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red mitchell (in 5ths) type of tone

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by JAS, Apr 28, 2003.

  1. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    I really like the tone of Red's bass after he tuned in 5ths. My bass has a similar sound in 4ths, but I have been getting frustrated with strings again. I have been using Spirocore Solo strings tuned down a whole step to orchestra pitch. This seems to be almost exacly what I want in terms of sound, but the g string especially seems to thin. I have tried the weichs, but they dont seem to have the same tone that I am going for. the weichs, on my bass sound muddier and less defined. the orchestra gage strings have a similar tone, in my opinion to the solo strings, but they do not feel right under my hands. does any one have any suggestions?
  2. Red's tone was mostly in his hands...
    That said, how about Pirastro Jazzers?
    Their tension is similar to Weichs, and IMO they have a fuller tone.
    Pirastro Permanents solo-tuning could be another choice.
    Try the G (solo A) and D (solo E) first before you spend the cash on a whole set.

  3. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    Are the Pirastro Permanents similar in thickness to the spirocore solos? How do the jazzers compare in thickness to Weichs? I like the definition and tone very much from the solo spirocores tuned down, but they just seem a little to thin. The weichs on the other hand seem to have more of a bland, less defined tone -on my bass at least.
  4. You're experiencing the reaction of your bass to various bass tensions. (weichs versus solos)

    I can give you the gauge of the strings I have at hand.
    You'll need to find the others to compare.
    But please note that gauge is not a good comparison point between strings of different brands, as they use different materials and construction techniques.

    Permanent Solo G: 1.26mm
    Permanent Solo D: 1.49mm
    Permanent Solo A: 2.00mm

    Jazzer G: 1.30mm
    Jazzer D: 1.74mm
    Jazzer A: 2.06mm
    Jazzer E: 2.83mm

  5. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    I know that Red had strings made for him by Thomastic that were tuned in 5ths. They probably were some type of spirocore string? Does any one have any other suggestions as far as possible strings that I could try that might work with this type of sound that he was going for. The sound I am getting from the spirocore solos tuned down is pretty close, but a little too thin sounding. I really like the loosness of them though. It seems like other stings that I have tried sound too muddy and boomy. Of course any bass players sound is mainly comming form his/her hands, but I am just trying to find strings that I am comfortable with as far as feel and sound.
    Any other suggestions?
  6. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    at the risk of digressing badly...

    when did red start tuning if 5ths, and what are some great recordings of his from this time?

    my understanding is that the strings he used were a custom set of spiro orchs from thomastik, which are still sold today, and which i'm currently using. tuning in 5ths is fun! (where did all those familiar notes go?) if you haven't yet gotten that sound you're hearing after trying all those types of strings, might i recommend obligatos? there's plenty of writing about them in this forum.

    sean p
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    My favorite recording of Red's fifths tuning is a duo album with Jim Hall, can't recall the title. You can really hear what he's doing in this setting. It may be out of print by now.
  8. This record is indeed fantastic!
    It doesn't have a title.
    Recorded in 1978 at the Sweet Basil in NYC, and published on the ArtistHouse label, number AH5.
    Fabulous playing from Red and Jim!
  9. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    That is an amazing album. Besides that one, my favorites are the one with Herb Ellis (Doggin' Around), Vol. 2 of The Red Mitchel and Warn Marsh (Big Two) Duo, and the one he did with Clark Terry as a tribute to Duke Ellington and Bassie. These albums are so inspiring it is ridiculous.
  10. owenelicious


    May 11, 2007
    I actually own the last set of strings red mitchel played on. My teacher tim gilson bought them from his widow after he died along with twelve other sets of strings. They appear to be regular thomastic spiracores in fifths tuning. Tim said that red was the one who personally convinced thomastic to begin to make a line of fifths spiracores. I put them on my bass and it sounds incredible. The best my bass has ever sounded.

    owen hofmann-smith
  11. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - The duo with Lee Konitz, "I Concentrate on You" is pretty incredible. Probably my favorite straight ahead record.
    Doggin' Around has a cover by Gary Larson (Farside). I have it on now.
    They are just so good.
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    + about a zillion
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Seeing is believing:
  14. My first set of strings for fifhts tuning was as set of Red Mitchells, in 2004. The envelope says, "Thomastic Spirocore Red Mitchel" and something about fifths tuning. They made a $400 sows ear of a Chinese bass from eBay sound really good. They bow OK but pizz is to die for.