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Spirocore Weich vs. Mittel Question

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Bobby King, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    For any of you who've compared Spirocore Weich and Mittel on the same bass, which produces more bass and "punch" in the sound? I don't mean which is louder, but in terms of tone/attack.

    I ask this because it's been my experience that sometimes a lower tension string will yield more of a punchy bass. Heavier strings can be louder, but also brighter and more sustaining.

    I have a set of Spirocore Mittels that I've had on both my Shen and Strunal basses and I like them a lot. My Strunal is a hybrid bass and is louder than my all-ply Shen, so I tend to gig on the Strunal more. But, I think the Mittels sound better on the Shen, darker. They get a little whiney on the Strunal. I'm wondering if Weichs would be less so.

    I'd really like it if I could get a sound that I like with steels to do my Nashville bluegrass/country/Elvis/Patsy gigs, one that worked acoustic and amplified. I just wonder if the Weichs on the Strunal would punch a little more than the Mittels. Opinions?
  2. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    ive found the mittels to have a stronger attack and note definition. particularly the E string, which is a decent chunk of metal and mass


    on this recording im using the mittels

    i specifically covered the whole range of the bass, thumb position is much clearer with mittels compared to spiros, perhaps a touch harsh. good growl on the E string too. the strings are a little bright in the mid range, but thats more down to a thinner bridge
  3. Menacewarf


    Mar 9, 2007
    I'm hearing you

    Iv'e never used weichs so can't be a big help but know I am addicted to the sound of the mittel E. I imagine I can hear that mass you mention working with the bass and producing the fat round (did I mention addicting) waves. When I'm able to bow my bass for a couple of hours a day for day's in a row that E sound just get's fatter and fatter. Then eventually some air mass moves in, I don't get to play for a day and half and the fattness dies back. :crying:

    Anyway I'm convinced the big sound is helped by big strings. Been considering starks actually. :bag:
  4. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    This is very bass dependent. Quick responding basses can sound more poofy with Weichs. Don't think they have as much low end but they sound less "string" and more "wood" or "air". They are almost always quieter and have less overall sound than Mittel on the same bass. Mittels on those basses have more power longer notes and generally more of that Spiro buzz thing--at least until they get pretty old.

    Arco the Mittel almost always has more power volume and projection on quick responding basses whereas the Weichs have less power and volume but sometimes are easier to get a note going.

    Tighter less forgiving basses need more tension to get moving and there Wiechs sound particularly wimpy. Little poof and lots of buzz. Mittels then have more power and low end on tighter basses. They drive them harder and can create poof that you can't get with Weichs on the same bass.

    Arco the Mittles will make a tight bass roar where Weichs will seem like they never get it going.

    This is not always true. You have to try them both on the same bass to know for yourself.

    For some unknown reason Solos to standard pitch throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing. Especially resonant quick to respond instruments roar under the Solos and with Mittels can sometimes choke. Solos never get the Volume of mittels but sometimes the wood and air they bring is worth the lower output.

    Overall I prefer power and volume and will pick up air as I can get it. Higher tensions allow me to play lighter if I want and still have a quick front end to the note. Wiechs and Solos move a tad to slow on my basses for my tastes pizz so I stick with Mittels. I get plenty enough air with them in spite of the higher tension.
  5. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks Toad! A comprehensive answer, as usual.

    The Mittel set sounds great on my Shen, arco included, so I'm keeping them on there.

