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Permanent - Flexocor Combination

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Jeff Moote, Jan 8, 2006.


  1. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Hello all... this is I suppose my first thread over here in DB.

    I'm in the market for a new set of strings. I'm currently using a Helicore Orchestra Set with a Helicore Pizzicato E (heavy) on the bottom. It was recommended to me by the luthier I bought my bass from when I complained of a weak E on the Orchestra set that was on there.

    So far, I've enjoyed these strings, but I feel that I can have both an easier bowing string and an all around better sound. The Helicores are good, but I've heard better and I want a bigger fundamental, I think.

    I enjoy having a brighter sound on the bottom string(s), probably the aspect I've liked most about the pizzicato E, but I think that in my next choice I want brightness without sacrificing arco playability. My playing is about 90% orchestral, with jazz being the other 10%, more as something to fool around with on the side. That may change in the future, but as long as the strings pizz alright, I'm going to focus on arco response when choosing them.

    Now, to where I currently stand: From what I've learned here, the Flexocors (92?) are highly respected as an orchestra string, and are supposed to be pretty good as a dark pizz string too. That sounds great to me, but I wonder if I can get a brighter bottom by going with Permanent E & A, since these are also accepted as pretty good orchestra strings. I know Ken Smith has this setup on his 5 string, and seem to recall him praising the setup, in light of the fact that he prefers the Flexocor set in general.

    My questions:

    1. Will I find the Permanent E & A to be a good match to Flexocor D & G in terms of both volume and tension? I don't expect them to be terribly unbalanced.

    2. If I do go ahead with this plan, what is the best Flexocor gauge to match with the Permanents? There seems to be a preference for the Thick (Stark) set, but that is usually to compensate for a weaker E. Since I'd only be using D & G, will the Mediums be good? Which will balance best to the tension of Permanents? I have heard that Permanents are a heavier set to begin with.

    3. Finally, am I crazy for doing this? Is there something that fits my needs better that I am ignoring?


    Thanks to all in advance for the advice.

    -Jeff
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I found this Perm/Flex mix totally by accident. I had a well used set that I took off my English bass and I was just setting up my Martini which came with a used set of Perms. As I strung the Bass up with the Perms the G and D sounded too thin to my ear. Then I replaced them with the Flexs I had just taken off the other Bass. I liked them so much better in tone and feel that I took off the A and E only to discover that the Perms actually sounded better.

    So the Perm bottoms and Flex tops remained on that Bass for awhile. This is a loud and dark sounding Bass. Awhile later after contacting Pirastro I tested several sets of their strings on both my English and Italian Basses. Some sets I tried on both Basses and some not. I think this is a great combo for what you are describing but the Perms need time to break in. The Flex bottoms actually sounded brighter to my ear when I first did the mix test.

    Last summer I got my Dodd from London and it had some very old strings on it. They were very heavy so to try these heavy Flexs on my Gilkes I ordered a set of Flex Starks only to discover they were not as heavy as the old ones on the Dodd. I sent them to Pirastro after putting the new set on the Bass and Pirastro sent them back with some Orig Flexs and a note saying "these strings are pre-1991 and the old formula. The enclosed set of Orig Flexs are similar to your old set".

    Similar in gauge size but NOT similar in tone. I believe the reg Flex in the Stark or med. gauge is more similar to the old pre 1991 sound than the brand they call Orig Flex. The Orig Flex however are brighter than the reg Flex set. The main problem with the reg Flex set in medium gauge is the E string. The E measures .097" which is in my opinion one or two gauges too light. The Ext E for that sam set measures .100". The Stark E is .106" which is also similar to the Orig Flex but different in sound.

    The cost for the Orig Flex and Perms are more than the Reg Flex. This may be just marketing as I think the Stark set or reg set with stark E is the best sounding set overall that they make.

    Sorry for the rant. Narrow it down if you like but I think the Perms are not needed if you consider the Stark reg set of Flexs.
     
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    You may want to try Jargar Forte. I find that the lower strings are brighter than the the uppers. They bow beautifully. Pizz sound is very nice. Don't let the Forte label fool you. They are very easy to play.
     
  4. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    monty i was wondering the same thing but i just went ahead and ordered the regular flex A and stark E to put on with my regular flex g and d strings.
    so i'm about to see how well i like the regular flex'92 with a stark '92 E.....i'm expecting and hoping it's what i'm looking for, about the only thing i am worried about is if the A and E are too dark. i'll just have to see.

    i'm even having two bows rehaired and ordered some new rosin to try out too, it's gonna be nice to have an arco string after i take the pirastro pizzicatos off my bass....i sent an exploratory email to a mr. pecanic too :D
     
  5. I had the Helicore Orchestra Mediums on my hybrid Shen SB180 for a little more than two years. I found the whole set to be easy to bow, and the E to be clear and strong, not at all weak. For pizz the whole set had a warm, clear, and sustained sound that was very appropriate for jazz.

