Bass String News… GHS Crossovers: A New Sonic Color for the NS Upright
New inventions and innovation usually stem from someone wanting to tackle an ordinary problem; one that many of us wouldn’t even think twice about. And yet there I was, sitting in a meeting with our sales rep and on the phone, Mark Gollihur of Gollihur Music, probably the greatest resource of information and products for the upright bass player. We were talking about the possibility of making an upright bass string, and Mark was providing us with a wealth of information. As we were winding the conversation to a close, I said quickly, “Hey Mark, what about another set of strings for the NS Design upright?”
For those of you that have one of these inspiring and amazing instruments, you already understand why I brought it up. There are only two versions of strings that are designed to fit the bass perfectly (and one of those comes standard on the bass). You have the option of using actual upright bass strings on the bass, which many people (myself included) opt to do. However, the price point for a set of upright bass strings may be prohibitive to many players, especially if you have a low B on your EUB.
Fast forward to now. GHS Strings is proud to announce the Crossovers, a set of strings designed for the NS Design NXT and CR series of Electric-Upright Basses. Nickel-Iron Alloy is wound over a round core wire and then micro-ground for a smooth, upright bass feel, yielding a string with a deep and focused fundamental tone, suitable for those needing both contemporary and traditional sounds. According to Gollihur (who we owe a great deal of thanks for his help in consulting as well as being a willing guinea pig when prototypes were ready), “It’s a new sonic color to add to the palette options for the bass. I find that it nicely cozies up between the two “NS Electric” options…”
But enough of that. How do they REALLY sound and feel?
Given that I was the one that opened his mouth (and that also has a CR5-M to put them on), I got to try these out in early November. Previously, I had a well-seasoned set of Thomastik Spirocore strings on the bass, and really liked the powerful tone of them but often found myself fighting with the strings during arco passages. Because the Crossovers are ground smooth, there is a little texture/tooth to them, but it quickly smooths out after a little bit of playing. The string itself has a good feel to it, that is looser in feel than the Spiros they replaced.
Tonally, they sounded very lively top end with a firm low end fundamental. As I played them more and more, that top end mellowed and smoothed out, while still retaining the definition. That low end fundamental expanded a little as the strings settled in as well. The pizz is strong and powerful, and I found with some careful EQing (and when you have the CR series, there are plenty of EQ options), the arco sounds from these strings worked well. I used a couple of different rosins during the demo phase, and I found that a less “grippy” rosin was the ticket to getting the strings to speak well. For me, the heavier, grippier rosins gave a very scratchy overtone at the beginning of the bowed note.
But don’t take my word for it; here’s what Bob Potsic (freelance theatre bassist in the Chicago, IL area) had to say about the prototype set he tried:
I strung my NS Design NXT with the Crossovers and instantly noticed improvement in sound and playability. The Crossovers provide a much deeper, warmer tone than the stock strings. They have a deeper thump when played pizzicato, that’s still very tight with a clean attack. They also sing beautifully when played arco; I found my bow grabbing the Crossovers easily, without as much whine as the stock strings. With the bridge raised, there’s no “mwah” sound like a fretless electric bass, which helps the NXT immensely to sound like a double bass with a pickup. The ground winding makes for an easy transition from electric bass strings while still providing an orchestral string tension. I highly recommend the GHS strings to anyone who owns an NXT.
The Crossovers from GHS Strings are an exciting addition to the NS Design NXT and CR series of Electric Upright Basses. Available from Gollihur Music and other dealers, we look forward to hearing what sounds and applications you use these for.