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What's the HEAVIEST E ? (DB)

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Downright_Low, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. Downright_Low


    Feb 25, 2008
    Dear TB,

    I was just wondering, what E string is the heaviest?

    I know, it could all be subjective...

    I've mostly dabbled with the Medium gauges of different strings (Obligato, Flexocor, Original Flexocor, Helicore, Superflexible, which are all nice in their own ways...) - maybe it's just a matter of time on the instrument, but another part of me wonders if there can be some kind of more immediate solution. Some people go back and forth with their equipment, liking and disliking, but all the while subjugating their first reactions and gut impulses, and I am probably one of those people. So I'm tempted to go off already into the Heavy gauges, yet I am still wondering if even that would be enough. I'm trying to keep an even sound down into the low registers, balance out the other three strings... (which have a deeper sound more easily, for many reasons)...

    I have ask because I've read such things, like a Medium Original Flexocor giving more bass than a Heavy Flexocor ('92). And besides, there are many more choices, so any suggests would help whittle down the options... and probably I'd learn something new. What's the deepest one in your opinion? Thanks
  2. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    Yeah.....those probably wont fit.

    Sounds like a Spirocore stark E may be worth a try.

    But maybe you should elaborate on what kind of tone and sound youre looking for. Heavier string plus more tension doesnt always mean better outcome.
  3. Maybe a soundpost adjustment on your bass is all you need.
    Bring her to a qualified luthier for a setup.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Spirocore Stark E is probably the most powerful sounding E on the market. It truly is a monster, and sounds just great. I'd use one if the top on my bass wasn't so thin...
  5. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    The Spirocore Stark E is my current favorite.

  6. Downright_Low


    Feb 25, 2008
    well, thanks for not answering the question, Francois!!! J/k.... :)

    the soundpost issue is a real factor, with which I'm actually pretty experienced, I'd say, for a player. As the soundpost is moved outward, or is it East?, toward the C bout, the G string side, the loss of core sound and low mids can be too much at times, although the deep E type of bass is helped somewhat by that, which I am somewhat going for - matching the E to the A... It's something I'll be thinking about now, as a sort of preference, even though I like it how it is and am just curious what I can do with strings alone. However, new string and a soundpost adjustment together may be exactly the right thing... - that will just have to wait for now. I don't want to mix things up all at once just yet... but thank you, honestly.

    Anyway, based on the numbers it seems that a Spirocore stark is the highest tension which ought to mean good deep definition. It's definitely an option for me, considering I have already a set of Weich waiting to go with it. That sort of thing is what I mean, really beefing up the E string but keeping the action down, and blending into something very focused up high - something I became intrigued with from the beginning with Helicore Orchestra medium: that whole set has this sort of blend. ...And I do about 75% bowing. The trouble is just getting more from the E. Of course, I've never done this thing much and so I don't want to over do it either... end up with something that has no blend, etc.. I'm trying to compensate for that, theorectically for now in my mind, with just lowering the action on the E more until it seems about right to me.

    I'm using solo Obligato on the G, D, A, tuned to orchestra, with a regular orchestra, medium E, but it's not enough depth still, although an improvement - a set I recommend. At the same time I'm looking at the whole set overall, and quite frankly sometimes the Obligato solos on the G, D, and A are still too warm; so there's more to it than just one string. That said, the Obligato is amazing and warm and even, but not quite right, at least for now.

    I'm also thinking of just putting on Original Flexocor as a set, which seems to have a hefty E naturally; or get a Heavy D'Addario E to go with my medium set. It's amazing, all the possiblilties, and the sets you can buy already made by Pirastro, T-I, etc. - but at the moment I'm done guessing on sets, trying to hope that I'll be satisfied overall, and am just looking to get what I want on each string. I've tried Corelli 370M and the above, so I'm more and more setting up in my imagination a sound I want to try to realize. At the same time I dont know what will happen.

    The D'Addario medium orch. set is one that I've been fond of from the beginning, not too warm on top, not to bright, somewhere delicately in between, where everything gets complicated and subjective. Now, will a heavy E bring enough depth?, the medium one is already fairly strong... I guess I'm more willing to be extreme right now, and don't want to fall short in terms having too little string or tone down low. Playability is less of a concern since I should be able to simply lower it until it fingers easily enough, L.H.-wise.

    And, of course, in the end I will have to decide with mine own ears to keep the string or not, since each has its own character within the class "medium", or "heavy".

    I'm just wondering from everyone out there, what's been good and what's sort of the rock bottom? so to speak. I may not want the most in the end, but at this moment in time I feel most E's have fallen far short of my expectations to bring a truly balanced, easy, responsive, even, and deep bass presence. Anyway, thanks again!

