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Strings for Double BassBass String Buyer's Guides

Strings: Choices for NS Design NXT and WAV4 Basses

         Manufactured by: Gollihur Buyer's Guide

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NXT and WAV4 Bass String Choices
A Special "Buyer's Guide" from Mark

So, you're looking for strings for your NXT or WAV4 Bass... but you don't know which strings should you get for it? Well, it depends on what you're looking for out of the bass; do you want it to sound as "authentically upright" as possible, or are you embracing the "crossover" nature of the bass?

One other thing that might help improve your sound - NS Design sets up the WAV4 and NXT basses with VERY low action. Too low, in my humble opinion. (It probably helps to make the bass ultra-playable when bassists jam on the floor model at their local guitar superstore.) To get that big, warm URB sound, the strings need enough clearance to be plucked with real vigor, with the meaty side of your finger (not with the tips, electric-bass style). And the strings need enough room to "bloom" without vibrating against the fingerboard. I raised the action a little on my WAV, and that alone improved its sound quite a bit, because I could play it more like a real Upright Bass.
By and large, most people seem to be looking for the NXT/WAV4 to be a "fill-in" for their less-portable "real" upright bass. Some wish to use the NXT or WAV4 as a first foray into the world of URB, and want the experience to be as authentic as possible. With that in mind, here's my philosophy on the subject (and feel free to disagree): The best any Electric Upright Bass could hope to achieve: sounding like a double bass with a pickup on it. Because, let's face it - the EUB is always being played through an amp. Since the NS basses are tightly-constructed solid-body instruments, their habits lean towards a more electric sounding bass (more sustain, more string detail, that sort of thing.) In my experience, using strings which pull the tone towards a more "old school" upright sound (decreased sustain, a more blunt attack to notes, almost a gut string-like vibe) will counter-balance the electric leanings of the bass.

Two specific string sets which I have personally tried -- and found success with -- are the Pirastro Obligatos and the Helicore Orchestra strings. Both have a darker, less defined tone which sounds great on the NS Design Basses; and both strings fit the bass-guitar-sized tuning machines on the bass. I have the Helicores on my personal WAV4 bass and like them quite a bit; I've strung up several customer's basses with the Obligatos. More on both of those choices, below.

We also carry the NS-Electric strings by D'Addario, which are the stock strings on the upper-tier NS Design basses. They're available in a couple different configurations, and their differences are also briefly detailed below. Finally, we also carry the stock WAV4 strings - and just because they're cheap doesn't mean you shouldn't like them, lots of players do!

Several of the string options here have 5-string sets available; click the "related items" links at the bottom of the page to access the full list of string set options if your desired set isn't in the "add to cart" drop menu on this page (if you're considering restringing your bass with a High C, for instance).

The Choices:
  • GHS Crossovers: This new (April 2014) entry from GHS provides a great new option; a little brighter, not as traditional in sound, for that "Crossover" vibe. They were aiming for a bowable, yet more modern sounding string set; sort of a "Spirocore" for the NS Basses. Plenty of low-end girth, with more definition than the more Traditional-sounding strings. Low B String Available for this string
  • Pirastro Obligato: These strings have a solid synthetic core with a very thin metal wrap. They were designed to emulate gut strings, so their attack is "old school" with a more blunt and thicker, warmer hit, with a little less sustain than more modern jazz strings. Their very smooth surface is kind to the fingers and they are a dream to bow. Lots of WAV4 and NXT players have used these strings with success, and we've installed them onto several basses ourselves. Low B String Available for this string High C String Available for this string
  • D'Addario Helicore Orchestra: Billed as being for the player who primarily plays arco (with a bow), and they are great for that - Pizzicato (plucked), they have a warm, full, fundamental tone. Since they are more "muted" than many other metal-based strings, they are not brash or bright, which balances nicely with the NXT or WAV4. And they're affordable! These are the strings that are on Mark's own WAV4 Bass. Low B String Available for this string
  • NS Electric Contemporary NSFW610: D'Addario's NS Helicore Contemporary Double Bass set produces a brighter sound, and features a lower tension feel. They are identical to the stock strings now supplied on the NS Design CR-M and NXT basses. They were formerly sold as the "NSFL-Flatwound Light" set and have recently undergone a packaging and name change. More modern, perhaps even a little "zingy" - for those who prefer a more "electric bass" kind of tone and feel with lots of "mwah" and "growl." Low B String Available for this string High C String Available for this string
  • NS Electric Traditional NS610: The Traditional Double Bass set is constructed and tensioned similarly to acoustic bass strings, for a warm tone, feel, and great bowed response. They are essentially similar to the Helicore upright bass strings, but sized for the NS EUB's. These were formerly sold as the "NS.Helicore" string set, and have recently undergone a packaging and name change. If you're looking for a more traditional vibe, but don't want to wrap extended length strings around the bottom of the bass, this is probably your best bet. Low B String Available for this string High C String Available for this string
  • Hipshot Ultralite Tuning Machines:: Okay, I know these aren't strings, but while you're there, you might want to consider this worthwhile upgrade. The Hipshots are an easy replacement (I have them on my WAV4), and make tuning a lot more accurate and easy - no slippage. And they are much more confidence-inspiring; they have a more solid feel that never makes you feel like the tuner might break or fail, even with the low E string. Worth checking out!
Obviously, strings and tone are very subjective, but I hope this little guide provides a little insight to help you along.


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Some of our customers have told us what they think about this product.
Check out what they had to say!
Heya Mark,

Thank you so much! Your advice has really made a huge difference in the sound and feel of my NXT. I'm really *really* pleased with the Helicore Orchestrals which have been on the bass for almost a week now.The "how to" instructional sheet saved me some headaches as well.

Y'all are awesome. Have a great day!
Luke S (March 2011)