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Quick question about gut strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Michael Case, Mar 24, 2004.


  1. Hello all,

    I am playing a Strunal hybrid strung with Spiro weichs. I've really been thinking about gut strings (I really love the tone). I just want some info about A. the duration of gut strings B. what are good gut strings at reasonable prices C. what will the transition from steel to gut be like?

    I just want some general info I understand that gut may end up being a failed experiment. I'm dying to try gut, but very reluctant to mess with something that's "good enough".

    Bye the way I play jazz mostly pizz, but do practice (and hope to improve) with the bow.
    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  2. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    I've been playing gut strings for years, for me nothing can beat the gut sound, but of course, i like that thumpy meaty sound...
    about your questions....
    A: i use G and D plain gut and A and E wrapped gut, usually i change the plain gut strings once or twice a year, (usually i buy strings in january and maybe in august, or sometimes just once an year) but i play a lot, and usually when i change them, they still have lots of life, but im really picky and i think that they start to loose the flexibility a bit and the tension increases a bit and thats why i changed them...the thing you have to do is to oil them when the strings start to get dry(i use regular baby oil, others swear by olive or lemon oil...) and cut the frays when they start to fray....
    These 2 little things will give your strings a long life
    The A and E , i changed maybe once in 2 or 3 years, those last loooooong....
    B: you wont find cheap gut strings(if you find , call me ;) ), i use G and D european gut that i buy from Lemur, A and E pirastro olive, they are expensive, but i just love that Jimmy Blanton, Paul Chambers sound that comes from my bass, now i just have to learn how to play like them...
    C: steel to gut....expect to loose some sustain, but to have a Big Warm sound....in my bass, the lower tension really helped opening up the tone of my bass, and your fingers will love you ..
    about bowing....harder than metal, but hey...If Jimmy Blanton did it...we can try it too....
    hope this helped

    NUNO
     
  3. Yes! that did help. Now I want to change them NOW!
    I thought gut was harder to play, but it's cool that they are lower tension.
    Thanks
     
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Due to the lower tension, you will need to raise your action. If you don't have bridge adjusters, that means getting a new bridge cut! You may also need to have your nut reslotted as gut strings are thicker than steel. So some setup cost is involved in addition to buying the strings.

    Guts are much harder to bow, if you do a lot of arco work you will probably want to use guts wrapped in metal rather than plain gut.

    As far as price, gut sets start at about $200 (discounted) compared to steel sets where most of the major brands can he found for about $100.
     
  5. olivier

    olivier

    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Brian is right, this is very important, you really have to make sure that the grooves of the nut and bridge are properly tooled so you don't damage the strings from the start.

    My bass with gut had a really nice voice, but I got tired of that tuning issue. It's true that arco technique requires adjustment, it makes this change to gut quite interesting...
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Wait until you put the strings on to have the luthier check your nut. Or hav eit done concurrently? I went from Corellis to Oblis to Velvets with ZERO work done to my nut and no adverse affect.

    when the price of Golden Spirals skyrocketed lo those many years ago, I tried a set of cheap a** German gut strings (whose name has been traumatically blocked form memory) and they were just HORRIBLE, bad sound, high tension, constant shedding. So I stopped playing gut.

    I switched to Velvets about a year ago? and I love them. My bass sounds the way it does in my head (of course one of the reasons it sounds that way is because it sounds that way in my head...)

    DA MOOK - it's warming up and I feel like living again, so maybe we can figure a way to hook up and you can check them out on my bass.
     
  7. That sounds cool Ed, let me know when you are available. Are you giging anytime soon? I'd love to come see you play.
     
  8. Is it harder to bow with gut? I find this idea strange weren't gut strings the only strings in use through from baroque until the 20th century? I figured they would be ideal for bowing. Forgive my ignorance.
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    Joe has put Velvets back on his real bass. He bows mostly (but not entirely) in a jazz context, but has really been digging the depth and warmth of sound arco. He doesn't do any calssical solo, mostly chamber music and some symphonic (in addition to jazz) but he studied legit under Julius Levine, so he knows what he is about.
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    It's mostly private or coprporate stuff right now, or just sessions. The next thing I have on the books that's public is April 30th at Sofia, which is the restaurant of the Hotel Edison on 46th St. between 7th and 8th. That's 7 to 11:30. There's a bar near the stand, if you want to come hang.

    If something interesting comes up I'll let you know, Jeff has been getting a bunch of last minute calls form KAvehaz since the first of the year.
     
  11. Sweet I look forward to seeing you on the stand Ed. Which Velvet set do you have on your bass and which does Joe have? Do you do any arco?
     
  12. olivier

    olivier

    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Hi Mooky, (Sorry I was away from computers for some days). I would not say it's harder, rather it's different and requires adjustments. In short: the strings are more flexible and will be choked if you dig in too much with the bow, and placement with respect to the bridge is less forgiving than with Oblis. But once you've tuned up, the sound is so sweet and nice and has many more nuances (if only they'd stay in tune!!!). What convinced me to try gut was my kid playing viola da gamba. Those things are tuned with gut and are sounding very nice (check out Purcell consort music for the viols, for instance) Good luck, and please get a drink to Ed on my behalf.
     
  13. Are the Velvets as prone to tuning issues that other gut strings are?
     
  14. olivier

    olivier

    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    You mean Anima or Garbo (Velvet is a brand name for DB strings, gut and non-gut) ? I don't have experience with those. However I think the issue comes from gut itself, not the brand. I used to play with the tuner always plug in the effect loop for small corrections between each tune. If you are fast and accurate enough to keep your bass in tune then you should not worry.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Animas, right. It's been so long since I bought'em.

    They aren't as stable as Oblis (which I swear to gawd i dint have to tune hardly any at all after they settled), but it's not like I have to move them much. If I leave the bass out of the case and there are wide humidity swings yeah they go flat. But I don't have to do a hwole hell of a lot of touch up on the gig.
     
  16. So I got the Animas today, strung them up and WOW! What a great lively sound. They have that classic sound that made me fall in love with the DB. The pitch is incredible, semitones sound like semitones. The overtones are great, I can't wait for them to settle in cause they could probally stand a little dryness in the sound. The only thing that doesn't get me is the E string, it seems too open not definate enough (I hope that makes sense to anyone who will read this), but it could also be my technique cause I recorded myself palying with and the tone of the E is there. It did sound like the hands could stand some getting used to the response of these strings.
    Thanks for your help,
    Mike
    P.S. Ed, you're not off the hook though, I'm dying to hear you play!