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    For the amount of bowing you do, Spirocore might not be the best after all. I would probably recommend Flexocore '92 Stark with Flexocore Regular A D G. The Flex Stark E will NOT sound balanced with a set of Spirocore Weichs though. They have a lot more harmonic content and will appear louder.
  8. M Ramsey

    M Ramsey

    Mar 12, 2005
    North Carolina
    I had a set of Helicore Orchestral Heavies on my old plywood bass, years ago. My style is all pizz, so I can't fully give you objective info about the sound with regards to arco playing.

    My neck joint was a bit loose, but the bass had tolerated Spirocores quite well for a couple of years. After installing the Helicores, I had the deep thump along with volume, and, eventually a looser neck joint.

    I loved the tone and the feel, but the extra tension on my bass was not good. I can't truly say how this would affect a healthy neck joint.

  9. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Going heavy with the E isn't always the best choice for improving the volume and depth of the E string under the bow.

    The Stark Spiro E is a very heavy string, probably the heaviest I know of, however the way it responds to your bass and your touch depends on lots of stuff not directly related to that string. Setup variables and construction variables can really muck up comparisons across basses and generalizations are often difficult.

    Sometimes throwing a Stark E on top of a mittel set is the best thing ever, sometimes it shuts everything down.

    I'd probably avoid huge variences in string gage across the set you use. I've tried weich tops and a Stark E. It's way out of balance. If your bass sounds better that way there is something weird going on in top thickness, bass bar thickness or soundpost set that should be addressed first.

    I think E strings get more power and depth with lighter E's and heavier G's, at least in terms of tension....but only to a point. Finding the tension balance your top likes is a subtle thing. I noticed the spiro mittle set sounds great on my bass but the E is a little weak. When I use a Stark E the E is stronger but the G thins out. When I use a weich G, which is only a couple pounds lighter the E string gets louder and the G gets deeper but looses volume in the upper register.

    Subtle changes for sure but it demonstrates how touchy the balance thing is.

    I've recently heard a bass with spirocore mittels on the A/D/G and a weich E that was thundering. With the Mittel E is was shut down.

    I put Spiro Solos at Orchestra pitch on my bass and the E sounded huge under the bow but overall the volume and power weren't near the sound of the mittel set I usually use. Too bad. The resonance of the bass under lighter string load is really something. Some days I wish I didn't have to have so much umph from my bass.

    That does bring up the point that sometimes the deeper sound on an E string doesn't carry as well as a brighter sound either. In the room the E with a brighter string can be clearer and seem more present when compared to a rounder warmer string, especially mixed with other things. That's why I think people gravitate towards Spiro E's even with more arco friendly top strings.

    So. I'd start with a stock set of strings you think is close to the sound you want across the bass and swap singles of the same type in and out in gage until the mix seems right. Spirocores are the easiest to do that with but Flexocor 92 are also gaged in a way that allows for that and might be more friendly arco. Don't overlook swapping out the upper or middle strings to enhance your E.

    Fwiw if your bass likes the string that Flexocor 92 Stark E sounds great with the full set of starks or an otherwise medium flex set...especially arco.
  10. I think Phil is perfectly right!
    The G may influence a lot the E string response.
    You may want to put a softer G to see how the E string reacts.

  11. Until recently I played about 65% arco now it's more like 100% (in a community orchestra)

    I started on the Heliocore Orchestra Mediums, then I moved to the Flexicore'92 Mediums with a Heavy or Stark E.

    That mix worked really nicely on my Shen SB180 hybrid. The Flex Stark E was very nice deep and strong, however it was harder to get it to speak. It required more energy and a bit more anticipation.

    I am currently using the Evah Pirazzi Regulars (my second set) and I am really happy with them I think they are very nicely matched across the bass, very deep and powerful. I particularly like the G - it has a richer, fuller sound.

    The only drawback for me is the the Evah's E and A sound to me a little growly or course - not as silky smooth or mellow as I might have wanted.
  12. Downright_Low


    Feb 25, 2008
    Thanks for your responses... all very intersting.

