Spirocore bass strings are specially formulated for pizzicato play. They are an all steel string made to produce maximum volume and sustain. While their outer wrap feels very smooth to the hand, they are not most players' choice for bowing. Spirocore is now available more variations than any other string. To wit:
In Orchestra Tuning (G-D-A-E)
Light Tension - Weich is the German Word for soft and that's a good description for these lighter gauge strings. There is less mass on a weich gauge Spirocore so it's a bit easier in the hand, without sacrificing any noticeable volume or sustain. Players who want less tension for the top plate of their bass choose a lighter tension string. This one delivers all the Spirocore punch you would expect.
Medium Tension - Red Wraps is our pet name for these Spirocores. They are the benchmark for a jazz string in so many ways: superior volume and sustain, good growl and a true bass fundamental. Give your mediums a week or so to 'settle down' for the most long term durability of any steel string we know of.
Heavy Tension - Stark is the German word for heavy and these strings are much thicker and heavier than other makers' heavy gauge strings. Use them when you really need more volume - there is enough mass on a Spirocore Stark to drive a truck. Your hands need to be stronger to play them, too. That being said, Spirocore Stark delivers a focused pitch every time.
Fractional sizes - Almost all the Spirocores we sell are considered full size (4/4). We do that to fit the greatest number of string playing lengths. We also stock Spirocore 3/4 size in Medium & Weich Tension, as well as Spirocore 1/2 size in Medium, and Spirocore 1/4 size in Medium.
Extra Strings - Lemur stocks all the extension fourth strings, High C and Low B 5th strings in each Gauge.
In Solo Tuning (A-E-B-F#)
Solo Tuning Strings - The Thinnest Gauge steel strings are made to be tuned up a step from Orchestra Tuning sets. Because most musicians using solo tuning are arco players, they prefer Belcanto Solo, which was designed from day-one to be a bowed string. Still, if you want that Spirocore punch and sustain in the thinnest possible gauge, then this solo tuning string may be right for your bass/your play.
Fractional Sizes - We stock the true 3/4 size solo tuning Spirocore as well as a 1/2 size solo tuning set.
Extra Strings - Thomastik Makes and Lemur Stocks an Extension 4th string (F#) as well as a Low 5th string tuning to C#. We consider both of these strings to be rare birds (not made by many manufacturers) and so we USE THEM FREQUENTLY since they have great center of pitch, remain focused, and are readily available.
In Fifths Tuning (A-D-G-C)
In this tuning, the double bass is tuned like a cello but an octave lower (A-D-G-C.) Fifths tuning was once a very common double bass tuning but has been supplanted by standard tuning in fourths. However, Fifths tuning has been re-adopted by a handful of bassists, most notably (the late) Red Mitchell who lends his name to this particular Spirocore sets. Other players who tune in 5ths include Joel Quarrington, Dennis Mazzuso, Silvio Dalla Torre, Paul Unger,and Larry Holloway. 5ths tuning is definitely gaining in popularity.
The advantages of fifths tuning seem to be that:
- The bass achieves better intonation with the rest of the string section due to the uniform tuning with upper strings and cello.
- It's a very good method of reaching a low C, without an extension or a fifth string.
- Jazz players find it easier to reach the major tenth which can be played easily without a position shift.
- Increased resonance, volume and quality of sound.
- The strings have more common overtones, causing the strings to vibrate sympathetically.
For years we had to mix-n-match from a variety of manufacturers to make good 5ths Tuning Sets. Now we have the Red Mitchell 5ths Tuning Set in both Medium and Weich Gauges. Yipes! Chosing bass strings is getting easier, thanks to Thomastik-Infeld.