Need help on bass strings Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through May 26, 2010 » Need help on bass strings « Previous Next »

Author Message
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4251
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 8:43 am:   Edit Post

Well the guitar one finally has to turn to all you bass players for some advice. I just picked up an Epic fretless 5. It showed up on my doorstep in not the best of condition. Filthy, major tarnish, bubbling on tuning machines, missing cavity plate screws, wrong pickup screws, and, literally, no strings attached. Once I clean it up I'll need to restring it. So what do I use? This is an experiment for me - I don't need the best and I especially don't want the most expensive (you guys pay a LOT for your strings, don't you?) Suggestions appreciated.

Bill, tgo
tbrannon
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1140
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 9:15 am:   Edit Post

I'll recommend D'Addario Chromes- they're a little bit brighter than most flats and are a favorite of mine for both fretted and fretless.

EDIT: the other plus with flats is that they will literally last you forever.... bass strings can be expensive, but a set of flats will last for years.

(Message edited by tbrannon on December 23, 2009)
spose
Advanced Member
Username: spose

Post Number: 290
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 9:35 am:   Edit Post

+1 for the chromes for inexpensive flats

and of course TI nickel flats if you want to go the distance :-)

(Message edited by spose on December 23, 2009)
funkyjazzjunky
Senior Member
Username: funkyjazzjunky

Post Number: 527
Registered: 5-2007
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 9:44 am:   Edit Post

I learned about Pyramid Flats (they are great) on this forum
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 591
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:05 am:   Edit Post

Yes I like the PYRAMID GOLD for flats but they are VERY expensive! I have been using Pyramid Gold flats since 1973!

For rounds _ ALEMBIC or DEAN MARKLEY BLUE STEEL.

The DEAN MARKLEY BLUE STEEL are cheap and last a long time !

(Message edited by sonicus on December 23, 2009)
jack
Advanced Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 235
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:08 am:   Edit Post

One thing about Chromes is that I find they're very high tension, at least on my 35" 5'er. You may want to experiment with a couple less expensive flats to see what you like in terms of tone and tension. I think GHS Precision Flats are kind of the standard, and they're only 20 bucks at Juststrings. La Bella has a couple different flats that people like, I've never tried 'em. The Chromes do have a nice sound to them, bright like rounds.

So many strings out there... I wish I could be more help. I've asked for a set of TI Jazz Flats for Christmas and I hope they're the last set I need for awhile.
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 689
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:09 am:   Edit Post

This is a fretless, so it might be a good idea to start out with flats. The Chromes are a good compromise both price-wise and tension-wise, and brightness-wise as well, as Toby pointed out.
jack
Advanced Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 236
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:10 am:   Edit Post

Bill, if Santa gives me those flats I'll give you the chromes - late Hanukah present. You'll have to wait until next week though.
keith_h
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1461
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post

D'Addario Chromes here. I am still using the same set I sent to Alembic when I had my fretless built. They are fairly high tension as Jack mentioned but I find them quite comfortable and the cost is much less that TI's.

Keith
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4252
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 12:34 pm:   Edit Post

What about length? Do I need "extra long" or anything in particular?

Bill, tgo
jack
Advanced Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 237
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 1:30 pm:   Edit Post

Regular long scale should do it. You'll just need to cut a little off the B, and inch or so (yer guitar string cutters won't work here, ha, need a wire cutter or needle nose pliers). Extra long is for 35" scale strung through the body or some craziness.
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 9070
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 2:04 pm:   Edit Post

Bill; I haven't strung a guitar in quite a long time, but if I recall correctly, attaching the strings to the tuners on a bass is done differently than on a guitar.

How I do it (again by memory; I haven't changed strings in a year).

Place the ball end into the tailpiece. Pull the string taut past the tuner. Hold the string in your left hand so that your fingers are grasping the string about three inches or so past the tuner.

While still holding the string taut, take a pair of needle nose pliers in your right hand and make a 90 degree bend in the string where your left hand is holding it about three inches past the tuner.

Take the needle nose pliers and cut the string about a half inch beyond the 90 degree bend.

Take this short bent end and place it in the hole in the center of the tuner, with the remaining portion of the string fed out through one of the side slots, preferable the slot that's furthest away from the tailpiece.

Checking to make sure the ball end is still firmly in place in the tailpiece slot, hold the string in your right hand about a third of the distance from the tailpiece to the tuner and pull up toward the ceiling until the string is taut. Actually I use my thumb to keep the nut end of the string lower so that the wraps don't slip off the tuner, while my fingers keep the bridge end of the string higher to take up the slack.

Begin turning the tuner with your left hand so that the wrap is to the inside of the headstock, keeping the string taut with your right hand. You want your wraps to neatly stack, not overlapping each other. Keep an eye on the tailpiece end to make sure the string falls into the saddle groove; and keep your other eye on the nut to make sure the string threads don't get caught on the edge, and that the string falls into the nut slot once you have the string tight.

Ideally you'll want to end up with three wraps on each tuner.
slawie
Intermediate Member
Username: slawie

Post Number: 141
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 2:11 pm:   Edit Post

"The DEAN MARKLEY BLUE STEEL are cheap and last a long time"

I'll second that sentiment I bought a 10 pack some 10 years ago and
still have one set unopened.
They last forever. You couldn't kill them with a stick!

I have just recently bought a set of Rotosound 77
monel flatwounds. For my fretless the sound is superb
as for longevity it is still too early to say as they have only been on my bass for about
5 weeks but stiil sound just as bright.

slawie
lembic76450
Intermediate Member
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 191
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 2:34 pm:   Edit Post

Bill,
I have my Epic (4 String) strung with Chromes. The sound is really fat, but, I do agree that the tension
seems tight and I find my hands
kind of tired after a long set, we usually do at least 90 min. sets.
All that said I do love the sound. Maybe someone knows something else that sounds
close? but is a little less tiring?
Kenn
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 595
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 2:59 pm:   Edit Post

Tension can be a good thing if it means SNAP for your syncopation.

___Better then wet noodles .
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 596
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 3:17 pm:   Edit Post

I have a set of Chromes on one of my non- Alembics . They are OK but I still prefer The SOUND of The PYRAMID GOLD for flats.
pauldo
Advanced Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 382
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 3:24 pm:   Edit Post

Welcome to the dark side Bill. ;-)
On my fretless bastard bass I use Fender Black Tape Wounds. . . they have been on for years! Tension seems ok to me (medium) but I am a bassist who is a frustrated guitarist.

Not sure if they would give you the brightness that the Alembic electronics could really 'sparkle' with.
mike1762
Senior Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 413
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 4:53 pm:   Edit Post

Wow!!! I'm surprised to hear how long a set of strings lasts you guys. I've started using DRs and they seem to last a little longer than RotoSounds. But I've NEVER gotten more than a month out of a set of strings. When I was playing nightly, I changed every week. I used a very bright and lively live tone and could literally hear the "life" go out of the strings mid-song. I sweated a lot, so maybe that was the problem.
davehouck
Moderator
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 9080
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 5:24 pm:   Edit Post

Mike; although I'm practicing just about every day, I'm not playing out; so the quality of the sound isn't as important as it would be if I had a gig. Of course I would love to be practicing with new strings, but the main reason I haven't changed strings is cost; I have significant cash flow issues, and at close to $80 a set, new strings are not a consideration. So I have my rig EQ'd around dead strings; if I ever get new strings again, I'll have to change all my settings.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 599
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 5:31 pm:   Edit Post

I never got much life out of RotoSounds. They DO sound great when new . When I was playing 4 sets a gig 3 or more nights a week for the larger part of the 1980's and into the 90's; I discovered DEAN MARKLEYS in the early 80's and I immediately noticed how much longer they sounded good.
pauldo
Advanced Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 385
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 5:34 pm:   Edit Post

Mike - I also am not gigging as often as I used to.
I also have real sweaty hands so I am wiping my strings off religously and periodically take a rag with a little alcohol on it and wipe them down individually.

But on the other hand I have been shying away from the real bright tone (except for when I am slappin and poppin trying to do my best Keavin imitation!) - I use GHS Boomers on my Distillate but won't change them until one breaks, then its the whole set.

Back in the day when I played out alot, I would never go more than two months without a fresh set.
darkstar01
Intermediate Member
Username: darkstar01

Post Number: 195
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 5:39 pm:   Edit Post

i think flat wounds just last longer in general because there's less of a dynamic range to begin with, compared to rounds. i know a set of flats will sound brand new for months whereas a set of rounds will last for about a week before they start to sound dead. look at upright strings, for example. i know guys that haven't changed those in literally decades, and they still sound great (not counting gut strings. i don't really know anything about those).
i know just about everyone will tell you flats are better with a fretless, but i never liked the combination. if you're not a bass player, though, it's the easy way to go. and i can second the chromes suggestion, and la bella makes nice flats, too.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 600
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 6:04 pm:   Edit Post

The GREAT Late John Kahn ( Jerry Garcia Band and many others) liked to use LA BELLA flats and he liked to leave them on his bass for a very long time .
dela217
Senior Member
Username: dela217

Post Number: 1020
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 6:06 pm:   Edit Post

I also use the Chromes.

I gig every weekend, sometimes more. My last set of Chromes were on my bass for 4 years. I had to change them because I broke one. They sounded great right before one broke. In fact when I put the new set on, I liked the 4 year old strings much better.
dluxe
Junior
Username: dluxe

Post Number: 32
Registered: 11-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 6:57 pm:   Edit Post

I've got DR Hi Beams on my Series 1 but John over at Bass Emporium swears by the Thomastik Jazz Flats. I'm torn between those and the Pyramid Flats for my next set of strings. I've heard that the original Series basses all came with flats and the pickups and electronics were designed with flats in mind.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 601
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 7:21 pm:   Edit Post

That's right I believe the "original Series basses " came with PYRAMID GOLD flats.
keith_h
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1462
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 5:24 am:   Edit Post

Mike,
I hear you about liking the old set of Chromes better than the new set. I found it took about a week for the Chromes to loosen up and settle in.

Keith
jack
Advanced Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 238
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 7:02 am:   Edit Post

Could Sonicus (or anyone else) compare the tension of the Pyramid Golds to the TI JFs? I'd guess the tension on the golds is somewhere in between the TI Jazz Flats and Chromes?
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 604
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 7:22 am:   Edit Post

Hi jack . I have used the Pyramids and the Chromes but have not yet tried the TI jazz flats. The Chromes have higher tension then the Pyramids . Perhaps This link will be of some help.
http://www.thestringguy.com/tension.html

Happy Holidays_______
mario_farufyno
Senior Member
Username: mario_farufyno

Post Number: 401
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 7:33 am:   Edit Post

Wow, thanks for that link, Wolf
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 605
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 7:45 am:   Edit Post

You are very welcome.
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 690
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 7:59 am:   Edit Post

Bill - one really important thing - you should probably get a bass-size string winder - a regular guitar one probably won't fit and you don't want to crank all of those by hand, or at least I wouldn't want to...
lbpesq
Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4255
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 8:11 am:   Edit Post

Wow! Ask an question and everyone rushes in to help! That's one of the best things I love about this forum! Thanks for all the info. I've ordered a set of D'Addario Chrome flats from Juststrings or around $41. I had to order a coupe of sets of La Bella 12 string Veillette Gryphon strings anyway, and they're just about the only source for those. I also threw in a couple of sets of GHS Santana guitar strings to try.

Harry: Thanks for the tip on the string winder. I'll have to heck to see if my Ernie Ball PowerPeg fits. (It really is a great product for $20).

By the way, I rememeber playing with a guy like 30 years ago who would routinely take off his strings and put them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, as I recall. Anyone ever hear of this? Does it work?

Happy Holidays to everyone and hope Santa's good to you tonight.

Bill, tgo
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 606
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 8:18 am:   Edit Post

Crank the strings up with your left hand and build up your wrist for vibrato ! LOL________ just thinking pragmatically , that is my modos operandus _ LOL !!! NO WINDERS ! LOL !!!!
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 607
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 8:27 am:   Edit Post

YES BILL__
I boiled strings 30 years ago too !

IN FACT- they were PYRAMID GOLDS -- back when I was a poor young man. I soaked them in ISOPROPYL alcohol first and then boiled them!

(Message edited by sonicus on December 24, 2009)
pauldo
Advanced Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 386
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 9:02 am:   Edit Post

Yep - same here, I've boiled a few sets!

