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should I use gut strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by tito mangialajo, Feb 1, 2006.

  1. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    hi everybodys!
    first time I write in talkbass. pardon my english. I'm italian and self-thaught in english.
    I play professionally jazz double bass since 12 years. the question is:
    assuming that the sound depends after all to the musician's mind, fingers, body, ears, soul (if there is) I'm still searching for the right strings for me. the sound that I'm reaching for is the sound of the chain mingus-charlie haden-wilbur ware-larry grenadier for a simple example. an "organic" sound, I define it.
    during the years I've always use steel strings (spyro, jazzer, and helicore, orch and hybr) and now I use obligato.
    I've never had the courage, and the money, to switch into gut.
    does I?
    can you folks give me some suggestion? I've read about velvet garbo (is grenadier still using that strings?), pirastro oliv, gamut lyon (adrian cho's choice)...
    I play 90% pizzicato jazz.I like my sound but not at all.
    expecially I don't like the metallic sound of G strings: it bothered me.
    thanks for ideas. ciao.
  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I think Jason makes a very good point about about buying a G and D. In fact you could even buy just a G to try it out. Most of the gut sound comes from just the top two strings. Also, there IS a difference in quality of guts. I recommend you try the Lyons but of course I always say that. However if are basically happy with your sound and just don't like the G on your bass, try an Oliv G in combination with your other strings - quite a few guys do that.
  3. jmpiwonka

    jmpiwonka Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    i think, if you're really looking for the sound of mingus then you need to go with plain gut on the G and D strings, it's the only way to truly get that sound.
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Yes I have to agree with that. Sometimes people will ask me about the guts and after explaining some of the cons I'll say "but..." and play a bit of "Haitian Fight Song" or something like that. Of course guts alone won't make you sound like Mingus but it was an essential part of his sound and if you listen to Mingus on gut and Mingus when he played on steel, it definitely ain't the same.
  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    After reading this, I went back to my Mingus CDs and found that tune...dee-lish tone. If guts can get me close to that, then I just might have to abandon my quest for Pirastro FCS...
  6. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    ciao da un collega italiano che vive a New York. I'll write this in English, otherwise nobody will understand me here.
    Switching from steel to gut is an involved topic. Make sure you ask Stefano Senni about it (www.stefanosenni.it), he's "basstef" here on TalkBass. He's one of the most knowledgeable bassists in Italy on this topic, not to mention a hell of a player, too!

  7. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    ciao marco, and ciao everybodys.
    yeah, I know personally Stefano Senni, but I don't remembered he's playing gut. I'll contact him.
    Thanks for the answers. I think I'll try a set of velvet garbo: I buy that from a guy that has used it only for a couple of days. i'ts a good low price, why don'try? ciao, tito.
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    The problem Aaron is that while it's fun to play Mingus and certain other kinds of music with unwound guts, they don't blend in well for more modern music. It's a tradeoff for sure. A perfect reason to have two basses too.
  9. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Tito--you mentioned Larry Grenadier. He's currently using a Velvet Anima G, Oliv D, and Helicore Hybrid A and E.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I have been playing in a more modern sounding trio lately with plain gut G and D(Chordas), and it sounds great. They have a huge sound acoustically which comes out through the amp as well. The other guys in my trio love the sound.
  11. basstef

    basstef Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Bologna, Italy

    ciao Tito, e benvenuto su talkbass!!
    I have been using Garbo for years, and I'm very happy with this string. To describe the sound can be difficult, because it's just not gut (Velvet doesn't use gut anymore, to my knowledge), even if the sound is close. It depends a lot on the bass and the way it reacts to the string (and to the player). On a good bass they sound warm, round, percussive, balanced and have also a decent sustain. Forget arco, though...
    Grenadier used this set for a while. I saw him live with Garbos and the sound was amazing. I don't know why he switched then. Ben Street is still on garbos, and for years now. You can hear his earthy tone, while playing modern stuff. That's what I like the most.
    Be prepared to a bigger thickness of the strings and to a slightly higher action. The best thing I can recommend is to try a set on your bass :)
    Un abbraccio, Stefano
  12. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    ciao stefano, thanks for replying.
    in ten days I'll buy a used set of garbo (used very very little) and I'll discover the sound of these strings on my bass, with my fingers and my ears. I'm very curious.
    does anyone know how many last a set of garbo? i play every day (reharsal or gigs or home study).
    thanks everybody, tito.
  13. George Wolfaardt

    George Wolfaardt

    Jul 2, 2014
    Switch to gut G and D....that is the sound you are hearing. Efrano guts are affordable and do a great job in any style...they seem to sell only 'mittel' (medium guage) which have a good strong tension.. Give them two weeks to stretch and settle, raise your action some and be patient...you'll get used to them and eventually fall in love. You can use steel A and E;(I use Rotosound Nylons A and E)
  14. Efrano gut strings are available as Schwach (light), Mittel (medium) and Stark (heavy), but most retailers only sell the medium tension. You might order the strings from Efrano in Germany directly or ask a retailer lot order them for you.
    For me the medium tension Efranos are too weak, I will get a used Stark G and D in about a week. At the moment they don't have any double bass strings at Efrano but will have them in about six weeks.
    You might want to specify the diameter of the naked guts, because my medium Elite set had a light D and there are sometimes more than one diameter (maybe this means a range) listed for one string.
    The wound E and A had very little sustain pizzed, so I would use them only for baroque bowed music. They also had a bit more tension than G and D.
  15. I am very happy with my Efrano Stark G. Actually looking foreward to trying the rest of the set, as an alternative to my Lenzner EAD (unwrapped). I think I will stay within this lower prized range for the forseeable future.