Free Double Bass Strings Advice
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Double Bass Strings Comparison and Buyer’s Guide
Playing Style and String Choice | Student Strings | Orchestral Strings | Premium Orchestral Strings | Hybrid Strings | Jazz Strings | Rockabilly Strings | Glossary of String Terminology | String Sets vs Individual Strings | Links to String Manufacturers
Choosing the right double bass strings is a major decision in terms of the sound that your double bass will produce, as the vibration of the strings is then amplified by the body of the instrument. Here we present a guide to the different strings we offer based on playing style, cost and the intended user.
As an artist, the sound of your instrument is as much a personal choice as it is a choice based on the style of music and other factors. There is no substitute for personal experience and with the high cost of a set of double bass strings, we would recommend that you take any opportunities to try different strings (ask fellow musicians which they like and why, visit some music shops, search the internet for performance or demonstration videos) to help guide your choice. In reality, every double bass and every double bassist are different, so there can be no exact science to choosing the right strings.
To buy double bass strings visit our Double Bass Strings Category in our online shop.
Double Bass Playing Style
It is important to think carefully about your intended use for the strings, where you will be playing is as important as the style of music. The strings will sound different in a practice room compared to a music hall or open-air stage. Also if you use amplification when performing, then the signal level through the pick-up will also be a factor in your choice.
As the name suggests, orchestral strings are for bassists who play mainly classical music in an orchestra. These strings are designed to produce a good arco (bowed) tone, with a fast response. While they can be played pizzicato, they do not have the same sustain as a pizzicato specific string. The strings will be designed for the standard tuning (4ths) with a set of orchestral strings consisting of an E, A, D and G string.
Jazz / Blues / Rockabilly
Jazz strings are designed to be played pizzicato. They have a longer sustain but a slower response. This means that they do not work as well arco (bowed). Jazz strings tend to have a flexible core material to give a better feel when played pizzicato. The standard tuning for sets of jazz strings is the same as for orchestral strings.
Slap bass strings take Jazz strings to the extreme! They are designed to be played exclusively pizzicato and tend to be made with a nylon core to enable players to produce the distinctive click or clack sound easily. Due to the materials, the strings are made from sets of slap bass strings may be a much cheaper option but do not be tempted unless this is the only style of music you play. The other extreme is pure gut slap bass strings which are very expensive!
Some strings suit different basses better than others. The art is to match the strings to the bass so that the strings and double bass complement each other.
An Eastman VB502 Master Series double bass that we’ve set up with Pirastro Flexocor Deluxe strings. A great example of a dark sounding bass complemented by bright strings. This bass is for sale in our Double Basses for sale section
Student Double Bass Strings
|Thomastik Prazision Double Bass Strings||£37.67 – £148.80|
Thomastik Precision double bass strings or Präzision double bass strings, as they’re otherwise known, have a solid steel core and produce a beautiful sound with brilliance. They are very durable, have a long lifespan and present a budget solution for players in all fields.
|D'Addario Prelude Double Bass Strings||£24.91 – £109.00|
|Astrea Double Bass Strings|
:£25.30 – £99.00
Astrea double bass strings are a tried and tested bass string, they make great beginner, student strings. The E is plain steel, and the AD & G are all chrome wound and are medium tension strings. Astrea bass strings are an entry-level string at an affordable price. Ideal as a cheap upgrade from the standard factory fitted strings that a lot of double basses come with from new
Orchestral Double Bass Strings
|Perpetual Solo Double Bass Strings|
:£47.80 – £242.47
|Pirastro Permanent Double Bass Strings|
:£60.32 – £240.90
|Pirastro Flat Chromesteel Double Bass Strings||£66.52 – £310.56|
|Thomastik Dominant Double Bass Strings||£54.00 – £234.00|
Thomastik Dominant strings are a highly flexible, string with a multi-strand synthetic core and are chrome wound. They provide the tonal warmth and the feel of a gut string whilst not being affected by changes in humidity.
|Thomastik Superflexible Double Bass Strings|
:£34.25 – £191.40
The steel rope core of Thomastik Superflexible double bass strings reduces stiffness and improves elasticity. The strings offer excellent purity of open fifths. Their impressive durability and tuning stability make them very dependable all-around strings.
Superflexible double bass strings are available in orchestra tuning in 4/4, 3/4 and 1/2 sizes. A solo tuning set and individual strings are available in 4/4 size.
