Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Slam Stewart & best string for mainly arco

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Oct 14, 2004.


  1. 2 questions really.

    what strings did Slam Stewart use?

    and if you wanted good arco strings, list the worst pizz doublers.

    ie. i want good arco strings firstly but want to know which strings i will make the most compromise on for my pizz. maybe list the most compromise to the worst.

    thanks
     
  2. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    On all the pictures and videos that i saw , Slam is using plain gut on G and D and some sort of wounded string on A and E(i would say wounded gut, metal strings didnt exist in the 40's i guess...)
    On other pictures with a 5 string Kay, hes using high C , G and D plain gut and A and E wounded...
    It really depends which sound you have in your head, i use G and D plain gut and A and E Pirastro Olive.
    Gut is not the easiest to bow, but thats the sound i like , my pizz sound is the gut pizz sound, so for me, gut is the only way ...
    You will have to say whats the sound you're hearing in your head and then im sure lot more sugestions will follow.

    NUNO
     
  3. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    Slam used "Artone" gut strings. The lower A & E were steel wound. In later years he used Red-O-Ray gut G & D, and Thomastik A & E. He used a Kay bass on most of his recordings.
     
  4. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Slam eventually used and endorsed Super Sensitive Sensicore strings. These have synthetic "perlon" core with a metal wrap similar to Thomatsik Dominants. They were meant to emulate gut strings and are still available. Most of Slam's "classic" recordings were made back when he (and everyone else) used gut strings.

    - Steve
     
  5. Man, this brings back alot of memories. Those Artone strings were THE gut string in those days. The Red-O-Ray strings that alavakian mentions were pretty strange looking...they were actually dyed red. Then when everyone went to metal strings, the biggy was Lycon. They were similar to Thomastik Orchestras only maybe even more sustain. They actually almost had a piano string type sound. Then Ray Brown came out with his own package of Lycons. They were a little lighter and easier to play.
    Here's one for you....I know Slam used a German bow, but does anyone know if it was a "name" bow by a great maker or just a "klunker"? I don't think it was one of those old Kay bows that were so bad.
     
  6. Aside from the very important string question that was answered above, what I'd like to know is where there is the footage (video) of Mr. Stewart that is referred to above. Is he in any Hollywood musicals, or in those old one-reelers featuring big bands, etc.?

    -McT
     
  7. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Regarding Slam's bow, I think he did actually use a Kay bow at one time. There is a story printed in several sources about how bass players were amazed that he got such a great sound from a Kay bass and a Kay bow. In the promo shot of Slam reproduced in John Goldsby's "The Jazz Bass Book" he appears to be playing a five string Kay bass with a Kay bow. I know Slam also used carved basses and I'm sure he had better quaility bows too. He endorsed Kay basses and appeared in several ads back in the 1940's (as did Chubby Jackson and Bob Haggart)

    As far as movies, I believe Slim & Slam appeared in a musical called "Stormy Weather". I've never seen it, but it might be available on video. There are a few others and if you search for "Slam Stewart" or "Slim & Slam" on www.allmovie.com I believe you'll find them.

    BTW Some of my favorite Slam Stewart performances are on a Benny Goodman recording called "Slipped Disc". These are sextet recordings from around 1947 and feature Red Norvo and Teddy Wilson among others. Slam solos on almost every track and it's great stuff.

    - Steve

    http://kaybass.home.att.net
     
  8. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    In a movie version of Hellzapoppin' (1941) there is a sequence in which Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart (Slim & Slam) are moving furniture (a piano & bass among them). As they pause to take a break, Slim sits at the piano and Slam picks up the bass. They do a few blues riffs back and forth until finally joined by others, then go into a jam session. This is a silly movie, but worth it for that jewel of a moment, though brief,
    to watch and listen to Slam's relaxed bowing.
     
  9. Blimp and Alavakian,

    Thanks for the info on Slam. I will definitely follow up on those leads.

    Turner Classic Movies ought to (though I haven't checked) provide some kind of info on the catalog of musical "shorts" that they use as filler. I've seen some pretty cool stuff between films, though from regular program sources, there's no way of knowing which ones they're going to show.

    Anyway, for now I'll look for the usually silly movies that have those all-too-brief musical gems in them.

    Best regards.

    -McT
     
  10. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    If you are a real Slam Stewart freak you should get the CD "Bowin', Singin' Slam." This is Slam at his best. It has been said that some bass players play on top of the beat, some below the beat, but Slam goes smack in the middle. Great pizz. and bowing with Johnny Guarnieri. Also on "Play Fiddle Play" Slam fingers and bows right up to the bridge.
     
  11. Thanks very much for that heads up! I just went to Amazon and purchased that CD.

    Speaking of memorable recordings, a while back I located and downloaded (did I say that?) a song that I eventually learned was from the live Don Byas/Slam Stewart "Town Hall" duet in 1944. It was an incredibly souped up version of "I've Got Rhythm". One of my favorites, and if I can locate the full album or CD, I'm buying it.

    Best regards, and thanks again.

    -McT
     
  12. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    That Town Hall thing was not intended as a duet. Some of the other guys just didn't show up, so Slam and Don decided to go on anyway. You will find "I've Got Rhythm" (Slam & Don) on record EF of the Smithsonian Collection of Jazz.
     
  13. Alavakian,

    Thanks for the info, again. Your knowledge is most impressive!

    I gotta start Googling these things before I post...but hey, I chalk it up to still being a "newbie."

    -McT
     
  14. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    I just discovered another movie " Boy! What a Girl" (1945)with Slam Stewart playing with his trio. It's a lousy,silly movie but has some of its moments also with Sid Catlett and Gene Krupa.
     
  15. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Very cool, and I certainly appreciate you getting back to this thread seven years later :)

    - Steve
     
  16. Ha! Good lead regardless of the time. [Wow, that was a fast 7 years!]
     
  17. Godfather

    Godfather

    Feb 4, 2001
    Slam was the man !.....I lived a ways down from him on Chestnut St. in Binghamton , NY during my college years.....just as nice a gentleman as he was a great player !
     
  18. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Check out "Shut Yo Mouth"-Slam with Major Holley, along with Dick Hyman and Oliver Jackson.
     
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Gee, if only I knew to look and remember when Slam Stewart handed me his bass!