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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through October 10, 2004 » Archive: 2003 » Archive through November 20, 2003 » What kind of strings are you using? « Previous Next »

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Username: jrbrown

Post Number: 31
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 5:53 pm:   Edit Post

What kind of strings are you using on your Alembic bass? I tried:

- TI Jazz Flats: Horrible
- DR Sunbeams: Very nice
- Unknown flats: Very nice

May I can get some ideas?
Username: wideload

Post Number: 9
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 8:00 pm:   Edit Post

Let me be the first to shill for the company. I changed from SR 2000s (on my Peavey TL-5) to Alembics when I got my Rogue 5 (no clue what the previous owner was using). They sounded great! I have no reason to change, as I like the live sound of these strings. Flats are too...flat...for my taste.

Username: bob

Post Number: 76
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 11:29 pm:   Edit Post

It's too late, James, I can't resist...

If you think TI Jazz Flats are horrible, then I doubt I can help you. My custom-in-neverending-progress is partly custom for the sake of accomodating these particular strings. And if you do a search, you'll turn up a recent thread in which quite a few members mentioned these as their favorites, at least for flatwounds but in some cases more generally.

No animosity or argument (we don't do that here). But if you'd like to start yet another thread on strings - which is fine - it would be helpful if you said a few words about what type of sound(s) you are looking for.

While there is a lot of talk about "the Alembic sound", what recordings to hear "it" on, and so forth, my personal view is that what's really special about these things is how expressive they can be, in a variety of styles. They pick up what the strings are doing, which in turn is what your fingers are doing - and what kinds of strings your fingers like to play with has a lot to do with your style and desired sound (and quite possibly your ears, your rig, the woods and electronics you chose, and so forth).

So, how do you want it to sound? (and what were those "very nice unknown flats"? Not Pyramids, by any chance?)

<edited just to add this postscript: no, couldn't be, my sense is that you want bright, and i'm pretty sure the TIs can do that, if you try, better than the Pyramids. But there still seems to be a lot of nostalgia about these strings, and what the original Alembic sound was - but that's probably off-topic.>


(Message edited by bob on November 10, 2003)
Username: essencetimestwo

Post Number: 15
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 7:47 am:   Edit Post

I have to agree with JR. I tried a set of TI round wounds on my Essence and was not impressed. They didn't sound especially good and didn't seem to last very long. Maybe I got a bad set but they definately were not worth the inflated price tag. I love the Alembic strings with the teal wrap. They are pressure wound so they aren't as rough as regular round wounds and they sound great. The only problem is that they are hard to find, especially at a reasonable price. I used to use DR Hi-beams and Low Riders but now that my budget has tightened I have switched to D'addario XL's. They are cheap and consistant and sound good.
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 59
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 8:18 am:   Edit Post

I really liked the Alembic CX set that came with the instrument, they had a light blue wrap. And they lasted a long time.

The first brand I tried after that, for budget reasons, was GHS Bass Boomers - they were so horrible I took them off within the hour. I just couldn't get a single solid note out of them.

Next up was a set of DR HiBeams, which sounded nice once the highs wore off a bit; great for playing slap style. At some point I switched to the DR LoRiders, which were a little more civilized.

Then off went the frets, and on came the TI Jazz Flats. Not everyone's cup of tea, but for instance the E string sounds BIG - and on a fretless - bigger than any E string when it was still a fretted instrument.

In Europe, TIs aren't that much cheaper than DRs but perhaps that's because DR's prices are inflated over here.
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 21
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 9:32 am:   Edit Post

The Thomastiks seem to have built a legendary reputation. I tried 'em and I also came away really unimpressed.

They're very well made, and have better intonation than most flats. But they gauges seem too light, and the sound to me is sort of gutless - I really don't find I can "dig in", so maybe this is a factor related to playing style.