All Superflexible strings have a Steel rope core and have Chrome windings.
|Innovation Braided Double Bass Strings||£37.98 – £236.98|
Innovation Braided Orchestral Strings are particularly well suited for bowing, as they have a smooth chrome steel tape winding. But the core is braided nylon, which creates a more “old-timey” flavour to their pizzicato tone. So they would also work well for someone looking for a good bluegrass string.
They have a deep, dark tone, which takes a lot of the brashness out of bowing. And the tension is optimized for bowing as well, when they were designed, Innovation focused on the ease of sound production and articulation both for pizzicato and arco.
|Jargar Double Bass Strings|
:£33.37 – £153.13
|D'Addario Helicore Orchestral Double Bass Strings||£37.69 – £195.00|
Orchestral double bass strings are best suited to Arco (with the bow) playing. If you are playing only Arco or a mixture of Arco and Pizz (plucking) with arco playing most of the time, we would recommend orchestral strings.
For orchestral double bass strings, we would recommend Helicore Orchestral strings out of the options above. For premium orchestral strings, see the section below. Helicore Orchestral bass strings come in all sizes from 3/4 to 1/10 scale; they are a significant upgrade from Prelude strings. They work exceptionally well for the majority of double basses.
Premium Orchestral Double Bass Strings
|Pirastro Passione Double Bass Strings||£62.50 – £295.19|
|Pirastro Original Flat Chrome Double Bass Strings||£79.48 – £409.36|
|Pirastro Flexocor Double Bass Strings||£58.02 – £284.95|
|Pirastro Flexocor Deluxe Double Bass Strings|
:£67.09 – £253.75
|Pirastro Original Flexocor Double Bass Strings|
:£67.09 – £313.24
Pirastro Original Flexocor double bass strings are medium tension, orchestral tuning strings for 3/4 size basses and have the following key features:
|Pirastro Obligato Double Bass Strings||£52.40 – £225.97|
|Thomastik Belcanto Double Bass Strings|
:£49.25 – £272.24
|D'Addario Kaplan Double Bass Strings||£54.58 – £229.82|
Hybrid Double Bass Strings
|Pirastro Perpetual Double Bass Strings|
:£47.80 – £202.07
|Pirastro Eudoxa Double Bass Strings|
:£148.90 – £723.90
|Pirastro Oliv Double Bass Strings||£151.75 – £718.79|
|Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Double Bass Strings|
:£50.66 – £240.71
|Innovation Polychrome Hybrid Double Bass Strings||£37.99 – £199.99|
Created in 2017 as a way to combine Innovation’s signature pizzicato sound with more arco-friendly qualities, the Polychrome Hybrid set delivers on all fronts!
Polychromes have a great feel under the fingers; slightly soft with a little give. The pizzicato one is gut-like in its timbre, with a strong fundamental. They bow VERY nicely, with a big and warm sound that is not too harsh, with excellent volume.
For the player that is doing a lot of performing in various genres with different tonal needs for each one, the Innovation Polychrome Hybrids will fit the bill nicely!
|D'Addario Helicore Hybrid Double Bass Strings||£37.69 – £195.00|
|D'Addario Zyex Double Bass Strings||£47.70 – £260.56|
Double Bass Strings for Jazz
|Perpetual Solo Double Bass Strings|
:£47.80 – £242.47
|Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Slap Double Bass Strings|
:£51.06 – £347.56
|Pirastro Pizzicato Double Bass Strings||£128.59 – £625.00|
Out of stock
|Pirastro The Jazzer Double Bass Strings||£57.44 – £280.33|
|Pirastro Chorda Double Bass Strings|
:£115.94 – £647.70
|Thomastik Spirocore Double Bass Strings||£44.21 – £226.25|
|Innovation Honey Jazz Double Bass Strings||£37.98 – £236.62|
Unlike other Innovation Strings, the Innovation Honey Jazz uses a solid core with a chrome steel winding. This maintains the gut-like vibe of the other Innovation sets but with string tension and feel more akin to steel core strings.
Very responsive under a bow, the Honey Jazz strings have a slightly darker tone than comparable steel core strings. They are also known to have a great “jazz” pizzicato attack, that will growl a little bit when you dig in. Those looking for an “old school” jazz tone with easy access to arco need to look no further than our Honey Jazz.
|D'Addario Helicore Pizzicato Double Bass Strings||£42.91 – £195.00|
Double Bass Strings for Rockabilly
|Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Slap Double Bass Strings|
:£51.06 – £347.56
|Innovation Ultra Black Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
Known by their distinctive “ultra black” colour, Ultra Blacks work well for the player seeking a fuller, darker sounding string for traditional jazz and other styles. They have a darker tone, akin to gut strings, but with more snap and definition in pizzicato. The Ultra Blacks also respond easily under a bow.
