Plain gut A peer support group

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Reiska, Apr 26, 2019.


Tags:
  1. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    ...Can`t get over the sucker. I`ve lost count how many times I have devoted to learn to play plain GDA / low tension E setup, but every time ended crippling myself. I`m talking pizz technique here, but everything about bowing guts is warmly wellcomed too. After a short stint with solo Spiros on the bottom I`m back on what I consider beeing the sound i want to make, plain gut GDA and Evah slap E, set high enough ( G 10mm, D 12,5mm, A 14mm E 13,5mm ) for not feeling floppy and sounding great.

    My problem is right arm, and rotator / scapula system especially. The muscles that tense up are levator scapulae, upper part of trapezius and deltoideus, the system that lifts scapula, shoulder and arm vertically. At worst I have ended up with inflammation in my levator muscle. Obviously, I`m overdoing things and that leads to low tension of my lower strings. My bass plays a role here too, it`s labeled 3/4 but has deep ribs of a larger bass, and I`m a average size male. There`s a bit of reaching to the G string.

    I did let go the dogma of playing at the end of the fingerboard. The default is now to pluck each string where my hand lands naturally and relaxed when the endpin is at comfortable height. I stand on the side of my bass, which stays pretty much upright ( Karr -type of stance ) until I hit the higher transition area / TP. When I lean forward and take a step back the bass tilts pretty naturally and ends up resting on my left shoulder. On the money area I pluck the lower strings at, or very close to the end of the fingerboard, and higher strings a couple of inches higher ( where I see Haden plucking for example ). This way I don`t have to reach too much and still have the sweet plucking spot on all strings. I try to use the side of my index finger as much as possible and I mostly pluck parallel to the fingerboard radius, but not touching the fingerboard.

    I`ve been getting better at playing time on the low tension setup, crossing strings and doing quicker stuff too, but boy is it night and day with steels on the bottom. But then, that`s a great tone, but it`s not the plain A / low tension E tone. I don`t play jazz, but I do lots of roots / folk thing that has walking, blues and old time jazz in it. The plain A just shines in acoustic and reso guitar / drunken banjo sort of setting.

    So, I`d love to overcome my technical problems and trouble of playing this kind of setup. Just watched Jamalae Davis playing turbo-boosted bebop. How do you do it? What`s the specs of your setup`? Do you know any YT vids with this kind of setup? Please tell about it and post some examples if possible!!!

    Thanks, Ari Reiska Lehtinen
     
    Jmilitsc and John Chambliss like this.
  2. I am back to the gut A but stuck with Evah slap E.

    I have had to mess about with the action to find a sweet spot. A little lower than I prefer but it makes the strig crosses much more manageable on the bow and still slap nice.

    I no longer use my left leg to balance the bass though. I am closer to a Rabbath stance (with standard endpin). I have a much more relaxed left hand but I do need to turn the bass to slap.

    None of this helps you but I wish you the best.
     
    Reiska likes this.
  3. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    No, every- and anything about playing plain guts is shurely good to know and discuss! I`ve tried and still own a eggpin, but the main reasons for my stance are freedom of right arm and perceived sound. I have quite a bit of hearing loss from decades behind the drumkit and extremely loud musical surroundings and with the Karr type of stance I hear the bottom plate of my bass, resulting with ease of hearing myself overall. That`s one of the reasons why I love gut strings -The low end presence, my hearing is toasted at 2000Hz and over.
     
  4. A couple of thoughts. Personally, I try to find peace with the fact that turbo-boosted bebop is probably never going to be my thing. I personally know very well the problem of tensioning up too much in the right hand/arm. And I get fatigued, and I sound like a tensionend-up, fatigued person. The tension would not only be from trying to sound loud enough, but more so trying to keep pace by "struggling", if that makes sense (ah, those long dreaded samba jam tunes...). So trying to relax, or at least not overtensioning is a big thing to me. You have to "dose" your effort so that you keep a bit of surplus.
    Actually that can pay musical dividends. Perhaps one swings more when laying back a little. And perhaps that is the kind of playing gut strings exel in. Not the cutting edge of the beat, but a bit more of a round bouncy sound/feel. Just some of my experiences. (Which should maybe be in the jazz technique forum, but anyway..)
     
