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Strings for slapping/pizz/bowing

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by msprong, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. msprong


    Jan 12, 2006

    I am a bass player that mainly plays New Orleans Jazz but occasionally also play other forms. I try to play somewhat in the style of Braud/Foster/Garland and that's why I use the slap bass technique a lot. A little over ten years ago, I think, I started using Rotosounds and found (and still find) them excellent for slap bass. Over the past 17 odd years I have developed my own technique and style so I don't slap exactly how most rockabilly cats would do and therefore steel strings would also do for me, where it not that I find the sound a bit "plonky" or whatever you would call it. I would like a bit more traditional round sound. I have played gut in the past but found the volume and tension dissapointing. Since I often play accoustically and there are loud brass players involved I would like to be in balance with the rest. My instrument is loud enough and set up with the Rotosounds it is exactly right. The basis for me is the accoustic sound and when I am amplified, I simply use a microphone and put it in front of the f-hole (threw out the underwood years ago)

    My problem is that my playing has evolved and also the styles I play have become more varied again, therefore I need to alter between slap, regular pizzicato and arco nowadays. The Rotosounds, in my opinion, rather suck at the last two. So I began gathering information on strings and found that there have been serious developments since I last looked. Pirastro Obligato's look promising and since I have had the opportinity to try them on someone else's bass I am seriously considering buying them and giving them a go. Velvet's may be interesting but I don't know anyone who actually plays them. Most bassist I know play with a pickup and amplified all the time and they generally use steel and do not slap. So basically I am looking for other people's experiences and/or expert advice: should I simply get these Obligato's or is there anything else I should be considering? Also, should I have any new type of strings set up by my luthier the first time so that he can adjust things like the bridge action etc. or simply put them on myself and try them?

    Any advice would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.

  2. hofner


    Dec 7, 2003
    Obligatos (solo or orchestra) would be the closest to your hopes i think, imho... they have a nice feel, good slap sound, warm pizz and if you play occasionnaly arco, they're nice too...
    Innovations supersilvers are great strings too for some slap/pizz "old style" musics, but they are not very nice when playing arco (very dark sounding)...btw, they are very close to gut with the same tension than obligatos orchestra...
  3. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    I also play a lot of New Orleans Jazz and i slap a lot , at the moment my Kay which is my road bass has G and D plain gut and A and E Pirastro Olive, on my 1890's flatback, i have G and D plain gut , Pirastro Olive A and Dominant solo F# tuned to E because thi bass has a thunderous sound and i like the E to rumble the all house. With this set up, i can have a very nice organic slap, pizz and arco, i really love gut strings and pretty much play all styles of music with them, give them a try, im sure you will be impressed with the sound, specially if you like the Braud - Foster sound... thats the sound i love, thats why i play gut
    good luck

  4. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City

    I'm curious about wound/plain gut string combinations. I'm using all plains now but the E string is a bit quiet. My strings are quite thick, D string is about the same size as a steel E:eek: and I was wondering how thick are wound gut strings, say Oliv's. Would it be Ok to put on just the E alone or would it be better to put A and E wound?

    I like thick strings, their sound is nice and round so maybe I wouldn't like wound A and E if they're not as thick.

    Sorry for hijacking the thread, I's just curious.
  5. msprong


    Jan 12, 2006
    Hi Jason,

    That is a very nice offer to lend me an old set and I must say that I had given up on going back to gut until you and Nuno made such good points. It has been a while since I had gut strings so I may need to reconsider. If I am going to try them, I will buy a new set however since, in my experience, I need to play new strings for at least six months and different types of venues before I can really say if I like them. I play in pubs, community centres, small and large concert halls, but also open air venues and old churches and especially the last two are quite problematic using gut, mainly due to the high humidity and constant temperature changes in our climate. I remember one occasion where they used to get out of tune in the middle of each song and I had to tune them constantly while playing :( Also the variance in accoustic properties of those different rooms make that I always will need some sort of "general purpose" type of strings. Since I am a "weekend warrior" with a day job it takes a bit longer before I have had every type of gig, hence the roughly six months.

    I queried the concertgebouw website for your name and found the gig you were referring to (nice one, you'll love the place). Unfortunately I will be away that week but I have found the nikitov website and will come and see you some other time since the sound clips were very appealing. I'll buy you a drink for sure! btw, I noticed you are doing Enschede open air theatre in May; May is a good month for gut :D

    Thanks, Mark

  6. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    Give the Eurosonics a try. Good pizz, decent slap sound and I have heard that they can be bowed. Also, they still are available.
  7. msprong


    Jan 12, 2006
    Enkhuizen, which is about 70km up north from Amsterdam.