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Heavy Gauge for Drop C# Aggressive Player

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by bgavin, May 20, 2007.


  1. I'm doing setups for Chelsea (www.aroarah.com) before they leave for their summer tour. I need recommendations from the community for optimal strings for her drop-tuned bass.

    One of her LTD B254 (4-banger) is permanently tuned at C#-G#-C#-F#. Neck relief is about 0.012". She is a very aggressive player, and gets fret buzz in the 1st to 5th fret range unless I raise the action at the bridge. I increased the neck relief a bit to avoid having too-high action at the highest frets. She lives all over the fretboard, so it is a series of compromises.

    At first, I was going to string with EB Slinky 55,75,90,110. Then I got to thinking she might be better off with using strings 2~5 from a five string set instead. This would be 60,75,95 and 125. At first these might be better used as cables for the Golden Gate Bridge, but in a drop-tune situation, they might be just the ticket?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I'd go with something in the area of 0.120 0.090 0.070 0.050

    If her aggressive technique doesn't permit strings that light at her current setup, I'd say she needs to live with higher action (though not more relief)
     
  3. Daytona955i

    Daytona955i

    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I had that exact same bass, and I even tuned lower (CGCF), I would just buy a set of DR Hi Beams for a 5 string 125, 105, 85, 65, 45, and give the 45 away, I found I got better tension and less buzz stringing through the body if you already hadn't planned on doing that already.

    Great feel and nice action when set up properly, and I played that bass hard with a pick.
     
  4. Thanks for the fast replies. I came to both those conclusions, and opted away from the 5-string approach. The 5-string approach had everything I wanted, EXCEPT the B string was being tuned higher (C#) than its designed range.

    I had a long conversation with Bill Lawrence about string stretching, and he convinced me that once a string is stretched to the point where the modulus of elasticity is destroyed, it will never hold tune. The last thing any bassist needs is a string constantly going out of tune. Bill is vehemently opposed to "string stretching" during installation.

    I opted for bridge cables, all down-tuned. I bought two sets of GHS Bass Boomers H3045. These are 50,75,95,115 gauge. Her standard .105 E string tension isn't bad at C#, so I figure the .115 will have more tension at the same tuning.

    She is specific about being midway between pure nickel and stainless, tone-wise. She runs DR Lorider Nickels .45~.125 on her standard tuning 5-string basses, and is entirely happy with the sound. She says the B is a bit floppy, and will try the .130 on the next set. Chelsea says the DRs last about a month with her body chemistry and 25 hours weekly play time.
     
  5. Fli

    Fli

    Apr 30, 2007
    Birmingham, AL
    FWIW I've tuned to CGCF for a long while now using 50-75-95-132. I've not had any issues with the 132 staying tuned.
     
  6. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    I'd just find out the gauges of what she's already using, then use the D'Addario tension chart to get about the same tensions at the new tunings. That's primarily what I do when I change tunings or when ERBers ask me what gauges to use for their various configs. The D-Addario unit weights seem to translate well across brand names for any given type of string, though differences in core-to-wrap ratio sometimes skew the mix toward changing .005 in either direction on a string or two.

    Here's a link to my String tension calculator spreadsheet, to be used in conjunction with the D'Addario-supplied unit weights that are in a pdf there. That'll speed you on your way: http://lowdownlowdown.com/greenboy/DL/String/
     
  7. That is a promising looking spread sheet. Great tip, thanks.

    She plays DR Nickel Lo-Riders, standard gauge 0.045 to 0.105. DR does not publish any tension data, so I will use your calculator to compare with strings where I have tension data.

    Fli, how floppy is your up-tuned .132 string?
     
  8. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I'm tuning CGDA, and my gauges are 135, 105, 75, 45. Methinks anything lower than a 130 for your C# is asking for trouble.
     
  9. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Why? That's a whole step higher than a B string in standard tuning, and I commonly use 0.118 and 0.120 for that with no problem.
     
  10. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    Phila,Pa.
    D'Addario makes a .145 you buy them direct in singles and make a custom set. I'd say, .145, .110, .70, .55 would be optimum. Go for it!
     