    Reiska likes this.
  5. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Thanks Povl. Yeah totally, I can`t see any other way to get to the right direction than relaxation, mentally and physically. For me, there`s a downside of beeing physically fit and strong, you can`t muscle these things. Something or everything gives up, be that sound and / or your health. Turbo-boosted bebop ain`t my thing either, but there`s allways some wisdom involved in the way how a fierce virtuoso like Jamalae does his thing, I believe.

    There is plenty of seriously valid information in " Going no pickup " -thread about dosing the effort, which you write about. You kinda have to trust your tone, relax mentally to not overdo stuff while at it. Another aspect of dosing the effort technically is laying similar amount of weight on each string, trying to get to the point where I get the best possible out of each string, resulting in a balanced tone. I`ve been on this issue a lot lately. String-wise this is hard part for me, as I strung my bass with medium gauge blonde no-name GD and Lenzner A, which is pretty floppy even for a plain A. I like the increased sustain and the way the Lenzner makes the higher strings sound delicate and complex. Let`s see, I`m getting slightly used Carlos Chordas GD next week and I think that a Pistoy A would fit the bill pretty well with those, as that is what aforementioned Jamalae Davis is using. I`m in no hurry though, and really don`t have the money either.

    If moderators feel like this is more of a jazz technique than string thread, please remove if you have the time! I actually thought about this for a second before posting, but there`s plenty about technique in other Gut-related threads, and so I chose to write this in string subforum.
     
    Povl Carstensen likes this.
  6. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I gave up.

    There`s only one way for me to play this setup pain-free, and that`s soft and quiet. Switched back to Spiro solos on the E and A, practised and played band rehearsals today, 5-ish hours total, no pain anywhere instead a little fatique on the left hand fingertips from getting used to steel string feel again. I love the plain ADG tone, but I need to be making music, not rehabilitating myself from practise and playing-related injury. Enough of that b***s**t, I have limits with my time and energy. I tried pretty intensively, many rounds of extended perioids of time, every possible way I could think of, took lessons from a guy who has played similar setup, wanted it bad. Not happening, I`m out.

    Now it`s the time to make peace with it, luckily I have my hands full with learning the guts / spiros -thing. That`s a cool sound too with all the cojones possible, just in a very different way when comparing the two.

    Please carry on the discussion if you find it interesting!

    Thanks, Reiska
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    @Reiska - I have been following this thread, but I can't conceive of playing any string height without a fingerboard rest stroke. I think I would cripple myself if I tried to do this because the regulating role if the finger hitting the board equalizes the entire stroke. Even the players I watched coming up who had the highest string heights - like Dennis Erwin - still used the fingerboard as a guide. My hat is off to you for developing this technique, though, and I hope you stay injury free!
     
    sevenyearsdown, Co. and Reiska like this.
  8. Jmilitsc

    Jmilitsc Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Fairfield County, CT
    FWIW I just switched to a used full set of plain Dlugolecki’s and struggled with the A and E for a couple months. They are much lower volume than the D and G. As a result, and despite advice in various other Gut threads, I was digging in too much on them and actually caused some right hand/wrist pain as a result. In a way since that pain forced me to calm the #@$&* down, and decided I’m not going to try to be a no-amp hero, I’ve developed much more relaxed technique now. Muuuuch better results, pain gone, loving the guts. When they die in a few years I’ll maybe try the CH’s.

    String height certainly takes getting used to, especially not always feeling the fingerboard. But you do get used to it. I still laugh out loud when I get all tangled up, or whiff on a note, or whatever other gut newb thing I mess up. Enjoyable journey - as others encouraged me to, try to stick with it and good luck!
     
    Reiska and Povl Carstensen like this.
  9. Since I put on my wooden endpin (drum stick), I have been encouraged to raise my bass. I used to play my bass all the way down with my alu/metal endpin, to get the most sound. And as I raise my bass, it feels natural to lower the action, as you feel it natural plucking closer to the end of the fingerboard. So with my plain gut set up, I am going from 13-14 mms on the G, to 10-11 mms. Nice for the left hand, at least.
     
    Reiska likes this.
  10. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    @Chris Fitzgerald , thanks for the heads up! Anyway, I quess it`s not as extreme as you think. I just find that if I dig too deep into the fingerboard I kinda get jammed and stuck with fat floppy strings like a plain A is. If I pluck the A with my index finger touching the board all the way my finger actually ends up under the string. Carlos Henriquez talked about this kind of plucking in a interwiev but i can`t recall where. With steels on the bottom my string heights are much more generic, G is 9mm`s and rest of the strings 11mm each, and the difference in pizz technique ain`t that drastic either.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald and Jmilitsc like this.
  11. Jmilitsc

    Jmilitsc Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Fairfield County, CT
    Right, that. I still find this hysterical when I do it...
     
