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The Best in Double Bass Strings by Maureen Pandos

The Best in Double Bass Strings by Maureen Pandos… Wow, bass strings…  I could talk to you about them until I’m blue in the face.  There are so many to choose from and, unfortunately, they’re not so “budget friendly” for most of us.  This is where (I hope) my experience as a Luthier, who specializes in double bass will come in handy.

I’m going to start by separating this into a few sub-categories.

#1.  Best strings for the money.

In my personal opinion, D’Addario makes the best strings for the money.  Their Helicore series is exceptional.  I personally recommend the Helicore Orchestral for my classical students and clients, and probably recommend the Helicore Hybrid’s most to clients who play an array of musical styles.  Also, check out the synthetic gut Zyex strings. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from customers.  Generally, all their strings are reliable and consistent.  They warm up well without an awful amount of “break in” time and sound pretty darn good under the bow or pizz.

#2.    Most versatile set.

Hands down, Tomastik Spirocores.  Initially marketed as an Orchestral string, the Spirocores have transgressed all genres.  They are specifically popular among jazz musicians because of the deep growl they possess.  They can be a little bit aggressive for the beginner bassist, but once you get used to their beefiness, you won’t be disappointed!  Also, this string has the longest life of any string I’ve ever used;  they just won’t die!

#3.   Best Orchestral set.

Pirastro Obligatos or Permantents depending on whether you want darker (Obligatos) or brighter (Permanents).  Both are a helluva string and you won’t be let down by Pirasto’s products.  Pirastro is an older company that has been making strings for a long time (over 200 years!)  So, in other words, they know what they’re doing.

#4.  Best jazz set.

Spirocores.  Thanks for playing.

#5.   Best solo set.

Tomastik Dominants or the Helicore Solo series.  The Dominants are a bit more rigid but have a wonderful upfront, but song-like quality.  The Helicores are a bit more friendly under the left hand and also have a beautiful solo voice. 

#6.   Best Bluegrass/Country set.

I’d have to go with the Helicore Hybrids.  Very versatile and user friendly.  Great under the bow, amp, and finger (pizz). 

#7.   Best Slapping set.

LaBella Supernils take the cake on this one.  If you’re into Rock-a-billy and/or all it’s sub-genres, this is the string for you.  Nylon wound and beer/sweat proof, this string slaps like no other.  Plus, it’s reasonably priced so go for it!  Slap the heck out of those things!

#8.   Best gut-like set.

I’m a pretty big fan of the Velvet Compas strings.  They are warm and user friendly and sound fantastic with very little “break in” period.  Very gut-like. 

#9.  Best gut set.

Handmade strings by Damien Dlugolecki.  They’re not cheap, but they’re worth it.

#10.   My personal favorite set.

Pirastro Original Flat Chromes because that’s what my teacher Homer Mensch loved and I listened to him without question.

#11.   My secret personal favorite set.   

Jargars.  Known more for their cello strings, the Jargers are clean and bright and don’t compromise darkness for a good, straight forward sound.  Give them a try, let me know what you think….

Thanks for reading!  Now get practicing!

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Bass String Favorites - Bass Musician Magazine Writers and Readers Share Their Top Choices | Bass Musician

  2. Nolan

    December 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I would like to know your opinion on a pick up system. I’m very new to upright and this post was very helpful. I’ve been looking at the Fishman BP100 FYI.

  3. Jonathan Moody

    Jonathan Moody

    December 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I love the fact that you mentioned that you listened to your instructor without question. That’s how I initially got my set of D’Addario Helicore Orchestrals, and they lasted quite a long time (in fact, I bequeathed them to a friend who just got an NS NXT electric upright and hated the OEM strings those come with).

  4. Bill

    September 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Maureen, would you please recommend the best strings for a ten year old child? We just acquired a 1/4 bass, and the action is horrible. Once I get that taken care of, I would like to find a very comfortable set of strings for her small fingers. Thank you!

  5. John

    December 3, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Thank you. Clear and concise. I just inherited a double bass from my dad. He played bluegrass in a band for many years and has some mixed no-name rubbery strings on it from the ’90s. I want to learn the bass so I can play it in church but will be trying to play both with and without a bow. I will get a set of Helicore, thanks to your clear advice. Thanks again!

  6. Allan Tuttle

    January 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Yes I would also like to know your opinion on a pick up system.

  7. Frederick Weiss

    February 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I had a very positive experience using a Jargar extension low “C.” This led me to try a set of their medium gage
    strings. They were by far, the worst strings I’ve ever purchased, dead sounding, each string with a different tone quality (sounded like 4 different brands of strings). Stay away from these and save your money!

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