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Obligato strings megathread

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Jan 27, 2001.

  1. I owe this to everyone:

    My luthier is the one who got me to try Obligato. Pirastro had been asking him to get someone to try them, and I was the happy guinea pig. Today, while I was at his shop, he made a sarcastic remark, which I questioned. He reports many instances of the Obligatos breaking. Now, "many" is a relative term; but since I have never known a steel string to break, even a few cases is too many.

    I used my set on the orchestra bass for about 10 months. Then I put them on my jazz bass as an experiment, where they got a good 40 hours of hard pizz work. No problems whatsoever. The only thing that happened was that under heavy pizz in a big room, the outside winding seemed to be loosened from the core and it spun a little. I figured the strings were just beat, and I replaced them.

    Bottom line:
    1. They sound great.
    2. There are reports of premature breakage that I have not heard regarding other strings.

    I will continue to buy them, but I have to report what I heard.
  2. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I've had my set on for about one year, and it does not show any obvious sign of wear (1-2 hr practice per day, 2/3 bow 1/3 pizz). As you may recall, that set was sent by Adrian Müller from Pirazzi&Co to help in my quest for a hybrid set of strings.
    As François said in the previous thread (where can I find Obligatos ?), the surface of those strings is not as smooth as for other Pirastro sets, but I think this is due to the fact that they stretch considerably when brought to pitch, and it is probably difficult for the winding to accomodate such a stretchable core...
    Anyway, I would appreciate the opinion of Obligato users with laminated bass (Engle/Kay or Musima type).

  3. Olivier was asking about Obligato's on a Kay or Englehardt etc.

    Pirastro sent me a set to try about a year and a half ago. I used them for a few weeks ( pizz only) and found them to have lots of volume across all the strings....unlike nylon, perlon etc. Very stable after a day or so. At the time I was experimenting with several different strings. Since then I have been using Corelli 380 TX's with a Spirocore Weich on the E. I like this combination much better.....more resonance and tone....a bit less tension....and a bit more "sing" to the strings without any thin or trebly overtones.
    I went back to the Obligato's again recently and found them to be a bit too "plastic" sounding compared to the Corelli/Weich combination.
    I have read several comments about how good the Obligato's are under the bow so I would imagine they would be a pretty good all round string for some people.
    Now a question: Has anyone played (pizz) the Obigato's and the solid core Picato Innovations? If so how do the two compare in tone and volume?

  4. I have no scientific basis for this, so call it a neurosis if you wish, but I'm reluctant mix strings with differing cores. Who knows? I may be missing something.

  5. Most violin players I know use mixed strings.
    I think everyone has a sound they are looking for and manufacturers have different ideas about how the tension of their string sets should balance out between the G and E.
    To me the problem with Spirocores is that the G is too thin sounding....the A,D and E have much more body. I personally hate thin, tinny sounding G's but others may be able to live with that. I have tried using an Oliv G and D with the Spirocore Weich A and E and its not a bad combination....if you like the solid, round, fat sound.
    The only drawback is that wrapped guts can unravel easily and the climate I live in (Northern Ontario, Canada) is not kind to wound gut strings or carved basses. Thank goodness for my Kay plywood.
    I have mentioned in other posts how much I like Corelli 38TX's for pizz. The G is a little ringy at first but not bad once it settles down.
    The main thing is to find compatible sounding strings which can be an expensive process.
    I use a Weich for an E with the Corelli's because it rings and sustains better than the 380TX E..and matches the sound of the other Corelli's. But the E is the only Weich string that I like on my bass.
    I sure as shootin' would rather find a complete set of strings that I like but until that happens I am content to use a combination.

    Also: Thanks for the great pictures of the basses Don. You are fortunate to be able to play so many fine instruments.
  6. Thanks, Martin. Small, but important point: I said I don't like to mix cores - perlon, steel, gut etc. I am aware of the mixing of strings in the arco world, and did it for years until my recent choice of Obligato.
  7. After finding a combination of strings that gives me a sound I like, you would think I would have learned enough to just enjoy. Not so. I found an old King bass that I am having refurbished so it looks like the string nightmare will begin again.

