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strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by alavakian, Oct 17, 2003.


  1. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    As I read through these string threads, pros and cons on all these strings, I can't for the life of me figure out what's the problem. Also I think it is foolish and an expensive way to "experiment" with strings. In the old days most of us (a great majority, including the big names and symphony players)used just one brand string, namely "Artone." This was a high quality gut string (A & E silver wound). We never worried about what strings bow better, or what string growls or doesn't. Take it from an old geezer like me, we adapted and we played!
     
  2. Gufenov

    Gufenov

    Jun 8, 2003
    And in the really old days, everyone played the same instrument, a piece of log, struck repeatedly by another, smaller piece of log. Of course, there were the usual luthier arguments over which species of dead tree had the best "tone." Then came the development of using a legbone from a large animal, the first "drumstick." Once it was learned that the log resonated better with a hollow interior, a ferocious argument ensued over the method used to hollow it out, and the logs were classified as either "carved" or "burned." The innovation hasn't stopped since. Even today, some spurn modern instruments in favor of the old log and bone....
     
  3. Gufenov

    Gufenov

    Jun 8, 2003
    Lest we forget, cave paintings tell the story of an early luthier, partially identifiable as "Ugh Bran-----er," who discovered the concept of "Harmologial Balance," whereby the diameter of the log divided by the thickness of the sides is obtusely proportional to the length of the striking bone, minus the weight of the chicken from which it came, times double the thickness of the callouses on the players right hand. Thus began the quest for "that sound."
     
  4. Heavan forbid we should actually care about how we sound. The way I see it, it's a matter of survival. Any edge I have over the next guy is going to help me get hired more. That, and the pursuit of a beautiful sound for it's own sake is why most of us are on this quest. Then again, I could be wrong.
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Sounds like there's plenty of adapting left for you. We've got all kinds of strings with brand new labels and materials to play with these days, like Spirocore, Corelli, Pirastro, and so on. Are you so sure you want to draw the line now?
     
  6. kwd

    kwd

    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I think there is wisdom in what the old geezer says. I've been in denial about my String Fever affliction. When I'm scufflin', stuck on something in my studies, I have a tendency to try to find a panacea in another set of strings. I can get a different and sometimes better sound, but I'm usually left with feelings of guilt and shame about spending the money.
     
  7. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    True, the experienced man knows a little more than some. Strings have come a long way, and I think it is important to find what you like. My first bass teacher used to make you stick with your set for 6 months to a year, so you really learned to play those strings. Then it was always a great relief to change them out, and you could appreciate them more than obsess about them. If you have been around a while, you should know more, and all the really great players I know have tried everything, including gut from back in the day. I guess it helps to keep an open mind.
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    On the other hand, strings are an extremely important determining factor in your personal sound. For instance: For pizz, I like growl and sustain, so I play Spiro Starks. They sound nothing whatsoever like gut strings. No matter how good a player I am or how good I may become, they are never going to sound like gut - they simply sustain too long, even waaaaayyy up in thumb position. So if I wanted an "old school" sound, these would be the worst possible strings I could choose. Likewise with gut strings: you're simply not going to get that kind of sustain out of gut strings, so if you're looking for a "modern" sound, they would be a bad choice.

    To an extent I agree with some here who have mentioned that strings are not a panacea.I don't switch strings often, and have never tried mixed sets. But if someone does like to do that, I don't see a problem with it. After all, it's their money.
     
  9. Quote:
    originally posted by DURRL
    "On the other hand, strings are an extremely important determining factor in your personal sound."

    In fact, counting off mics, pickups, amps and house sound systems, the strings are the ONLY means to determining your personal sound. When you play NoAmp, what else can you change except the strings to change your sound? The Bass? The Bow? Clothes maybe?

    On the other hand, because of the genre matters I have now ended up with 3 double basses, one for "modern sound", one for general stuff, and the last one which is still in the process of purchase, I´m intending to string with guts...
    a lot more expensive way to fool around than changing the strings to one bass.

    R2
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I can well imagine that "Symphony Players" don't experiment with strings as they are going for a more generic or homogenous sound - blending in with the rest of the strings and sounding like a unit.

    I am pretty sure that the people talking about different sounds are Jazz players who are looking to develop their own personal voice on the instrument.

