Re: Suggest a Replacement String

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Posted by Rich Laird on May 14, 2001 at 08:18:02:

In Reply to: Suggest a Replacement String posted by Laird Allshouse on May 12, 2001 at 07:06:31:

: I just replaced very old gut strings with Corelli 372M tungsten strings. I can't say that I'm thrilled with the decidedly metallic sound, but I can live with them, given the price of new gut strings.

: My problem is that the new "A" string is so loose at pitch that it is buzzing on the fingerboard. Although I have an adjustable bridge, the height necessary to stop the buzzing is much higher than I want it for the other strings.

: I'm guessing that a replacement for the string, with a much higher tension at pitch will solve the problem.

: Can you string gurus suggest a replacement?

: I thank you.

: Laird

Hi Laird...

Your question - along with the previous one re bevelled fingerboards - raises a really interesting point. Guys from Bob Gollihur and my generation remember the "paradigm shift" that occurred when everyone went from gut to steel strings. Swithching to steel strings is a little more than just tying 'em on.

Steel strings typically put a lot more tension on the table (top) of the bass that gut - so I can't really explain the buzz you're getting. I've always just left it up to the luthiers to set-up my bass to accommodate steel strings. This could involve work on the nut, the bridge, the saddle and/or the tailpiece wire to get things really working and sounding good. Personally, I would want to get the bevel out of that fingerboard...but don't know what to tell you as far as how much that is likely to cost.

So, I guess what I'm suggesting is that you take you bass to someone who has the tools, skill, and know-how to set it up for modern-day strings. A word of caution is that I've seen a lot of really decent basses with caved in tops from back in the sixties where (like Bob was talkiing about) people tried to just switch strings without putting on a tension-compensating saddle, etc. Like I said: I don't purport to be an expert...but I think you should probably go hire one. I think you said you're not planning to do a lot of serious playing....but if your bass is well set up, you'll certainly enjoy what you're doing a lot more and won't be risking damage to your bass.

As far as specific brands: My guess is those Corellis will sound less metallic after they've settled in a bit - that's typical of steel strings - and I know they're a popular all-around string. The strings Andy is recommending are, I believe, steel-wound with a synthetic "gut-like" core. They may not pose the tension issues that all-steel strings do, but my guess is that they have a smaller guage than what's been on your bass - so you may still want some adjustments made. Those seem to have become popular with slap-advocates, like Andy (never touch the stuff myself).

Personally, I'm always reluctant to recommend specific brands of strings because I think it depends a lot on both the style of music you play, the style of player you are, and (possibly most of all), your individual instrument.

Hope that helps - check Bob's web site for a luthier in your area.

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