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Spirocore Solos Tuned to Orchestral Pitch

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by TroyK, Jun 20, 2005.


  1. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Can anyone tell me what to expect from trying this? Sound? Feel? Arco? Compared to other spirocores?

    I have read what is available and someone somehow connected with TI went so far as to say the tension is lower than the Weichs, but not how much.

    I need to lower the tension on my bass. I've had it to a luthier. No major set up changes planned for now. Looking for a lower tension string set. I play jazz, but do pick up the bow now and again.

    Currently, I use Pirastro Permanents e-a-d and Flat-Chromesteel G. I've been happy with this set up in the past, but need to take some tension out, specifically of the treble side.

    The new 180's are on my mind too, but I'm not sure I want to make that big of a change. I've torn up a few pairs of Obligatos and am not going down that path again and I'm afraid that Innovations, Dominants and Heritages will have to live with the sins of the Obligato with me.

    So, I've read that it can be done and I know that the tension would be lower, but I'd really like to hear from someone who has strung Sprio Solos to Orchestral tuning and what their experience with it was, prefererably a jazz player.

    Thanks in advance.

    Troy
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Solos Spiros at regular pitch were really neat on my bass. Very low tension, bowed great, darker sound than heavier gauge Spiros.

    The D string is a little nasal with the bow for a week or so after you put them on -- like all Spiros. If you play acoustically a lot, you might notice some drop in punch and volume.

    A friend of mine has a Prescott that is really a high-tension bass, and Solos are somewhere between Weichs and Reds in feel and performance, so if you're bass is on the mean side, the Solos might suit you perfectly.
     
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    "Why not try a lighter gauge of permanents or the solo gauge and tune them to regular pitch. If one brand works, stay with it."

    I don't think that there is such a thing. There is only one gauge of Permanents that I'm aware of. They do, however make a solo gauge and I could do the tune down to orchestra with them and maybe I should. Or maybe, I try that just with the G string, which is where my chief tension problem seems to be. I hate to mix, but it would be a more economical experiment.

    A few reasons I didn't think of that first:

    1) A few people have been recommending that I come back to Spirocores lately. I've been tempted, but don't want the arco hassles and need to reduce tension, rather than add it.

    2) I know that people do or used to do the tune down from solo thing with Spirocores and I thought I would find someone who could tell me what to expect. Didn't necessarily excpect to find someone who had done so with Permanents, but would welcome feedback from them as well.

    3) I'm MOSTLY happy with the Permanents. I've been happy enought with them, but the G-String has been a revolving door. The D and G on my bass have never sounded quite right to me. I've experimented with strings, bridge and soundpost and have been happy enough with the sound, but have been replacing strings every 6 months or so to keep it sounding that way. Spriocore users tell me they change strings between one year and never, which would be great, but it's hard to believe.

    I've felt for some time now that I needed to experiment with a lower tension setup on my bass and for some reason with this particular season change this particular year, a lot of extra tension crept into it.

    I got some advice that I trust to consider some set-up changes when our season changes again, but just to live with the extra tension or experiment with strings in the mean time.

    Thus, my question. Wouldn't rule out Solo Permanents, but I'd have the same question about them. WHo's done it? What's it like? What can I expect? I know it's possible, I know it will be lower tension, but I don't know what other characteristics will change.

    Thanks for the reply. Anyone?

    -tk
     
  4. JAS

    JAS

    Jul 3, 2001
    California
    I've used solo Spirocores, Permanents, Obligatos, and Sensicore all tuned down to orchestra pitch.

    The Spirocores sounded really good on my Kay. The arco sound was very clear, and had a lot of character. They were very easy to bow. The pizz sound was much better than the orchestra or weich gages on my bass. Very clear, lots of sustain, classic kind of acoustic bass sound. I got rid of them because the G string was starting to feel too thin under my fingers. That is pretty much the only thing I rember not liking. Also I started to get tired of that agressive spirocore sound.

    From there I went to the Permanent Solos tuned down. These were deffinately a little darker, and little easier to bow, and a little thicker feeling. I used these for a while also. These had a very smooth sound to them. Nice character. They have a very smooth sound arco and pizz. I was still looking for somthing else though so I moved on...

    The Obligato solos tuned down were one of my favorite strings that I tried. These were on my bass for about a year and then I bought a second set that I used for about another 6 months. They were kind of close to the Eudoxa gut strings. They had a nice sustain, but also had more of a gut feel and sound that I was starting to enjoy. They felt very nice to play. I moved on from these because I still wanted an even thicker G string.

    For about a year I have used Eurosonic Ultra Lights with a magnetic pickup. The strings gave me the thick feel I was looking for and the magnetic pickup gave me more of the sound I liked, but these sound horrible with the bow and are really a little too light tension.

    I am now trying the Sensicore Solos tuned down just because I had them laying around from a while ago and I never used them. They are kind of similar to the Obligato Solos, but it has been a while, so it is hard to compare. I think I liked the Obligatos better. I will probably go back to the solo Obligatos if I don't find anything else soon.
     
