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Yet another string question...

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by ric426, Dec 13, 2003.

  1. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Ok, I've been reading the string threads for the past hour and I'm still not any closer to an answer.

    Here's my situation. I've got an $1800 chinese plywood bass (a Samuel Shen I think, the luthier put his own lable in it and is evasive about the actual maker), that is the nicest plywood bass I've played in my limited experience, but is still just a plywood bass.

    I've been using Spiro Weichs on it after taking off the original Helicore Hybrids because they just sounded dull on this bass. I'm pretty happy with the sound of the Spiros, especially the nice sustain, though the E string is a little weak (but hey, you get what you pay for in a bass). The only problem is that my arthritic hands would really appreciate a little lower tension, though I don't want to sacrifice too much in terms of tone and sustain. BTW, I'm mostly working on pizz jazz, but am also learning some arco, so arco response is also a consideration.

    After reading a lot of the threads here, I'm thinking about Spiro Solos tuned down to orchestra pitch (though I'm concerned that they may be *too* loose), Obligatos, or possibly Superflexibles. I get the impression that most of you have much better basses than mine, so I'm asking for your opinions, but keeping in mind that I'm dealing with a plywood bass and it's inherent limitations.

    In a nutshell, what I'm looking for is tone and sustain similar to the Spiros, less tension, good pizz and decent arco response, and a little stronger E string response, all from a plywood bass. Not asking for much, am I....?

    I can't afford to try several different sets to get what I want, so any advice and opinions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. ric, I don't think you're gonna get any better response, at least pizz wise, than from the Spiro orch. If you want to try the Spirocore Starks on the E only, Chris Fitz. loves these strings, but, they may be even harder on your hands! I suggest you mix your strings. Chris doesn't bow, but i'm figuring they must not grab the rosin real good, because he says the pizz sustain is even better than the Orch.
    Maybe try Solo Spiros on the first three strings and a Stark on the E?
    Also, it seems that Lemur is the only mail order place that lists the Starks.
    Good luck, man!
  3. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I'm wondering how the pizz tone and arco response of the Spiro Solos hold up once they're tuned down a step. I tried tuning the Spiro Weichs down a half step and they got pretty loose and lost a lot of tone. Anybody have any first hand experience with the Solos at orchestra pitch?
  4. I haven't played spiro solo strings, but I have played a few other kinds tuned down. I must say they have all sounded pretty pathetic and felt just about as bad. The spiro weichs are the softest string I've played on, although I think flatchromes may be similar. I haven't played them for a while, so I can't say for sure. You might try gut core strings like olivs or eudoxas; they're lower tension and sound great, but they're more expensive and they're also kinda thick which takes some geting used to.
  5. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I kind of expected that would be the case. There was such a big difference just tuning the Weichs down a half step that I wouldn't expect that the solos would be better tuned down a whole step.

    So that leads me to the Obligatos. Do they really have less perceived tension than Weichs? I read some comments that they bring out the tone of a bass' wood, but what about with a plywood bass? Some have said that they're almost as bright as Weichs, sustain almost as well, and others have said that they give a good "old school" sound. I know that the only way to know for sure is to try some on my particular bass, but does anyone want to venture a guess as to how they'd sound on a plywood bass?
  6. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    for me the obs didn't sound as good on my ply bass as my carved bass. maybe the lower tension has a tougher time moving the stiffer top of the plywood. yes, they feel a bit lower tension to me than the weichs, are a bit larger guage, and while they sustain well, it's less of a 'buzzy' metallic sort of sustain than the weichs.

    i like 'em in general, but i took them off my ply bass pretty quickly (too much sustain for cuban music).

    sean p
  7. Yes, I have them on a blonde (ugh) Englehardt that I use for a rental. The've been on for about four years! They're just fine. Alot of jazz bassists here in Denver use them all the time! I don't like them for jazz, because I like more resistance and a little pain!
    Maybe you can put an ad in WANTED, and make a trade or at least get a deal on a used set.
    And, tuning any string designed for regular pitch down, ain't gonna make it! Your sound post may have some movement as well, when you mess with tuning strings down.
  8. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Well, after playing the Spiro Weichs some more, I've decided that I really don't want to sacrifice any brightness because, like it's owner, my bass isn't that bright to begin with. I think I'll keep working with them, and even though it'll raise the tension some more, I ordered a Spiro Orchestra E to try and balance out the E with the rest. I also ordered a single Obligato so I can at least sample them for myself without taking the $100 plunge. Who knows, maybe I'll end up ordering the rest later.
    Thanks for all your help so far. I'm sure there'll be more questions to come.
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