  8. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Okay, it happened. My long "E" string (Pirastro Obligato) snapped in the peg box. I waited for several weeks for them to come off backorder from Lemur, and when they finally arrived......bang. The strings were on 13 days when the aforementioned disaster occurred.

    Lemur has, as usual, been very accomodating and are crediting me for the string.

    The worst part of this story.......I love the strings. They truly sound great. When I was looking for a new bass, I played one at Cincinnati Bass Cellar that was a little out of my price range, but just sounded great. What I didn't realize at the time, was the bass had Obligatos.

    Anyway, I hope Pirastro gets this problem rectified. It really is a great string.
  9. Just to make things clear: it was an extra long E string, which you use with a C extension?
    Where did it break on the string?
    In the metal wound part?
    At the junction of the metal wrap and silk?

  10. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN

    You are correct, long "E" for a "C" extension. The string broke on the metal, just below the silk.
  11. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Just ordered a set - a good friend sent me a rave review, and combined with all the others, I just have to try them.

    He tells me they stretch quite a bit over the first few days. Any other comments/caveats/etc. about them??
  12. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    He's right. They took about a week to finally reach the point where they stayed tuned. Certainly, a minor inconvenience.
  13. Ok., here's my story...I ordered my Obligatos about a month ago, from Quinn Violins, and Like Lemur, they were back ordered forevever (Three weeks)
    I got them a week ago, but after reading some of the Caveat posts, I was almost afraid to put them on my Bass. But,Tonight I figured what the hell, and
    slapped 'em on, and...
    Omigod, have you ever tried out a piece of equipment that just hit you in the gut that this was what you've been looking for all your life?That has happened to me maybe 3 or 4 times, and this was one of them. I cannot believe the Arco tone and smooth response from these strings.
    Of course they are still stretching out even as I write this, but like Tim, this is a minor inconvenience that I will gladly sacrifice for that tone! I have used Corellis for years, and have been satisfied for the most part with them as an all-around string. But these Obligatos are, to put it bluntly, Da Bomb! One thing, Bob, they are Darker sounding than the Corellis, and may not have the same Pizz sound that you are used to, but volume wise and sound wise (IMO) You will say "What Corellis?" when you try them out.I just had to write this while I was still excited, I have to go practice now...:)
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Savor it. Moments like that are rare in life.

  15. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    Cape of New Jersey
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music (retired)
    Thanks for the positive review -- a bassist friend of mine in VT. emailed me with a similar rave, which caused me to order a set. They are destined for the Kay; at least for now I think the Corellis will stay on the Juzek... but who knows?
  16. Remeasure your string length before you put them on. They stretch enough that the bridge will tilt significantly as you keep bringing them up to pitch. I had to pull the bridge down so that a gap opened under the bridge feet on the top side. The gap closed when the string finally settled in at pitch.
  17. Already done, thanks. I also put a bit of graphite in the slots so it won't pull on the bridge so much as I bring it up to pitch.
  18. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    In order to have an E string that would speak more easily, I have replaced the E Obligato by a Dominant. It works. I don't think I would get the other Dominant strings though: very scratchy compared to Obligato's.
  19. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Hi all -

    I've got Pirastro Obligato's on my bass, and I love em. Except that the windings on the fingerboard side of the bridge on the D string are coming undone and creating an annoying buzzing sound - most noticeably when the D is played. Is there anything I can do about this or should I just replace the string? What can be done to avoid this?

  20. We had a discussion on this before. Do a search for Don Hignon's Obligato Alert. I believe for a short time there was a "bad Batch" or something like that,
    and some people were having some problems with breakage and windings. I really don't think you can do anything to fix the windings, the string will have to be replaced. Maybe if you write to them, they will send you a new one free. It's worth a try, all
    they can say is "No", right?

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