For many years, my main string has been Rotosound Swing Bass. I love the tone and feel, although the initial "piano" tone is only good for a very short while. The big problem for me with Rotosound is that I don't like the low B that they make. So, for 5-string, I prefer D'Addario Slowounds or GHS Boomers. The particular selection sort of depends on the bass, and I think it's driven more by how the strings feel than how they sound, as they are fairly close after the initial edge is gone.

When I had my last Alembic built, I had them set up with Markley Blue Steels which I liked for a while. Can't stand those tinny things now. I don't know if they changed or if I did.

DRs went through a big phase for a while there. The LoRiders are a little trebly, but seem to really last a long time. It's seems like I've had a lot of clunkers with DR though - dead D string a couple of times, which I think was probably some handling problem (maybe the core was bent?). DR will replace them, but I don't know if the sound is worth the hassle. D'Addarios seems to never have quality problems. Of course, I like Rotosounds, which is like a suprise in every bag - you never know what you're going to get.
Username: wideload

Post Number: 10
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post

I found Alembic strings online at juststrings.com. I bought my last set from Alembic, but this is definitely a better price. I have no idea if they have stock to deliver (but I will find out in January at my next change).I hope I'm still allowed to post after this bit of insurrection!

Username: kayo

Post Number: 21
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 11:17 am:   Edit Post

A few things need to be evaluated - 1) what general texture (soundwise) do you like from a string? 2) what general feel do you you prefer? 3) what orientation is your playing style?

Firstly - your style of music - you wouldn't really need that bright or tough of a string if you do not do a lot of slapping.... (ie - fretless jazz player)... and by the same token you wouldn't want a flatwound fretless arrangement if you wanted to be like Flea.

So, once you know this, then you can begin to narrow down the search - I tend to go from playing (something) like Rocco to (something) like Victor Wooten in just about the same song - so for the most part I need a string that is durable, relatively bright, and can withstand a lot of manhandling (I tend to break a G string in about 10 hours of playing time due to my agressive and strong attack with slap). Otherwise, I would have a much wider range of string products to choose from. But I am left with a strategy that calls for cost effectiveness, appropriate gauge and durability for my heavy handed slap style.

I went through D'Adarios, Ernie Balls, Pyramids, Thomastiks, Blue Steels, Rotosounds, DR's, GHS' and heaven knows what else.

In the end - there was far more to choose from that produced a relatively similar texture (soundwise) - but when it came to feel, very few had the desirable pliability.... and when it came down to what could handle the constant thumping (without going flat or breaking) I always found myself going back to Rotosounds... they had the longevity (without going flat), they had the durability (didn't break in the first 4 hours)... but I had a very hard time finding what I call "symetrical gauges" - I find it rather difficult to play strings that are disparate in the difference in thickness from one string to another.... Hence - I strongly have an affinity for playing strings that have as close of a "graduated" mm increment/decrease in thickness from string to string as possible.

On a 4 string for instance - I prefer nothing smaller than a 40 for the G - or they break too easily.... and on the E string I prefer not to have anything heavier than 110 - or it is not responsive enough (as in recovery time after striking) for slap style. And if the increments in thickness are consistent it makes for the easiest and smoothest playability (for me... this is highly subjective). So despite the fact that for the most part I find Rotosounds to be the most pliable (flexible) while still bright enough with logevity, AND also can withstand the constant pluck and thump while also being cheap - I also found that the fact that their standard roundwound gauge (long scale swing) was 45-65-80-105..... that 80 on the A string made it extra hard to get the same kind of envelope (attack decay sustain release) when I slapped on it - and the better I got, and more finesse I developed the bigger the problem became.

So I had to migrate over the the DR Low Riders (45-65-85-105) beause there is even gauge increments (of 20) between strings even though I find that they are not as pliable, and more expensive.

Food for thought on the process of selection......

(Message edited by kayo on November 11, 2003)
Senior Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 724
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 12:43 pm:   Edit Post

Huh ...I'm on Ernie Ball Super slinky Round wounds (I think).
I'm quite happy with them. I had D'addario round wounds.
The EB's are ...what should I say ...."even" in feel and sound. ANd have a kind of "soft" touch that I also felt with Alembic strings but not with Rotosounds.
The one's I Liked most were the "Superwounds" (naked core) but they are not available here anymore.
I play mostly blues and rock, not in slapping a lot. I ike a mid growl and am VERY careful to control those wide-sounding uncontrollable deep basses.
I am a mid-bass sounding guy.

Paul the bad one
Username: lembic76450

Post Number: 11
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 2:21 pm:   Edit Post

Like everyone else, I've tried more kinds of strings than I can remember. I've sort of settled into a brand I haven't seen mentioned. I've had great luck with Smith strings.I use the Rockmaster lights(40-60-8-100).
They have nice bell like tone that lasts quite a long time, cost is usually under $20.00 and come bact to life nicely after boiling. The tone is very similar to the Alembic CX series. The guage is nice and slinky and allows for nice left hand vibrato.
Username: jet_powers

Post Number: 71
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 8:20 pm:   Edit Post

I've been a dedicated Rotosound Swing Bass user for years. It just seemed like every time I tried something else I was disappointed and always went back to the Roto's.

However I recently restrung my Rogue 5 with the DR Tapereds and am quite pleased with them.

If we all liked the same thing there wouldn't be a whole lot of tonal variations out there not to mention a long line at the door....

Paul the John one
Username: edwin

Post Number: 33
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 9:25 am:   Edit Post

I went through a lot of string experiments when I built a 6 string with a 35" scale. Usually the problem was with the string to string balance. Most 6 string sets felt like a 4 string set with a random B and C string thrown in. The Fodera strings were nice, but within 2 gigs, I had broken 2 strings. The next set I tried were the DR Low Riders and the string to string balance was great and they lasted forever. However, they weren't quite the right tone, so I called them up and after some consideration, I tried the Sunbeams. They are more flexible and a little less bright. I use the light gauge (30-120). Eventually, I became an endorser (no, they aren't free) and got around to putting them on the rest of my basses. When I got to my '78 Series I, it was a revelation. I don't even remember what I had on there before, but the bottom octave just came alive (on each note on each string, not just the low E to the next one). It was like the fundamental came into balance with the rest of the bass. I hadn't used it much, because it was thin sounding to me, but with the Sunbeams, it just thunders! The rest of the frequency spectrum is also very nicely balanced. I love these strings!

Username: rraymond

Post Number: 37
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 12:30 pm:   Edit Post

My favorite sets rights now are Ken Smith Rockmasters and Thomasik-Infeld Jazz Flats. The TI's are on a Zeta Strados Crossover and lend a bit more authenticity to the implied double-bass sound. I do like the Alembic strings that came back on my refurbished Elan, also.
Intermediate Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 179
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 3:03 pm:   Edit Post

After 20+ years, to me most all strings sound the same. I can't think of any roundwounds I just hate, nor can I think of any roundwounds that made me say, "THIS is IT!"

I have come, however, to where I prefer nickel to stainless. I would like to try some of the blue label roto's on the bigredbass.

My REAL wish is that bass strings were as cheap as guitar strings, so I could change every week. I think this is the hardest thing for me: I really have to consider a range of tone (from new to dead, and how long for this sweep) instead of just buying strings again as soon as the original tone fades. I've really come to look at the older tone as the keeper, and virtually disregard the clanging piano tone at first.

J o e y
Username: jrbrown

Post Number: 32
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 7:15 am:   Edit Post

I'm not saying that TI Flats sound horrible on all basses, they just sound horrible on my Alembic Essence. (I love them on a P or J Bass). On my Essence, the sound was all mids. The A,D and G string sound was choked. However, the E string was sweet; deep, fat and musical!

Today, I have some DR-Highbeams (SS) on my
Essence and they sound great. I want to try some taper core strings but the bridge is too far from the tail piece. Suggestions?

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