Double Bass Strings Comparison and Buyer’s Guide

//Double Bass Strings Comparison and Buyer’s Guide
Double Bass Strings Comparison and Buyer’s Guide 2017-03-22T22:20:26+00:00

Introduction

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.

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.

Orchestral

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

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.

Eastman VB502 Master Series Strung with Pirastro Flexocor Deluxe

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

Orchestral Double Bass Strings

ImageNamePriceStockDescriptionFeatures
D'Addario Prelude Double Bass StringsD'Addario Prelude Double Bass Strings£19.06£77.28

In stock

D’Addario Prelude double bass strings produce a warm tone with good bow response. They are very easy to play, especially for younger, developing players.

Multi-strand Steel Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension15.88
Astrea Double Bass StringsAstrea Double Bass Strings£24.19£61.98

In stock

Astrea double bass strings are a great upgrade from the factory fitted double bass strings that a lot of basses come with as new. Available as a complete set or individual strings.

Steel Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension20.16
Jargar Double Bass StringsJargar Double Bass Strings£28.90£123.60

In stock

Jargar double bass strings produce a big, well-balanced, warm tone. They have great projection and a very even, similar sound in every position. Harmonics are easily achieved and the tuning stability of these strings is excellent. The Dolce version of these strings can be tuned up for solo playing.

Steel Core, Alloy Wound, Low/Medium/High Tension24.08
D'Addario Helicore Orchestral Double Bass StringsD'Addario Helicore Orchestral Double Bass Strings£29.74£129.95

In stock

Helicore Orchestral double bass strings produce a warm tone quality with excellent bow response. Easy to play under the left hand and optimised for arco.

Multi-strand Steel Core, Nickel Wound, Low/Medium/High Tension24.78
Thomastik Precision Double Bass StringsThomastik Precision Double Bass Strings£33.24£126.00

In stock

Thomastik Precision double bass strings are very durable, have a long lifespan and present a great budget solution for players across the board.

Steel Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension27.7
Pirastro Chromcor Double Bass StringsPirastro Chromcor Double Bass Strings£39.00£162.00

In stock

Bright sounding bass strings with a quick bow response and excellent tuning stability and a short playing in period. Available in 3/4 and 1/4 sizes.

Steel Core, Stainless Steel Wound, Medium Tension32.5
D'Addario Kaplan Double Bass StringsD'Addario Kaplan Double Bass Strings£40.09£324.00

In stock

Aimed at orchestral bassists D’Addario Kaplan double bass strings have a great response under the bow and offer a rich tonal sound and clarity.

Multi-stand Steel Core, Titanium, Nickel or Tungsten Wound, Medium Tension33.41
Thomastik Belcanto Double Bass StringsThomastik Belcanto Double Bass Strings£45.49£189.00

In stock

Predominantly an arco double bass string with a natural pizzicato sound, Thomastik Belcanto double bass strings are favoured by many orchestral bassists. Available in standard orchestral and solo tuning as complete sets or single strings.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension37.91
Thomastik Dominant Double Bass StringsThomastik Dominant Double Bass Strings£52.90£184.99

In stock

Thomastik Dominant double bass strings provide the tonal warmth and the feel of a gut string whilst not being affected by changes in humidity.

Muti-strand Synthetic Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension44.08

Premium Orchestral Double Bass Strings

ImageNamePriceStockDescriptionFeatures
Pirastro Obligato Double Bass StringsPirastro Obligato Double Bass Strings£37.82£231.17

In stock

Pirastro Obligato double bass strings have a bright, brilliant and focused sound, and a growly tone which is especially true for the E-string They have a very quick response and are suitable for arco and pizzicato playing. Exceptional well-balanced set of strings, completely impervious to changes in temperature and humidity.

Synthetic Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option31.52
Pirastro Flexocor Double Bass StringsPirastro Flexocor Double Bass Strings£41.76£192.96

In stock

Available in sizes 3/4,1/2,1/4,1/8,1/10 and 1/16 we sell them in sets or as single strings. Pirastro’s Flexocors are predominantly an arco string made on a steel rope core.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium/High Tension, Solo Tuning Option34.8
Pirastro Permanent Double Bass StringsPirastro Permanent Double Bass Strings£43.34£194.83

In stock

Pirastro Permanent double bass strings are perfect for solo and arco playing. Their carbon steel rope core gives them excellent tuning stability, a quick response and great projection.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option36.12
Pirastro Passione Double Bass StringsPirastro Passione Double Bass Strings£44.72£199.75

In stock

Pirastro Passione double bass strings have great projection with a big tone and powerful volume, these strings are especially suited for arco playing. Their response is instantaneous and very flexible, with a clear distinction between the notes in fast passages.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium/High Tension, Solo Tuning Option37.27
Pirastro Flat Chromesteel Double Bass StringsPirastro Flat Chromesteel Double Bass Strings£45.77£202.55

In stock

Pirastro Flat Chromesteel double bass strings are a rope core medium tension string that is suited to arco and solo bass playing. Their sound is brilliant and clear and they have a quick response under the bow.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option38.14
Pirastro Flexocor Deluxe Double Bass StringsPirastro Flexocor Deluxe Double Bass Strings£47.87£205.49

In stock

Pirastro Flexocor Deluxe double bass strings have a great wealth of tonal colours whether it be a brilliant and bright or a dark and big sound.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option39.89
Pirastro Original Flat Chrome Double Bass StringsPirastro Original Flat Chrome Double Bass Strings£51.49£247.98

