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String Choices for 5 String (low B) Basses

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Pete G, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Question for you 5-string veteran orchestra players: What strings do you like? Do you prefer a complete set of strings, or do you mix strings of different types?

    I've been experimenting a lot with strings on my 4-string Arvi, and I've recently come to like the Pirastro Permanents for orchestra work. But I wonder whether the added tension of the fifth string doesn't render much of my 4-string experience irrelevant.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear what strings work for you veterans.
  2. I'm not an orchestra player, but i'm a veteran jazz player. See my Joseph Bohmann in the Talkbasses under the Bass Forum heading. Hear it under Recordings under the Talkbass Sampler.
    I'm not a stranger to the bow and I recommend Thomastik Spirocore Orchestra strings only. I don't do any bowing on these recordings, but believe me, the low B sounds like a pipe organs bass pedals!
  3. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks, Paul. I've heard that the Spirocores don't "speak" as easily and clearly as some strings that are considered more bow-friendly, such as Flexocors. If that were true, it would seem like even more of a negative on a five-string than a four, given the challenge of closer-set strings, less margin for error on the bowing angle of attack, etc.

    On the other hand, there are some orchestra players who swear by them, especially on the low strings, for precisely the reason you mention -- they are powerful.
  4. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    And Paul, that bass of yours is the most amazing thing I've ever seen...
  5. Thanks Pete....glad you like it.
    In the world of jazz pizz, there is no other B string. All the others just go 'splat'. The Thomastik rings like a great E string on a four stringer. It's even possible to get pizz vibrato out of the Thomastik B!
  6. lin fung

    lin fung Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2002
    St. Louis, MO
    Regarding the spirocore low B string, is the weich good as well, or only the mittel (orchestral)? I prefer weichs for the upper four strings, so it seems that it would make sense from a balance standpoint to use that for the B, unless the weich doesn't sound/feel right, of course.
  7. Lin, yeah, if I was going to be doing alot of bowing, I would try the Weich's too. The Thomastik Orchestra Strings just make it too hard to get a nice, dark sound on the G and D strings. I don't know if Thomastik makes the low B in the Weich's, but, i'd still stick with the Orchestra's for the B because you usually don't get a bass part with alot of articulation down there anyway,so i'd stick with the power Orchestra B. I would also give the Thomastik Solo Strings a try, tuned down to regular pitch for the top two strings.
    Bottom line, for the jazz sound I like the Orchestral Thomastiks. My bass is pretty dark sounding, so they work really good for me.
    By the way, how about completing your profile Lin? It's nice to know a bit more about you, and also helps us help you with your needs and questions.
  8. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Paul, have you tried the Pirastro Jazzers on B and E? I'm still in early days with them, but they're low-tension, flatwound strings that produces a lot of sound and are easily bowable (notwithstanding the name).
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I can't say anything about B strings but I recently installed a Permanent C extension string and have found the arco to be just as thunderous as the Spirocore I had on before. Maybe a tad less but not noticeably so. And of course the arco response is a heck of a lot better and the sound is just a little darker but it's still bright enough to have plenty of definition.
  10. No Pete, I haven't. I'm happy with what I have, so why mess with it?
  11. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    my bass teacher uses sprirocore Weich's on his bass with a low B string, and that bass doubled for orchestra and jazz, although he did admit that the setup was still more along the lines of a jazz bass than an orchestra bass.

    speaking of that, paul, did you know a bass player named jeff jacobsen from boulder??
  12. That name sounds really familiar, but I can't place it.
  13. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I'm currently running a mixed set on my Kolstein Fendt 5-string -- G and D Flexocors; A Permanent; E and B Pirastro Jazzer. I use the bass only for orchestral playing, and it's coming up on "string renewal" time.

    This set works well on this bass, but I'd love to have something a little more bowable than the Jazzers on E and B (though they're surprisingly good under the bow), without sacrificing the volume they produce (which is amazing).

    Any suggestions would be welcome.

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