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    It's more like 90/10 Pizz/Arco and 90% of the Pizz is practicing at home to clean up my right hand. However, I have tended to like a darker sound in the past.

    The planets lined up for me last night and I just happenned to be at a session where someone had some solo strings tuned down to orch pitch. He said he thought that they were Helicores, but wasn't sure. I'll research later. Based on the patterns on the windings, I'd say they could have been Helicores or Pirastros. Maroon with gold spirals.

    At any rate, they sounded great and I like the tension and feel of them, so I think this is a good experiment for me. I apprecaite everyone's advice.

    Troy
     
  6. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Those would be Helicores. However if you are playing arco I would stay away from the Helicore Pizzicato. It would be better to get either the Hybrid light guage, or Orch light guage(which sound quite good pizz as well).
     
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Do those sound like Helicore Pizzicato strings? He said that he didn't think they were, but he also admited that he didn't know. I ran it through the string id calculator and it didn't seem to know either. They were awfully growly to have been orchestral strings. Sounded great on his bass and he was a nice player.

    It was fortuitous for me that I got to listen and play some tuned down strings, regardless of brand. It put any reservations I had at bay about giving it a try. My bass has picked up extra tension, I've been playing longer gigs and multiple gig days and I've had a low grade pizz finger sprain that I've been nursing. I really need to take it easy on myself for a few months and I'm not cutting back on my playing.

    Thanks to everyone.

    Troy
     
  8. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I bought some new Obli Solos from a TBer for my old Standard and they were a little too flabby in tension and tone. Also tried them on the old Clevinger, same problem. Then I combined them will a regular set on both basses, in the direction of where they needed "fattening"(E/Areg-DGsolo on Std, opposite on stick)and the tension & sound on both are where they need to be.

    Ike
     
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So, it looks like I'm brokering an off-list deal for an uninstalled set of Spirocore Solos, which I think is a reasonable thing for me to try. I might have been tempted to try Permanent Solos tuned down all things equal, but with the considerable discount of a private party deal and my interest in trying Spirocores again after being away from them for several years is too tempting to pass up. I know (or at least I think) that they won't sound or play the same as regular Spirocores, but I'm kind of counting on that. I don't think that I could live with regular Spirocores on this bass, especially right now with my set up issue and hand sprain.

    I'll reserve judgement, let them settle in and then post my impressions. Thanks to everyone for their feedback. Great list.

    Troy
     
  10. Nivaca

    Nivaca

    Jan 8, 2005
    I think those are Pirastros, for the Helicores are green (not maroon) and gold.
     
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    It would be good to know, just out of pure curiousity. Oh Francois? You have a gift for string identification, do you not?

    What color are the silks on helicore solos?

    AND (if it's not the same question)

    What strings have a maroon silk with gold spiral?

    The pattern of the silk looked kind of Helicoreish, but Pirastros look kind of like that too. The owner said he thought they were Helicore Orchestral Solos, but admitted that he didn't know. I know that had they been Orchestral tuning, they would have been royal blue with gold spirals. I wondered if these were Helicare Pizzicato strings, but I don't know if they make a solo tuning.

    Side note, I can't find the double bass section on D-Addario's website. What's up with that?

    Troy
     
  12. Nivaca

    Nivaca

    Jan 8, 2005
    http://www.daddariobowed.com/
    But it seems offline right now.
     
  13. Guy Batey

    Guy Batey

    May 25, 2005
    London
    My old D'Addario Helicore pizz light gauge strings (orchestral, not solo) were maroon with a gold thread.
     
  14. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Right.
    The gauge is given by a silk ring at the beginning of the peg silk section.
    Blue ring: medium
    Gold ring: light
    Red ring: heavy

    Ball end Green with gold spiral is Hybrid.
    Ball end Navy blue with gold spiral is Orchestral.
     
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So, if we determined that these were indeed Helicore Pizzicato strings, are there Pizzicato Solos? He was sure that whatever he had were solo gauge tuned down. I'm not surprised if they were Pizzicato strings, they sounded like Pizz strings, but they did feel low tension.

    Wouldn't think there would be such a thing as pizzacato solo strings, though. He might be mistaken about what was on his bass.

    Troy
     
  16. Guy Batey

    Guy Batey

    May 25, 2005
    London
    My 5 year old D'Add catalogue lists Orchestral, Hybrid, and Pizzicato sets in light, medium and heavy; and a Solo set, medium tension only, which is a version of the standard Orchestral set.

    Ball end windings are blue with gold thread for orchestral; green/gold for hybrid; maroon/gold for pizz, and black/gold for solo.
     
  17. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Helicores are available in solo-tuning only in the orchestral variety.
     
  18. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    That makes sense. It means that this guy didn't know what strings he was using and that I still haven't experienced the tension of solos tuned down.

