New to me Epiphone bass and looking for right strings...

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Joe Basso, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Joe Basso

    Joe Basso

    Feb 18, 2017
    HI All, I just bought a 1941 Epiphone bass and I'm looking to get it set up to my liking.

    I play mostly pizz and run a recording studio... so end up playing a variety of styles. I have a carved bass set up with guts on the D &G and aged zyex on the E&A which work perfect on that instrument. The Epi came with big fat nylon wound strings... they actually sounded quite good, and look like they might even have a real gut core, but the rolling feel and non-bowability are a deal breaker for me... also the soundpost was too high and the treble side of the top under the bridge was bowed up substantially so, this whole situation is going to get changed up a bit with a new soundpost and an adjustable bridge. I had an extra set of either zyex or obligatos lying around (I'm not sure which silks are red and orange) that I put on the bass a few days ago. The neck angle is currently set for a very tall bridge, so they feel a little tight... I like the tone, but it's pretty hard to play... I plan to lower the action a tad, but not sure that will solve the problem entirely. I played a loaner bass at a festival last year that had solo strings on it tuned down - the owner didn't remember the brand of the strings, but I absolutely loved them! The silks were blue if I remember correctly. I'm wondering if anyone has string suggestions for a tall bridge plywood bass setup for 90% pizz, low to medium action, and more stable, sustain and brighter than gut, but not the tight spiro steel thang and not a tiny gauge.

    I have Velvets on my kay, and I love them, but of course those are no longer available.
    Things I am looking at are:
    1. Superflexible solo set tuned down. Someone suggested this is likely what was on that loaner bass, and I'm excited to try them, but hesitant to sink $180 into them without knowing. Anyone have a used set?!??!?:)
    2. Other brands of solo strings dropped down? Obligatos?
    3. The Pirastro Evah Pirazzi"slap" / "gold" set - I hear some people have switched to these from velvets and been happy
    Oopen to suggestions, and super interested in buying a used set if anyone has anything in this zone!

    Thanks everyone!

  2. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    I vote Spirocore weichs. Great do-it-all strings that just get better and better, also very friendly to being re-installed so a good candidate for used strings.
  3. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    I just put the Evah slaps on my newer Englehardt, and I LOVE them. Well, the A might sound a tad softer than the other 3, but I'm still getting used to them.

    Tho I personally don't like spiros (and it sounds you don't either), I think they might be a good choice, to give you the greatest variety across your 3 basses. Since you have guts on your carved, I'd think carefully about putting them on your new Epi.

    I think you have a challenging and complex equation before you, not only to set up each fiddle the best IT can be, but also to give you the greatest range of options. Good luck in the search!
  4. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I say get a set of spirocore lights and then get it setup. PERSONALLY if I had those 2 basses (the epiphone and the carved) I'd throw the gut/zyex mix on the epiphone assuming its a plywood and the spiro lights on the carved.
  5. Joe Basso

    Joe Basso

    Feb 18, 2017
    Yeh - I hear you on swapping the steels on the carved bass, but the carved bass with the guts is super magical in the recording studio, so I don't want to mess with that.
  6. Spirocore Weichs (maybe the 3885's if the S42's are too light), Evah Pirazzi Weich, Helicore Hybrids or Zyex would be my suggestions based on my personal experience.
  7. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Congratulations, and welcome to Epi-world!
    I've tried a lot of different strings on my Epis in attempting to prove my theory that the right string will make up for a lack of practice, skill, and talent, which I still hold to be true despite an appalling lack of validation. But I digress. Spiro weichs (S42w) are the clear winners for me. I was lukewarm on them until I heard myself on a recording - they have a presence and cut that's not apparent from the driver's seat, and produce a surprisingly warm (though a far cry from gut) organic sound. Synthetic hybrid strings (EP weich, Zyex) sound good to a point but fall off when pushed dynamically. Superflexibles were on and off quickly. Other favorites include Innovation Super Silvers and Garbos. The EP Slaps had a nice sound, but lacked testicular fortitude.
    I briefly detuned my Weichs a whole step to get a sense of how detuned-to-EADG Solos would feel. Easy on the left hand, and a nice mellow sound - definitely worth exploring.
    Keep in mind that early Epis were designed for the tension of gut strings. It might be worthwhile having a luthier confirm that the top construction is appropriate for your string choice. I've had no trouble with either of mine (both late 40s).
    AGCurry and Povl Carstensen like this.
  8. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    Lucky you getting the EPI!
    If it’s any help I have a spare set of Superflexible solo gauge for sale on international classifieds... brand new old stock. You can have for $110 posted to you
  9. The dynamic response of synthetic core strings depend on the stretch of the core. It is valid for most synthetic core strings (nylon/Perlon or PERK core), but not for for Innovation strings (including the metal wound Braided and Polychrome strings). I measured the stretch and had a posting about it some time ago here.

    Detuning a Weich/light string by a whole tone gives a lower tension than Solo strings from the same family. Solo strings have approximately the same tension as Mittel/medium strings on their intended pitch, Weich/light strings approximately the same pitch as Mittel/medium strings tuned a halftones lower.
    So to simulate Solo strings detuned to orchestra pitch, the Weich/light strings should be downtuned by a halftone, not a wholetone.
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  10. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Thanks for the explanation of tension. I detuned a half step to try. Nice feel and sound.
  11. Joe Basso

    Joe Basso

    Feb 18, 2017
    Ooh - thanks misterbadger for the explanation, that's really helpful to know. I lowered the bridge, recut the soundpost and am liking the Zyex much better. They have a great growl and really good sustain. However, I'm still hoping to try a lower tension string set when I find something used in the mostly unemployed musician price range. I'll let y'all know what I land on!
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  12. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Those tops are thin and cave in quite easily so stay with light sets.
  13. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Zyex Lights sound really good on my student's ply, as they do on my carved basses. Spiro weichs sound great on another student's Kay. I think the Zyex will probably feel easier under the hands if that's what you're looking for. But a lot depends on your bass and its general response.
  14. Joe Basso

    Joe Basso

    Feb 18, 2017
    The top seems a little thicker than my Kay, (it's 5-ply) but perhaps that's because this is an early model. But yeah, I still think lights are the way to go. I have zyex on it now... they're not bad, but hoping to try some evah pirazzi gold slaps or super flexibe solos.
  15. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Isn't there a set of EP slaps offered in the classifieds right now?
    Sam Dingle likes this.
  16. Joe Basso

    Joe Basso

    Feb 18, 2017
    YUp! I just contacted the seller, but thanks for the heads up!

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