    As you know, I've been using guts/Velvets for a good while on my gigging bass, but recently I have been enjoying some of the advantages of steel. I think I'm going to try a set of Weichs on the Strunal. More "wood" and "air" is what I'm looking for. You described it well, as the Mittel's sound is too much "string" on that bass. We'll see. (I know I can always sell a used set of Weichs here!) There's also that whole question of the amplified sound on louder gigs. I recently bought a Full Circle, which I don't like with guts, but I do with steel. If I can get enough volume and thump with that pickup and the Weichs, it'll be great. I really do find that my hands and arms get less fatigued using steels, and I can more easily execute quicker rhythms and pickup notes, etc.
  6. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Tried the Weichs. Sounded like a sitar on my Strunal :scowl: Velvet Anima is still the best string for that bass.
    The Weichs sounded good on my Shen but the Mittels sound better. And you can lay into them more

    One set of Weichs in the classifieds ($100). Aargh.
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Getting to the right answer can be expensive. Think of that layout as an investment. Toad's right, the answer might have been "weichs" on a different bass. Setup has a role too, but I think that the bass is always going to be what it is, so setup can only dial it in. MAYBE, with thicker or stiffer tops, heavier strings make sense and with more delicate flowers, lighter strings make them sing more vs choke down under tension. That's some generalistic conventional wisdom, but it usually comes down to "try and see".

    Animas make sense for what you're looking for. I could see that working if you can deal with the feel of them, which a lot of people can.
  8. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Yea, but I have yet to play a bass with Spiro Mittels on it that sounded bad.
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    My bass chokes down under tension. Doesn't sound bad, but don't really seem to have it's voice either.

    I NEVER thought I would like weichs, but my bass certainly does. I probably would prefer more meat, but I've gotten used to it and not fighting the bass to speak has helped my playing.

    Now, God-forbid, if I were shopping for a new bass, I would look for one that was happier "medium", but I'm not. And, if I did, I'd just have some other annoyance to work around.
  10. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I guess that's my point. I've played tons of strings that can't make that claim.
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Spirocores are fine strings in all of their gauges. :)
  12. john allemond

    john allemond Supporting Member

    I had weichs on my hybrid and went to corellis cause I had some work related pain and thought a lighter string would help. The corellis sound great in my practice room, but on a gig with the quartet, I practically pull the strings off! I went the wrong way, I should have gone heavier and not work as hard. Next move is mittels, the, a full set of good guts.
  13. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I'm actually really enjoying playing the Mittels on my Shen plywood bass. I used this setup on a country/acoustic song demo and it sounded very good. Also, I used it at a few rehearsals with an Americana/Bluegrass artist that I work with. No amp, and it sounds quite good. (I can whip out the bow for a few spots too, which I can't do with Animas) I recently put a Full Circle on the Shen and I'm going to try it out on a gig on Friday night. The only thing is that the Shen isn't the loudest bass, but I actually like it's tone better than the Strunal hybrid. The Strunal is louder, but I don't really like how steels sound on it, too mid-ey, whiney.

    In March, this two-night-a-week steady gig that I do starts up again, which is an Elvis tribute show, the whole first hour is on upright, and pretty loud too. I've never had a good time of it with anything other than guts or Velvets and an Underwood pickup. About a year ago, I tried doing the show with my Shen using Weichs and a Rev Solo pickup and it wasn't fun. I may try the Mittel/Full Circle combo and see but I'm skeptical that it'll work.

    I've really been finding recently that I get less fatigued using steel, and I can play better on them too. If I can just get them to work on the loud, thumpy gigs....
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I remember the first time I went from weichs to mittels. I was a n00b with weichs on my bass, and a good friend brought over his garbage bag full of strings to let me try some different things. When that first mittel went on, it was if all the peasants suddenly got released from the dungeon, the sun came out, and a large chorus started to sing. John Goldsby sounds great on weichs, but every time I play them on any bass I sound like a big sissy Van Halen wanna be.

    One thing about weichs that can be kind of nice: you can crank 'em up higher than you can the mittels without ending up in a body cast.
  15. john allemond

    john allemond Supporting Member

    In regard to Rev pup and weichs, thats what my Upton came with and I hated the sound live. But the volume level is so loud when the young boys in the quartet get going I gotta come up with something else. The corellis didnt help. I stuck a Sure bass drum mic in the tailpeice at our last gig, wrapped in an old t-shirt, and blended it with my K&K bass max, which was an improvement. I am ordering mittels, and on verge of ordering ATM350 to go with them.
  16. He may sound great on Weichs but he sounded like a god (using your bass) on the Nachbar album. Nachbar has been on heavy rotation in my little world for a couple of months now. I love his sound on that album so much, I went out and bought everything I could find with him on it and was a bit disappointed to hear the sort of whiny sound of Weichs coming out of the speakers instead of the substantial sound of Dominants. It was only later that I discovered he borrowed your bass for the project.

