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Heavier Strings and Truss Rod Adjustments

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Hategear, Oct 11, 2001.


  1. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Lately, I have been thinking about installing heavier gauge strings on my bass, instead of the "typical" gauges used on the A, D and G strings. I currently use .105s for the E, .085s for the A, .065s for the D and .045s for the G. What I'm thinking of doing, is using .105s for both the E and A strings and .085s for both the D and G strings. Another thought would be to use a .105 for the E, a .085 for the A and .065s for both the D and G strings, but I am leaning more toward the first option I listed.

    My question is: If I do this, will a truss rod adjustment be needed? I know a .085 gauge string is heavier than a .045, but if I placed it in the G position and tightened it to the proper tension, wouldn't it exert the same amount of "pull" as a .045 G string? Let me know what you think.
     
  2. You CAN do it.. but it would require complete re-setup of your bass, plus it will sound like poo..
     
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Allo is right, you'll need to readjust everything. Heck, I have to make several adjustments when I put on a new set of the same gauge.

    The heavier core will exert more pull on your instrument. The leading cause of string failure is core stretch and that heavier gauge just isn't going to give as much. This will really become apparent when the heat and humidity where the bass is kept change and the neck starts getting restless.

    Plus, the windings, wrap to core, and the materials they are made of will affect it.
     
  4. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    HOLY mackerel.

    You are planning to tune that .085 string almost ONE OCTAVE higher than it was designed for. You are going to be REALLY stressing the limits of that neck.

    Last time I tried that (thought I was tuning the D string, turned out I was trying to tune the A string to D -- :oops: :eek: :mad: )... the string broke. (And I pissed off the salesgeek in the store.)

    I would recommend you try this on an old junker bass first to see if the neck can take this kind of tension. And give it a couple of weeks to settle to see what really happens. And for heaven's sake, keep your face away from the strings as you're tuning up...
     
  5. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Thank you, Eli!

    I've been following this post from the start but I had decided to just wait and read the rest of the expert advice.:rolleyes:
     
  6. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Hey, it was just a thought! I also broke a string one time by tuning it up instead of down -- my G string, if I recall. What if I were to use lighter strings? I could use a .085 for both the E and A strings and a .045 for both the D and G strings? Actually, I much prefer 100% cotton for my G strings, but that's something else entirely! Woooo! :D

    My whole point of doing this is that an A played on the fifth fret of the E string is supposed to be the same as an open A string, but it's not. A D played on the fifth fret of the A string is supposed to be the same as an open D string, but it's not. Or, am I misinformed?
     
  7. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    The 105-105-85-85 thing would NOT work. To get your bass set up without any bow you'd practically break the truss rod...

    ...if the strings didn't break first. That would NOT work.

    the 105-85-65-65 thing isn't a good idea either, because then you'll have fairly uneven tension applied to the neck, which may cause neck TWISTING, which is NOT good. Not as likely, but it could potentially happen.

    If you want a heavier G, a .50 works pretty well. CERTAINLY not an .85.
     
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I think there's going to be a whole lot of slipping and sliding in those nut slots and probably on those saddles - BBBBZZZZZZZ

    Not getting the proper note on a fretted string means either your intonation desperately needs adjustment, (most likely), or whatever standard you're tuning to is whack.
     
  9. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I check my intonation every time I change my strings and adjust as necessary and I usually tune to E flat, or dropped D flat.

    To my ear, there is a huge difference between a D played on the fifth fret of my A string and an open D. The open D is very -- twangy. Maybe this is to be expected?
     
  10. Star*

    Star*

    Jan 24, 2001
    i would'nt do it dude, just use the right strings...our else when you play you will sound like crap
     
  11. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    [My whole point of doing this is that an A played on the fifth fret of the E string is supposed to be the same as an open A string, but it's not. A D played on the fifth fret of the A string is supposed to be the same as an open D string, but it's not. Or, am I misinformed?]quote/Hategear

    You are losing me on this one. E string in the fifth fret is identical to an open A. The slight tonal variation can easily be overcome with technique. I.E. plucking nearer the middle of the neck for a heavier, more mellow sound on the A string.