Ultra Blacks fill the void between the traditional gut string sound and more modern steel strings. They have a solid fundamental with good sustain, suitable for nearly all pizzicato work, be it jazz, bluegrass, folk or traditional.
|Innovation Super Silver Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
Innovation Super Silvers have set the standard for synthetic double bass strings. Wound with a clear nylon tape over silvered copper windings (which give it their trademark silver hue), Super Silvers are for those players looking for a slightly higher tension set than the Innovation Silver Slaps.
Unlike their Rockabilly cousins, the Super Silver strings have a more organic, gut-like tone, that is round with a blunt attack and quick decay. These characteristics please the musician that is looking for the sound of gut strings but without the stability and durability concerns.
Favoured in rockabilly and bluegrass circles, Super Silver strings are suitable for any genre.
|Innovation Silver Slap Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
Wound with clear nylon tape over a silvered copper winding (giving them a silver hue) Innovation Silver Slaps are thick, low tension strings perfect for slapping.
Like their Super Silvers brethren, Silver Slap strings have a more organic, gut-like tone, that is round with a blunt attack and quick decay. These characteristics please the musician that is looking for the sound of gut strings but without the stability and durability concerns.
Favoured in rockabilly and bluegrass circles, Super Silver strings are suitable for any genre, or for the player looking for an “old school” tone at a low, easy playing tension.
|Innovation Rockabilly Reds Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
Make a statement without saying a word! The Rockabilly Reds are a medium tension, red nylon tape wound set, made to replace gut strings for slapping. Like the Rockabilly Blacks, they have a warmer, darker tone with a softer high end that produces a lot of volume. The synthetic core brings the sound and feel of gut strings, without the temperament and maintenance of them.
For those that don’t play slap-style bass, the Rockabilly Reds are also equally suited for jazz playing. Their pizzicato tone has great sustain and grown, without being too overbearing.
|Innovation Rockabilly Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
A mid-tension string, the Rockabilly Blacks were designed to replace gut strings for slapping. They have a warmer, darker tone but a softer high end that produces a lot of volume. The synthetic core makes these strings feel and sound like gut strings, but without the expense and maintenance of them!
For those that don’t play slap-style bass, the Rockabilly Blacks are also equally suited for jazz playing. Their pizzicato tone has great sustain and grown, without being too overbearing.
|Innovation Psycho Slap Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
Psychobilly players have a big sound, aggressive technique and blistering speed. It’s only fair that their strings do the same!
Innovation Psycho Slaps are larger diameter strings, with clear nylon winding. These are very easy to get a grip on and provide a very fat sound with good sustain, and that signature “click” of the slap. These strings want to be heard!
For those players playing in Jump Swing and Blues groups, they may find the larger tone and attack of the Psycho Slaps is a welcome addition!
|Innovation Golden Slap Double Bass Strings||£41.99 – £189.98|
If silver isn’t your style, look to the golden-hued beauty of Innovation Golden Slaps! Using a clear nylon tape wrapped around phosphor bronze windings, these low tension strings are great for slap style, or anyone looking for a low tension, easy to play set of double bass strings.
Unlike the Silver Slaps, the Golden Slaps have a more pronounced front end pizzicato attack. Added to the characteristic round tone and quick decay, the Golden Slaps mimic the sound (and traditional look!) of gut strings, without the maintenance and durability issues.
|Superior Bassworks Deluxe Double Bass Strings Red||£66.95|
Available on back-order
The Superior Bassworks Deluxe double bass strings are the perfect strings for Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Psychobilly, Country/Western, and more!
|Superior Bassworks Standard Double Bass Strings Gut Colour||£51.95|
Superior Bassworks Standard gut colour double bass strings are perfect for Rockabilly and Slap bass playing.
|Superior Bassworks Standard Double Bass Strings Red||£51.95|
Superior Bassworks Standard red colour double bass strings are perfect for Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Bluegrass and Slap bass playing.
|Superior Bassworks Standard Double Bass Strings Black||£51.95|
Superior Bassworks Standard black colour double bass strings are perfect for Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Bluegrass and Slap bass playing.
|Superior Bassworks GripMax Double Bass Strings Gut Colour||£66.95|
Out of stock
Superior Bassworks GripMax double bass strings are the perfect strings for Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Psychobilly, Country/Western, and more.
|Superior Bassworks Deluxe Double Bass Strings Gut Colour||£66.95|
Superior Bassworks Deluxe double bass strings are the perfect strings for Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Psychobilly, Country/Western, and more!
