Recovery strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by ric426, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. ric426

    ric426 Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I'm currently dealing with some chronic physical problems with my left forearm, elbow and shoulder that may very well mean the end of my upright playing. Fortunately, the problems aren't caused by playing, but are cetainly aggravated by it. I haven't played in several months and it may be several more before I try it again. I lasted about 2 minutes the other night, so I know it's still too soon.
    Before I throw in the towel completely, I was planning on trying one more time with much lighter tension strings to see if I can work my way back up to the Spiro Weichs I'd been using. I have a pretty good sounding plywood bass and I'm reasonably happy with the sound I get with Weichs, though the E string is a little weak. Obviously, at this point, string tension is the primary consideration, but I don't want to sacrifice *too* much tone. I've done several searches and I know this has been discussed in other threads, but I haven't found a clear answer (as if anything as subjective as string choice *could* have a clear answer). I'd like to try strings that have pretty low tension without sacrificing too much tone (wouldn't we all...). I know that I'll have to make some compromises along the way, but I can't afford to experiment too much and want to make a well informed choice when I buy other strings. I mainly play Pizz but not exclusively. I've tried Obligatos on my bass and liked the sound when playing solo, but I found that it got buried pretty easily even when playing along with recordings at home, plus I'd like to try something with even less tension.
    Any thoughts? BTW, I did read about the Alexander Technique and am trying to find someone in my area (NW of Detroit) who may be able to help in that regard.
    I'd also like to thank you all for the help and great info I've found on the Talkbass Double Bass forums over the past couple of years.

    Not done yet,
  2. JonB


    May 27, 2003
    Man, I certainly can sympathize with you.
    I've been struggling with left arm/elbow pain for about a year, during which there have been lots of gigs. The more I play, the worse the problem gets. (DUH!) A doctor explained how the nerve in the elbow gets inflamed, making the whole arm hurt.
    For me, Corelli's seem to be a good solution. They get a pretty strong fundamental, yet are easy on the left hand. They bow well, too. I'm using 370tx on my German bass and 380tx on the new one. Like you, I tried Obligatos but was disappointed with the sound. Probably the softest strings I've ever tried are Jarger Dolce, but they are mainly an orchestral string - about as opposite from Spiros as you can get.
    A colleague - a dedicated Spirocore user, was suffering from the same problem and now uses solo superflexible tuned down.
    A big step in the right direction, though, was getting the fingerboard levelled on the new bass. I was doing some serious left-hand clamping to try to avoid the buzzes the fingerboard was causing. This was done about 3 weeks ago, and things are better already. Now I can lower the bridge a bit, which helps, too. Is your setup optimal?
    Good luck and I hope you're able to resume playing soon.

    BTW, what does a responsible adult look like?
  3. ric426

    ric426 Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Thanks for the positive words. I'm pretty discouraged right now. Can't even play an electric bass without paying for it later.
    I was wondering about Corelli's but the only experience I've had with 'em was on an EUB that I was never able to get a satisfactory sound out of with *any* strings. Out of curiosity, do the nickel Corelli strings have lower tension like the tungsten strings? How do they compare in sound? It probably wouldn't hurt to have a little brighter sounding strings on my bass but I wouldn't want to thin out the sound too much. I was wondering about the idea of using solo Superflexibles tuned down too. Anyone have an opinion on how well that'd work with a plywood bass?
    The setup on my bass seems to be pretty good. I don't think I'd want the string height much lower and the nut height probably shouldn't go any lower. Do any of the luthiers out there use specific measurements for string height at the nut, or does it vary with different basses and strings? I have nut files and reasonably skilled hands, but I certainly wouldn't want to take the slots too low and have to get a new nut.
  4. JonB


    May 27, 2003
    370's are brighter than 380's. They feel about the same.
    My German is an old, dark, resonant instrument, so the 370's sound good on it. But the new one is just a year old so is pretty tight still. 370's on it are too bright, for my taste. 380's work pretty well.