    It sounds to me like your experiment would put a tremendous amount of strain on the neck. Not to mention, as Angus pointed out, the nut would have to have the notches reworked to even try it.

    Do yourself and your bass a favour. Just don't do what you propose. It wont work!

    Pkr2
     
  12. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Ys, it is to be expected. The tone of ANY string will get deeper and rounder (as opposed to bright and twangy) the higher up the fretboard you go. You want a clangy sound, you play down low. You want a fat round sound, you play up high. Or else, maybe you get flatwound strings! It sounds like you want any given pitch to sound the same wherever on the bass it is played. Is that it?

    I've reread all the posts in this thread and I suppose someone should have asked you, "What do you want to sound like?" Maybe we can help you get there once we understand where "there" is.
     
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    That is it exactly! Will flatwound strings do that for me? I currently use Fender 7350Ms. I like the "sharpness" of the stainless steel, but they are a little too sharp when dealing with the D and G strings.
     
  14. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Hmmm. Flatwound G for sure, probably D. You might have to mess around a little. But go to www.juststrings.com -- they have almost every string available for sale as single strings! You can go nuts and experimant without having to fork out $30 or $40 for a set you're gonna throw away 3/4 of.

    Actually, I say try a set of flats first. It may give you what you want in the higher strings, but the lows will be considerably darker than the rounds you have on now. Maybe you could try mixing and matching with the rounds you have on now.

    Or you can do like Jamerson did -- just never change strings and wait 'til they get good and gooked up -- no more metallic clang!
     
  15. Gabu

    Gabu

    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    is that because your nut is a different material than your fret?
     
  16. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Hategear, your first post makes your name make sense!

    OK, I'm with you, I don't like that difference in sounds between strings. On the ol' P I turn the tone control max off. That helps the old strings to play evenly.
    On the BassLab I currently have home, I try to emphasise the low mids, while cutting the treble. The material of the BassLab makes it more clear on every string, ad this way it's possible to even it out a bit.
    And then there is plucking and fretting technique, and amp adjustments.
    You could also choose heavy G and D, i.e. 0.50 for the G, but don't overdo it!

    Don't mess the neck up!
     
  17. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Uhhh...yes? My nut is bone and the frets are metal. Why would that matter, when originally there was a plastic nut on there?
     
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Yes. It is to be expected. The tone of the string is a function of the length and the tension. Even if you were able to structurally make your experiment happen without snapping the neck or putting out an eye, the open string would still sound different than the fretted one.

    To me, this is part of the beauty. When to use one position verses another for a certain note is part of developing technique. Sometimes you do it for tone, other times you do it in order to be in position to go somewhere else. Sometimes you just hit the one you can get to the fastest.
     
  19. If you use half flat, half round (E and A round, D G flat) It WILL sound different, and i dont think you want that. If you really want every possible note to sound the same everywhere, i say get a bagillion stringed instrument, and never switch positions. If thats really waht you want though. I mean, you can quite possibly get all the notes most people get with a std. 4 string with a 21 neck fret in one position, but you'd need a ton of strings. If you want a bass that has a 5th fret closed to sound the same as a open string, buy a bass with a zero fret. It will simulate a closed note for you. You're making everything a ton harder than it has to be. You dont like the sound of open strings? Dont use them. What about the low E? Buy a 5 string. You dont like the sound of the upper register? dont use it. The reason why string gauges are spaced out like they are, is to try to achieve evenness all the way across, and to give equal tension across all 4 or whatever amount strings. If you strung your bass 105 105 85 85, you'd next be complaining that your E string was too floppy compared to the rest of your strings, and the A and G strings are VERY tight, and if there is any way to losen them.
     
  20. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    How about a one fretter, with 12 strings? :D