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"The Test"... What To Expect ?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by artfahie, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. artfahie


    Dec 14, 2007
    Bar Mills, Maine
    A good friend of mine, a professional concert musician and a luthier, sent me three sets of strings after I told him I was thinking of looking for a different "jazz" sound for my Upton hybrid Bohemian.

    I am not (but would like at least to get into) an arco player. I love the sound of mt Spiro S-42's but after a recent trip to the "Big Apple" have noticed the smaller cabaret -type bands going for more of an old-school thumpety-thump type sound... so I thought I'd like to give it a try.

    What I got in the mail today was three sets of lightly-used strings he had around his shop that he thought I might be interested in... this is a chance to try them out and choose the set I prefer (if any) or just keep using the S-42's. The contenders are:

    1 set Pirastro Evah Pirazzi "Weich" strings.

    1 set Pirastro "Orchestral" strings

    1 set Tomastik Bel Canto.

    Please note... like many of us I've grown up with the Ray Brown sound... although I've enjoyed the growl of the S-42's immensely.

    The question... for a combination of big band / combo swing/jazz playing (which is what I do) but with an eye for developing some arco technique which string(s) would you predict would work to fulfill these parameters overall ?

    Please choose only from the 4 string sets mentioned above.... it's what "I" have to choose from !


    Art Fahie
  2. I was able to play a bass strung with Bel Cantos recently on the A, D, and G. I was impressed with the D and G a lot for jazz playing. They have a nice tone, not as growly as Spiros but I was able to get a bit of a growl out of them. Plus, these strings really sing for Arco play. Evahs are a bit more darker sounding when playing pizz, but have a much more better Arco tone IMO. If I were you, I'd at least keep the Spiro E and A (keep the growl in the lower end for jazz and they have powerful Arco tone) and try the Bel Cantos for the D and G.
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    A recent jazz group from from Germany gave some concerts in LA and the bassist (borrowing my Upton Karr Deluxe) wanted Bel Cantos for the gig. I was perplexed at first, but picked up a used set here in the ads. The sound was somewhere between boomy/thumpy pizz and he seemed very happy with it. I'd described as a more traditional, 1920s Jazz sound

  4. Agreed. They have a very gut like tone.
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    The Evah Pirazzis might feel a little stiff. They are kind of an odd string and will likely love them or not fairly quickly. Definitely darker than your Spirocores.

    Bel Cantos are nice strings. I think I was using them on D and G on the recordings with Joni Wilm that you can hear bits of on Amazon. The "Cry Me a River" clip has some bass up front in it.


    I liked them better in studio than on a bandstand for jazz. The are missing a lot of the character pizz that resides in more jazz-centric strings for me. But it's a personal preference and will also depend on your instrument.

    Which Pirastro "Orchestral" strings are they? Do you have a package with a proper name on them or can you describe the silk colors?
  6. The Bels have a certain airiness that I enjoyed...great to bow, pretty decent to pizz. The problem I had was their sudden death after about a year of use. (I got mine used, so the fun was short-lived.)

    Lots of folks really seem to enjoy the EPs...they're a good crossover string that deliver a blunt but relatively clear pizz and are full and clear under the bow without being whiny like Spiros can be. I moved on because they always sounded plasticky to my ear, and dynamically they run out of gas if you really tear into them, instead of throwing your energy back at you the way Spiros do.

    I've tried a bunch of Pirastros but can't comment on yours until you specify what they are. Generally they're thumpy and dead on the low end, and the E strings are too small in gauge compared to the rest of the set, but some of their G strings pizz well on top of Spiros and are much friendlier to the bow than a Spiro G.

    I agree that a mixed set is probably your best bet, given what you have. Spiro E&A with EP Weich on top is popular and kindasorta apes the classic steel bottom/gut top set. Pirastro G over Spiro EAD can also be cool. Depends on your bass, YMMV, Etc...
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    On a general year, I probably string up 30 - 50 different basses with a correspondingly varied sets of strings. At the end of the day, 99% of the time I keep Spirocores mediums for the E & A strings on my own bass. The other two vary with the gig.

  8. bskts247

    bskts247 Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I tried the Spiro EA evah weich D and G and I found that they didn't mix well (could be my bass). I found that the spiros had more balls than the evahs and the evahs sounded just too dark next to the spiros. Then playing through an amp I could tell when me or someone else went to the Evahs because the volume dropped dramatically. I do miss the nice bowing. Only reason I didn't do a full set was because the E and A were too weak for my bass (I guess it likes the tension of Spiros).
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    If you don't leave new strings on for at least a few days, you won't know how they might sound. It takes a bass a while to adjust. Try the full set of Evah Ws and leave them on. I've used spiro/Evah W combo on 3 three basses and it has worked well.
  10. artfahie


    Dec 14, 2007
    Bar Mills, Maine
    I've tried the Eva Weich G-string.... I like the sound but after about 5 days now it still changes pitch substantially between visits to the music room. Admittedly I don't bow.... maybe that would speed things up a bit. I'll be adding the "D" to the S-42 Spiro set after Tuesdays rehearsal... so far I like it. It's not all that different from the Spiro's but the more I play it the more I'm noticing some nice subtleties. I may stay with the Spiro E-A as suggested, but the "D" will be swapped over for sure so I can spend a little time getting to know it. Fortunately I'm not in a rush and can grow into these changes a little at a time. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks again. Art. BTW... Eric... I checked out your website... you're the "real deal"... (I'm just a hack).... thanks for your input (as well as all others !)
    Eric Hochberg likes this.