Heavier tension strings=lower action=less perceived tension?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by armybass, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    OK, I like low tension strings but recently put a set of Sunbeams on my string through Classic Stingray and I was not digging the feel. Way too taught for my liking tuned to E. Most of my basses are tuned to Eb so this was a step higher than I am used too but that usually doesn't bug me that much. I think maybe the string through also makes the tension feel a bit stiffer? So any way I was able to lower the action quite a bit due to the string tension and now they feel perfect to me. So maybe I am not so allergic to higher tension strings as I thought.... maybe I just need to be willing to give my bass a different setup from time to time.
  2. Yep. Makes sense.
    armybass likes this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Heavier tension strings would normally mean higher action, until you re-setup for them. But yeah, once you've got things adjusted, I guess it does make sense that you'd be able to get less fret noise on lower action with higher tension strings.
    armybass likes this.
  4. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    but! i have floppy old TI's on a jbass and my action is very low. bordering on super low. in my case i had to adjust my technique to avoid unwanted fret noises. when i want that grind i dig in.
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  5. makaspar

    makaspar Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Austin, TX
    Makes sense for the fretting hand, but you still have high tension with your plucking hand.
    armybass likes this.
  6. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    every string has it's own advantages.

    for example, I do prefer higher tension strings (I use Labella 52-110 for flats and Ernie Ball nickel 50-105 for rounds) for most of my playing because the plucking hand has a wider range of dynamics.
    I can pluck and finger really hard an heavier string and get all the dynamic I want from it, with the raise in volume. also, plucking harder doesn't fatigue the fingers.

    with lower tension strings it feels like there's a limiter, and you can't get more volume from them. also, the bendable string makes the fingers sore.

    however, on the bass I use for slap, tapping and stuff where I do need the limiter effect I prefer lower tension strings. tapping and slapping on a flat .052 G is not a pleasure.

    and I'm not mentioning the fretting hand! another story!

    with high tension strings you can lower the action, and they are better if you seek a clean sound.

    if you prefer a dirty, clanky and buzzing sound, perfect for funk and some rock (I think of John Entwistle, Geddy Lee, Flea and many others), lower tension strings are better, because they are easier to smash against the frets even keeping a slightly higher action.
    armybass likes this.
  7. I seem to play a lot differently based on what style I'm playing, but for the most part I play with a pretty heavy finger style. In certain newer edgy rock I like more of that growl and fret slap, and I need a heavier gauge string to get that sound or I'm choking notes all through the show. On my flat wound equipped p bass, I have a lighter more even touch for a nice clean sound that fits the music I'm playing. I don't slap much but prefer the action closer and a lighter gauge string for that.

    I gues if I had to pick, I'd rather have a heavier gauge string with more tension than the other way around. Around the house I can have a light touch, but playing live seems to bring a heavier hand every time.
  8. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    don't know, I prefer light strings when I play with a pick. the resistance made by heavy strings limits my pick-style.
  9. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Hold the phone! That's an interesting theory I haven't considered. I'm interested in trying that now and seeing what happens, as finger soreness seems to be a constant plague do me.
  10. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    go try! I always felt this way when I used low tension strings.

    my last experience was after using the Warwick Black Label 45-105 on my Streamer. they are exactly like Hi Beams from DR, round-core and low tension, super bright and snappy.

    wonderful at home, but when I went out to reharsals or gigs, I couldn't get stand them, because if I played a bit harder, it was like a boxeur punching the air, and I couldn't get the dynamics I wanted.

    the strings bend against the fingers, so the release after the pluck is slower and forces the fingers.

    with firmer strings (now I have Ernie Balls 45-100 on that bass) there is no bending-when-plucking, so the attack is faster and the fingers don't do an excessive movement.

    I would suggest light and low-tension strings to the player with a light touch and who likes to play near the bridge. I'm the kind of player who often plucks at the end of the neck and often with an heavy touch, to smash the strings on the frets :p