Spiro Solo Experiment

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Bobby King, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    They say that the devil makes work for idle hands :eyebrow:

    Summer touring is winding down and that leaves time for fussing with strings. But seriously folks, I've had Gamut guts on my bass for over a year and I love them dearly, but my bowing chops are going to hell because, despite what others may be capable of, I suck at, and hate bowing on gut strings. I recently purchased a set of Spiro Solos and put them on my Azola EUB (which formerly was sporting Garbos), and I was very impressed with them. Still, bowing on the Azola is a lot like playing a giant mosquito. You could see the idea bulb over my head asking "What would these sound like on Irmgard?" (my blonde German bass). So f*#K me, I gave it a try, and they sound great!

    Now mind you, I have a non-adjustable bridge on Irmgard set up for guts, so the action is pretty high for steel strings. But given the low tension of the Spiro Solos at regular tuning, it's still managable. I did an amplified gig last night and had great results, so I came home and filed down the D and G slots just a little bit. (I couldn't resist, now I'll have to bust out the Super Glue if I put the Gamuts back on) The E&A are fine as is, but the D and G were high. The advantage of the high action is that I'm still getting plenty of thumpy "gut-like" tone, even on the G string. I'm wondering if I can go lower without losing the sound I like (or maybe just man up and deal with it)?

    I'm surprised how un-whiney the Solos sound. I did a fairly high-volume gig and the sound wasn't much different than my guts, I could still slap on them, and the quicker response for pizz is always a pleasure. My only complaint is that there's a little more tendency for feedback to develop on open strings.

    Meanwhile, the arco sounds great. Again, no scratchy/whiney sound on the G, even the amplified arco sounds decent. There's something about being able to play arco on the same bass that you pizz on -- the practice time that you put in has a real payoff in terms of intonation and left hand strength.

    I wonder if I'll still be high on them in a week. I have a bluegrass gig on Friday and we'll see how that goes.

    To paraphrase Rene Descartes : "I change my bass strings, therefore I am." :rolleyes:
  2. basstef

    basstef Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Bologna, Italy
    Spiro solos are great strings. Especially E&A. They sing, roar and sustain, still being dark and without that horrible twang of some other steel strings. I also love how they match with gut G&D.
  3. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    It also occured to me that they E&A would go well with gut, but then I'd be back to the same arco problem on top.
  4. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    After a week of assorted gigs, I've been very happy with the Spiro Solos. Tuned at concert pitch, they are definitely the darkest sounding of the Spiros, and I can get plenty of thump (minus the whine) on the G&D. I have the action just a little lower than the Gamut guts that have been on for the last year, and the tension feels similar. They have somewhat more overtone ring when amplified, but still managable even on higher volume gigs.

    Arco is a pleasure on these, I really avoided practicing arco on my Gamuts and was losing my chop (singular) :). Again, the sound is darker and less nasal than Mittels or Weichs with the bow.

    They slap well! Not too springy/boingy, with a slightly deadened quality like orchestral steels.

    My experience with these confirms my impression that lower tension strings will often produce more bass, and sometimes more volume. Years ago I was surprised how Corelli 370s got the biggest sound on my King bass. I usually preferred Spirocore Weichs to Mittels, but I think I like the Solos best of all, and I can still get a sound that I'm happy with coming from gut.

    No, they can't do everything that Gamut guts can do, but the reverse is true as well. It's been an easy adjustment coming from the Gamuts though, and they feel great to play! If you're one of those people that goes back and forth between guts and Spiros, I'd recommend giving these a try.
  5. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Well..................Spiro Solo experiment ended today. I did a recording session, some Americana-ish tunes. On the the first playback, the E&A sounded noticably weaker, with less bottom, compared to the D&G. I asked if we could take a 45 minute break, I zoomed home, got my Gamuts and put them back on. Played and tuned for about 15 minutes and then re-did my part. Next playback...aah! There's the sound! And the fullness on the lower strings too.

    What's a bass player to do? I was definitely digging the Spiro Solos, especially playing more arco again, but the gut sound is my bread and butter here in Nashvegas. I guess I'll have to keep trying to learn how to bow on those darn guts.

    I had slightly lowered my bridge slots for the Spiros (my current bridge has no adjusters), so now the Gamuts are sitting a little lower, but I like it! They sing a little more, and they're still high enough to dig in, slap, etc.

