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DR Tone Vs. Guage

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Scutterflux, Dec 25, 2002.

  1. My main concern is if I went to the lighter DR lo-rider's, guage 40-100, if I would lose any or allot of the tone you get with 45-105.

    I know allot of you guys use DR's, and experiment with guages and tones, and was hoping to get some help on the subject.

    I have to special order my DR strings, because no one stocks the nickel plated lo-riders in Saskatoon.

    I have heard people say they prefer the sound of a lighter string, and some people have even said to their amazement, that their lows have been brought out more by going lighter.

    I'm thinking of using the lighter guage because after playing a friends bass, with a lighter guage string, I found the playability to be more to my liking. The problem is that I love the tone of the 45-105's, and need to know if I'm going to sacrifice any thump, or bottom with 40-100's?

    Will the tone be brighter, thinner, bigger, heavier, or will the change to a lighter guage of DR lo-riders be barley noticable if not at all?
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    I have a strong opinion on this, but realize that this is IME, IMO, YMMV, etc.

    I have found that with a given brand and formulation of strings, I tend to get more lows, and less punch/thump with the lighter gauge, and the reverse with the heavier gauge. In other words, the lighter strings will have a smoother sound, with deeper lows. The heavier strings will be thumpier and punchier, which are more midrange functions, but have less deep lows. I have not tried this with DR's, not being a DR user, but I have made direct comparisons with differing gauges of several other brands.

    My theory is that the lighter gauge string will have more excursion, which I believe puts more "air" in the lows. The heavier gauge string will have a stronger attack in part because of the mass involved, and in part because of the heavier technique used in plucking a heavier string.

    A switch from .045-105 to .040-.100, however, is not a very big move, and you may or may not notice a difference. Unfortunately, the only way to know is by experimentation, which can be expensive.
  3. I know I love the tone of the guage I already have 45-105. If anybody has any experience with the DR product line, especially lo-riders, I would be very appreciative.

    Thanks Flatwound for your comment.
  4. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I've used a number of DR sets, forgot the name, but they were 45-65-85-105-130 stainless steels. and most recently tried a set of Marcus Miller stainless steels, same gauge. They were bright. had good bottom, were easy to play, and sounded great.

    Flatwounds comments make sense when you consider the physics of string vibration as he described. One other factor that might also come into play is the mass of the string. The heavier strings have more mass (either in core or windings or both) and this may provide more bottom.

    I've tried lighter strings a few times and noticed that they sounded slightly thinner, especially the D and G string when played fingerstyle or plucked. For my playing style, the 45-65-85-105 works better. Others may prefer going lighter.
  5. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    DR low rider user here, it took me a year to try low riders but once I did I was sold. My MIA dlx jbass wears them and thats all I will put on it. Also have tried high beams(great thump an pop string) Fat beams ( close to high beams but a and d strings differ I believe). all DR strings are great, for me low riders are it.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    This may be related to the construction of the larger gauge strings they were using;

    - Some manufacturers use a smaller wire for the core and a large wire for the wrapping to get a brighter sound. While these strings have more brightness and flexibilirty, the downside is, they have less volume and sustain and the strings are more easily prone to go out of tune sooner.

    So, GENERALLY speaking and if all factors were equal, the critical factor isn't so much gauge, it's the thickness of the core wire. Larger core wire captures/produces more of the bass fundamentals, as they give the pickups more to info to "see" (greater mass). Theoretically, larger cores would contain more iron, producing more output, too.

    DR's are an exception. DR uses relatively smaller core wire but the strings produce great volume and loads of bass. Two major reasons why this is so is because DR uses very high grade wire with a high iron content and their process uses "compression winding" which actually reduces the gauge size of the final string and compresses more metal into the string. For example, a .042 gauge DR string was actually .043 before the compression winding.
    They don't go out of tune as easily as other smaller core strings because they are made under tension, greater than when they are tuned to pitch.

    I think the question of whether the difference is "noticeable" or not really depends on YOUR ability to perceive a difference.

    For instance, right now, I have Lo-Riders on one bass and just went through with a set of Lo-Riders on another bass. I hadn't used them for a long time and wanted to try them again. But, I will return to the DR Marcus (aka "Fat Beams") because I'm able to perceive a tonal difference between the Lo-Riders' hex cores, (brighter), and the Marcus' round cores (more depth; not as bright) and the greater flexibility of the round cores. Also, roundcores have more metal, ergo, more output, but I can't tell.......all DR's have plenty of output for me.
  7. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Great post Rickbass! It's one those things that I sort of, kind of, maybe noticed... but didn't have all the info, or the fine-tuned perceptiveness to figure out.

    Very informative, thanks!
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Very good of you to say so, gfab, thanks very much:) Always nice to hear such things from a fellow bassist.

    I still keep trying different strings from time to time, but always come back to DR's. Since they're one of the 4 or 5 companies that actually make their strings, since I always have a set on a bass, and since they're the only strings made with human hands, I figured I might as well learn about them.

    I just don't think Scutterflux can go too wrong with whichever DR's he chooses.

    stringitup.com (in England), says,

    - "Most string companies using high-speed machines can produce in a day what it may take DR six months to manufacture. There's no doubt - it's slow, and it's more expensive. But DR has its vision set on one thing alone: making the best string on the market."
  9. Thanks.

  10. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Hi again Scutter
    I use DR Sunbeams and love them. Nickel 105's
    I think all fo the suns are nickel btw.
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Just to fan the flames of confoozshun-

    I have used 40-60-80-100 until I went to DR Sunbeams...eventually, I hadda go up to 45-65-80-100.

    You're the man, Rick!
  12. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Until you flex your huge "knowledge-of-recordings" muscles!!! :D

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