String Gauge and Tension and all that nonsense
Hey TB people. I am about to get new strings for my Fender MIM P bass. I was wondering how would higher or lower gauge strings affect my playing. Which ones do you guys prefer? I've been playing for 3 years and have never really ventured past standard gauge dr flats.
Medium to slightly heavier than medium probably sounds best on P bass because with this instrument in general and I am generalizing people usually want a rounder or chunkier sound and the tight bright stuff with the smaller gauges left for jazz bass type instruments.
Usually, for a given scale length, tuning, string Model and brand, lighter gauge will result in a somewhat thinner tone and less tension, heavier/louder tone and tighter tension with heavier gauge.
Mind you that extreme gauge variations might need a new nut, and usually a change of gauge requires a setup.
The only way to know for sure is to experiment. If you think you might like a lighter or heavier gauge buy a set and give them a try.
Your next set of strings probably won’t be your last set. ;)
Here is an experiment.
Instead of EADG, tune your bass up a half-step to FBbEbAb. If you like it better this way, then you are a good candidate for heavier-gauge strings.
Instead of EADG, tune down a half-step to EbAbDbGb. If you like it better this way, then you are a good candidate for lighter-gauge strings.
I think some of the above posters have it backwards with their description of the sound! In my experience, heavy gauge strings are twangy and brighter sounding with more harmonics, while lighter gauge strings are mellow and deep with a stronger fundamental. You can confirm this with your own ears by doing the experiment I described above. :)
I personally use TI Jazz Flats on my P basses. These would be considered a "lighter tension" string, I guess. I certainly find them to be quite warm, growly, and expressive.
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