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String recommendation for MK EUB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Cartier76, Jan 9, 2021.

  1. Cartier76


    Sep 23, 2020
    Houston area
    Greetings and Happy New Year!

    Can you advise me on string selection for an MK Studio P electric upright bass, which should be completed in a a couple of weeks? I have been reading TB threads about strings, but the response of the MK pickup sounds different from the Stagg and NS basses, and might suit different strings.

    I am a beginner, 3 months on a double bass (might be comparable to a Christopher but is labeled for the Houston violin shop where I bought it). That bass has Helicore orchestral strings, middle tension I think. It is a little dark sounding, and lighter tension may be less fatiguing.

    I have played fretted bass guitar about 35 years, and would like to transition to upright bass in the small ensembles in church and the folk/blugrass jam with friends from work.

    The MK EU bass will be for performances at church, which should not have feedback problems indoors.
  2. Might even depend if there is a moving top below the bridge or not.
    Often lower tension synthetic core strings work well with a solid body EUB. If you only need the EUB for DB-typical stuff and can do the more modern songs with BG the synthetic core strings are good. I would take a less stretchy string like an Innovation (braided or honeys if you want to bow too). Otherwise the room on the peg might not be enough.
    If you want to go the steel core route take a light string or downtuned Solos.
  3. Krantz

    Krantz Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2009
    I agree with a synthetic core string, (I use D'Adarrio Zyex lights) because my experiences indicate that string tension is higher on my mk eub than on my regular upright when using helicore hybrids on both. Zyex's lights work well for me sound good for both arco and pizz.
  4. Cartier76


    Sep 23, 2020
    Houston area
    DoubleMidi, Krantz, thank you. So many folks using Spirocores here, I hadn’t thought about synthetic core strings. Makes sense. Thanks.
  5. Downtuned Spiro Solo strings might be an option too.
  6. Cartier76


    Sep 23, 2020
    Houston area
    Thanks to everyone here at TB with advice about strings. I want to describe what direction I went with strings for the MK EUB.

    The first thing, I put Spirocore Weichs on the acoustic bass, replacing the Helicore medium Orchestral strings that came with the bass. It’s not easy to put into words, but just playing a couple of notes with the Spirocores, I couldn’t help smiling. A much easier touch on the left hand, and the bass showed that it could sing, pizz or with my crude bowing. The Spirocore have a defined attack and rich, thready sustain; and beneath the string tone, the DB breathes a deep aftertone, like one of Tolkien’s tree people saying ‘Hoom!’ I can’t do this with bass guitar!

    After MK completed building the EUB (mine is a Studio Up model) and it was delivered, I replaced the original strings with Innovation Polychromes. These are thicker diameter than the ‘economy’ strings that I ordered with the bass, and feel stiffer than Helicore Orchestral strings. DoubleMidi has mentioned that bending the E and A strings over the thumb can soften the strings, so I attempted to do this. Flexing the strings between my thumbs, the core seems to separate from the metal outer winding. I was worried that I might be damaging the strings, and I’m not confident that the strings were completely consistent along the entire length. After restringing, the E and A were softer to the left hand, and were beginning to stabilize. The Polychromes had a warm tone, slightly darker than the original strings, but not as dark as the Orchestral Helicore on the acoustic DB. However, after only a week I broke the D string warming up for performance. Probably there was some binding on the string post, and the string could have been weakened while winding it up. There is small clearance in the pegbox for the D string on the MK EUB. I am disenchanted with the durability of synthetic-core strings.

    I am not expecting to achieve on the EUB the complex multidimensional sound of my acoustic DB with the Spirocores. I do want the amplified tone of the EUB to to have a defined, respectable, pleasant tone.

    This week I restrung the MK with Pirastro Perpetual Solos, tuned low tension to E A D G. They seem to be stabilizing fairly quickly, are much softer on the left hand, and respond to the bow comparably to the Spirocore Weichs; easier (for me) than the Innovation Polychromes; and with a more satisfying tone. The amplified tone is somewhat warmer (but not dark) than the Spirocore strings on my DB (amplified), good sustain, rather subtle attack. I am very pleased with the Perpetual Solo strings on this EUB, and will see how they behave in the months to come.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  7. I’m not sure you did the string bending over the thumb as I did. There is only one thumb involved for bending.
    I use a “thumb up” hand position, but the whole hand turned, so that the thumb of my right hand points to the left. The string is hold by the four fingers and runs lengthwise over the thumb. The left hand holds the string fixed. At the tip of the thumb the string will bend a bit (not more than 45 degrees, rather half of it) and the four fingers of the right hand control the tension under which the string slips.

    It is important to get the same flexibility over the whole length and in every direction. If you start this, you need to continue until the whole string is equally flexible along it’s length, but don’t overdo it.

    I had my high C (prototype of an early Polychrome) break several times after getting a new nut. I thought the nut was wide enough, but it seems that it wasn’t and the string got clamped in the nut. After widening the nut and changing the knotting of a new strap the string works flawlessly as before.
    BTW, the core of the High C is thinner than for the other strings, so it is more sensitive to breakage.

    I broke an Obligato high C because I didn’t wanted to widen the nut grooves for that thick string.
    And I broke even a Spirocore E by clamping it to the cheek of the pegbox on an EUB.

    Synthetic core strings are more delicate than steel core strings. But if handled correctly and on a good bass setup for them, no problem should arise.
    I try to a avoid a sharp bending on the pegbox side of the nut by reshaping the nut and groove to let the string slightly bend over the groove length of the nut and not sharply at the pegbox end of the nut.

    If the peg of an EUB is too short to wind the string end onto it, either cut the strings at the silk (put a drop of glue on it before to avoid unraveling of the silk) or let the end peek out of the pegbox if you potentially plan to use it on another instrument later.
  8. Cartier76


    Sep 23, 2020
    Houston area
    DoubleMidi, thank you for describing your method to bend Innovation strings before installing them. I did search this forum for posts where you recommend doing this, but had not found the thorough details you have provided here. If you have written them in an older forum discussion, I am sorry to have not found it.

    Your method is different from how I attempted to bend the Polychrome E and A strings. I originally strung the entire set and played them several days before removing the lower stings to bend them. Both strings were much more flexible at the pegbox end where they had been wound tightly over the post. Holding the string with both left and right thumbs and forefinger, with 2-3 cm of free string between them, I could feel the winding free itself from the core when bent at 20-30 degrees. I was too cautious to bend the string to 45 degrees. The string tended to resist rolling to repeat the bend uniformly around the circumference of the winding at that location on the length of the string. Comparing to your method, I am certain that my results were not as uniform as how you would do it. I did treat the entire length of the strings between silks. More patience is needed when bending strings.

    There may have been binding in the nut slots as you mention. I did not think (or dare?) to widen the slots for these thicker strings. It was necessary to drill out the holes in the tailpiece for the G and A string so they could pass through. The D and E strung up okay through the tailpiece. When the D string broke, the point of failure seemed to be near the post rather than at the nut, but I didn’t measure it exactly.

    Thanks again for your advice, which will help me avoid repeating some mistakes.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  9. No, I didn‘t describe it in such detail before. Decades ago I have seen a violin player doing this with his strings and didn’t understand why he did this.

    BTW, one string takes one hour and a sore thumb until the next day.

    I‘m pretty sure that the string either got clamped in a too narrow nut slot or clamped between the neighbor string winding and the pegbox cheek.

    Well, we learn that way what we shouldn’t do and do it better the next time.
    Cartier76 likes this.
  10. I use old obligatos, as they are a bit more mellow and less hash.
    Cartier76 likes this.
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