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Gauge Revelation

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jbalou02, Apr 24, 2010.


  1. jbalou02

    jbalou02

    Mar 8, 2010
    I'm the dumbest bass player on the planet. It took some GAS to teach me that I didn't really need GAS to find a better fit. I'm not sorry I've added some nice basses to the stable, but I could have saved myself some cash if I were to just have used my noggin a bit.

    Here's my big revelation. After years of working outside in all types of brutal conditions (northern MI), my hands are beat to hell, and over the past few years I've constantly struggled with cramping and fatigue playing my J Bass. I've actually had my left hand lock up like a dead spider in the middle of tunes, having to physically straighten my fingers out with my other hand after struggling through to the end of the song. Relaxing my playing style, more concentration, and lots of stretching the digits helped, and I've learned to minimize it for the most part. It was still there though. Oh and did I mention I've used heavy gauge strings for 20+ years?

    So I've been GASsing for a new bass lately, and I've picked up a couple...this last one seemed to play so amazingly easy compared to the others. I though YES I've finally found the bass that fits me just right! I decided to rest the J for a while, which has brand new strings on it (heavy gauge). I figured for ships and giggles I'd swap them for the lighter gauge strings on the new bass which are pretty worn. All of a sudden, the J feels amazing and the new P not so much! DOH!

    So there you have it. Master of the Obvious I am not. I'm gonna take comfort over low end (which I'm not even sure I'll have to sacrifice too much), get me some light gauge strings and give my hands a much needed break!
     
  2. dave2

    dave2

    Feb 10, 2007
    Texas
    Which brand of strings are you going to get? And what are the string gauges? Ive been thinking to switching from the DR Low Riders on my Warwick Thumb to something a bit lighter just to see the difference.

    Dave
     
  3. savit260

    savit260

    Mar 6, 2006
    Boston
    Not only will different stings affect feel, but tone as well.

    I constantly recomend trying different brand, and type (stainless, flats, rounds, pure nickel, nickel plated, etc. etc. etc.) to people who seem hell bent on changing parts or entire basses.

    Simple string swaps can do wonders for feel AND tone, and surprisingly, are often over looked in favor of MUCH more expensive options.
    (required IMO)
     
  4. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    +100 to What Savit said.
    No ****!
     
  5. grifff

    grifff

    Jan 5, 2009
    Towson, Maryland
    +12521
     
  6. Funny, I had the same sort of revelation lately myself. I have always used 105's without exception. Recently I got a Fender Mustang, which was strung with 100's. I of course put 105's on the Mustang shortly after getting it and what do you know, I didn't like it so much any more. It got me thinking so I put 95's on it and was like wow! I actually ended up finally settling back in on the 100's and couldn't be happier. I just picked up a Jazz bass last week, strung with 100's, and haven't even considered moving up to 105's. My strings of choice are D'Addario XL Nickel Round Wounds.
     
  7. jasper383

    jasper383

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    I don't think you'll be missing any low end going to a lighter gauge.

    Lighter gauge--more fundamental
    Heavier gauge--more harmonic content.
     
  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Why do you say that? My understanding is that, generally speaking, lighter gauge strings tend to be more flexible, which means that they are able to reproduce the higher-frequency harmonics more strongly, more purely, and more in tune.

    Conversely, the stiffer a string is (which usually means heavier gauge, or at least with a thicker core), the more it acts like a bar and the less it acts like a string. The string is less able to vibrate with those higher frequency harmonics, and the harmonics it does reproduce tend to go sharp, giving the string a more "clangy" tone than a more flexible string would have. That's why pianos are often "stretch tuned", to compensate for the fact that the harmonic overtones on the thick lower strings then to be sharp.

    Mike
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    sorry, i don't hear it, especially when you bump gauges .005" one way or the other. my basses all record the same regardless of the gauge of strings that are on it. now brand...that's a different story, but not gauge.
     
  10. jbalou02

    jbalou02

    Mar 8, 2010
    My local shop doesn't have much selection. All he had today were Ernie Ball's and Fenders. I've been playing Ernie Ball Power Slinky 55-110's, so just for a change, I got the Fender 45 -100's. I could have gotten 40 - 95's but I figured I didn't want to make too extreme of a change. I'm headed to the music room to put them on now!
     
  11. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Whatever bass I own with light strings becomes the bass that I play more flashy on and turn to more often.
     
  12. mulchor

    mulchor

    Apr 21, 2010
    St Pete, FL
    When I started reading this thread, I thought it was going to lead to a different revelation.

    In my experience, a lot of times GAS for me comes from feeling like not only am I not happy with what I hear myself playing, but it seems decidedly worse than it used to be.

    So I think about a new ____ (amp, instrument, pup, effect...).

    I eventually figured out, the GAS is solved by fresh strings, even keeping the same gauge.
     
  13. jasper383

    jasper383

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Yes, that little difference won't translate to much.
     
  14. jasper383

    jasper383

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Here's a quote from knuckle_head, a Talk Bass member and actual string winder, from a similar thread a couple days ago. He says it better than I can, and my experience with gauges matches his observations:

    "There are a couple of things to this.

    A loose string has more movement and is inherently louder as a result. The fundamental is more pronounced on a loose string.

    A tighter string will keep a booming fundamental in check, letting the upper transients become a greater part/percentage of the over all sound.

    Thickness damps upper transients, but it isn't brutally apparent until you get to three and four wrap strings. .090-ish and lighter, I suspect you won't really be able to tell. E and B strings is where this really shows up - especially when you get to the 4 wrap B strings."
     

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