Re: Gut or steel?

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Posted by Bob Gollihur on February 25, 2001 at 17:09:44:

In Reply to: Gut or steel? posted by Rob on February 25, 2001 at 16:55:43:

: I will be purchasing my first upright in a couple of months. I'm just curious if gut strings are better for achieving a slap-style of playing as opposed to steel. If so, will the tone of gut strings still give a warm, clear tone with volume or, what are the major differences between the two types of strings? I'd appreciate any help.

Gut is admired for its special quality and certainly is a good choice for roots and slap - I know a bunch of rockabilly guys who won't use anything else. However, there are disadvantages -- first, gut is expensive, as much as 3-4 times the cost of alternatives. Second, they require maintenance, clipping off the "hairs" and oiling them to extend their life. Gut can sometimes be more fragile than steel. That all said, they can be awfully sweet!

Some rockabilly guys will get "solo" steel strings, which are intended for tuning one full step above normal -- when tuned down to regular pitch they are lower tension and easier to slap. There are special Rockabilly strings made by Picato, with a black coating, though I have heard negative comments about them, that they loose their sound quickly.

If you haven't visited my LINKS page yet, check it out. You'll find a few rockabilly-oriented sites that are a must -- there are a few players on one site originating in the Netherlands, a rockabilly hotspot, under players. Under strings is a site where a rockabilly player can source you gut strings that, in his experience, are suitable for rockabilly. There is also "the slap shack" which is another rockabilly bass site. And there's even a site with a message board like this JUST for rockabilly bass.

And I'll also take this opportunity to plug the Rockabilly Slap Special, a pickup system that I designed specifically for Rockabilly bass players - there is an ad for it on the LINKS site but you can reach it directly

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