    Dude, I covet your bass.

  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, I played John Lilly's bass with the Dominants that he got from you, Chris and they felt and sounded great, both playing and in the audience at his gig. They seemed like the perfect string, but we know there is a dark side to Doms...and let's not hijack.
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sadly, I only sound like a saint *at best* on the same bass.:atoz: If I ever need incentive to keep practicing, I need only remember this.
  19. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Try polytheism, Chris. Less competition for the number 1 spot. ;-)
  20. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Regular Contributor to Bass Player Magazine
    Hey Mark, Glad you like the Live at the Nachbar CD so much!

    I am naturally curious about the other recordings of mine that you found that you say sound whiny, in a Thomastik-Weich kind of way. I think part of the reason that the Nachbar sounds pretty good is that I mixed it—usually I do not have the opportunity to mix a project myself; it's generally done by the producer. Since I produced the Nachbar CD, I did the mix and listened with more critical ears than the average record producer might.

    I've used all kinds of strings over the years. For example, I've done many recordings with big bands, gut strings, and no amp:
    The Music of Jimmy Lunceford

    I also tried for a long time to mix sets: Spiro Orch E and A plus Eudoxa D and G, or A Pirastro Flexicore G— to take the dreaded "whine" out. But ultimately that was not satisfying to me. I also had one bass with gut, one with steel. Then I mixed but G and D, steel E and A.

    But most of the recordings I did before '94 were using Spirocore Orchestra Mittel, like these:
    Tale of the Fingers (check out the track "Time and Again" for a solo bass listen).
    The Bill Mays Trio
    or this one
    with Randy Sandke, Mike Brecker, Chris Potter, et al . . .
    The Chase

    I used a 5-string Elbin with Helicore Hybrids on this recording with Joachim Schoenecker, Chris Potter and Adam Nussbaum:
    In the Moment, (check out "Taxi of the Desert" to hear the 5th string actually being used), but the Helicores kept breaking on me.
    I think I did this one with Helicore Hybrids also (4-string)
    Frank Vignola

    Then in about 2000 I started using Thomastik Weich most of the time. Regarding the original poster: I do think the Weich speak better on my bass—they are louder, clearer and do not choke the instrument as much as the Mittel Gauge. They speak fast and have a clear center-of-pitch, which is very important to me. On my instrument, anyway.

    When I worked a few times with Ray Brown in his last years, he used Weich. Dave Holland uses Weich . . . most players who play in a lot of different situations seem to eventually just go with whatever seems to work for them.

    The records I've done in recent years were done with Weich, like these:
    Bireli Lagrene
    Patti Austin (Check out "Honeysuckle Rose" for the bass sound.)
    or Maceo Parker (Acoustic bass with a very loud big band/organ/guitar/rhythm-and-blues-legend. Check out "Them That's Got").

    or my trio record with Peter Erskine and Bill Dobbins (which Chris Fitzgerald says he likes-in spite of the Weichs, by the way)

    or this nice trio record, which is musically very close to my heart:
    Hubert Nuss (Check out "One for My Baby").

    So, I think the sound of the bass is influenced a lot by the recording situation and the mix. A lot of the records I did in the '80s were pickup-heavy in the mix, so maybe those are the ones you are talking about, Mark. Let me know—I don't mind the criticism, but I am very curious about how some players focus on certain aspects of the sound quality.

    Chris: I think the value (and price) of your plywood is going way, way up.

    How 'bout you sell it, and we'll split the money? :hyper: