A Thomastik Spirocore Story

Seems that there are a lot of newbies that know to ask for Spirocores, but don’t know why. I still love Spirocores, even though I’ve moved away from them in recent year.

I’ve been a long time Thomastik Spirocore user when it came to strings for most jazz work. These  are considered THE STANDARD, for jazz players, and have been for decades. A vast number of jazz bassists as well as known names such as Ray Brown, Dave Holland, and Christian McBride use Spirocores. If you are a jazz bassist, at some point you’d have used Spirocores. They are bright, loud and have a ringing that people associate with a bass sound in jazz. There are many reasons to love them. They aren’t expensive, they sound good on almost any bass, they don’t get washed out by other instruments in ensembles, they are durable; among other reasons. You’ll hear complaints about the G string being to twangy, the set being too high in tension, or some other complaints; remember it’s not a perfect string but it’s a highly regarded and respected string.

We at Thomastik have created a revolutionary orchestral jazz bass string.

Spirocores were not designed with the intent of making the best Jazz string; their intention was to create a better orchestral string. Some bassist would say that it was fate or divine intervention that Thomastik-Infeld created an orchestral string that worked so well for Jazz; a string that jazz bassists still highly regard and love to this day. It is not as if Thomastik surveyed jazz bassists and set out to design a string based on that criteria, the truth was that Thomastik created a new line of strings which Jazz bassists ended up liking and gravitated towards because it had characteristics that worked great for jazz.

How I Ended Up Wanting Spirocores

As most young bassists, I started out with a pretty lousy plywood bass for several years before college. What strings the bass came with were the ones that you played. You were lucky to have matching strings, and even luckier if yours had Spirocores, but you were clueless that it was a Spirocore since the local music store was clueless in identifying bass strings. Actually it was a curse because you’d spend years hoping to find that great sounding string via happenstance that you didn’t know was a Spirocore. Gut strings?… No one ever brought them up. If you were savvy enough to ask for a gut string, you’d either get a response that no one uses gut anymore and/or find out that gut strings cost more than what your bass was worth. Gut was the boogieman, we’ve heard about it, but never seen it and we were to forget that we heard about it. So we spent years getting very familiar with steel strings.

When you broke a string and had the money to replace that one string (what kid had the money to get a whole set?), you went and asked for a bass string. They’d point at the various packages on the wall, until you clarified that you need a double bass string. At that point they’d dig in their drawer and try to find are replacement for the string that you broke. After displacing dozens of violin strings, voila! “oh oops, this is an A you need a D”… voila! they get you your shiny new string. You might get whatever brand they happen to have in that drawer. It might be a Spirocore by chance, but it usually was some cheap string such as Super Sensitive or the like. Most of the time you’d end up with some other orchestral string until …. one day you were handed the string that looked like the one that you remembered sounding so good with the words “Spirocore …Thomastik-Infeld”

Parting Ways in College

Things between me and the Spirocores were good until college and the bass curriculum required technically difficult orchestral pieces in addition to jazz.  At this point, I started learning about the existence of other brands and types of strings, ones that bowed a lot easier. I bounced back and forth between the Flexocores which were great in orchestral and the Helicore Hybrids: the-worst-of -both-worlds orchestra and jazz string, but they worked for both.  After college I couldn’t get a hold of a second bass fast enough so that I could have a dedicated jazz upright bass with Spirocores.

Other companies have tried to create strings that “improve” on what people like about the Spirocores, but most players seem to inevitably return to the Spirocores. I’ve moved away from steel core strings, so they no longer are on my basses, but I still recommend them to beginners who want to play mostly pizz because you can’t go wrong with them. Competitors of Thomastik have tried to improve on the Spirocore with their own steel core “jazz string” and have failed to upstage them, because it’s hard to beat the tried and true set of Spirocores.


One Response

  1. I tried Tomastic Dominants, and they really worked well on my bass (an old german plywood) They were really bright when I got them, but have mellowed real well. bow well, not strident, and sustain forever…. (not for you if you just want thump).

    I think they are in between gut and steel, they have a nylon core and steel wrap.

    oh, the set I have has been on the bass about 10 years or so, and are still going strong.


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