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Newbie post - busted D Helicores

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Jamolah, Jul 31, 2008.


  1. Jamolah

    Jamolah

    Apr 28, 2005
    UK, North East
    Hello DB Posters!

    I'm a newbie DB player a mere 6 months into my career, having made the shift from BG. I would appreciate some advice and support, given my inexperience and neophyte status.

    I recently had a new set of strings put on my bass, a set of Helicore pizz. I took the bass out of the house for the first time today, about 2 weeks after getting it back from my repair guy. I went to tune up from the rehearsal room piano and, after barely touching the peg, my D snapped. This is the second time this string has gone, although this time with a break in the string, rather than springing out.

    I'm devastated, as I haven't played out with the bass since the restringing and am still reeling from the high cost of a set. My repair guy said, when I collected the bass, that there's nothing wrong with the bridge or nut saddles, as apparently this can cause strings to break over sharp points. This snap seems to have happened right on the D peg. Am I doing something wrong? What advice can you guys give me to avoid this kind of thing happening again? Any advice on restringing it myself, maintaining tuning, storing and caring for the bass would be appreciated, no matter how common-sense it might seem.

    Cheers,
    JP
     
  2. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I don't think you're doing anything wrong. It's pretty unusual, but not unprecidented. Heliocores used to have a rep for breaking, but I think it's been cleaned up for a while. The Helicore Pizz string is not a very common choice, so I don't know with them. Helicore may offer to replace it and if they'll replace the set, you might try their Hybrids. There are more of them in circulation and they might be more stable.

    Now, it could be your bridge, nut or something else with your bass. If the same string keeps breaking, especially if they are differnet brands, then it's suspicious. How experienced is your repair guy. Maybe a second opinion?

    On the other hand, if it's in the peg box, maybe not. Impossible for me to say based on your description. I will say that in the DB world, we have a reasonable expectation that strings won't ever break. Most of us will have 0-2 or so break in our lifetime. Something is up with you. It's either the strings or the bass.

    Unless you're doing something really whacky that you haven't told us about, like playing with a pick or something...I can't even imagine.
     
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Odd. Having alot of pencil lead (graphite) in your string slots helps as well. I didn't see you mention anything about graphite. And make sure your "guy" is a qualified double bass luthier. Not just any luthier will do. My guess is it didn't actually break at the peg but prob somehow got damaged near the nut and then broke with the requisite tension. Could also be that your string slots are too tight around the nut? Take photos of those areas, that might help us diagnose a bit.

    Also, it could be just a defective string in which case most "good" manufacturers will replace for free.
     
  4. Jamolah

    Jamolah

    Apr 28, 2005
    UK, North East
    Thanks for the responses, guys. I'm fairly sure my luthier is experienced, as I say I've only been playing a few months, but all my local DB cats recommend him. Couldn't hurt to get some extra opinions, though, so I will rock some photo's in the morning and post em up.

    I'm worried that maybe the weather/climate is messing up the tension on my bass, as my music room has pretty big windows and gets hella warm in bright sunshine. Could this contribute to my bass string woes? Like i said, the first time the D went it wasn't so much a break as a pop, and this second time it was a definite break, nowhere near the nut.

    I'll get on to D'Addario and see if I can get a fresh one. Any advice on changing strings? I'm sure it's a pretty common newbie question, so links to relevant posts will be cool, if you'd rather not re-hash some old advice.

    Cheers again,
    JP
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Drastic changes in temperature is bad for any instrument, but I don't think it's going to cause a string to break clean like that. I'm thinking most peoples strings tend to unravel rather than snap, if at all. I only had one do that and it snapped and then unravelled.

    If D'Addario doesn't help you out, I'd try a different set of strings (or just a D & G to keep it light on the wallet) and see if the problem goes away. String a bass is just like stringing any other instrument. Keep the strings as straight as possible and don't let them kink as you put them on. If they keep breaking in the same location, then it's probably something wrong with your bass. My guess right now is that it's a defective string since you had someone qualified inspect it.
     
  6. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    and change them ONE AT A TIME or you'll drop your soundpost. Or let Mr. Luthier change them.
     
  7. GriffithLea

    GriffithLea

    Aug 29, 2006
    Cypress, TX
    It would help if you could post some pictures of the carnage.

    That the break occurred on the D twice is sort of suspicious. Perhaps the hole in your tuning peg needs to be radiused, to produce a gentler turn for the string into the hole. Strings can handle some pretty tight turns, but what they can't handle is a sharp corner.

