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My string experiments

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Monte, May 29, 2005.


  1. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    On Mother's Day my Solano Klotz met with a bandstand accident resulting in one of my tuners being broken and the scroll damaged (I'll write more about this in setup later).

    While it was being repaired I got back my old 30's Juzek to use on gigs. I just couldn't stand the Kolstein Heritages that were on there. They seemed to combine the worst aspects of gut (flabby) with the worst of steel (harsh sound). A friend had a set of Pirastro pizzacato gut that he wasn't using because they couldn't be bowed well that he gave me. These are the ones with the steel wrapped G (as opposed to the clear wrap). After they settled for a week, the Juzek sounded tremendous. It always did like gut. Big powerful pizz, stayed in tune pretty well, and were very balanced. Using them in a bop type group, they sounded great and amplified very well. The only negatives would be that they sound horrible with a bow, which is no shock given that they are named pizzacato!! The other was that the winding is rough, and if your hands get sweaty it makes it hard to slide up and down the string. The feel was similar to the old Velvet 360's, although the Pirastro's sounded much better. I would highly recommend these to a pizz only player looking for a more organic gut tone.

    The other experiment occured this weekend with my Solano. When I first got it back a week ago Wednesday, it was quiet and took about a week to sound good again (adjusting to the changes I think). Then it sounded pretty good arco, but a little dead pizz. I thought it was back close to normal so I brought it out to my gig Friday. That was a mistake. At the end of the gig I had to admit that my nearly 18 month old Velvet 180 SUIT set was too dead for pizz. Couldn't hear definition on the E & A, although the G was still pretty good.

    Came home from the gig and put on a mixed set I had. E & A Thomastik Superflexible and D & G Pirastro Oliv. Used it last night and today on my brunch gig. Other than constantly retuning the D & G , it sounded awesome!! My Solano really seems to like the higher tension low strings, as I had to turn down my PA settings from the night before. It was really clear without being too bright on the lower strings. The Oliv G is as good as I remember. If I was being picky, I'm not 100% sold on the D string Oliv, which was a little thumpier than I remember, but hopefully it will settle in. It did sound better today at brunch than it did last night. Arco practice yesterday was good, although I've yet to play anything as good as the Velvet 180 SUIT set. The Thomastiks are still a little "snarly", but like all steel, I'll give them a bit to break in. They do match very well with the gut, as they have a nice dark tone, but with better clarity.

    Overall, it is a really good jazz setup for me, and should be good for any orchestral stuff I get, although I may go back to the 180's in the spring community orchestra.

    Wow, 18 months without changing string brands :eyebrow: !! That should tell you how good the 180's are, as I used to try new strings like underwear....
     
  2. Wow, that's weird! I just put E & A Superflexibles on my bass tonight (only with Obli G and D) after suffering along with Heritages for almost a year.

    Did just a little playing, and I immediately noticed a LOT more output. A totally different character than the Kolstien, and will take little getting used to, I'm sure.

    Too late to do any serious playing anymore tonight, but I'm very curious to see what this combination will sound like in a week or so.

    Keep us posted, Monte.
     
  3. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    So you guys really like the Superflexibles on the bottom? I couldn't stand them. I have Helicore Heavy guage hybrids on the E and A, and it just completely blows the Superflexibles away in tone and volume. They are much thicker sounding. Much closer to gut than the Supers. Just a thought,if you get a chance to try them it is worth checking them out(although I don't like the full set all that much....). I have a Spirocore Stark E and A on the way today. I'll report back when I have a couple gigs under my belt with them.
     
  4. I don't know if I like them or not -- right now they're super-twangy and metallic sounding, but definitely louder than the Kolsteins. Time will tell.

    The last Thomastiks I had on a bass were Spirocores, and I didn't like how they sounded until they were about 5 years old!
     
  5. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The Superflexible E is ok, but I found that the A never really lost the twangy sound. I just received the Spirocore Starks, and installed them right away. The E and A sound great already. Actually, they sound huge. A very noticeable boost in volume across the entire range of the bass. 3 gigs this week, so we'll see how they perform. I'll be playing acoustic during 2 of them.
     
  6. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I wouldn't say I hated the Superflexes but the Helicore Hybrid heavy gauge are definitely nicer in every way. The Superflex E was OK but the A was too bright for me especially next to an unwound gut D.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    But...but, you just sold me a set of starks last year! :eek: :D

    Interesting that all of this superflexible talk is coming up now - one of the university students just put 3/4 of a set on his bass, and he loves 'em. I liked them, but not as well as the Dominants I've been using lately. To my ear, the superflexes sounded kind of round and "unfocused" on his bass (which is a sound he likes: no criticism involved there), but that could have been just him and/or his bass. He managed to get the same sound on my bass with the dominants as well.

    Ain't it funny how when you pick up a new bass or try a set of different strings, you still sound just like you with a tone filter on?
     
  8. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    A lot of it depends on the bass.

    My big girl is naturally dark, so the Superflexibles sound like a very good match for the gut. They aren't twangy at all. A little more growl on the A string than I'm used to, but it isn't bad, and it is already becoming less pronounced.