    I've gone off and put back my Original Flexocors. Whole set. Dang, now I remember why I took these off - so hard to press with my left hand... I need to make them just low enough... Also, this set's A is very powerful - I'm not sure it's right. But the G and E are closer still to what I'm going for - My conception of bright and and dark must be off, because what I'm trying to test seems to need a fat E and a really light G.... I do understand the anticipation needed with heavier strings and am about as excepting of it as I am with the problem of left hand fingering pressures - it changes day to day. Most days I'm trying to have decent weight under my Left hand, others I just think it'll be there so long as I'm going for that low and heavy of a sound...and I just deal with it being tough. But I'm very much interested in the heavy E with Flexocor, Helicore, or Spirocore. Somehow it's hard ingoring my gut instinct and I just might go straight into mix and matching from sets to get the crazy thing in my head... Thanks for the advice
  13. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I suppose you might just wanna put a Stark Spiro E on there and see how you like it. It's the biggest highest tension steel string I know of.
  14. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    i agree with Toad's observations. and i just had an interesting similar experience. i've been playing Spiro Mittels GDA with a Spiro Stark E for 6 months, and while the E and D strings were quite loud and pushed the sound wonderfully, the A was not equally loud. the G was loud but tense and a bit too intense under the bow and (i don't want to say "scratchy") ok, scratchy. it was scratchy and a bit twangy.

    today i swapped out the Mittel G for an old Belcanto G, missing that sweet smooth arco sound of the BC G string. the gauge of the BC is just a bit smaller than the Mittel G, and the tension is about 6 or 7 pounds less. instantly after stringing up the Becanto G, the Mittel A string came to life as never before and the whole set across the bass sounded more balanced than before. pizz and arco. the Belcanto G string isn't quite as loud as the Mittel G was, but almost. in this mix, the Mittel A is even with the Mittel D on my bass.

    thinking "more will be better," :rollno: i swapped out the Mittel D for the old Belcanto D. instantly, the Belcanto G and D were both flat and dead sounding, did not make the top vibrate. too much tension on the E string side with the Stark E and Mittel A there. so the Mittel D went back on. now it's Stark E, Mittel A and D, Belcanto G. nice and even, balanced, and the G string though not as loud bows more smoothly than the Spiro G.

    the moral of the story being every bass and set up is different and reacts differently. set up issues aside, even slight changes in tension across a mix of strings can make a big difference in how the top will vibrate. finding that tension balance is really a subtle thing.

    btw great thread. Stark E is a great string, depending on your bass and style.
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed, an excellent thread. Also keep in mind that changing strings can alter the relative string heights as a result of pushing the top around differently on a carved bass.
  16. have you considered trying a set of permanents? i think they deliver a great sound.
  17. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    i suppose that happens. probably limited to a mm or a fraction of a mm here or there. just wondering: why is this important to keep in mind here? what's the connection to finding the tension balance? seems like a separate issue completely to me.
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    It may seem like a separate issue to you, but I think it's quite relevant. Given the discussion is about how swapping strings can produce interactions among them and how overall tension can be affected, it's important to keep in mind what sorts of interactions can occur. Already mentioned was interactions that, more or less, affect directly the sounds of individual strings. What someone considering such swaps might not be aware of is how the relative heights can be affected and that sure can affect the sound!

    That this occurs is more than mere supposition. It can be far less trivial than what you "suppose" "probably" happens. I hope this helps you to understand why it's not a separate issue at all.
  19. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    ok, ok already. let's not make trivial of trivia. in the world of zen, everything is one. and so it is too in the world of bass. so it's not a separate issue, just a speculative one.

    i suppose you have actually experienced this phenomenon of the big heavy bully E string "pushing the top around", and as a consequence the other strings end up with a different clearance from the FB.

    if it does happen, i for one was not aware of it. thank you for pointing that out. i'll use this insight whenever i change strings that vary the tension.
  20. Downright_Low


    Feb 25, 2008
    are you fing serious...?

    just because I have to re-log-in the whole damn message is gone..? That took too long to begin with.

    Any way, thanks to you all for keeping this thread interesting. This will be the first part of what I was going to say the first time...

    I'm trying the original Flexocors, and maybe later go with a Heavy D'Addario E (it's cheaper than Spiro at the moment) under a medium orchestra set (GDA). That or I'll just start trying out whatever stuites me, so far as my string collection will allow.

    How does Jargar dolce at orch pitch compare to Spirocore weich, in terms of fingering pressure, brilliance, and so on...? impressions, suggestions, experiences from whatever category will do. I have heard that they are both bright under the bow and even difficult to some bow players, but I am willing to try and learn them - I did more than anything with the Corelli 370M, so I feel a little empowered.

    If it's harsh, try using less wieght - ah, but you lose the sound! Oh, that power! One cannot afford to lose that sound! Blah blah blah.... That's actually only to a point as I have learned, because soon with practice the bass becomes flexible not just sound or sound lost, on or off. Anyway, I don't want to lose so much bass playing lighter so I'm making the string bigger - actually to make up for being able to play only so heavy. So for me the issues of brilliance, treble volume, harshness, playablility, sound loss, sound boom, etc., can all be managed to one playing volume level, so then there I can compare the tones - one has to find simple sensical ways of leveling the playing field to compare - constant speed, or weight, or placement, for example... Anyway I hope this thread stays useful. I'm don't think I'm done with it yet...

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