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BASS with TIGHTER string tension.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tumbao, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Tumbao


    Nov 10, 2001
    I'd like to know which manufacturer brands got the bass(35" scale)that has inherently tighter string tension?
  2. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    The longer the scale length of the bass, the higher the string tension. Also keep in mind that the overall stiffness of the bass has a lot to do with how "tight" the strings actually feel. A low quality 35" scale bass will often feel a lot "floppier" than a high quality 34".

    35" scale is very easy to find. Some 36"-ers can be found, but the longer you're looking for, the harder it gets to find.......and your options for strings get a lot narrower.

    Carl Thompson ($$$$$$) makes a lot of extra long scale basses...........
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I also found that quarter-sawn necks give you a tighter feel than flat-sawn necks (Fender).
  4. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    String the bass of your choice with TI Flats, voila, low tension.

    String the bass of your choice with those Rotosound Flats, voila, higher tension.

    Tension, while somewhat variable depending on the instrument, is more about the strings.
  5. Dingwall and Roscoe basses have had the best string tension that I have played.
  6. sambass


    Apr 15, 2003
    ive heard that something about the headstock angle also affects the tension, though i could be wrong
  7. Skerik1


    Sep 21, 2002
    Saint Paul, MN
    It's kind of a theory, but anything past the nut doesn't really effect sting tension at all. Angling the headstock just keeps the strings tight against the nut.


  8. If you want more tension, you just crank those little knob thingies at the end of the neck. ;)

    Seriously though, the longer the scale length, the more tension is required to get the strings up to pitch (all other things being equal). You could also try some heavier strings.

    If you find that you are always smacking the strings into the the frets when you pluck, you could just raise the bridge saddles.
  9. [​IMG]
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I'll steal that smiley:

  11. Oh right, like the string tension on a 30" scale is going to be tighter than a 35" scale, if you just use BRAND X.
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    To clarify a bit: given a certain string with a certain weight, the string must be held at higher tension to obtain the same pitch, if the scale is longer. So with the same strings, and tuned the same way, a 35" scale bass will be at higher tension than a 34" scale bass.

    As already stated, the other way to increase tension is to use heavier strings. The simplest way is to use strings of larger diameter, or gauge. But as has been stated, different brands, with the same guage, can have different weights, and therefor will tune up at different tensions.

    How floppy a string feels also depends on the construction, particularly the stiffness of the neck and of the neck joint. So the statements about poor 35" basses sometimes feeling more floppy than good 34" basses is also true.
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    It is possible, if the strings on the 35" were very light, and the strings on the 30" were very heavy.
  14. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE



    Peace, JP
  15. Theoretically possible, using some unusual strings, and replacing the nuts on both basses to accommodate these unusual strings? Or realistically possible, using a brand and gauge of strings that are commonly available?
  16. So does this mean that multi-laminate neck-throughs will have more string tension than bolt-ons, given the same strings?
  17. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The tension is always the same at a given pitch, but the strings feel stiffer.
  18. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    NO. this is not that simple. depends on wood quality, stifness, glue joints, bolts type and number and so on.

    A NT is not inherently stiffer than a set or bolt on neck.

    Peace, JP
  19. Okay, lets clarify something. Tension is a well defined technical term and doesn't change given 3 things: length of the string (or scale), mass of the string, and frequency. So the same B string on *any* bass of the same scale length has the same tension. Period. Unlike man's laws, you can't break the laws of physics.

    see this article if you want the whole skinny on it.

    "Floppiness" is a subjective term that has everything to do with the feel of the bass and how it is constructed. This is where the "art of the B string" happens. Different builders do different things to make it happen, or not, depending on the bass.

    Oh, and don't let anyone tell you that anchoring the string farther away from the nut gives it more tension, it doesn't. It can't. Not even Vinnie and Joey or George can do it. If you play in the living room and anchor your string in the kitchen it won't make any difference to the tension. (not that you could, just making a point here) I don't think the old Steinbergers with the double ball end strings ever suffered from string tension blahs and they are anchored right at the nut and bridge. Go figure.

    Hey sorry for the rant.

    So stay low! and not floppy!

  20. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Short answer: multi-laminate neck-throughs can often have more apparent string tension than bolt-ons, but this is not a given.

    Long answer:

    First point:
    There are two separate aspects here: the tension of the string when vibrating, and the tautness as felt by a person plucking the string.

    The tension of the vibrating string is governed by an equation that you may remember from physics class. It involves four co-dependent factors: vibrating length, pitch produced, string tension, and mass per unit length ("weight") of the string. It is the basis for my earlier explanation, and is proven.

    The tension or tautness felt by a person plucking the string starts with the string tension just described, and is further modified by two (and possibly other) factors.

    - stiffness of the neck and neck joint. If these are flexible, the neck will deflect when the string is plucked, making the string feel loose.

    - movement of the bridge or nut, and movement of the string over the bridge or nut. It is my belief that in an electric bass, these do not happen to any significant extent, and can be neglected. However, in an upright, the bridge is free to move, and there is a great distance between the bridge witness point and the string anchor point; these combine to make the string feel more flexible, because as the string is plucked, the bridge is allowed to move slightly, and the transient increase in tension do to plucking is transferred to the not insignificant portion of string beyond the bridge.

    Second point:
    There is an assumption here that laminated necks are always stiffer than plain necks. This is not necessarily true.
    - making a neck out of separate pieces does not increase the stiffness.
    - the glue, if stiffer than the wood, can add a very small degree of stiffness. Significant amount of stiffness added? I doubt it, but possible.
    - making the neck out of separate pieces, with the grain directions turned around, evens out properties in different directions. It does not increase the stiffness beyond the greatest stiffness the wood already had in any one direction.
    - (here's a key point) using a stiffer wood in the construction will increase the stiffness. For example, a neck with a stiffer wood such as bubinga, purpleheart, or wenge added to maple will be stiffer than an all-maple neck.

    Third point:
    Again, there is an assumption here that neck-thru necks are always stiffer in the heel area than bolted neck joints. This is also not necessarily true. If there is solid mechanical clamping being provided by the bolts and the contact between the heel and the pocket, and if the surface of the pocket that is being clamped to is as stiff as the neck itself by virtue of its design, the joint can be as stiff as a thru-neck or set-neck.

    Fourth point:
    The thinner a neck is, either side-to-side or especially front-to-back, the less stiffness it will have. Many of the high end multi-lam neck-thru basses have very thin necks, so that the stiffness added by stiff woods is making up for a "loss" of stiffness due to there being less wood there.