trying to decide on new strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by tww001, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    My bass currently has Pirastro Obligatos on it (I've had them on for about 2 or 3 months now), I love their boomy bottom and their arco response, but I don't really like the tone. They're quite bright. I'm a jazzer and am looking for something with a real dark, crisp attack (a la Mingus or Ray), but I still need good arco response (for college symphony orchestra). I was thinking of trying T-Is either spiros or superflexes, any thoughts anyone? I was reading in the newbie section that some people feel as if the superflexibles are darker and have better arco response...any thought on that?
  2. I'm no string expert (oh, SIR LAWRENCE!), but I think its fairly safe to say that if your looking for a string that's darker sounding that Obligatos, Spirocores are NOT the way to go. These are very bright strings. And as for decent arco response.....well, maybe after they've been on a couple of years....

    As for rope core strings, such as the Superflexibles, I have no experience (I play Obligatos and find them to be plenty dark on my bass), but I would think that the Superflexes would be darker than Spiros, but still brighter than the Oblis.

    If its dark you want, I'd stick with a synthetic-core or even gut string. Someone let me know if I'm way off base here.

    As always, YMMV, and like everyone everyone else, you're gonna have to spend some dough to see what works best (which KILLS a miser like me).
  3. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    I agree with everything Mike wrote.
    The darkest rope-core steel strings I know are the Jargars.
    Excellent arco response, dark thumpy pizz tone.
    If a brighter (but not bright) string is needed, I suggest Kolstein Varicors. Another string mainly designed for arco playing, but with good pizz response. Varicors made today are brighter than those made five years ago.
    I presently use solo-tuning Varicors for the D and A strings, and just ordered the remaining ones to get a full set.
    The solos (at orchestra pitch) are easier to play, have a mellower tone while having a good definition.
    If I keep the full-set setup this will be a premiere for me in decades of string mix-and-matching... :)
  4. Francois:

    If you're not careful, you're going to finally convince me to get a set of Kolsteins too!

    Seriously, they sound like just the string I'm looking for. I enjoy the Obligatos, but my bass is quite dark-sounding to begin with. The Varicors might be just the thing for getting more focus and definition.

    Is it accurate to suppose that the Varicors have more tension than the Obligatos? My bass's top is somewhat thick (factory carved) and I'd like to see how it might respond to a bit more tension.
  5. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Yes. The orchestra-tuning Varicors are higher tension than Obligatos, and have a very focused tone. Beware that some players complained that the second harmonic may be a bit exagerated though.
    But it was a few years ago, and Barrie may have solved this. It may also depend on the instrument they're strung on.
    Although I have a big respect and love for Pirastro strings, my main criticism is that the majority of their bass strings sets are not well balanced, and it's often a nightmare to try to mix and match them.
    I have a special love for marginal string manufacturers like Jargar (a small company of less than 20 employees, last I heard) and of course Kolstein...
  6. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    What what I've read, the Jargars have a very boomy bottomy-savvy sound, but do they have a dark crisp attack? That's what I really want in a string...big, heavy bottom with a real dark tone and a crisp attack to them. I know Mingus used T-Is and I absolutely love his tone. Should I try those?
  7. I've always found the Helicore orchestras to be pretty dark... might try thoses. I personally hate 'em, but I know I'm in the minority. You might also try the old style flatchromes; I think those (and the new ones) are a good string for all around playing. Original flexocores are a pretty standard orchestra string, and I like them for that. They're fairly dark sounding once they wear in a bit, and they are fairly loud and agressive for pizz. Not sure if thats what you're after, just my impression of them.
  8. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    hmm...flexocors sounds interesting
  9. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Jargars have a dark, percussive tone.
    Sharp attack, short sustain, fast decay.
    They're available in three gauges.

    About Pirastro strings:

    Original Flatchromes and Original Flexocors are the same string. (the Original Flats are selected with a closer tolerance range and sold a bit higher)
    They are the quintessential orchestral strings.
    Brigth top, dark boomy bottom.
    Original Flats are available in orchestra and solo tunings. Original Flexs in orchestra only.

    The (new) FlatChromes are completely different.
    They are thin, have a clear tone with medium sustain and are aimed at the bassist who plays arco and jazz pizz.
    Available in orchestra and solo tunings.

    The (new) Flexocors (often refered to as Flexocor '92) are different from the Original Flexocors as well.
    The top strings are darker but the bottom strings are thinner and clearer sounding.
    They're available in three gauges, plus solo-tuning.

    About Mingus: he played most of his career with gut strings. He switched to steel strings and put a pickup on his bass when he was sick, but IMHO, that's when his tone became ugly.
  10. tww001


    Aug 13, 2003
    Telford, PA
    thanks a lot francios...your advice was just what I was looking for. You've given me a lot to think about.

    As for Mingus, I guess I was wrong, but I did read in bass player that he was playing on T-Is mittles and switched to weichs and a pick up when he got sick
  11. jimclark68


    Dec 16, 2000
    Morganton, NC
    In response to the question about Superflexibles, I had them on my bass for a while. While they are slightly darker than Spiros, it's not by much. I found them similar to the Weich Spiros under the bow. They fall between Spiro Weich and Mediums in terms of tension. All in all, not dramatically different than the Spiros.
  12. yes. I happen to have a superlexible A and a weich E on my bass right now. Not a particularly great setup, but at least I can comment on the strings. The superflexible is a bit darker and smoother sounding than the spiro, and a littler higher tension. It seems to bow more slowly, too. If anything I like the way the spirocores bow better, but then I've always thought they were better than what people say. I don't really like the superlexible much; it's pretty bland.