What's the loudest (non-gut) string for pizz (that's still bowable)?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I go through an occasional love-hate thing with my guts. I love them and they are essential to some things I do.

    However if I had two basses I'd certainly have one with gut and one without. With only one bass, I do think every now and then about losing the guts at least for everyday working gigs. However I was wondering today if I did that, what I would replace them with?

    I'd be looking for a string that is:

    a) Very loud for pizz
    b) Bowable
    c) Moderately dark, punchy tone but decent sustain
    d) Has strong fundamental especially on an extended C string
    e) The G string is not too thin

    Right now I have Permanents on the bottom two strings and the unwound Gamut Lyon guts on the top. I've never tried Permanent G and D but I wonder what they are like?

    When I went to try out my Shen at CSC, they had it strung with Helicore Hybrids. I was totally floored with how good they sounded, especially the G string which not only sounded great, it was so damn easy to get around on compared to a gut G. A long time ago, I used Helicore Hybrid heavy gauge E and A and found them pretty good. I'm not sure how good an extension string would be though. I was very disappointed with the Kolstein Varicor extension for example. A Spirocore extension remains the benchmark for a thunderous low end althought it is definitely bright. I figure a Superflexible extension should be interesting.

    Dominants on the top two strings paired with something else on the bottom (Permanents or maybe Superflexibles) might also be interesting but I'm not sure I want to touch Dominants with the potential for breakages.
  2. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I don't use or really like gut stings but I have had a Permanent E and a A on my bass, I just put on a set of Jargar Fortes last week and on my bass and the Jargar win hands down. Much warmer sound and more volume, and yes there is sustain. Right before I got the Jargars I Took off my Corelli E and tried my old Permanent E and my old Superflexible E because the Corelli just wasn't getting a big enough sound and I ended up having to work to hard to make it loud enough. The Permanent E sounded ,well, uninspiring and bland, I use to real like this string but going back to it it wasn't as good as I remember it to be, stiff is a good description of the tone; maybe I killed it taking it on and off....... The Superflexible E sounded good but just a little bright compared the corellis but it was loud and worked so I left in on for a few weeks. The Jargars are defiantly the sound I've wanted for a long time but from most of the descriptions I've read made me think they'd be dead sounding or overly muddy but they're not at all; I'm getting a nice warm dark sound with bounce for pizz and a good arco sound and this being a ply bass says a lot to me; oh and the E, is the best E I had on my bass so far.

    I don’t know if they'd work for you though, there’s no way to know other then to try it one’s self.

    Levin likes this.
  3. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    In my experience, which is hardly huge, the spiro mittels (red/red) are the loudest, and they are perfectly bowable if you don't mind the somewhat raw tone. When I bow my Shen with the spiros on it the thing just roars. It's easier to bow the spiros than it was to bow the animas that were on there before. They are not as easy to get a sweet sound out of as the BelCantos or, say, Obligatos, but they're easy to start have a powerful arco sound--maybe not pretty, but powerful

    I miss the animas, but spiros, despite the knocks they get, are a pretty amazing string. Yeah, too much growl, too middy, but with the right technique they can be huge.

    Anyway, in my exerience--and I've tried Animas, Belcantos, Obligatos, Labella black nylons, Eurosonics, Helicore hybrids, and....there's a couple others I can't remember...anyway, in my experience red/red spiros are the loudest

    Your mileage may vary, some settling of contents may have occured during shipping and handling, caution contents are HOT, etc.
  4. Adrian;

    I think the breakage issue of Dominants is a little over blown but just as with guts it is always a possibility. I think you are someone who would be meticulous enough with the installation etc. that it would probably not be a problem. And I think the history of breakage was mostly with the E.
    I am using DOMs with a long Spiro ORCH C/E.
    Potentially my A could be a 'break waiting to happen' since it is on the E tuner because of the ext, therefore closer to the nut . But honestly I am not really worried and so far so good. I am pretty happy with them sound-wise especially the volume. for me they are kind of a compromise with the sound leaning more towards steel.

    Chris Fitzgerald has had a set on for over a year and Ken Smith had a set that he transferred a couple times from bass to bass without problems (that information is as I remember it from previous posts)

    Anyway I will be interested to see what you end up doing.
  5. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thanks for the replies.

    The other thing I could do is just change the Gamuts for Olivs but I had Olivs for years and got tired of all the problems with the windings. And I don't think I will necessary have to go that way to get a good tone. As I said, I was totally floored when I played this bass with Helicore Hybrids on it. The bass had been setup very quickly the day before and the strings were a day old and the sound on the top strings was great.

    Further searching here reveals that I probably don't want to go with Permanent G and D as the G is apparently very bright and thin (in diameter).