    I still think highly of the Solos, and since the current bridge height seems to work for both, I have the option to use them again. Nice to have the Gamuts back though. Mighty fine strings!
  6. Thanks for the diary, Bobby.
    It all depends on the repertoire and the appropriate tone then.

    Best regards!
  7. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I had exactly the same response to these guys. Still have the set laying about and plan on keeping it.
  8. I love them. I still have the G on, the D started unwinding, so put weichs on the bottom. I just love practicing with them - and when you are practicing a ton it doesn't matter what strings you have on!
  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    So are you using Weich E/A Solo D/G? I thought about doing that. It works well?
  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I tried that way back when. Didn't like it better than a full set of solos.
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I've been playing solos for about a month now and like them to a point, but am concerned about using them on the recording sessions I have next week as I haven't heard their recorded sound. Not crazy about the thin feeling G, but love the "accurate" spiro response, arco-ability, and tension on this bass.

    I think I'm gonna switch back to the Velvet Blues, for the recordings anyway. Got a pretty great sound with them on the last recording I did.
  12. Weich E/A/D, solo G. It works great, has more body. Still, when I buy a new set it will be solos!
  13. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Spiro Solos plus a Oliv G is a fantastic set on my bass, and a good cure for the thin spiro G vibe. For me the Oliv G makes it seem like a whole different set (in a good way). I often feel like I have to play differently on the G when I have bright steel strings, but with the Oliv G and Spiro Solo D-A-E I felt like I could dig in evenly across all the strings and get a consistent sound and feel.
  14. The G is my favorite, I guess for my sound/technique/bass it isn't an issue.
  15. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I liked the Solo G (and D), it wasn't thin sounding like a Mittel or Weich sometimes can be. My issue was with the lower strings which didn't sound as loud and full, on my bass anyway.

    It sucks on a recording when all the notes on your D&G are booming out, but anything played on the E&A is wimpier sounding. Makes you want to reach for the Fender :eek:. But the Gamuts balance nicely on my bass.

    I will say that the Spiro Solos are absolutely perfect on my Azola EUB, though!
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I did the session on spiro solos and they sounded fine. My only problem with them were intonation issues I've had using EP solo strings tuned down. Don't know why it happens but it is real... I couldn't get fifth double stops on the G and D in tune. Very weird.
  17. John Wiitala

    John Wiitala

    Nov 11, 2010
    "My issue was with the lower strings which didn't sound as loud and full"

    Yeah, on both my basses this is true for the E string. Everything else is great. For some reason D' Adarrio Hybrid mediums sound and feel like what I want from the Spiro Solos. On my basses, of course--ymmv.
  18. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    I'm glad I foun this thread- I've been seriously considering Spiro solo's tuned to orch pitch for my Shen- which is my "everything EXCEPT orchestra" bass. I have Eurosonic lights with a Spiro Weich E- kicks ass for everything but tough to get a good consistant arco sound.

    Guess I'll pull the trigger before the Gollihur sale ends! :)

    Report pending!

  19. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Hey Bobby,
    Could be a set-up/sound post issue. Maybe the the tension is different enough that the post needs to move lightly to get that big sound on the E & A.
  20. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks Jeff!

    It could be a sound post issue, but my current set up still sounds great with my Gamut guts and I'm reluctant to mess with it. The E&A wound guts project nicely and are well balanced with the uppers. Not having scientifically measured but just from my impressions, the Spiro Solos at orchestra pitch still have more tension than the guts, so it could very well be that the added tension is causing the issue.

    As I mentioned, I slightly lowered my bridge slots when I was trying out the Solos, and now that I have the Gamuts back on they are sitting a little lower. I actually like it a lot, I'm not losing much volume, and it makes for greater left hand ease, especially on the lower strings. A lot of the gut players here in Nashville like Dennis Crouch and Billy Linneman keep their action pretty darn high. Sometimes we get into the "try and emulate your heroes" thing and that's usually a stupid idea in the end, you should do what works for you. I'm 5'8" on a good day and don't have large hands, so I guess I cant be quite as manly as some of these guys :rollno:

    Also, I've been biting the bullet and getting back into bowing on the guts. Like everything else, the more you do it the better you get!