Action and Increasing Tension

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jd_watt, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013

    I've been looking for more tension out of my 45-105's because I tend to have an aggressive attack, both with fingers and pick. I'm using D'Addarios lights, love the way they sound, and would prefer NOT to move up to a medium gauge. I love the tone, and they feel good with my fretting hand.

    I have .015 between the string and the 7th fret with a capo on the first and the string depressed at the 15th. Any suggestions on how much more neck curvature or string height I can increase (for more string tension) before I have to move up to a thicker gauge?

    Thanks for having a look!
  2. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    String tension is just that... string tension. It sounds like you're pondering adding more neck relief to increase string tension, but that's not actually the way it works. I think you might be confusing neck relief with action with string tension.

    But... if you think adding more neck relief will get you the "feel" you're looking for, go ahead and loosen the truss rod a bit and see if that's what you want. Something to keep in mind is... the higher the action the more intonation will be off.
  3. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013
    Thanks for the input. That's my concern; I don't want to make radical adjustments that will sacrifice the intonation and overall playability. The strings just feel a little too loose. Ideally, I'd like to get the string tension I get when I use my flats, but out of my rounds without changing gauges.
  4. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    What flat wound strings are you using... Chromes? What round wound strings are you using?

    Generally speaking, flat wound strings can feel stiffer than round wound. Strings are not all created equal with regard to how they're constructed. If you want a stiffer feeling string you have to either choose a particular make/model that is constructed to be stiffer -or- choose a larger gauge in the made/model string you want to use.
  5. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013
    Ah, I see. I had Rotosound flats, and I'm using D'addario rounds. All 45 65 85 105. Sounds like I'll have to go with a higher gauge then, because the action is really playable, and I believe the D'adarrio have pretty high tension for 105's. The E has 38lbs. I'm not sure on the Rotosound E, though it felt much stiffer.
  6. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    .015" is not what I would consider the verge of radical relief. It's more like the the top end of the average relief range for a 34" scale bass, as in .010" - "015".

    You could go .020 - .025" relief and drop the bridge saddles slightly to keep the string height reasonable in the upper registers. That should give a little tighter feel, but that's going to be near the limit of tighter feel before playability gets unreasonable. It should feel like an upright with medium action at that point....
  7. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013
    Remus, thank you; that's great info. I wasn't sure how much further I could go on neck relief. Really good information, if that's correct. I would prefer to go that route before putting on thicker strings. I'll give it a try!
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Tension and stiffness are two completely different things.

    Stiffness is how bendy something is. Tension is how many pounds of pull you have to exert with the tuner to get the string to a certain pitch. Increased tension will make strings feel stiffer, but even at 0 lbs of pull the same size flat will be less bendy than a roundwound.

    Flats at the same thickness are stiffer than rounds because of how they're made, but usually don't have dramatically more tension.
  9. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013
    OK then, I'm interested in the string being tighter.
  10. There's no way to increase string tension without changing the pitch. Thats the way physics work..
  11. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Larger gauge strings....
  12. jd_watt


    Mar 22, 2013
    Hey everyone, thanks for weighing in on this. I went forward with the neck adjustment as Remus suggested, and I'm really happy with the result. Maybe I had my technical terms confused, but the string (and the bass in general) feels more substantial, more robust. I can lay into it with my picking/plucking, and it doesn't feel "cheap". I guess it just feels more like a good, sturdy instrument, rather than a little wimpier as it did before. I'm honestly shocked that a little truss adjustment could improve the playability so much.
  13. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    I believe larger guage strings have more tension than lighter guage strings, generally speaking...

    - georgestrings
  14. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Relief greater than .015"? Nuh-uh. if you want a perceived increase in tension, ditch your current string set and snag a set of hex core DR's or similar. String tension is in the same ballpark as round core but feels stiffer to the touch. Check out the Low Riders:!bass/cnk7