    Graphite (#2 pencil lead works fine) on the nut and bridge is also key.

    Dumb question - you're sure you were tuning the string to the correct octave? Probably you were but it doesn't hurt to be sure.

    Definitely get in touch with D'Addario. It's highly likely that they'll fix you up. Remember, what they sell is a consumable, so they want repeat customers and are not too concerned about the occasional goodwill replacement.

    But check out that string path before putting in a new string! :eyebrow:
     
  8. jmoroney

    jmoroney

    Aug 1, 2008
    Do you clip the ends of the strings?

    I use heliocores and I've had that problem when i clipped the strings. It was my D string too, snapped twice. When your restringing, dont cut the ends off. It's painstaking, but you have to wind the entire thing around a million times.
     
  9. Jamolah

    Jamolah

    Apr 28, 2005
    UK, North East
    As far as I can tell the strings are all the correct octave. The G should be the first below middle C, like on the plank, yeah?

    The hole on the tuning peg doesn't feel sharp, but I am a little concerned. I'm trying to put my new D on, but the tension seems to be getting crazy-tight before the string even reaches the right pitch, around Bb/B! I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I haven't clipped the string, have let it twist under the string like in the David Gage tutorial, and graphiting the heck out of my bridge and nut, but the string starts to feel super tight long before it should. Is this normal?

    Sorry for all the newbie questions, but you guys are being really helpful. Thanks so much.

    Cheers,
    JP
     
  10. GriffithLea

    GriffithLea

    Aug 29, 2006
    Cypress, TX
    No, one octave below that. Remember, the double bass is a transposing instrument - it sounds an octave lower than written.
     
  11. listert

    listert

    Nov 3, 2009
    London
    Hi
    I've had the same problem. Just started double bass. Broke one D when stringing up new out of box. ordered a replacement and that's just broken on me. Both broke on or near the tuning peg. The tension felt too high as i was putting them in - I used a clip on tuner to find D. Way to low and floppy so I just move up the scale to D - just got to C-sharp and ping...
    I'll check the nut and bridge are smooth - does that make enough difference to snap a bass string. Never got this trouble with an electric.
     
  12. GriffithLea

    GriffithLea

    Aug 29, 2006
    Cypress, TX
    Something's not right. You might be tuning one octave too high, or maybe you're not winding enough of the string onto the peg. You're saying that it is breaking right at the peg, so the nut and bridge are probably not to blame.

    Check the hole that goes through the peg and make sure it has no sharp edges where the string has to transition from the hole to the outside peg surface.

    As I said above, make sure you are winding as much of the string onto the peg as you can, neatly. I like to make a little bend in the string about 1" or so from the end around a pencil. This makes it easier for the string to catch the peg. About 1/2" of the string will be sticking out of the other side of the peg. Then, I wind for a few turns on the side of the peg hole farthest from the gears, then cross over at some point and wind on the side nearest the gears, ending up so that the string makes a straight path from the nut to the peg (i.e. doesn't cut diagonally above the nut).

    The idea is to spread the pull across as much of the string as you can. What you should not do is what I often see in EB and EG land - the musician runs a bunch of the string through the peg hole, and does just a couple of winds. Remember that tension on URB strings is quite a bit more than on EB.

    Sometimes you can get away with winding on the gear side only, but usually there's too much string and you'd end up jacking out the cheeks of the pegbox.

    Oh, make sure the string winds onto the top of the peg, not the bottom. :)

    I would suggest finding someone who has some experience with URB and let them help with the first string change. If you are in the Houston area, PM me and I'll be glad to help.
     
  13. listert

    listert

    Nov 3, 2009
    London
    Hi
    I got yet another D string and happily managed to get it on without breaking. I needle filed the bridge and nut to ensure they were smooth and applied lots of graphite from a woodworking pencil.
    It felt quite tight towards the end but didn't actually break - still can't tune it without flinching - LOL.
    On a different tack - the tuning of all string seems to go slightly flat between practises - is this just strings bedding it or should i be concerned - I guess time will tell in a few weeks.
    rgds
    Tom
     
  14. Are you really tuned at the right pitches?
    Tuning with a dedicated bass tuner should ensure that.
    I use a Korg BT-2.
     
  15. listert

    listert

    Nov 3, 2009
    London
    I'm certain they're the right pitch. I'm probably just nervous after breaking two D strings. Tuning is settling down as well.
    Just pleased to have been able to practise properly over the weekend.
    Thanks for the advice.
     
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