D’Addario Kaplan String Review

D’Addario writes on their website, “Kaplan double bass strings are aimed at the most discerning orchestral musicians. Kaplan strings offer a rich tonal color palette and superb bowing response in a beautifully balanced set. The set provides clarity and warmth from low to high registers and allows versatility and control throughout the dynamic Kaplanspectrum.”

When I try new strings I like to change one at a time to see how they compare to what I’ve currently been using. My bass was strung with Pirastro Flat-Chromesteels which are agressive sounding, have lots of projection, and have a very resonant pizzicato sound. As I play more solo literature than orchestral these days, this works well for me. I also like Pirastro Obligato strings for their lush, warm sound and sustaining pizzicatos.

Kaplans respond quickly under the bow and are easy on the left hand throughout the entire register of the bass. They offer a warm, rich sound and the tension of the mediums is perfect.

I have a fully carved Rogeri copy bass by Rumano Solano with a C extension by Bill Merchant. The instrument is on the small side of 3/4 so I try to squeeze every bit of volume I can from it. I’ve had the top thinned out and replaced the stock ebony tailpiece with a Marvin tailpiece. Both of these modifications added volume and resonance.

On to the Kaplans. They are an oustanding orchestral string – warm and rich with a complex tone that would easily blend well in a section. I tried the medium tension version. They respond well, speak quickly under the bow (about the same as the Flat-Chromesteels) and are easy on the left hand throughout the register.  The arco volume is less than the Flat-Chromesteels but the Kaplans do keep giving volume as you dig in and they did not feel like they ‘maxed out’. This is nice as it’s always good to have some volume in reserve. The pizzicato is noticeably softer with less sustain than the Pirastros. They have a nice thump and somehwat quick decay. Again, this is probably a good thing in an orchestral setting. I did notice that after a few days the G, D, and A string pizzicato sound gained some volume and sustain. The low C lagged in pizzicato volume but I think this has more to do with my bass than the string. When bowed, the C string response was clear and articulate as was the entire set from the open C to the stratosphere notes with my extended fingerboard.

D’Addario Kaplans are definitely an orchestral string. The sound is rich and dark – yet still clear. They sound a bit ‘covered’ in the mid-frequency range but this would blend well in a section. I feel they would be great on a large, old instrument or a brighter instrument that needs some edge taken away.

These are a great addition to the D’Addario brand. Although they are not a great fit for my bass and current playing, I must stress that’s a personal sound choice – especially since my playing is currently more solo focused. For an orchestral player wanting a warm sound that ‘plays nice with others’, I highly recommend these strings!

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