    The helicore pizz strings he was using were amazingly low tension. could have been partially his set up. sounded good, though. I wonder why more people don't use them. Helicore Hybrids are generally thought (unofficially) to be a pizz string, but I see them much more often.

    Troy
     
  19. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Hybrids are darker sounding than the Pizzicatos. That is probably why you see them more often. That and guys like Patitucci and McBride use them which probably has something to do with people using them as well....
     
  20. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    So after all that yacking, just so you know I wasn't wasting your time, there is a new set of 4 Spirocore Solos tuned to Orchestral pitch on my bass.

    I've learned the hard way not to review things until I've lived with them for a while. Also, I've got a injury that is keeping me from really playing this week, but of course, I couldn't help myself a little bit. It will take me a little while to form an opinion that I want to go solid on-record with, but I will when it's time.

    The story and 1st impressions, however (not judgements):

    The tension is about what I was hoping for. It may turn out to be a little too loose on the bass side, but maybe not. The G string had gotten crazy-tight and now it feels just right. They may all be just perfect. I have felt for a while that my bass probably needed a lower tension setup and this will be a test. The saddle that the tailpiece wire strings over was built up by a previous owner, which suggests that I'm not the first person who has thought this.

    The bass is a 100+ yo carved czech 3/4 with lots of repairs and and vague history. By the way, I should mention, that I love her and everyone comments on her great sound. When I got her, she had Superflexibles. I didn't mind the E and A so much, but hated the D and G. They sounded too "springy". I've played Superflexibles on other basses without this sensation. Next was Obligatos. Loved them, loved the feel, tension, initial tone, then they started spinning, changing. I had the problem with them that 1/2 of everyone does. The other 1/2 keeps loving them. I'm unlucky that way. Pirastro was nice enough to mail me replacements and some Permanents.

    I really liked the Permanents E and A and I was O.K. but never thrilled with the D. The G sounded way too strident on my bass.

    I put some of the free Obligatos courtasy of Pirastro out to trade and found the FlatChromesteel G, but not D to be a great tone and blend with the Permanents and was set for about a year, until recently, when things got in-explicably tighter, the same bad tones as with the other strings on that side crept in and it started doing damage to my right hand on long gigs. So obviously its something do with setup rather than just the strings.

    I've had a few good luthiers look at it. A few things we may try later, but nothing major going on that can be pinpointed and one suggested tuning down solos, which is when I started this thread.

    Also, I've become aquainted with David Friesen, who is a Thomastik guy and really encourages Spirocore use. I've been going the other way, though. Warm, bowable, woody, but not dead sounding. However when I pop in on some local guy playing with Spirocores, I usually get caught up in how great it can sound and have been tempted. BUT, I couldn't reconcile that with my need for low tension and the fantasy that I would be a decent arco player some day. Off list, someone contacted me and and made me an offer I couldn't refuse for an unopenned set of Spirocore Solos.

    I put the G on first. Loved the tension, breathed a sigh of relief. The volume was similar to the Permanents that were still on there. It was a bit brighter, but not much more than any new string would be compared to broken in strings. The extra vibration sort of made up for the brightness in terms of resonance. G Strings have always sounded kind of choked on this bass, but not this one tonight.

    Then the D string. The volume still blended and it felt like the bass apprecaited the breathing room. The Sprirocores did not sound too bright (keep in mind these are solos tuned down), as I feared, but it was amazing how much more clarity they had than the Permanents that were on there. I've always thought of the Permanents as "warm" and never as "dead", but mixed on the bass, they sounded dead. I still like Permanents and would use them again someday, just an interesting observation.

    With the full set on, I played as much as I felt I could without pressing my luck on my non-bass-related shoulder injury. They felt good, they sounded good. Different, but not nearly as different as I thought they might. It will take some getting used to. I played a few scales with the bow. I'm no arco expert, but it wasn't so bad. Don't know how it compares to appropriately tuned Spirocores, but I think I can live with this. Not as easy to bow as the Permanents, FlatChromesteels or Obligatos, but probably as easy as the Superflexibles and I think easier than some Helicore Hybrids that I bowed at one someone else's bass recently. Then again, i'm not a great judge. The lower tension seems to make them less of an arco liability for the jazz player to picks up the bow now and again, at least based on my extensive 6 minute research.

    My wife, who is a great muse, but not a musician came home when I finished stringing them and as much as she hates when I do this, I asked her to describe the sound. She said "bassier, fuller sounding" (which I thought was good and put some Sprirocore fears to rest, but I agreed). Then I said "what else?" She was uncomfortable because she knew I was looking for a specific right answer and she is sure she can't know such things, but she listened, thought and said "this may not be right, but it seems like the notes last longer." =^) Bingo, honey, that's called "sustain".

    So, I appreciate everyone's advice. I don't know if this is the solution for me, but I do feel like it's a great thing for me to try for a while. I will practice, break them in and gig in a few different rooms at a few different volumes with them and then post my impressions. I may hate them in a month or they may be on my bass for the next decade. Let's hope for the later.

    Troy