    Reiska likes this.
  12. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I`ve been playing lowest low tension bottom strings on and off for a while, and nowadays have the problem only with plain gut A`s. Evah slaps at similar height doesn`t kill me, I think the reason is the stiffness of wound strings vs core only -floppiness. I tried a full set of plain Efrano mediums for a very short while too, but it was just too much. With higher quality strings like Dlugoleckis or pistoys it propably would have been different, but those are kinda expensive to try out :)
     
    Jmilitsc likes this.
  13. Jmilitsc

    Jmilitsc Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Fairfield County, CT
    I really got a VERY lucky intro from my luthier - another customer of his was swapping this set out for a new set and he sold to me at a very nice price.

    I tried a steel E with the set for a day and the gauge difference between it and the A felt so unnatural I ditched it.
     
    Reiska likes this.
  14. BassJuju

    BassJuju

    Jul 9, 2016
    Kentucky
    I’m not sure I can compete with some of the folks who have posted before me, but I’m on the journey. I’ve been trying to figure out how to eloquently transform my hybrid from OliDoxa to all gut and finally gave in and bought a Shen. I had the synthetic dirty guts installed to get the bridge and nut off in the right direction. I have a Gamut D&G in the closet, an E on the way, and beginning to eye which A I want to complete the set.

    I know they aren’t guts, but the gut-like tension and tone was truly an eye opener when I played the bass Saturday night. So much of what has been described here is so true. The hardest thing was to just relax and let it flow. Playing wrapped guts on the hybrid allows me to dig in a lot to get bigger tone, but these seem to be inversely proportional. And, I got fumbled up in the floppiness a time or two to.

    Still, I’m on the journey and oh what fun it promises to be!
     
    Povl Carstensen and Reiska like this.
  15. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I haven`t personally tried synthetic plain gut-likes, but could guess that they`re good introduction to the real thing if gauges, texture and tension are similar. One thing about plain A`s is, though, that they demand specific attention when it comes to intonation and tone production, and that will take some time, along with extended playing in -perioid.
     
  16. Reiska

    Reiska

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    With a plain A there`s warmth, punch and complexity to the tone that you can`t get elsewhere. Deep, breathy, organic tone that supports everything else from below.
     
    JLubinsky-Mast and Jmilitsc like this.
  17. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I've struggled (not physically) with gut E and A for years. Plain gut A always sounds great, but I could never get anything out of it above C# that didn't turn to mud. Also if I was playing outside in summer heat, I could turn the thing into spaghetti. My bass has gone back and forth between synthetics and gut on those two strings more than any other.

    I have to say though, I'm very surprised to hear that you had physical issues from playing gut (especially plain gut). If higher tension doesn't bother you, then there had to be a technique or setup issue going on. Not using the board to come to rest, and ending up under the string your plucking sounds like a combination of both. Perhaps you were pulling gut like it was steel? Either way it sounds like you solved the problem by moving back to a higher tension string on E and A.

    Plain gut has a limit in hard you can pull it and still get good results. Once you start pulling it to hard, you might as well be playing clothes line. It really does require a shift in technique from steel, and even more so if you plan on walking or getting up tempo. It's easy to "bottom out" the E and A if you get ham fisted. Depending on the manufacturer, sometimes you can do the same to a plain D. The audible benefits to gut aren't often heard by the person playing them, which sometimes results in them thinking that they are quite.....and need to be pulled harder.
     
    Reiska and AGCurry like this.
  18. Jmilitsc

    Jmilitsc Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Fairfield County, CT
    Well said. Not sure it was address3d to me, but for sure all of that was what I was doing wrong... I’ve figured out how to adjust technique for the most part. Now it’s just a matter of getting the hours on it.
     
    sevenyearsdown likes this.
  19. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Tallahassee
    I still would enjoy trying a full gut set one day... not today...but one day
     
    Povl Carstensen and Reiska like this.
  20. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Hmm. My experience with plain gut A - Gamut Pistoy medium - has been all good. My left hand could not handle the plain E: it's so huge that it would vibrate under my fingers, making production of clear pitch difficult. Maybe I just don't have enough meat on my fingertips, I dunno. So I've gone back to a wrapped E.
     
    Reiska and Sam Dingle like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jun 19, 2021

Share This Page