    Maybe you could work on the nut yourself, but it isn't that expensive to have an expert work on it, and then you're done.
  5. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    I've had problems with my arms too. Jargar Dolces came to the rescue (solo strings tuned down). You could also try eurosonics.

    Wishing you to get better soon!
  6. ric426

    ric426 Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Well, my arm's well enough to start playing again, though with limitations until I can build up my strength (and callouses) again. I want to start out with lower tension strings and am trying to decide between Superflexible Solos tuned down, or Corelli 380's.
    I don't have personal experience with either one so I'm relying on feedback from you guys to make my decision. I'd been playing Spiro Weichs and was pretty happy with the tone, though the E string was weaker on my particular bass.. I'd like like to get a sound fairly similar but with lower tension. I realize that tonal compromises will have to be made, but which do you think will give me a reasonably full sound with lower tension? It'd be nice if I could balance out the E string in the process.but that's probably a bit much to ask.
    BTW, I'm still open to other suggestions, but don't want to invest too much in other strings if I can help it. I know I could get singles and try different types that way, but I'm on a limited budget right now, and frankly, I'm so happy to be playing again, I'd just like to make an educated purchase, and play what I get until I can get back to the Spiros. While I'm at it, should I consider Eurosonics? I've been seeing a lot of talk about them lately.
  7. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I would definitely go with something that has a synthetic core... the tension is naturally lower and will be easier on the left hand in general as opposed to a steel string. If you want to really go with the easy (and cheap) route and aren't quite as concerned with tone during recovery, you could try the Labella Supernils (nylon core, nylon wrap I think?). They sound like poo for the most part, but will get you back in the game at least. After that, I might suggest sticking with a synthetic core string instead of going back to the Spiros. I never had a good experience with Spiros, but YMMV. They were always too difficult to pull a good tone out of, and arco was out of the question. My favorites now are Kolstein's Heritage strings.

  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Spirocore Solos at orch. pitch are very, very light. My bass does well with them for tone and volume.
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Not to confuse you, ric, but my suggestion would be Pirastro Flat-Chromesteels. They have light, easy-playing action, but with a great fundamental note. But, they might still be to heavy for you... a solo set of Corellis or Spiro at orchestra pitch is about as light as it gets.

    As far as nut string-height goes, if your fingerboard is cut correctly, you should be able to get the strings a business-card distance away from the fingerboard. About .5 mm What are your current string heights at the other end of the board?

    Also, is the neck of your instrument too thick? You could get it thinned, and have a carbon-fiber truss rod installed to subsequently stiffen the neck. They add an insignificant amount of weight.

    Eurosonics have no bowing capabilities, by the way.
  10. ric426

    ric426 Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Thanks for all the good advice!
    I ordered a set of Solo Superflexibles last Friday because I hadn't come across much mention of Spiro Solos, or anyone who used or recommended them. Like they say, timing is everything. They should hopefully arrive today. Hope I won't be disappointed going with the Superflexibles instead of Spirocores. From what I understand, they're pretty similar, just a bit darker and a bit easier to bow.
    One thing I've found that is also helping is that I've started playing seated with the bass tipped back toward me more than I'd have it while standing. That's made it easier to work on using the weight of my arm more and less thumb pressure. I never could get a good feel for that while standing.

    Nick, the nut height is pretty close to business card thickness but it's about as low as I dare. I'm not sure what the current string height at the fingerboard end is at the moment because I lowered them a bit when I started playing again, but I'll check it once I put the Solos on. The neck does seem thicker than some better quality basses I've tried, but my experience is a bit limited. How much would it cost to have it thinned down and, if neccessary, reinforced with a graphite rod? I believe my bass is a relabled Shen SB-100. It's a decent bass and the best that I could afford at the time, but I wonder if it'd be smarter to put that money towards a better bass.
    I know, it's a judgement call, but given my current financial state, it's also a fairly moot point. Might be worth a trip to Cinncinati someday though. I haven't found any Detroit area luthiers that have really impressed me, certainly none that specialize in basses.