String Sets vs Individual Strings
Buying a set of strings has many advantages, most noticeably the lower cost compared to the individual strings and the fact that the strings are designed to be used together. This means that they will produce an even tone and response across the whole range of the instrument. They will also give you a consistent feel when playing the instrument. If a string breaks, even replacing it with an identical brand new string, it will not sound the same as the old string as the string properties change as they age. If well cared for and used properly then string breaks are a rare occurrence. Some players may choose to mix different types, brands or construction of strings to further refine the sound of their instrument, however, this is not something we would particularly recommend unless you are sure of your requirements.
While a professional player may choose to change the strings on their instrument every 1-2 years to maintain a particular sound, for a student or amateur player there is no reason why a set of strings should not last long. The main reason for changing strings is damage to the winding of the string or poor sound quality. The winding of the string most often becomes damaged over the bridge or at the fingerboard top nut and is clearly visible. The coloured silks at each end of the string are for identification purposes only and if they unwind then this does not affect the sound of the string but it may look untidy.
Glossary of Terms Related to Double Bass Strings
Arco: Played with the bow.
C Extension: The C extension string, also referred to as an extension E string, is designed for use with a 4 string double bass fitted with a C extension. This is an extra section of fingerboard mounted in front of the machine heads up to the top of the scroll. As such the C extension string is a longer string designed to fit the additional length of the extra fingerboard.
Construction of the string: Double bass strings are made with a length of core material which is then over-wound with another material, usually a flat metal wire.
Core material: Originally all strings were made of pure gut, though gut strings have poor tuning stability and the diameter needed to make the lower strings meant they were almost unplayable. The development of metal wound strings meant that the string diameter could be reduced improving the playability of strings. The core material for most common double bass strings will be either gut, nylon (synthetic) or steel wire.
- Gut Expensive, Poor tuning stability, Classical/Baroque sound, Better for “Slap Sound”
- Nylon Inexpensive, Good tuning stability, much cheaper replacement for gut core
- Steel Mid-Cost, Good tuning stability, Modern playing style, Better arco volume
The core material is generally a solid piece of material, some strings may use a multistrand material to make the string more flexible which generally suits the jazz playing style.
Hybrid: Is a term used to describe strings that are designed to be a compromise between the extremes of orchestral strings (arco) and pizzicato strings. They are a bit less bow-able than orchestral strings but have more sustain when playing pizzicato. This makes them an all-around performer for players who want to play a bit of everything!
Low B or B5 String: Designed for use on a five-string double bass the Low B or B5 string is the extra 5th string which is tuned to the B below the E4 string on a standard 4 string bass.
Orchestra Tuning: The standard E, A, D, G tuning for double bass strings.
Pizzicato: Played by plucking the strings
Scale Length or Size: The scale length refers to the size of the instrument that the strings are made for. It is important that you match the string size to your instrument size. The string length, string mass and string tension are all related by physics, if the string length is not correct then the string tension will not be correct either. This will lead to a poor playing experience, difficulty tuning the instrument or the worst-case scenario: strings snapping due to over tension.
Solo Tuning: Many sets of strings will be available in a solo tuning variation. This raises the pitch of the strings to F#, B, E, A. It is used by players performing double bass solo works and enables you to play high notes in a more accessible position on the double bass fingerboard.
Tension or Gauge: Many strings are available in Low, Medium or High tension variations. This is a guide only as the string tension will vary depending on the construction materials used and between brands and string manufacturers. If you are a beginner or have never thought about string tension then medium tension will be the right choice. A high tension string will offer higher volume levels but will be more difficult to stop on the fingerboard. Conversely, a low tension string will be softer in tone but easier to stop on the fingerboard. Some manufacturers use other terms for string gauge or tension as shown here:
Low: Weak / Weich / Soft / Dolce
Medium: Mittel / Regular
High: Heavy / Stark / Forte
Tuning in 5ths: Some players prefer to tune their bass in 5ths as it offers a wider range of pitch from a standard 4 string bass. The bass strings are tuned to the same notes as a cello (Low C, G, D, A High) but an octave lower. It gives a low C without the need for an extension or fifth string and is also popular with Jazz performers as the major tenth is easier to play. This requires a set of strings specifically produced to be tuned in 5ths.
Winding material: The winding material is used to add mass to the string, this slows down the vibration to produce lower pitch notes. Most strings are wound with a metal tape made from steel, chrome steel (or other steel alloys), nickel or silver. The winding material used can affect the diameter of the string. The cost of the string is affected by the metal used with nickel or steel being the cheapest and silver or exotic steel alloys being more expensive.
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Links to String Manufacturers
We stock Double Bass strings from the following manufacturers.