Every bass player knows that new string, different stings are like getting a new instrument. They can totally change the tone and feel of the bass. And that goes for all basses, electric, acoustic, uke basses and uprights. Today, I’m talking a little bit about guts and upright bass.
I play a bit of rockabilly and blues so the sound of classic gut string slapping against the fingerboard is one of my favorite sounds. So the search for the right gut, tension, tone, feel… has been every bass players struggle, and I feel that I have been worse than most in my search. In another post I’ll go through my whole list from random tololoche strings to weed wackers to labella guts to Thomastik to Zyex to Velvet and back again. Which brings me back to where I am right now.
I have a set of Velvet Garbo Lights. I love these strings. But the D and G strings were lacking, they didn’t have that organic thwap that real guts had. Now, as I said, I’ve had a ton of strings. And my last set of guts had totally lost their tone.
While looking through my box of old string I noticed two gut strings, no package, no markings. I remembered these. They are thin for guts, translucent in color and hard as though they had been lacquered. I remember putting them on my bass and hating them. I took them off after just one day. These days I know more about gut strings. So I put the D and G strings on… WOW!
As much as I Loved my Velvets, real guts blow them away. But these strings are not ready yet. First, you string them up, tune them up and grab them with you hand and pull and wiggle them until they are stretched, then more tuning and more stretching. Now for me, I take a small piece of super fine sandpaper and wrap it around the string and work it up and down the string. It’s hard to say how much to take off. I feel my way around the string to feel for bumps and abnormalities. I try to only take off the lacquer and not compromise the integrity of the string. Next I add a drop of olive oil to a paper towel and rub down the strings. Then dry off as much as possible… then repeat the stretching process.
Ugh. Gut is more work for sure. But wow, it’s worth it. All strings have their merits and drawbacks. And I’ll probably switch back to something else in a few weeks. But for now, I’m loving my gut!