Strings: Choices for Jazz Bassists
So, you're looking for strings for Jazz? The first question then becomes: WHICH jazz? Some bassists play the more modern style of jazz, which emphasizes string sounds and clarity, and they favor a sound with longer sustain and lots of fingerboard interaction (we affectionately call this "growl.")
But then, there are also styles like New Orleans jazz, or old-timey jazz, where the bassist craves that bigger and thicker style bass -- but still needs decent string definition. It's important to know what you're aiming for before you start.
You can read the short descriptions here, and link to more information and buying options for the set of your choice directly from this page.
We like these strings (and use them ourselves) for their versatility and articulate sound. These are not your Daddy's doghouse bass string... unlike the more typical and earlier string types, these have an edge to their attack, rather than the traditional blunter attack. Physically, they are thinner in gauge when compared to other strings, and I also find them to be more flexible and less stiff. They are versatile and articulate, with a distinct edge to their attack. They lean towards a more modern sound, and while a little bright at first, they settle in after a few hours of play. Side benefit: they bow well!
These strings have the most sustain and growl in the Helicore family. They have a satisfyingly "big" sound, with lots of definition and enhanced sustain, so they work well for modern jazz players. Frankly, many players feel that Helicore Pizz strings are essentially D'Addario's "take" on one the most popular steel strings favored by many players (also on this list). And the price is right!
These strings are a favorite of jazz bassist Ron Carter, and are pretty popular for that reason (and others). They are metal rope core strings, surrounded by a black nylon wrap, for a smooth feel. They were originally designed to emulate gut, but thanks to their metal-based core, they have a bit more of the feel of steel strings. The bottom end is good and solid, and they work well for the jazz bassist who isn't looking for the "full twang" of some of the metal string choices - but likes the solid feel of those strings. They also make a version in white/clear tape that has a mild increase in overall brightness.
Here's one for "old skool" jazz - Innovation Double Bass Strings are designed to provide a gut-like tone, but hold their pitch well in climate and temperature changes. These strings are named for their distinctive "Ultra Black" colored nylon tape used for the outer winding. They have a darker tone, like most gut strings, but have the advantage of being a bit more distinct than gut. They offer a less "twangy" alternative to other popular jazz strings. The flexibility of the core (a nylon wound in a "rope" pattern) allows you to really "dig in" without having the string excessively modulate out of tune. Yet the outer wrapping has a hard enough surface to get a nice "growl" from fingerboard interaction, if that's what you're looking for.
The Evah Pirazzi use a braided synthetic core, wrapped in a smooth metal tape, to create a very nice crossover string. It has much of the warm, thumpy flavor of a gut or synthetic string, but a special innovation used during the winding process creates a rigidity in the string that gives it a punchier pizz attack - what we call the "ping" at the front of the note. It provides a clearer pitch when plucked, and helps you not get "lost in the sauce" of a larger ensemble, while still not having an overly brash or strident tone. They bow great, too!
This one's a Solid Core string, unlike the braided core of the other Innovation sets, with a Chrome Tape winding. This maintains the Gut-like vibe of the other Innovation sets but with a string tension and feel more like steel strings; most notably, they can have a slightly stiffer feel under the plucking hand. A good string for older styles of jazz, they have a nice attack - and can even growl a bit if you push 'em! But they mostly have an "older-school" tone, often compared to that of wound gut strings, but with the less "floppy" feel you get with steel strings.
These strings were released in 2019 and immediately became a hit with players worldwide; they achieve that "broken-in" sound and feel almost immediately, and have a tone that suits a wide variety of styles very well. They do pizzicato (plucking) and arco (bowing) equally well, so they can really be a great, versatile choice. But they capture the vibe of another well-loved staple string of jazzers, and don't have a break-in period to really settle into their sound like those popular strings often do.
Spiros are a longtime favorite for jazz and other genres, and they have been a popular string (regardless of style) for many years. They have great sustain and a great big sound; good for many styles, but they remain a jazz favorite. You'll also find them on lots of general use basses, for bluegrass, blues, and other styles where that big sound and sustain are prized. We carry the standard "Medium" Spirocores, as well as the Weich, or light weight gauge, which are more flexible and lighter.