In stock

Pirastro Original Flat Chrome double bass strings are especially suited to arco playing producing a very brilliant sound with a short sustain.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option42.91
Pirastro Original Flexocor Double Bass StringsPirastro Original Flexocor Double Bass Strings£53.72£253.45

In stock

Pirastro Original Flexocor double bass strings are medium tension, orchestral tuning strings for 3/4 size basses. They have a brilliant sound, short sustain and a quick response.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension44.77

Hybrid Double Bass Strings

ImageNamePriceStockDescriptionFeatures
Thomastik SuperFlexible Double Bass StringsThomastik SuperFlexible Double Bass Strings£33.94£157.34

In stock

The steel rope core of Thomastik Superflexible double bass strings reduces stiffness and improves elasticity. The strings offer an excellent purity of open fifths. Their impressive durability and tuning stability make them very dependable all-around strings.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension28.28
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Double Bass StringsPirastro Evah Pirazzi Double Bass Strings£35.50£199.20

In stock

Sets and single Pirastro Evah Pirazzi double bass strings to suit 4/4 & 3/4 double basses with Weich and Mittel Variants, also in solo and orchestral tuning.

Multi-strand Synthetic Core, Chrome Wound, Low/Medium Tension, Solo Tuning Option29.58
D'Addario Zyex Double Bass StringsD'Addario Zyex Double Bass Strings£39.68£159.42

In stock

D’Addario Zyex double bass strings have a special synthetic core which gives them gut-like rich and warm sound without the tuning stability problems of gut strings.

Zyex Synthetic Core, Titanium, Nickel or Tungsten Wound, Low/Medium Tension33.07
Pirastro Oliv Double Bass StringsPirastro Oliv Double Bass Strings£102.11£483.55

In stock

Pirastro Oliv double bass strings are finely wound and polished, handmade gut strings, suitable for arco and pizzicato. They have a dark and powerful sound.

Gut Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension85.09
D'Addario Helicore Hybrid Double Bass StringsD'Addario Helicore Hybrid Double Bass Strings£129.95

In stock

D’Addario Helicore Hybrid double bass strings give a good balance between arco response and pizzicato sustain. Making them a great all-round bass string.

Multi-strand Steel Core, Nickel Wound, Low/Medium/High Tension108.29

Double Bass Strings for Jazz

ImageNamePriceStockDescriptionFeatures
Pirastro Jazzer Double Bass StringsPirastro Jazzer Double Bass Strings£41.26£189.71

In stock

Pirastro Jazzer double bass strings are a modern jazz string, which can also be bowed. The Jazzers have a very quick response and a bright, powerful sound with a long sustain.

Steel Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension34.38
Thomastik Spirocore Double Bass StringsThomastik Spirocore Double Bass Strings£43.10£195.70

In stock

Thomastik Spirocore double bass strings are absolutely great pizzicato strings, used and loved by great jazz bassists all over the world. We stock them in solo and orchestra tuning with different tensions also available.

Multi-wire Spiral Rope Core, Chrome Wound, Low/Medium/High Tension, Solo Tuning Option35.92
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Slap Double Bass StringsPirastro Evah Pirazzi Slap Double Bass Strings£49.07£227.99

In stock

Designed for Rockabilly and Slap bass players. The set of strings is plain gut G and D strings and synthetic chrome wound A and E strings. They project very well and have a dark, rich tone making them ideal for slap and some styles of pizzicato playing.

Plain Gut or Synthetic Core, Chrome Wound, Medium Tension40.89
Pirastro Chorda - Gut Double Bass StringsPirastro Chorda - Gut Double Bass Strings£83.94£487.61

In stock

Pirastro Chorda double bass strings are recommended for Baroque bass players and especially suited for pizzicato playing. The G and D strings are just plain gut with the A and E strings being silver wound.

Plain Gut or Gut Core, Silver Wound, Medium Tension69.95
Pirastro Eudoxa Gut Double Bass StringsPirastro Eudoxa Gut Double Bass Strings£109.00£545.48

In stock

Eudoxa double bass strings are handmade with a gut core, then wound with silver and finely polished. Euxoda Bass make great pizzicato strings for jazz with a brilliant tone and a long sustain.

Gut Core, Silver Wound, Medium Tension90.83
Pirastro Pizzicato Double Bass StringsPirastro Pizzicato Double Bass Strings£124.99£625.00

In stock

Designed especially for pizzicato playing, Pirastro’s Pizzicato sound is bright and growly. They have a low string tension and a long sustain.

Gut Core, Silver Wound, Low Tension104.16
D'Addario Helicore Pizzicato Double Bass StringsD'Addario Helicore Pizzicato Double Bass Strings£129.95

In stock

D’Addario Helicore Pizzicato double bass strings produce a brighter tone than other Helicore double bass strings. Damping is reduced to give maximum sustain and growl.

Multi-strand Steel Core, Nickel Wound, Low/Medium/High Tension108.29

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 longer. 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

Played with the bow.

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.

Double bass strings are made with a length of core material which is then over-wound with another material, usually a flat metal wire.

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 un-playable. The development of metal wound strings meant that the string diameter could be reduced improving the playablility 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.

Is a term used to describe strings which 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 round performer for players who want to play a bit of everything!

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.

The standard E, A, D, G tuning for double bass strings.

Played by plucking the strings

The scale length refers to the size of 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.

Many sets of string 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.

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

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.

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 alloy), 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.

Our Customer Reviews of Double Bass Strings

Read what our customers are saying about double bass strings they purchased from us.

We stock Double Bass strings from the following manufacturers.

D'Addario Orchestral Strings
Pirastro Strings
Jargar Strings
Thomastik Infeld Strings