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Red Mitchell's Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by JAS, Mar 30, 2005.


  1. JAS

    JAS

    Jul 3, 2001
    California
    Diane Mitchell recently sent me a set of Red's old strings to try out. They are basically Spirocores tuned in fifths. I am a bit confused because every picture of Red's bass I have ever seen seems to have much thicker strings than these. I know pictures can be decieving, but his strings - especially the high A and D look a lot thicker than these spirocores. Does any one know if Red was using anything different?

    Also, in the Tal Farlow documentary, there is a bunch of footage of Red playing. He has very low action, and his strings seem so bouncy. All the spirocores I have used always have seemed very stiff at any hight. It looks in the video like he is using the fifth tuned spirocores because of their red windings on the bottom, but they are just way thicker than the ones Diane sent me - which with the exception of the low C, are about the same as regular spirocores.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. As I mention in your PM Jas, I never noticed his strings looking thicker. I got tons of pictures of Red around on various recordings, and I don't see anything....
    I'll drop an email to Larry Holloway who uses Reds Fifths set.
    Since you've been in touch with Diane, why not ask her?
    www.mimuma@teleport.com
     
  3. JAS

    JAS

    Jul 3, 2001
    California
    I emailed Diane, and she really didn't know. She gave me the email address of a Tim Gilson, who teaches in Portland and knows what Red was using. The email address did not work, so I don't know. I just think the higher strings look too thick to be spirocores. For example the cover of Red's album " A Declaration Of Interdependence," has a picture of Red holding his bass and the G and D look much thicker than any spiros I've used. On the your Tal video, Red's higher strings look thicker and just seem to respond different than spirocores. I guess it could just be in my head though.
     
  4. I think what's happening is that you're looking at pictures of Red before he talked Thomastik into making the Fifths. That Tal tape is very old!
    He tried every imaginable string to pull the fifth thing off.
     
  5. I don't know what he was using before Spirocores, but Thomastik-Infeld still makes a Spirocore Red Mitchell Bass set, tuned in fifths.

    It's set #3986.0, also available in Weich.
     
  6. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    I know this point is obvious, but no one's made it yet: Red Mitchell was obviously using gut strings like everybody else in the early part of his career, right? My favorite recordings of his are all pre-Spirocore (whether that means "pre-5ths-tuning," I don't know), 1950s and very early 1960s. That would explain the thickness.

    BTW, the only reason my "favorite recordings" of his are mostly pre-Spirocore is that those are mostly the ones I have. I've never heard something he was on that I didn't like...
     
  7. Johono, I don't know if you've been on the Forum long enoubh to have been in on some of our older Red Threads. If you haven't been on that long, do yourself a favor and seach under Red's name and mine, and you'll come up with all kinds of fun stuff.
    Red Mitchell was my reason to play the bass. I lived and breathed that cat. After meeting him and playing with him in L.A. in the late 50's, I even tried to copy his personality! When I said playing with him, I mean he was playing piano and Jazz cello. I was playing bass and jazz cello...tuned like a bass...Pettiford style. Anyway, i'm glad I patterned many things in my life after Red...his personality was just beautiful and being a teenager I needed a hero. It worked for me!
    I agree with you on the earlier recordings, and believe me, I know most of them intimately, and can play most of them. That's how I learned.
    Red changed to Lycon steel strings in the early 60's, went to a five string low B in the mid 60's, then went to fifths in the late 60's (about) then moved to Sweden not long after that.
    Anyway, do check the Archives, because we cover all that.
    Thanks for being a Red fan!!!
     
  8. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    You were a lucky dude, Daddy Warburton! I'll check the archives on Red as you suggested. I hope more people have been turned on to his playing by this forum.

    I pestered Brookmeyer about Red when we were on the road, but all he did was grumble about this nightmare tour they did in Europe (in the early days of amplification?) when Red had to schlep his own P.A., it seems, so they were constantly dealing with both a bass and two enormous speaker cabinets on the trains. But that live Gerry Mulligan quartet stuff with Red and Brookmeyer from 1954...some of the best stuff ever.
     
  9. Talk about a lucky dude....you worked with Brookmeyer!
    Of course, I would think your playing had a lot to do with it....
     
  10. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Mostly luck, I should think! That, and being congenial and respectful to one's elders...it's amazing how far that can get you in life. And I need all the help I can get...