Confused about gauges
I thought that similar gauges of strings, even from different manufacturers, would "feel" the same tension-wise. But my recent experience with DM SR2000 and Foderea SS has shown (to me at least) that that isn't necessarily the case.
With the SR2000 strings on my bass I really enjoyed the ease with which these allow me to play. The tension feels so low that pressing down onto the frets feels almost effortless.
The Foderas feel different to me. Not just the strings themselves feeling different to the touch, but the tension seems higher, like the strings are more stiff than the SR2000s.
Is this where the "hex" versus "round" core (if that even is the case between these two strings) comes into play? Or could it be the tapered versus the non-tapered causing the difference in the sensation of the tension?
It could be all that and more. There's no one factor that you can pinpoint. But yes, different string makers have strings with different tensions, and gauge is absolutely not the single indicator of that.
How similar is your definition of similar? Both Labella and Fender make a set of flatwound strings that are 45-105, but the D & A on the LaBella are 65 and 85, and the Fenders are 60 and 80. That will make a whole bunch of difference in tone and feel right there, even if the strings are identical. So one company's "medium" or "light" is definitely not the same as another company's "medium" or "light," or even "medium light" or "custom."
Second, the hex versus round core can make a difference in flexibility, but not that much in overall tension, although the hex will probably have a pound less tension because of the gap between the points of the hex and the flats as the wrap is applied, meaning less mass to the hex.
Third, as a derivative of the second, is that flexibility and tension are completely different concepts, depending on the core geometry and how tight the wrap is, whether it is compressed or not, and other variables. A solid string can have less tension but feel more stiff if it is not flexible.
So yes, there are differences from string to string.
However, that said, in order to keep strings flexible and not kill the bass with tension, many different company's strings of a similar construction in the same gauge will sound and feel similar. In other words, a round core stainless steel round wrapped string will sound similar (I didn't say exactly the same) to another round core stainless steel round wrapped string of the same gauge, after they are all broken or settled in, and so forth. The comparison videos you will see on YouTube and elsewhere are of brand new strings, where the differences are most noticable.
Well the SR2000s are also tapered at the bridge. That will change a few things, among other things how much tension you need for a given base frequency.
In general the round core should have less tension, though.
Maybe the action also changed a bit when you changed strings?
The SR2000's are: .027; .047; .067; .087; .107, and .127.
The Foderas are: .028; .044; .062; .085; .106, and .125.
So by looking at the numbers, I would have thought that the strings would have essentially felt the same, tensionwise.
But then, I'm not sure I understand the difference between the "tension" and "flexability". I thought they pretty much meant the same thing.
Tension is the amount of force being applied to the string at rest. When you tighten or loosen the tuning peg, you are altering the tension. The pitch the string produces is directly related to this tension as well as the mass and speaking length of the string.
The "flexibility" is the physical properties of the string itself.
Both contribute the the "feel" of the string under the fingers. For example, a length of coat hanger wire and a shoe string could be placed under the exact same tension, and they would obviously feel different. Likewise, a string feels much different if you tune it up or down a couple of semitones despite its physical properties not changing.
The gauge of a string is simply the physical diameter of its cross section. Because all bass strings are more similar than different, they tend to have a somewhat similar flexibility if they are similar in diameter, but this is not always the case.
The strings could be constructed of different materials, or they could be wound with a different method. Either would affect the feel as it would change the flexibility of the string. Further, any differences in material could (and most likely would) affect the mass of the string. Because they use the same speaking length and the same pitch is desired, they would have to have a different tension in order to produce the same pitch.
However, the observation in the OP is opposite of what should usually expect.
OP, have you confirmed that the action is the same height over the frets for both strings?
I have experienced the same as you when comparing strings from same maker (like Hi-Beams v. Lo-Riders) In those cases, I tend to assume the other variables are fairly similar.
But, they are otherwise completely from a different maker, it's tougher. The size of the cores, the size of the wrap, the method of winding and even the alloys of the wiring would all come into play. It seems fair to assume all of this things could be very different in comparing these two strings from different makers.
It would sure make sense that the Fodera strings are a bit of an odd duck when comparing to others.
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