Obligato Upright Bass Strings
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Pirastro's popular Obligato strings have a solid synthetic core with a very thin metal wrap. They were designed to emulate gut strings, and they did a darn good job of creating such a string. Their attack is "old school" with that 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. If you want your sound to be "traditional", whether for bluegrass, old school jazz and blues, or other styles that calls for that sound, you will enjoy the Obligatos. I had a set on my Kay for quite a while, for my own bluegrass, jazz and blues gigs, and I really enjoyed them. (I had planned to put a set on it again, and only removed them as I needed my laminated bass for more modern jazz sounds , as my carved Juzek underwent repairs. I just like the articulation of the Corellis for that- my high frequency hearing is just going bad! ;-) I am enjoying the gut strings on it now; see below) 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! Not for use with magnetic pickups.
Pirastro does not list gauges on their packages, but I have taken the time to gauge all the strings using a digital caliper and present the following unofficial measurements of the standard 3/4 size Obligatos for your reference:
I haven't measured the new ¼ and ½ size Obligatos yet.
They offer them in 3/4 size, and ¼ and ½ sizes, too. All strings have red with black spiral thread at the tailpiece, and the following colors at the headstock:
- Extended E=green
- Low B=yellow
The color code ring at peg end for ½ size is yellow, and light blue for ¼ size.
What is the optional "bumped" set?
These strings are also available as a "bumped" set: A bumped set, simply, is a custom set of strings with SUPER-light tension.
It is traditionally created by substituting a string designed for a higher pitch for each string on your bass; commonly, this means using an A-string for the E, a D-string for the A, a G-string for the D, and a High C-string for the G. Thus, you're "bumping" each string down one position on your bass, but - and this is the key - you're still tuning it E-A-D-G.
When it comes to rockabilly bass playing, sometimes ease of play is paramount. Many players find that standard string sets are just way too stiff to play 3+ hours of non-stop slap bass on. Thus, a bumped set can be a happy medium between the extremes of higher-tension "real" upright bass strings, and the tonal compromise of putting weed-whacker line on your bass (no, seriously).
Unless you play Psychobilly or another "aggressive" style pretty much exclusively, you probably DON'T want a bumped set. For standard pizzicato or arco, it's quite unsatisfying. To get an idea of what it's like, detune your current strings from EADG to DGCF. That's what a bumped set will feel/sound like.
I put these on my '56 Kay and was immediately struck by just how deep and resonant the tone is. They are definitely dark - like to the point of being "muted" in some listeners' ears. I happen to prefer a warm, smoky tone and these deliver big time with pizz. Arco - wow. I felt like there were parts of the old doghouse that were resonating that I hadn't heard before. I'm primarily a pizz player so my bias is towards that end of the spectrum, but to have such a noticeable difference right away is rare in my experience. Great strings
I'm a jazz bassist and these strings were the best match for my bass! They sound incredible, round and punchy with just the right amount of growl, and they feel super nice on the fingers. Highly recommended!
I really wanted to like these - the feel is pretty unbeatable. Their sound .... mwah city. Not exactly my vibe. The feel alone gets these 4 stars.