The wraps get a little frayed after boiling but it cleans well, I suppose an ultra-sonic cleaner would really shiny them up! My heavy left hand left witness marks where the frets are so boiling didn't stay as an option very long.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 608
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 9:25 am:   Edit Post

Same here pauldo. Marks on the strings_____.
oddmetersam
Member
Username: oddmetersam

Post Number: 54
Registered: 7-2008
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 9:27 am:   Edit Post

Way back when (in the days of Cesar), I used to periodically boil the Rotosounds on my Fender Jazz (but only once per set of strings). Make sure you keep the ends with the wrappings sticking up out of the water. It's amazing how much gunk is on strings, even when they look clean.

For me, the strings would sound almost new for just a few days and they'd feel slightly "rougher" with more resistance when playing glissando.

My string of choice in modern times used to be DR; now I prefer the burnished tone and supple feel of Curt Mangan Nickel roundwounds:

http://www.curtmangan.com/shop/index.php/bass-guitar/nickel-wound.html

I played the NAMM show a few years ago during my pre-Alembic days. We were in the Starr Labs booth in conjunction with an up and coming electronic drum manufacturer so our drummer used their stuff. But between them constantly asking us to stop so that convention goers could also play their drums and the fact the drums were glitchy as hell (and our drummer plays left-handed so the configuration had to be altered back and forth), we only played sporadically :-(

Anyway, at one point I wandered away and stumbled into the Curt Mangan booth. In spite of all the big name guys walking around, I was treated like royalty and they had a full array of basses strung with their strings and a couple of Mark Bass amps to play through. I loved the tone and explained I was playing at the show. They gave me two sets of strings to evaluate and I told them I'd change strings that night and after the next day's performance give them some feedback. Later, while my band mates were asleep in the hotel room I put them on my Spector. Even unamplified, the instrument was so loud it woke them up! The tone and clarity was great when we performed and they've been my string of choice ever since.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 609
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 9:33 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for the link. I might have to try those.
hieronymous
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 691
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 2:42 pm:   Edit Post

Never heard of those strings either - gonna have to check them out!

One other thing I thought of, Bill, is the issue of cutting the excess string length - you have to cut it BEFORE you start winding up, because of the way bass string tuning posts work. Definitely re-read Dave's post above - I use the three-inch rule for most of the strings, but personally find that it can be a little too much for the low E (and probably the low B too but I only have one bass with a low B so not sure).

Maybe people can chime in on how much string you leave before winding?
pauldo
Advanced Member
Username: pauldo

Post Number: 388
Registered: 6-2006
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 4:26 pm:   Edit Post

Yes 3" is a good rule of thumb.
Adjust accordingly for thicker strings or other alterations . . .

I have a Hip-Shot D-tuner on my E string, the post on it is shorter so for that particular string I cut it at about 2.5".
edwin
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 478
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 6:38 pm:   Edit Post

Is Fat Dog still there at Subway Guitars at 1600 Cedar St. in Berkeley? Last I heard he had $10 sets of bass strings that weren't too bad.

I like the DR Sunbeams for fretless. Great growl and last a long time.
sonicus
Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 611
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 10:01 pm:   Edit Post

Here he is http://www.fatdawg.com/
jack
Advanced Member
Username: jack

Post Number: 239
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - 10:50 am:   Edit Post

I'm late checking back in but Wolf- great link, thanks.
potato1992
New
Username: potato1992

Post Number: 6
Registered: 12-2009
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 7:43 am:   Edit Post

Well, my fav's are Elixir strings. Why?
Well, they have monstrous sustain, also coated, and "lives" way longer then any other strings.
Too bad they are pretty expensive. And not everyone likes coated strings.
garth4664
Intermediate Member
Username: garth4664

Post Number: 116
Registered: 10-2008
Posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010 - 9:45 am:   Edit Post

I'll mash with potato on this one...+1 for the Elixirs

IMHO these do not sound quite as good as DRs the minute they are put on, but they don't degrade fast either and can be used for more than one gig - I am still usually happy after gig 2 or 3.

Also the wrap makes them easier on fingers, especially when you are playing monster 4 set/80 song cover gigs.

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration