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Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by PeaveyPlayer, Jan 23, 2015.
is it true that heavier gauge strings give better tone?
Are granny smith apples better than red delicious? I think so, but that doesn't make it true.
No, it's not true.
The best tone is achieved by properly matching the types and gauges of strings to one's playing style. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.
I found out that with high gauge strings, the dead notes on the neck are more pronounced, and many comes out from nowhere.
with light gauge strings (40-95, 30-90...) even the hardest dead notes tend to be unnoticeable.
for example, with 50-110 strings my Precision has dead notes on: C, C# and D on the G string, a slight F# on the D string , the C# and D on the A string and the G on the E string.
many dead notes, the ones with a lower volume and shorter sustain.
switching to 45-105, the dead G note disappears.
switching to the 40-100 the dead C-C#-D and F# disappears, and switching to the 40-95 disappear even the dead C-D on the A string.
with the 30-90 set I used to have, they were totally unnoticeable not even slightly.
same bass, same hands, different strings. with big strings I had problems live, because I couldn't use the C-C#-D notes on the G string, I had to play them on the D string because the audience noticed the "void" that seamed a mistake.
I now use only light gauges. no regrets.
Where basses differ. I have a dead spot at Eb on the G string of my custom half-fanned P/J. I had better luck using heavier strings and tweaking the truss rod tighter accordingly.
The combination of different tension on the strings resulting in different tension on the neck from the truss rod adjustment affects the effective stiffness of the neck. Changing the effective stiffness of the neck changes its resonant frequency. Since all wood is slightly different in natural density, this can mean that any particular neck may or may not resonate in any particular manner, causing different dead spots, depending on how tight or loose everything is.
So each person has to experiment with each bass to find where the particular bass has its optimal neck tension. Pier has a bass that likes everything to be a little looser, I have one which likes to be a little tighter.
And then within the window of strings that a bass likes for tone and resonance, then that can be further refined to a player's style as set forth above.
For example, newer Fender CL 45-105 flats (before they were discontinued) worked really, really well on my alder-bodied P/J, but had an odd upper mid resonance on my agathis-bodied Ibby that did not sound good. GHS Progressives sound perfect on my maple-bodied 4002, but likewise did not coordinate with the resonances of my Ibby. La Bella black tapes sound big, round, and substantial on my Ibby, but sound hollow on the 4002 and nondescript on my P/J.
Now, from the playing aspect - the La Bella regular gauge black tapes feel more like a conventional 45-105 set of rounds, and I like the way they react under my fingers. The light gauge sound thin as well as feel thin to me, but the D'Addario black tapes, which are the same gauge as the La Bella lights, sound consistent and feel great on the 4002.
The whole point of this digression is that it is good there are many string manufacturers making many models and gauges of strings, so the player can match strings to both the bass and the playing style.
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