1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

A great TIP from Gary Willis.....

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Jan 2, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada

    I was looking thru Willis' book "101 bass tips" (great book i intend to buy) and I came across two really good tips bass players should keep in mind.

    1. low string tension is not necessarily a good thing.

    it may seem that its easier to play with lower tension, however what happens is that low tension strings create fret buzz easier which means you have to raise the action. now its not as easy to play. in my mind the most important thing is to have low action even if that means having higher tension.

    2. this is related to number 1. An easy way to add tension to your strings is to use a 1/2 inch spacer so that the ball of the string is 1/2 inch away from the bottom end of the bridge.

    Got any tips you would like to share?
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    big +1 on the low tension thing, i used to use super lights but then i discovered the action thing and buzz and now i use Mediums and it seems to be perfect.

    Im not sure i understand how to do #2
  3. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    just before you run your string thru your bridge place a "washer" (actually the thickness of a washer wont do. it has to be something that is much wider... 1/2 inch. Willis suggests using PC Board spacers, but I honestly am not famaliar with those) on the string first. then as you pull the string thru you have the washer on the string. once you pull the string snug you have a washer between the bridge and the ball-end of the string and your bridge. Like a sandwhich.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Gary Willis or not, the physics just don't bear this out. In order for a string to vibrate at a particular frequency, say 40 hz, there is one and only one tension that the string can have for a given string construction and scale length.

    In order for the fret distances to function properly, the scale length must be that between the nut and the bridge. Even with the spacer, the string must still pass over the bridge for the bass notes to be correct when fretted. This means that the tension must be exactly the same as it would be without the washer.

    This is snake oil, and Gary Willis is wrong.
  5. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    hmm... well your logic is undeniable. I guess I am going to try it, if only to satisfy my own curiousity.
  6. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA
    Since this has been debated to death before...someone should try it.
    Munjibunga seems eager to test this out. :p
  7. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I've heard people other than GW swearing that this works.
  8. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Wouldn't a string through body bridge have the same result? Additional distance behind a regular bridge's anchor point? String through body basses are not necessarily known for greater string tension, are they?

    Famous people/great players can still be wrong about stuff.
  9. C-5KO


    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada

    I'm assuming when he says pc board spacers, that he means those little tiny brass stand-offs that they use inbetween the motherboard, and the bottom of your pc tower. They raise the mobo, so that it won't short out against the metal of the case. I haven't seen any that are hollow, so I don't know how he gets the string through them though???

  10. Once again, this stupid issue raises itself. I swear, I wish GW would remove that piece of misinfo from his website. It causes beauceau trouble.

    We just went through this again down in Setup...


    But as you can see from the posts, the idiot math that was used to support this idea was debunked years ago in the Bottom Line.

    So it remains an undeniable untruth!
  11. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Isn't this what Foderas extended B headstock is all about? People seem to think that works to tighten up the B string. Only one way to find out about the PC spacer though, and its easy enough to check out.
  12. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Here's one:

    An even simpler way to increase the tension of the string is to give the tuning key a twist. A little at the time - you should be able to feel immediate change in the string. :)

  13. didier


    Aug 4, 2005
    No, there are some (usually plastic or aluminum) that are basically just a rigid tube, with an inside diameter that can accomodate a screw (or in this case, a string) and act to raise or offset the board from what its mounted to (or ball end of string from the end of the bridge.)

    They work great to raise a pc board, and they will move the ball end of your string back from the end of the bridge, but that won't do a thing to change the tension on a string tuned to the same pitch on the same scale.

    Some other aspects of the sound or feel may change, according to some people. There are many theories as to what it is & why it changes. It's not that hard to try it out, but even then there will be disagreements as to whether "something" is changed for the better. But it will NOT change the TENSION.
  14. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Rocks Around The Glocks

    Aug 30, 2000
    Greece, Europe
    This is hilarious, was he on drugs or sth when he wrote it? One of the first things you learn with bass is that higher tension changes the note of the open string. It is the way tuning works. Jesus.
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Why is this in "Basses" anyway?
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    And Warrior makes extended range basses with string-thru-body B and E, with other strings being top-load. Neither design has any effect on string tension, nor does Gary Willis' string spacer.

    Extending the length of the non-speaking portion of a string might have some other effect: feel? flexibility? But as noted, tension doesn't change.
  17. He's of course talking about higher tension achieved through using thicker strings. A .135 B-tring will need a higher tension to produce a B then a .120 string.

    An other way to increase tension is increasing the scale. That's why he mentioned the spacer, but I doubt it will work as well.
  18. Think. There are two ways of increasing tension without having to change the tuning:

    a) Thicker strings
    b) Longer scale
  19. Dave Hill

    Dave Hill Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    This issue won't ever die. Some respectable luthiers such as Mr. Smith and Mr. Furlanetto have moved the B string tuning peg further from the the nut to increase feel (maybe tension?), making it hard to believe it has no merit. But then again, physics...
  20. KayCee


    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS
    Following this logic, imagine how tight the string would be if you added a 6-inch spacer...or 6 feet?...Heck, the string would be so tight that it would snap the bass in half! It just doesn't add up.

    The effect of string-through-body is different, IMO. The string pressure is turned downward on the bridge, creating better contact with the body.


Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.