    I go along to my local Jazz club every week and hear some great DB players - many of whom have also played in top-class Symphony orchestras.

    But it is noticable that they have distinct voices
    and take quite a few solos which are as interesting and melodic as a Sax player, for example - so why shouldn't they be interested in their sound and developing a unique approach and style?

    Speaking as a Jazz fan and member of the audience - I am very glad they do, it adds a lot of interest and I am very grateful that they take the time to experiment with their sound and get the best strings to express that.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    PS - can I just add that the title of this thread must win the award for least descriptive and least imaginative - given that the forum title is "strings" - it adds nothing whatsoever!

    Oh the irony!! ;)
     
  12. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    GUVENOV: Thank you for the lecture. JOHNNY l: No.
    I guess it's okay for those who start out with non-gut strings, but for myself and what my peers tell me (other old geezers) those thin strings can really screw up one's left hand technique.
     
  13. what I'd like to know is what is the point of starting a thread simply to put down people who are willing to open their minds and experiment in order to improve their bass playing. So we shouldn't use anything but old school gut strings; I suppose we should never use our third fingers either. How about bent endpins? I suppose that's out of the question... :rolleyes: The only things people here find "foolish" are pointless threads like this one...
     
  14. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    No intent to put anyone down if it sounded that way. But I don't think my query is pointless because I got some answers and some incite about experimenting with non-gut strings.
     
  15. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Please share your experiences in detail here as you see fit, both with gut and non-gut strings. I, at least, would want to read it and learn.
     
  16. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    CHRIS, string suppliers know that many bassists try out various brands of strings at great expense to the bassist. They've been getting away with this for years. If a bassist wants to try out a particular set, the supplier should be persuaded to offer it on a trial basis (maybe for a small fee to cover shipping). If the strings are returned within an agreed upon pre-arranged time, the same set can then be tried out by another bassist who desires to try the same brand/type of strings. This way the supplier retains a dedicated set for try-out purposes and assumes some commitment on behalf of bassists who try out their products. This beats playing roulette with various sets of strings and then trying to sell or swap usually at substantial monetary loss to the bassist.
    Old Geezer.
     
  17. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    CHRIS, string suppliers know that many bassists try out various brands of strings at great expense to the bassist. They've been getting away with this for years. If a bassist wants to try out a particular set, the supplier should be persuaded to offer it on a trial basis (maybe for a small fee to cover shipping). If the strings are returned within an agreed upon pre-arranged time, the same set can then be tried out by another bassist who desires to try the same brand/type of strings. This way the supplier retains a dedicated set for try-out purposes and assumes some commitment on behalf of bassists who try out their products. This beats playing roulette with various sets of strings and then trying to sell or swap usually at substantial monetary loss to the bassist.
    Old Geezer.
     
  18. On its face, this sounds easy, but I think it would be a nightmare for the store owner or string rep. The cost would have to be pushed back into the price of the string.
     
  19. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    Johnny L: There isn't much I can offer other than experiences herein. I'll try to be brief. My first experience with non-gut strings was in 1960 when I bought a new Kay bass. I already had two other Kay basses at that time and a Juzek, all strung with gut. The new Kay came with steel strings. The G broke during the first set on the gig. I replaced with gut during intermission. The D broke during the 2nd set, which I replaced with gut. I don't know the brand name of these strings.
    Several years later Slam Stewart got me onto using non-gut A and E. They stay in tune better and have brighter sound. I tried Thomastik Spirocore weich, but the imbalance of the string gauges (non-gut vs. gut) bugged me, especially when soloing. So I switched to the medium guage to offset the balance, and it worked out okay.
    Eventually I switched to Spirocore Orch. strings
    which I still use on one bass and gut on my German bass. That is the extent of my experience
    with gut vs. non-gut strings. Old Geezer.
     
  20. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I've never played gut or gut-substitute strings, but when I first started trying to play the bass with the bow on my own I ended up with 3 different string sets (orig flatchromes, flexocores, and d'addarios) before I started fixing my problems with a teacher who knows how to use the bow (and use it well).

    I occasionally have fun switching between those sets and seeing if there's a difference (not much if any). I don't regret having those sets to play around with, but if Slam Stewart was advising me on string brands I'm sure I would have settled very quickly myself and gone back to playing.