    I have just had the Pirastro Flexicore' 92 Medium G, D, and A installed with a "Stark" or heavy guage E string.

    I was hoping to trade a little of that sustain, which for me was nice but not essential (since I also play mostly orchestral music) for a fuller or darker sound, particularly on the G string. I was also hoping for a bit more volume overall.

    The Flexicore G, oddly seems to be a bit thinner than the Heliocore G (it seems to have settled deeper into the nut slot and I will likely have to have the scoop adjusted). It is too early to comment on the new Flex G, and if it meets my expectations. (Right now it sounds awful, very metallic and twangy.)

    I am very happy with the Flex stark E, it is strong and deep and with the bow it is adequately clear. Pizz however the pitches are not as clear, as they were on the Heliocore (not a big surprise). The heavier E does not seem any harder to bow than the Heliocore did.

    The Flex A is a big improvement over the Heliocore. The Heliocore Orchestra A was the only string of that set that I really disliked. (Very coarse sounding, almost gravelly, and harder to bow than the E.)

    The Flex D, even now is exactly what I hoped for, strong, dark, smooth. I only hope the G will eventually match it.

    Can anyone reassure me that the G will eventually match the D in dark smoothness?
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My G, D and A all match wonderfully. I didn't experience your description of the tone on the G string, but I was coming from Spiros. :) Maybe try the felt washers that came with the set on that string. I'm not using any washers at all. I'll probably pick up the heavy gauge E string later this month.
     
  7. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    My Shen is wearing some new Flex 92's in the "stark" or thick gauge.
    Indeed, a terrific string under the bow. Not bad at all pizz either, there are many things I'm liking about this string. The only thing that's bugging me now is that the G string seems quite a bit brighter and has a lot more "twang" while played pizz compared to the rest of the set. How long might I have to wait before the tone of these strings evens out? So far, the only other strings I've used have been Spirocores, both in the weich and regular gauge, Heliocore Hybrids and Obligatos. The Spiros and Heliocores seem pretty well even to me, tone-wise, even when brand new. Too much twang (King Kong meets Duane Eddy) on all 4 strings but they all settle down in time. Obliglato G's twang a lot when new but calm down after a while. Can I expect these "Starks" to do the same? The rest of the set is nice and dark right out of the package and the entire set matches well tone-wise with it's self under the bow. The tension string to string feels fine.
     
  8. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    hector i'll let you know how my g sounds once i get it.
    i have a feeling it will be a little like you describe, the string height on my g string is only about 5-5.5mm (lower than what i would like but until/unless i install some adjusters on my bridge then that where it stays).
    HOPEFULLY i'll be able to tell you otherwise though.
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I have regular gauge A through G.
     
  10. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    ...
    ...
    No need to apologise. Thanks for your input. I am unclear about what your conclusion is though. You say that this will be a good combo for what I want, but then go and say that it is unnecessary with the Flexocor Stark set as an option. Are you saying that the Flex set will be better off, or are you saying it's a toss-up, and in the end just up to preference?

    ---
    Thanks for the suggestion, but the fact that they have been described as more "gut-like" than other steel strings makes me think that while nice, they're probably not my style

    ---
    It sounds like you are happy with the E, A and D from the Flex set, but the G is too bright and the E has a lack of clarity in pizz. That's all good and well, but I have to consider you are coming from the Helicores with a more positive outlook on them. I can't say I'm completely happy with their bowability, or the overall sound. Not bad, but not terrible. Thanks for your thoughts on the change from Helicore to Pirastro though.

    Ray Parker seems to confirm my thoughts, but was coming from Spiros.

    ---

    The overall consensus surrounding Pirastro and the Flexocors especially seems to be that they are well balanced and should offer some improvement under the bow compared to my Helicores.

    I'd still like to hear what Ken has to say about the mix vs. the Flex Stark set, and of course anyone else who has experience with these strings, especially Permanents.

    -Jeff
     
  11. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I'm surprised to hear that because the (medium gauge) Flex '92 G is the warmest steel G string I ever tried!
    However you can try using the black rubber ring filter that comes with the G string to dampen it.
    You put it between the string and bridge; the string touching the bridge over the ring's hole.
     
  12. Mike Carr seems to be having the same experience I have had. The Flex G, while new does not match the others, especially pizz. While bowing all the differences between the strings are not as obvious, and the notes are clear.

    My Flex set has only been on for one week, while my Heliocore Orchestras were old and very well broken in. Right now I am assuming that with patience they will all break in to sound like a set, otherwise I've just wasted my money.