    Interesting the different perspectives. On my end, Helicores were the strings that I hated in every regard. They were on the bass when I first tried it and I made Rumano put something else on before I bought it. I've had Helicores (Hybrid and orchestral) on 3 different basses, and they always seem fuzzy and unfocused, with a weak fundamental, especially with the bow.
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Speaking of Helicores, why do so many Pros use Just the 'E' or "E/C" ext. string with Flexicors on the other 3. Just curious. I never liked them much either and the G and D sound yucky. The E and A sounds Tubby.

    Just curious... Is there no better choice?.. Orig. Flex? Orig. Flat Chrome or Permanents for the E or E/C?.. Something with a 'tone' to it.
     
  10. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Many people (including me) think the Flexocors don't have a lot of power in the E, and even in the A. But a lot of those same people like the D and G. Thus they mix the Flexocor D and G (and maybe A) with something that produces more volume on the bottom. A few years ago the popular choice was Spirocores for the bottom. Then Helicores. My teacher recently switched to Permanents on the bottom and likes that solution much better than Helicores. I took it a step further and went to a full set of Permanents -- I find them to be a good string for my bass.
     
  11. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Ken, your basses are in a whole different league than most of ours. If I had a fine English/Italian instrument with a powerful low end I would for sure use a string with a more "pure tone". ie//Flexocore, or O. Flatchrome. The Helicores offer more volume than the Flexocores. I think they just aren't dampened the same so there are probably more harmonics coming through(you might call it "perceived volume").

    Chris, I am not playing the same bass any more, and this one can definitely take the tension. I like the Starks on the bottom of this bass. My Helicores are about a year and a half old and they just lost it last week. Intonation gets a little funny, and they loose presence. I still like having gut on the G and D.
     
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Adrian, I think my Basses are on par with the average Orchestra Bass. Some are much better and some not as good as mine so I am sort of in the middle of the 'pro Orchestra grade' instrument.

    These are 'Fair' Basses to make comparisons with as I refer to the Martini and Gilkes I use and not some special Bass that no one else has. I have seen better, much better!

    Pete, I have used 3 Flexicors and 2 & 2 with Permanents on the bottom each time. I think the Flex G and D sound much better than the Perm Tops do but they do sound nice for Pizz.

    My Martini sounded better with 2&2 than with all 4 Flexs and now has all 4 Original Flex. They sound good except for the G with the Bow.. it's about 10-20% off for me.. My Gilkes DOES have all 4 Flexicors and sounds fine with them. I also tried 2&2 with the Perms on the bottom but I think this Bass works either way. Orig Flat Chromes worked good with both Basses as well but the G stuck out too much with the bow for my ears on both Basses.

    I guess old habits die hard with some players as far as the Hellis on the 'E' goes. I have an old set lying around and might try them to compare one day when I'm not busy. BTW, I have a 5-string conversion in the works up at Arnolds' and I have the strings ready in the box. G&D Flexicors and A,E&B Perms. I will let all know how they are when the Bass is done.

    I recently tried the E/C on my Morelli and did not like how it bowed on that Bass. As a matter of fact, the Obligatos worked better on all 4 strings than the Perms. I guess either the Bass was adjusted for the Obligs or just prefers lighter tension strings. Arnold has the Bass and the extra set of Perms so he may experiment with them if he gets around to it.
     
  13. Say, Ken, you have done so much experimentation with strings, and all of your observations are valuable to me and I'm sure most everyone else here. It would be really great if you could post a chart with all of the strings you have tried, and a brief synopsis of your impressions positive or negative. It's great reading your posts, but having all this info in one place for comparison might be especially helpful, to Newbies in particular. Of course with the obligatory caveat, all basses are different, etc.

    Maybe something like this:

    PIRASTRO:

    Original Flexocore:
    G
    D
    A
    E
    Flexocore:
    G
    D
    A
    E
    Original FlatChrome:
    G
    D
    A
    E
    Flat Chromesteel:
    G
    D
    A
    E
    Permanent:
    G
    D
    A
    E
    Obligato:
    G
    D
    A
    E

    D'ADDARIO:

    Helicore Arco:
    G
    D
    A
    E


    (any others?)
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have made many posts and threads about my tests. Do a search and start a new thread titled.. Ken's string findings" Quote me correctly and I will endorse it!...
     
  15. Same here. I switched to a full set of Permanents about a year ago and like them very much on my Pawlowski bass, both for arco and pizz.

    Cheers,

    Vincent
     
  16. I've had a chance to break in the Superflexibles a little bit. They definitely have more volume than the Kolsteins, but they do sound a bit hollow and tubby on my bass, not as much fundamental as I'd like. The Oblis are kickin butt on the G and D, though, and I think I'll stick with those indefinitely (or until I change my mind).

    As for the A and E, maybe I'll try the Permanants or Dominant next time to get more fundamental. I wouldn't even discount the Heritage E and A if I hear they've changed the formula a bit.

    I really wanted to like the Kolstiens more, as they worked really well with the bow--nice tone and smooth under the horsehair. Just not what I needed in terms of volume and tone for jazz.
     
  17. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Spirocore Stark have lots of volume;)
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Surprisingly, so do the Dominant A&E. Because of my wrist sprain, I put the Dominant E on to see if there was a difference, and it's actually LOUDER than the Stark it replaced. Keep in mind, though, that the Stark was 2 years old.
     
  19. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    So do you think that Obligato G+D would be a good match with Dominant A+E? I am looking for something a little different from my current full set of Obligatos.
     
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I think the Dominants would likely overpower the Obligatos, but that might not be a bad thing. :)