solo's tuned to orchestra pitch), but I was curious of what the collective wisdom of Talkbass would suggest.
  2. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Definitely Pirastro Obligato. Very easy bow response and an amazing pizz sound.
  3. I'm one of those who believe that Spiros can do everything if the player is capable of adjusting their technique. Flexocor 92s can be a pretty decent jazz string, depending on the bass, and are available in a solo gauge. I'm not a fan of the synthetic strings.
  4. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    evah pirazzi weich. really great for arco and pizz, and low tension. if i werent using gut, this is what i would use
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Spiro Solos tuned orch. Really great. Weichs if you want a little more tension.
  6. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Spiro weichs might not have *that* much less tension than D'Addario orchestrals (I haven't checked the tension chart) but they're much more flexible than the D'Addarios which I think are kind of on the stiff side too. IMO they'd be much more comfortable (and FWIW I actually find them easier to bow than the D'Addarios).
  7. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    I like detuned spiro solos for arco and pizz. If you have a bright sounding bass, the arco might be a bit strident, though.

    I also really like detuned dominant solos. I've never used the E(F#) strings, but the top three work very well as low tension hybrid strings. Not as growly as the spiros, but they still have good sustain, a slightly darker sound, and are a little more forgiving with the bow.
  8. Personally I dislike downtuning solos to orchestra for bowing purposes. They especially lack definition and repons in upper register. Currently I am using Velvet Compas 180 both for pizz and arco. They have a tension of 26 kp on a 105 mensur bass.

    Another option worth trying is Presto Balance Orchestra (bowing + pizz) or Hybrid (pizz + bowing). Very cheap string with low tension a perfect combi IMHO.

    string tension matrix:

    presto strings:
  9. Start with spirocore weichs. My guess is you'll like the bottom two strings and find the top too bright/metallic. If that's the case, keep the bottom and try pairing it with G+D Bel Cantos (either the regulars or tuned down solos). They won't have quite the same pop and sustain as the spiros, but are much friendlier under the bow.

    Other reasonable options would include tuned down solo spiros, corellis (probably too low on tension for orchestra, but good pizz), flexocore deluxe, and maybe evah pirazzis. Evahs usually sound too dull for me, but there are basses that sound great with them.

    I wouldn't recommend obligatos for orchestra use at all. Great pizz sound, but super fussy under a bow.
  10. Thomastik Dominant. Amazing pizz, fantastic arco. Don't sound like a synthetic core string at all. In fact, they sound like improved spirocores, if that makes sense and is possible. People may say they're high tension. They're not. They're stiff, but low tension. I find them easy to play (but then, I also like Spiro Stark).

  11. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    I love these strings. I had to use Kaplans for a week and when i got my bass back i fell in love with them again!
  12. Eva Pirazzi Weich.
    For pizzicato it has a prolonged fundamental before dissipating to partials, beautiful on the lower strings and keeps dark on D and G, dark but singing.

    For arco, this video shows the answer:

    Eccles Sonata, the Rogeri Bass
  13. bassfat


    Oct 3, 2010
    Belcanto solos all night!
  14. tstone


    Nov 16, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    Yet another vote for the EP Weichs. A true hybrid string, even though they don't market them as such.
  15. Lower tension than Obligato, Dominant, Evah Weich and probably also lower than Belcanto, better to bow than Compas 180:

    Innovation 140B (Braided)
    Very nice to bow with a soft round pizz whenn plucked at the end of the fingerboard.

    For a bit brighter sound: Compas 180 SUIT.
  16. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Another vote for the Eva Pirazzi Weich. They bow great, IMO better than the Belcantos I had on my bass. I don't know if they have less tension, but they feel less stiff and the pizz tone is like night and day.
  17. The terms get conflated often, but I'll bet the OP meant stiffness rather than tension.

    Tension is a more technical thing which can be measured precisely and has some impact on the response of the instrument. Stiffness is more of a tactile perception having to do with personal preferences and ease of play. They are related, but it's worth making a distinction.

    Also, nobody's mentioned the awful "roll" on Evahs. How do you people play with these things?
  18. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    I've had two sets of Evahs on two different basses...no roll. From the postings here, the consensus seems to be those that like them, like them partly because they don't roll.
    YMMV is thusly proven true...
  19. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    you may have played an early version of these strings. i think they did roll at first but when through a few revisions. i have had them on 3 of my basses and have played them on many others. never had a roll. obligatos however, they do roll
  20. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    Can you please explain what you mean by "roll"?