    If the G doesn't improve, I may either put back the Heliocore G, or try some other G, perhaps the Jarger.
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    When I mixed the two sets, both were used already. The Perms sound different on some Basses because of the extra tension, I guess. I tried them on my Morelli and took them off within minutes. Now I have them on my 5er but believe the Starks would do as good or better. If you can, and you want them mainly for bowing, use the Stark set instead of the Flex/Perm mix. If you don't want as much tension on the Bass, try the reg Flex with the Stark E. The Perms have a dark fat sound with a slight edge but not as warm and full as the Stark Flexs. Splitting hairs here but for my money, I will buy the Stark sets in the future.
     
  14. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Thanks Ken, and others.

    I'll be waiting a few weeks at least to do this, and by then will probably have a new teacher. I'll see what they have to say about my bass and sting selection, and take what you folks have said into account.
     
  15. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I've spent some more time pondering the possible reasons why my Stark G string sounds so twangy. My fingerboard was re-worked not long ago, with a lot less scoop than before. This was done in order to help get that growl and sustain sound, with low string height and an amp. With Spiro weichs, it does that thing well, it will play easy and still get a credible tone even with the adjusters at their lowest. Lots of "mwah" though, which for better or worse, is the sound that was in vouge as I came up and that lots of the people I play with still favor. The Starks are of course quite a bit heavier, so I opted to leave my adjusters all the way down, to ease the transition from the lighter strings I've been used to. Maybe it's just a matter of raising my strings a little, to give these new strings some room to move. I'll report back after I've made the adjustment.
     
  16. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka

    Jun 11, 2002
    i just got the g and d from someone on here, the g was on for less than a day and the d was unused.......
    both strings sound great, these are flexocor '92 regulars. they both sound nice and full they do seem to have a little less volume pizz than the Eudoxa g did and the pizzicato d but i think that might come around after i put the regular A on and the stark E, i still have pizzicato A and E on the bass.
    the flex g is less bright than the Eudoxa was, but that might be because it is so much thinner in diameter, i think my string height was effectively raised just a bit.
     
  17. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I just put the Perm E and A on with Reg Flex D and G.

    Initial impressions: wonderful strings. These are the "real thing" compared to the Helicore Orchestras that came off. Under the bow they are very nice, right from the start.

    Now to address issues from earlier in the thread. Ken was probably right that the full Flex set would be better overall for an arco string, but I do like the extra edge/punch that the Perms have on the bottom. I don't think I'll be changing them, but I will hope that they break in as expected.

    The G bows beautifully (as do the rest), and isn't twangy at all. This is with the felts at the end installed, no rubber filter.


    Overall, I'm very pleased. Pirastro has won over my business. I'll post more on the strings once they've broken in.
     
  18. Jeff, I'm glad you seemed to have found what you're looking for.

    My Flex G has settled down somewhat, but is still not what I expected to get. I do have all the felts on, but my set did not come with rubber rings.

    The problem with the G is most noticable in pizz. In arco though the G doesn't sound bad by itself, but only in comparision with the D.

    The D is dark, and smooth, in fact is it actually rather thumpy, this is pretty much what I expected of the whole set. Next to this string, the G sounds a little too lively.

    The set is improving and I really don't want to make another switch right before the spring concert season.
     
  19. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    Can it be anything with the set-up, bridge, soudpost, or something along those lines?

    Like I posted many times over, I found this combo by accident. I just finished practicing with my 5er and it has this combo with the Flex G and D. Once again, my current choice is now Flex Starks. They are heavier gauge and have more umph on the A and E but smoother somewhat with the Bow as well. I don't usually change string sets unless I have to. The 5er will remain with 3 perms on the lows and 2 flex uppers for quite sometime.
     
  20. Ken,

    Jeff B. did my set up when I first got my Shen, so I doubt there is anything wrong with the set up, and I have been quite happy with it these past couple of years.

    I did take the bass to Jeff to have him install the new strings, because I had never changed strings, and I was concerned that the bass might need some kind of adjustment, because of the different guage or tension.

    The only problem I had been having was that I was getting alot of "growl" on that Flex G string when playing pizz (though not on the others). I have to admit it sounded pretty nice for jazz, but none of the other strings had even a hint of growl. It showed up with my old Heliocore Orchestra G as buzzing, when I was bowing forte passages.

    Jeff said that he had originally set the bass up for me as a beginner, as low as possible for easy playing, and now that I was getting stronger and more forcefull, there might not be enough scoop under the G string.

    Ken do you think that the change in tonal character from the D to the G string is not due to the string but instead to the lack of adequate scoop? When I bow it under normal conditions I don't hear the growl, only when I play pizz.