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Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Rob Downie, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Rob Downie

    Rob Downie

    Jun 20, 2004
    Tualatin, OR
    I recently played my 1963 Kay with new Spirocore mediums (a/k/a "Mittel," "Orchestra," or "Red/Red") in a 30-player jam. I played exclusively pizz. I bought the Spirocores because I had heard that they were loud enough to cut through a pack of other players but, at the height of the jam, I could barely hear myself. I was playing as hard as I could with a strong two-finger (first and second together) pull. I have heard about "overplaying," that some strings will actually decrease in volume if they are pulled too hard. (I guess the physics of it are that the strings are just flapping instead of vibrating?) What are the symptoms of overplaying? And is the solution to just not play as hard?


  2. Thirty players???? How can anybody hear anything in that mob? Sounds like things need to be broken up.

    Remember, as the player you are in a very poor position to hear the projection and volume of your bass. If you are playing that hard at an all acoustic jam, you are probably being heard by those around and in front of you. Competing with amplified instruments might be another story.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Pulling hard is something is more an idea that tends to be given to beginning students, escially those moving over from Slab. The real trick is to coax the sound out of the bass. This still is going to require a much firmer touch than the average Slabbist would imagine, but it's not necessarily THAT hard. The get the biggest, fullest, loudest sound that your physique will allow is a matter of playing acoustically a lot.

    It also helps to put yourself in the best place on the stage or in the room. A lot of the sound comes off the back of your bass, so if you're with your back to an unfriendly surface like a thick curtain, or worse yet, with your back into a doorway that open into another large room, only half your effort is going where you'd like it to go.

    I've also found that pulling the rubber tip off the endpin and sticking into a nice hardwood floor seems to help as well. Make sure that you're not ruining someone else's pride and joy with this trick, though.

    Your question above seems to describe what over-played Spiros sounds like -- just a snap and not much tone. If you have the physical wherewithal to pull THAT hard all night, I would add as a thought a set of Thomstik Dominants. When I had these on it seemed that there was no end to how hard you could pull them, and the harder you pull the louder they get. They're stiffer than hell for the left had, and bow wonderfully.
  4. I would think a set of Durrl's Thomastik Starks would do nicely as well! Also, raise your action.....be a real MAN.
  5. Rob

    When you pull too hard, the string goes beyond it's linear range and it vibrates strangely when first released rather than in nice harmonic segments. That's what gives it that weird decay and strange percussive "sprong". You can experement by pulling each string progressively more before releasing to find the sweet spot for maximum volume with the tone according to your taste.

  6. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    A recent experience has taught me that overplaying is not limited solely to the strings themselves but also to the bass. Last week I sold my fifty year old German bass and bought a forty year old Italian. I am using more or less the same string setup on the Italian that I used on the German (unwound gut G and wound gut on the other three strings). The strings play very differently on the new bass. The old bass was much more heavily wooded and did not speak anywhere near as well as the new bass especially on the bottom two strings. I actually had to dig in quite a lot and certainly the point at which the strings would be overplayed was quite high. On the new bass, which speaks very easily (and is arguably not a good jazz bass but certainly a good orchestral instrument), it is very easy to overplay the strings. I've had to constantly think about playing with a little more finesse in the right hand.
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Ray, my understanding is that the Dominants are supposed to be gut-like in tension or perhaps I'm wrong and it's just the sound in which they are supposed to emulate gut. Or is it the case that the Dominants are low tension in the right hand but yet somehow still stiff to the left hand?
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Stiffer than hell. Sound less metallic and maybe more guttish, I suppose, in the same way that Obligatos sound like gut.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Agreed. However, the Dominant Solos should be a close approximation of gut. I like Dominants either way. I think they are a great sounding loud string.
  10. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I was interested in them until I found out they are stiff as hell. However I do feel that my new bass needs higher tension on the bottom (and possibly even the top too) so I may have to try them.