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Strings for Double BassBass String Buyer's Guides

Strings: Some Choices for Arco (Bowing)

         Manufactured by: Gollihur Buyer's Guide

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Arco String Choices
A Special "Buyer's Guide" from Mark

There are lots of string choices out there; it can be tough to know what to choose if you primarily play in an orchestra using a bow. Which strings are better suited for bowing, and which are not? We've assembled a short list of some more popular choices for arco-style play (they all also can be played pizzicato as well!) so that you can see and compare several options on one page.

You can read the short descriptions here, and purchase the set of your choice directly from this page. You can also learn more about a specific set you're interested in by clicking its link in the "related items" section, below - this may also provide other options, like different gauges or solo-tuning sets, five-string or extended E-string options, and more.

The Choices:

  • D'Addario Helicore Orchestra: The Orchestra strings are very bowable, and are designed for less sustain, since orchestral players are not looking for the same level of sustain that a jazz pizzicato performer would want. They are quite easy under the bow, and an excellent budget-friendly choice for students and orchestra players alike!
    Low B String Available for this stringLow E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string

  • Velvet Blue: Velvet's Blue string is their first which doesn't feature a silk core - it's a synthetic, which lowers cost while retaining the Velvet sound and feel. It has great articulation, big volume, great sustain and equal tension on all four strings (approx 25g per string.) It features fast response and nice volume, with very good bowability.

  • Pirastro Obligato: Pirastro's popular Obligato strings have a solid synthetic core with a very thin metal wrap. They were designed to emulate gut strings, and their very smooth surface is kind to the fingers and they are a dream to bow. I am very fond of how well they emulate gut and the traditional bass sound, yet without mud or imprecision. They may look like metal strings, but they sure don't feel or sound like them-- the thin coating fools you!
    Low B String Available for this string High C String Available for this string Low E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string SOLO Gauge Strings Available for this string

  • Pirastro Evah Pirazzi: The Evah Pirazzi bass strings have a core made from a new synthetic fiber that Pirastro recently developed, wound with a polished chrome steel. Their sound is akin to Pirastro's popular Obligato strings, but they also have marked differences. They have less sustain than most metal-core strings; their arco response is warm and full. With their big sound, they can practically shake the room when you bow a low E -- very satisfying! They have plenty of "grab" for the bow and that "just right" tone for arco: full and complex, not scratchy at all. They're also a different feel from the Obligatos; they have a beefier tension, with less "roll" (a lateral twisting when you're playing, particularly pizz). However, most players report that the "tightness" or "stiffness" is reduced as the strings break in - sonically, they also seem to require some "break-in" to really start to bloom, and even begin to growl a bit better once you've been playing on them for a couple weeks. Also available in "Weich" (light) and Solo Tuning Sets.
    Low B String Available for this stringLow E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string SOLO Gauge Strings Available for this string Weich (light) Strings Available for this string

  • D'Addario Kaplan: The new (April 2012) Kaplan Strings have a big, warm response, plenty of dynamic range, and great bowability. They were created to provide a rich tone, variable dynamics, and excellent bowing response. They are clear, yet warm in their tonal color - regardless of what register you're playing in. The strings reportedly have a fast response, and a "soft" feel both under the left hand and under the bow - making them an "easier" playing string. Yet they have a great range of dynamics and sound - you can really get them projecting loudly, without having the note distort out of tune.
    Low E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string

  • Thomastik Belcanto: Thomastik has been making these "rope core" (a style of winding, not what they're made of!) strings for a couple of years. They were primarily designed for bowed work, so their bowed feel and quick response and soft feel is wonderful. Their tone is dark and warm with excellent resonance and a wide range of tone colors; they feature outstanding projection with moderate effort. But they also have a very musical, warm pizz sound with a very sweet sustain. Also available in Solo Gauge!
    Low B String Available for this stringLow E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string SOLO Gauge Strings Available for this string

  • Pirastro Passione: Pirastro has just recently (8/2010) released these new steel rope-core strings, which are tailor-made for orchestral players. Where they really shine is with big, projecting sound under the bow. Nice clarity, with a full, rich tone, and they're quite easy to bow. They are round and warm, and have a complex overtone spectrum which results in a deep sound with great projection and power. Notes are separate and distinctively clean when played in fast passages. No matter whether playing Spiccato or Legato, the sound can be altered as desired independently from the bowing speed. The big advantage of the Passione strings is that the sound does not need to be developed by using excess bow pressure as the strings vibrate freely and easily. Immediate playability and exceptional tuning stability make PASSIONE a modern and very reliable steel core string suitable for the demanding arco bassist.
    Low B String Available for this stringLow E String for extensions (to low C) Available for this string


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