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2 Basses, same strings, different tensions

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lefty007, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Ok, I got a mystery in my hands.

    I have a '70s P-bass and a 2005 Jazz Deluxe (both 34" scale, of course). When I install Thomastik-Infeld flats in the Jazz (the regular way, not through the body), the tension is low, like it is in all other basses I have tried them on. (I have been using TIs for years and they always have low tension.)

    But, I put them in the '70s P-bass, and the strings are super tight, like if I had switched to a set of Jamerson's LaBellas.

    What gives? Never experienced this in my life. And yes, both basses are being tuned properly with a tuner to the right pitches.

  2. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    I have noticed this or something ismilar with my Fender MIM P-Bass

    I have it tuned in standard and it feels SUPER tight. I got the action low and had to shim it in order to get the strings so they are nice and low throughout the neck (finger tapping)

    If I tune ANY of my other basses in standard, they are nowhere half as tight feeling as the P Bass...

    It probably has to do with the scale of the neck (24"" vs 35" the 35 would be tighter) and stuff liek that...

    You would think an low E is a low E and should feel the same but they don't.

    Maybe take your bass to get set up by a pro at a music store or something.
  3. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    Neck relief plays a factor. The P-Bass probably has less relief.
    For some odd reason though, I have always been able to get a better set-up on a P than a J. Lower action and tighter feel.
  4. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    The J has a perfectly straight neck, while the P-Bass still has a slight forward bow -- that is why I switched to the TIs, to straighten the neck flat, but they put so much "tension" on the neck that it still bows slightly.

    On necks that won't flatten, I have always used TIs as my last resource, to offer the least amount possible of string tension, but again, in this case the TI have as much tension as any other string set.
  5. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    OK, first, they are putting the same tension on the bass, within a few pounds total. I've been through a stack of JF sets, on a lot of basses. What you have is one bass that is set up well, and one that needs a setup or a repair. Why won't a truss rod adjustment fix the relief in the P bass neck? How is the nut slot height on the P? What is the action at the 12th fret like? Is it a lot higher than the J bass?

    It really sounds like you just have setup issues that are making the TIs feel tighter. On a 34" bass with the same basic geometry those strings are at the same tension when at pitch. How much force it takes to fret the string is a whole 'nuther bag of fish.
  6. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    It could be possible that the larger neck of the P is stiffer, due to the extra mass. I believe this would translate to a tighter feel. It's plausasble, but I am not sure. I noticed that when I went from the MIJ body on my geddy lee to the MIM body that the tension was lower. I think wood stiffness has a lot to do with string tension, but I could be wrong.