Need Super Low Tension Strings for Jazz

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by funkyfretless, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. funkyfretless


    Jan 15, 2006
    Atlanta, Ga
    hey guys,

    long story short, i was working up to 8 nights a week for 2+ years on my acoustic, and last july i got a bad case of tendonitis. since then i have laid off for the past year and have switched to electric. anyway i played last week to knid of get back into playing and my string tension is too high.

    im used to evah pirrazzi's (i believe that they were the light gauge) then i just put on some new spirocores weich's and they are to stiff too.

    i have medium to medium higher action... never used an amp on any of my gigs in the past which is what might have caused my predicament....

    anyway, i am going to lower my action and i am looking for light tension/loud sounding strings. i have heard great things about the garbo lights (super low tension and great pizz sound) only downfall is the bowing.

    i play 95% of jazz with arco mainly for practicing intonation on melodies.

    will the garbo lights be a good light tension set to go to?


  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Spiro solo tuned orch. It'll be lighter than the weichs. Can't think of anything lighter cept maybe corellis.
  3. I cannot comment abut the Garbos, but for bowing and pizz I use Innovation Braided, which have a similar construction than the Evahs but with lower tension.
    You also can get Solo tuning strings (made to be tuned a whole note higher than the orchestral/jazz tuning) and tune them to the normal EADG. this will get approximately 20% less tension. You can get Evahs and even Innovation Braided in Solo tuning.

    BUT, lower tension strings will be quieter than higher tension strings. And you might get intonation problems for really low tension strings (getting higher in pitch with a high amplitude and get back to the lower pitch during decay).

    Spiro 4/4 Weich (S42W) or even Spiro 4/4 Solo strings in Orchestral tuning might be a good idea. The 4/4 Spiros have less tension than the same type of 3/4 Spiros.
  4. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    Sorry to hear your story, but I share your pain. Going ampless requires maximizing the amount of sound out of the bass, right? In my experience, that can be done with medium string height and EP weich strings. That's what works on my bass.Consider your setup to be sure your bass is as happy as possible. Finding the right strings, heights, etc can be quite revealing and greatly reduce physical pain. There are many ways to skin a cat.
    I used a Velvet/gut combo for a bit and it's certainly a viable option. I think the key is to get bass moving and vibrating as much as possible with a strong fundamental and that combo certainly did that on my bass.
  5. donn


    Mar 28, 2011
    Are you saying that you almost never bow in performance, but it's an issue that would keep you away from an otherwise suitable string choice anyway?

    Anyway, a ways back I looked at tension figures where I could get them, and drew up this chart. Note that these are measurements of the force required to bring the strings to pitch, and they don't necessarily correspond to how they feel when you play them. Just after I made up the chart I learned that Velvet strings mostly are 25Kg; that's where the A string is on the (yellow) Pyramid gut 214, so for general purpose strings with published tensions, Velvet is about as low as they come, and that's the standard sets, not "light."

    Attached Files:

  6. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Velvet Compass 180 Suits will be low tension and bow well. They sounded fuller on my bass than spiro solos. Velvet Blues don't bow as easily and have a brighter sound. I'm using them now for my tired hands after spiro meds and they're doing the job.
  7. Is gut an option for you? Light tension and you can keep your strings high the way they used to, and they project like crazy on a loud bass so you can continue to gig without an amp.
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I think guts are a good option (if you're into them) for low tension, but speaking as someone who has come back from a serious case of RSI, doing things the "old way" is probably not an option if you want to keep playing. Having an amp and lower strings is extra protection so you can lighten up your approach and still be heard.
  9. lrhbass

    lrhbass Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    The velvet-gut option will work! It has good volume,and you can play all day.You might think about which velvet. i like d-a Garbo,and e-Anima,with a Gamut gut g,at the moment.:bassist:
  10. HateyMcAmp


    Apr 13, 2006
    You might want to consider Velvet Blue. They have a similar perlon core to the Evahs, but are more gut like in tension (softer) with an even string-to-string balance. These are also probably the best bowing pizz-oriented Velvets, as none of the strings have a nylon/tynex wrap. Very comfortable tension and punchy compared to Spiro Weichs, which I also find too stiff and weak sounding acoustically.

    I always come back to a gut/velvet combo of some sort, but it takes a different physical approach to make it truly easier on your body. Also, I've just given up on stupidly-high-string-height-and-no-amp and bring my little Phil Jones Bass Cub along for sound support for loud rooms. THAT has made my hands happier, and I'm still getting a very natural tone, IMO.
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    The Compas 180s are much more bow friendly and are excellent pizz strings, IME.
  12. I do not disagree in the slightest...just trying to give the OP an option no one had mentioned that could offer some comfort of familiarity, you know what I mean?
  13. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I do.
  14. donn


    Mar 28, 2011
    Speaking of playing purely acoustic with guts -- some years back I was talking to something of an old-timer bass player between sets, and he allowed that earlier he'd pulled a gut string right off the bridge, trying to hold up his end in a small combo with a couple of horns. I thought that was quite a feat of strength at the time. Now I'm trying to get used to a set of Clef guts, and I can easily see how that could happen - and why. The unwound E and A aren't high tension at all, but wouldn't bet on them working for an injury case. (Or really for anyone, but I'm giving it some more time.)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Another vote here for Spirocore Solo. Light tension, but still loud and the solos are easy to bow. D'Addario Helicore Hybrid light gauge is another string you should consider. I have them on my 5/8 Hofner and they feel and sound great.
  16. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    +1 on the spire solos tuned to orch pitch - I have that set up on my Upton/Karr deluxe and it is very happy - and I do primarily orchestra/chamber music with it

  17. Sounds like the spiro solos will work. I have a set of Corelli 370F's on a bass with a super low set up. So easy to play, and decent volume. Plus, they would be about half the price of the spiros.
  18. The Corelli 380M have a low tension, at least on the lower strings. So low that I don't like them. The G is nice for me, but might not be the best for you.

    I would try the Innovation Braided Solo tuned to orchestra pitch for lowest tension and good bow grab. The Spiro Solo have a lot more tension than them and are not as easy to bow as the Braided. For not too less tension try the regular orchestral Braided or the Evah Solos downtuned. Both should bow a bit better than Spiros and are closer to your previous strings in construction and behavior (except the tension).

    Basically it's a question of how much less tension you want.

    Lighter to medium (tension) gut strings may have a similar tension to the downtuned Braided Solos but might be a bit more difficult to bow at the beginning if you use naked guts.

    But lowering the action makes life a lot easier and might be a good idea, at least if you want to use metal core strings like Spiros. If you don't have adjusters, get them. If you have them but they don't go low enough, let a luthier lower your bridge. 5-6-7-8 mm for lowest bridge position is enough.

    Keep in mind that pressing down a string you stretch a string. And steel core strings don't stretch well, but (braided) synthetic and gut cores stretch more easily. So if you keep a high action, you need still some power to press down steel core strings. Regular Evahs might be an exception, because they have a really thick braided synthetic core and a lot of tension, but with thinner synthetic cores they stretch a bit better. The bad thing about easily streching strings is, that you might get less dynamic range out of them because you have to pluck them hard to get a lot more power out of them.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    If that were the case synthetic strings would go out of tune just by playing them up the fingerboard. IMO The Evah's are very stable strings and would also work(once broken in they hold pitch even after sitting unplayed for days). The reason I think Spiro Solos would work is that low tension with low action is generally not a good combination. The Spirocores still speak well down low. You will need to probably play a few different sets to see what works best for you.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Looks like there is a lightly used set of Solos on the classifieds right now. You might want to check them out.