    Right now I'm thinking:

    a) Helicore Hybrid (heavy gauge) full set
    b) Helicore Orchestra (top strings) and Hybrid (bottom strings) - not sure of the gauges
    c) Dominant G, D and Superflexible A and extended C

    The Dominant thing still does scare the crap out of me. I have played many Dominant G strings on other basses and liked them a lot.
  6. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    It's Dominants, period. If you can take the risk, they're unbeatable.

    edit: the one weak part of the Dominant set is the E string, sort of. It doesn't match up to the Spiros. Try Dominant G, D, A and a Spiro Stark E.
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Dominants - OK I'm getting more convinced to at least try them. I have a Spiro Mittel extended E just sitting around and it's very old so might work well to try with the Dominants. I'm a little more inclined to use the Spiro or Superflexible on the A instead of the Dominant because most of the stories of Dominant breakage I've heard seem to be the A and yes mine is on the bottom tuner because of the extension.

    The one thing I remember about the Dominant G is the straightforward volume and punch to it. It immediately strikes you as a synthetic core when you play it, because the tone is not very complex but there's nothing wrong with that.

    Thanks guys.
  8. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I always got a lot of volume from Superflexibles, they aren't the best for arco, but they're OK. I've currently got Corelli 370s on my steel-string bass and I like them very much both for arco and pizz, but the arco is not as loud :rolleyes:

    I've always been curious about the Jargars. What are the advantages/disadvantages of the various gauges? My King bass is 43 1/2" scale so lighter gauge/lower tension strings usually work well without feeling floppy. Would the Jargar dolce be a good choice or are the regular and forte still lower tension that say Superflex?

    Love this site!
  9. Adrian
    Maybe just start with a Dominant G and see if that works the way you remember and how it is on your new bass. The diameter is larger than some but it is not going to be like gut.
  10. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    +1 on the Dominants - they are the loudest string I've tried, and they bow very well too. Fatter, darker sound than Spiro reds, at about the same tension.

    The suggestion to try a G and work your way down is a good one, it's what I did. But I think the best string in the Dominant set (if there is a 'best,' I'm splitting hairs at bit here) is the A - I've always found A strings to be the most problematic, but the Dom A is a winner.

  11. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I don't know about regular but forte feels like it has slightly more tension then Superflexible 4/4s on the E&A, but not on the D&G. My bass use to have a 43 3/16" [and this is when I had the Superflexibles on it] string length but last summer I put a extended nut on it and cheated the bridge so the string length is now 41 7/8".
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    OBLIGATOS.. I had Obligatos moved for Bass to Bass.. Never had the Doms, sry.
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I had the Jaegar Forte Reds on my Dodd for awhile and loved them. Then the Bass went up for sale and we put Flexocor on it to suit the average Orchestral Bass buyer. Still, I think that in the hall, they made the Bass sound at least as loud but felt easier than the Stark Flexocors to play. Actually, The strings I had on the Dodd at first with pre 1990 strings and were at least as heavy as Orig Flexs not to mention about 20 -30 years old. They were more like Super Starks!

    The Jaegars however were very comfortable but despide any audible volume difference when playing, I actually welcomed the difference in tone. More springly like guts and easier to Bow than Obligatos as ther have a rope type metal core.

    As with any Stark/heavy/thick/forte type string, the E and A strings may need slightly more bow pressure but nothing to worry about.

    Jaegar Fortes are definitly worth a try. A very underrated string in my opinion.
  14. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    What are the Jaegar Fortes like for pizz? Are they thin gauge strings like the Compas 180s for example?
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Animas are pretty dang loud and gut-like.

    I love what I got now tho...
    Spiro Stark E & A
    Dom D & G

    THUNDER!!! NANANA NA NANA NA NANA!!!!! :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
    THUNDER!!! NANANA NA NANA NA NANA!!!!! :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
  16. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    I've found that Innovations 140H meet all your criteria, excpet I've no idea if they do a C extension.
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    The G and D seem thin as compared to the A and E like several sets on the market but sound just fine. The Pizz is more on the old school side. Your list is pretty demanding. They sound full in the distance and pizz fine for me but then again I was using them on a Bass previously used in the London Symphony. It was the most powerful bass I has ever played in my life! I am sure they are just as good on other Basses but results may vary I'm sure.
  18. Thanks Ken, Sorry for the misinformation Adrian. I mixed it up in my memeory
  19. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm finding Animas to be more like a Spirocore except that the Animas have a lot more of a full bodied sound. They don't remind me of gut in any way. At least not on my bass.
  20. Jake


    Dec 11, 1999
    You guys pretty much got it covered, but I thought I'd suggest a decent string set that hasn't been mentioned.
    Pirastro - Flat Chromesteel. They are thin and loud, however, the arco attack is pretty bright. Too bright for me to control without get cackly sounding accents. They might be good for jazz arco though and they're plenty decent enough to practice technique on.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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