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STRINGS: Solo gauge bass strings
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NEW Grace Design BiX is IN STOCK
The New Grace Design BiX has arrived! Finally, studio-grade preamplification for your bass (or other acoustic instruments) in a compact, road-worthy enclosure. With only the essential features, the BiX puts top-shelf boutique sound into your rig for under $300. Now available for immediate shipment.
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This is an amazing value -- for our upright bass-playing friends who want an EUB that can "sub" for the big bass, we've done all the upgrades for you -- and even put a custom "traditional" finish on the bass.

You get all the modern ergonomics and portability of the NS Design Electric Uprights, but with the Traditional string set for a more authentic doublebass sound (and bowability). We've also had NS Design upgrade the tuners to the CR-spec Schallers. And the cool traditional brown finish, over the veneer, looks classy and traditional -- and we even include a set of f-hole decals you can optionally install on the bass.

The four-string is the NEW NXTa "active" model, with the built-in flash-rechargeable buffer circuit. We have a limited number of 5-strings left in the original passive design, and those are the last of the traditional 5-strings.

You can't get this exclusive model anywhere else, folks.

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Some bass strings are offered in "solo gauge" or "solo tuning" as an option. These strings vary only slightly from "orchestra gauge", or "orchestra tuning" which is the normal string for double bass.

Upright bass tuning is normally G-D-A-E (high to low), while "solo tuning" is one full step higher: A-E-B-F# (high to low), so solo tuning strings are gauged for that slightly higher pitch.

Why would someone choose a solo tuning string set? Simply, tuning up a whole step, with strings specifically for the purpose, is a means to put the higher pitches more "in reach" for someone playing solo repertoire. It can also provide a brighter tone, and better projection, for a solo performer who is playing melodic lines -- which often tend to be in the higher octaves. There's a long history of solo string performers using altered and raised tunings for this purpose. The string sets that are designed and wound specifically for the purpose allow a player to tune to a higher pitch without putting unwanted extra stress on the instrument (tuning up "standard" strings would make them very tense, and add a lot of pressure to your instrument, possibly inhibiting vibration and over-stressing the bass top.)

So that's the legitimate and intended usage of solo strings. However, we find that - at least for our customer base, which leans heavily towards players who mostly play contemporary, bluegrass, or jazz styles - there's another popular reason to get Solo strings. We find that many of our customers use them so that they have a string that is slightly lower tension than orchestra gauge -- they'll install a solo set and tune it down to "normal" G-D-A-E tuning. This most often comes into play with strings that offer a solo set, but not a light (aka weich) set; Pirastro Obligatos and Thomastik Superflexibles are two common, popular examples.

Where a stringmaker offers BOTH light and solo strings (like Thomastik Spirocores, Pirastro Evah Pirazzi), you'll usually find that the solo set - tuned to standard pitch - is slightly lighter than the light/weich set, but this isn't a hard and fast rule.

If that second reason to get solo strings sounds more like you, and you want to get a rough, non-scientific idea as to the difference in tension, at least in terms of your current strings, it's easy to do. Just tune your current (medium) strings down one full step, to F-C-G-D (high to low). Play on those a bit; see how they sound and feel. If you like it, and those strings are offered in solo gauge, that's roughly what your bass will play like with solo strings downtuned to E-A-D-G. Simple!



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The Fine Print:

The information contained herein is based on what's in my brain — and/or my observations and opinions from my personal experiences (and those of Bob, before me) — as of this moment today, and is subject to change. I'm sure that a great deal more information and detail could be added — but the intent of these writings is to present easily understood, quick FAQs, to address common questions and improve the reader's general knowledge.

What's written here is by no means any kind of authoritative absolute answer, for I am not the world's greatest authority on bass (not even close), or on much of anything else, for that matter. So, by all means, get a second opinion, and know that all the information provided here is for general informational purposes only. I am not providing professional advice; be aware that, where applicable, any information acted upon is at your own risk.

I simply and sincerely hope the information and opinions here are helpful to you on your quest for knowledge about the bass and related subjects... that's the point!

I welcome email with dissenting and additional viewpoints/information/updates that help improve my personal awareness and these content pages. If you have a question that you think belongs here, please let me know.
Mark