Spirocore Upright Bass Strings
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Spiros are an old favorite for jazz and other genres and has been a popular string for many years. They were one of the first decent metal strings to be adopted by strictly gut string players-- in fact, lots and lots of us played G & D guts and A & E Spirocores, since the larger gut strings of the mid-20th century still were too indefinite and flabby for good jazz articulation.
They have great sustain and a big sound good for many styles, but 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. While they are certainly used by many fine arco players, they have a reputation for a scratchy sort of response under the bow -- and their stiffness requires an attention to proper technique. So if you bow a lot, and not strictly acoustically (scratchiness is particularly obvious when amplified), consider that reputation. I have used them sucessfully with magnetic pickups.
We carry the standard "Medium" Spirocores, as well as the Weich, or light weight gauge, which are more flexible and lighter. The modern string packages say "Orchestra," which refers to conventional orchestra tuning. We also carry the "Red Mitchell" Signature set, which is a set for tuning in 5ths, which is favored by some players.
Trying to replace the Spirocore strings you already have? Spirocore Medium (Regular Gauge) have RED windings at both the tuner end and ball end of the string - while the Weich (light) gauge strings have a PURPLE winding at the tuner end and RED winding at the ball end.
In any case, before the internet made it practical to have large quantities of strings on hand, many local violin shops would usually stock just a couple of sets of upright bass strings. Since they were expensive, and rarely sold, it made sense to minimize stock by keeping only the best sellers on hand – or, focusing on the variants that would suit the largest possible clientele. Since Thomastik made both ¾ and 4/4 Spirocore sets, but other manufacturers had sets that would work on both sizes, many string shops would prudently only stock the 4/4 (S42) sets, selling them to bassists who came in looking for a set for their bass, regardless of whether they had a ¾ or 4/4 size bass. Most players, to this day, don't even know there are two different sets, and if you walk into a string shop and get a set of Spiros, I'd venture that – 9 times out of 10 – you're going to leave with a set of S42. As a result, the S42 set has become the ubiquitous Spirocore set.TL;DR: So, in summary, the most popular sets are the S42 variant; they are designed to be used on 3/4 and 4/4 size basses. If you have Spiros on your bass, chances are very good that they are the S42/S42W set. However, Thomastik also makes a 3/4 specific set, designated the 3885, which is very specifically sized and designed for optimal tension on a 3/4 size bass. There is a slight tension difference between S42 (4/4) and 3885 (3/4) size on a ¾ size bass, with the S42 being slightly lighter.
Don't know which one to get? Probably, you'll want to get the S42 variant -- they are, far and away, the most popular (and what you'll end up with if you buy from a store that doesn't specify). Only very particular players bother with the 3885, as the difference is quite minimal to most of us.
Medium S42 (Mittel)
I started using these strings on my 1951 Kay C-1 upright bass in 2014, and I love them! I’ve been playing upright bass(bluegrass, Celtic, old-time, country)for 25+ years, and they’ve worked better for me than any other strings I’ve tried. I use the medium gauge because I tend to be a little more heavy-handed with my playing than most bass players. Also, my experience with Gollihur Music has been nothing but positive.
I was experiencing some hand issues and was looking for a lower-tension string. These have exceeded my expectations -- not only are they much easier on my hands, they sound fantastic, and my bass (a late '80s German laminate bass acquired on Craig's List...) really came alive with these strings. I thought about buying less expensive strings, but I'm glad I went with the real deal. You can't go wrong with Spirocore!
I'm primarily a classical player (how did I end up on the Spirocore page?!) who was looking for a beefier low end on my bass with the bow. I had been using Passione strings on my bass and did not find that they offered an even "growl" all the way down the range. So I took a gamble and picked up the extended E Spirocore Mittel. I have no problems playing it with the bow and the bass just RINGS. I can now sound like multiple people in a section when playing in that range! I think I may go with the classic Belcanto G&D + Spirocore A&E combo next time I get strings. Note: Spirocores are very bright, so I would not get these if your bass is already bright with something like the Passiones, Original Flexocors, or Belcantos.
I use the Spiro string for both Orchestral and Jazz! Yeah that sounds a little off the charts but here’s why. This is a very bright sounding string that really has a mean sounding growl when bowed (arco). Bow friendly it is not, however with a little practice and patience and a little more rosin it is deep sounding. As far as playing pizz, Spiros speak for themselves. Awesome old school Jazz twang and sustain which makes a great vibrato. It a little rough at first but give it a few weeks or so and you are golden. Hope that helps.
I use these for blues. I love the growl and sustain. And as they age they respond better to the bow than when new.