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string suggestions

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Mike Arnopol, Mar 12, 2008.


  1. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    I play jazz for a living. Mostly pizz, but pretty much arco. I'm a geek as far as most gear, but have been pretty conservative as far as string choices. I've used Spirocores for the past 25 years. ( Mittels, I guess ) The set on my bass has been there for 10 years. I don't even start to like Spiros until they've been on for a year. A year ago I put an Obligato G and D on my bass. They match really well with the Spiros as far as tension and volume. I've just been a bit disappointed that they haven't lost a bit of a midrangey, nasal sound. I think that there might be better choices than Spiros and I'm wondering what you guys think. Never liked D'Addarios. I worry with strings like the Bel Cantos that there wouldn't be enough pizz "oomph" .Maybe the EP's? What I'm looking for is the sound and power of my 10 year old Spiros with a bit less tension and a little more openness.
     
  2. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    My suggestion is to avoid the urge to change and stick with your ancient Spirocores. If you are like a lot of us once you start experimenting with strings you'll spend a fortune on it and eventually end up right back where you are a couple thousand dollars poorer with ancient spirocores again.

    If you haven't stopped reading and gone back to the bass yet here are more thoughts.

    If you can make a Spirocore sound good with a bow you can make anything sound good with a bow so whatever string you choose I'm sure you can make it work.

    When you start changing strings you realize you gain one thing and loose another each time you make a change. There is no perfect string except perhaps ancient spirocores.

    I've found I don't really like hybrid core strings all that much. Dominants, Obligatos, Evah Pirrazi, Animas and the like all have synthetic cores that can be very compelling sounding especially right after they break in. My sense though is that each leaves me eventually missing the place a spirocore sits in a mix or it's note length or it's overall responsiveness. Some try those strings and never go back. Many more go round the bend and end up back with Spirocores again. To me they are stupid girls with big fake boobies. They get my attention, I may even fall in love, but eventually I don't like what I wind up with in the light of day.

    I have experimented with strings that have more arco dampening in them like the Belcanto and the Flexocor. For the E and A they just are not capable of doing what a spirocore does, especially on the E string. If orchestral arco is the primary use they are compelling and very satisfying. For jazz pizz on the E and A string its hard to beat a Spirocore.

    I have used both the Belcanto D and G with spirocores and the Flexocor D and G with spirocores and liked them both as a mix quite a bit. Both of those strings reduce the zingy thinness of the treble strings in a spirocore set. The notes are shorter and the responsiveness a tad slower than spirocores but the articulation and punch in a mix is a little better especially in the transition area and thumb.

    If tension is an issue then I suggest mixing the Belcanto D and G with a Spirocore Mittel E and A. The overall mix is very nice after they break in and you get used to the transition across the strings. They do bow differently and the arco differences will take some time to settle into from a player standpoint but it ends up working well.

    After you bow a Belcanto or Flexocor G you'll hate a Spirocore G forever.

    I prefer higher tension strings for quicker response rather than lower tensions. There is a depth of tone from lighter tensions that is often more pleasing than higher tension strings but they are just enough slower to respond that it keeps me just a touch out of the pocket unless I'm vigilant. I notice that in the difference between Wiech and Mittel. That doesn't matter to a whole bunch of players though. Many prefer the feel of lower tension on the hands and depending on how long and how loud I've been playing I understand that.

    Overall I work better with higher tension strings. I work more efficiently and can play louder with more authority with higher tension strings. Arco is a little tougher though at least in getting things started but once they are going the high tension strings are loud as hell and very deep.

    That is why I keep coming round to the Mittels over and over again. They really are in just the right tension to stiffness spot to play jazz.

    I currently use a Spirocore Stark E, Mittel A and Flexocor Stark D and G and like the combo very much. I wouldn't recommend that for you given what you just posted.

    If you have to make a change buy a Belcanto D and G to add to your Mittel E and A and use them for 6 months before deciding if you like them.

    You will find as many different opinions about this as there are players and basses. There is no best string and there are no perfect solutions only best compromises.

    At the end of the day your strings don't matter at all. Its your hands that do all the work in spite of them.

    If you read my posts in the strings thing over the last 3 or 4 years you'll see me slowly expensively and awkwardly figure that out while everyone laughs at the process.

    Stick with spirocores and spend what you save on those you love. It will be far more rewarding.
     
  3. This should be a sticky at the top of the strings thread column...

    When people come to TB this is what they should get. Great post SteelToad. Almost made me want to switch from my guts....
     
  4. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    NY
    Classic
     

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