  11. HI. I play in a metal band and we tune to C (C F A# D#). I used to have the same problem your bassist is having.

    I tried several different strings from Fender to DR (HI-Beams and Lo-Riders) and GHS. All had different results. I would found strings that worked, like Fender, but they had problems staying in tune if I went with light gauge. They sounded a bit "twangy" too. The DR's seemed to bring the most buzz and caused the most problems for me.

    I talked to the bassist of The Sword (they tune the same) and he said he used EB.

    So I went to the store and got the set of EB strings you mentioned above (with the 110, the purple ones, Power Slinky?)


    They stay in tune, no fret buzz and sound great right after you change them!

    My only complaint is they seem to wear out faster and sound duller sooner than other strings. Maybe this is due to the increased size with bigger rounds in them to collect dust.

    Other than them wearing out faster, they work perfect for low tunings. I'm afraid if I go larger than 115, I may have to change the nut and get everything set-up again.
     
  12. I'm open to all suggestions. I don't have a problem with replacing the nut if need be. This bass is permanently drop tuned and never changes. The optimum setup will be in its drop tuned state.

    My only concern with using a B string for C# is up-tuning it one full step. My back ground is engineering, and I'm naturally averse to stressing an item beyond its design range. Others here do this and have no problems. My luck is always different from that.

    I did a setup on this bass with DR SS LoRiders, 45~105, and am not happy with it. She is not happy with SS. The playing result is too sloppy, too much fret buzz. Due to string unavailability, she is stuck with this setup for a few shows this week. I ordered two sets of GHS H3045 Bass Boomers, 50~115, and will redo the setup using those strings. If this sucks, we will go to a 5-string set, which might mean nut work.
     
  13. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Those B strings were designed with the materials at hand to get a B on a 34" scale at a certain pitch. But there is nothing theat makes them suitable for ONLY B, just as there is nothing that roots a .115 to one pitch and one pitch only.

    Engineering? The cores of the fatter strings are fatter themselves. They can take way more tension.

    Anyway. I'd say given the set she's been using when tuned to E, the C# easily warrants a .125, and you might consider balancing the rest of the set out to around 40 pounds tension as well. This is pretty much the approach many of us ERBers take when using odd and/or extended tunings. It's not unknown territory by any means.
     
  14. Bass Below

    Bass Below

    Oct 24, 2006
    New York
    I can't stress enough how easy Fodera was to deal with when ordering a custom gauge set. Figure out which gauges you want and give them a call, they'll custom make the set, in either nickel or stainless, and send it out to you within a week for less than you're going to pay for buying individual strings and making your own set.
     
  15. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Yeah, I've gone with them a number of times, same experience.
     
  16. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Well, being that I've been using this tuning since 1998 I find that something super heavy on the lower strings works very well. I've found that even 130s are sloppy when tuned to C.

    Granted, I have very particular tastes and I use super heavy strings (given my tuning, that is), so my hands have gotten used to it.
     
  17. I'm going to say .114 for a C#, if someone will make it for you. I'm basing that on the La Bella set I use, which is designed specifically for D-G-C-F tuning. The D string is .111. I dig in pretty hard on a dead-straight neck with medium-low action, and I don't get any fret buzz. The strings feel and sound great.
    The low E on La Bella's "custom" sets is .106, and my low D is .005 heavier. So, a further half-step down to C#, I'm guessing another .003.
     
  18. Fli

    Fli

    Apr 30, 2007
    Birmingham, AL
    Not floppy at all; it's same tension as a .105 tuned to E. Same goes for the rest of the strings, I prefer standard tuning's tension.
    As stated above, the best thing to do is find the unit weight of the string (or just estimate) and use the tension chart on DA's website. Some prefer lower tension than others depending on style of play.
     
  19. *smb

    *smb

    Nov 26, 2006
    Drop C# really isn't a very low tuning - I wouldn't put too heavy a guage set on that myself. Unless she likes that bottom C# super-tight I'd just put some standard medium-heavy strings on.
     
  20. greenboy

    greenboy

    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    If you were shooting for about the same tension as a 110-.111 at D you'd be looking at more like .120-.121 for a C#. The lower you go, the more the diameter jumps for each half step, since it isn't a linear relationship (see the formula on the D'Addario tension guide or on my spreadsheet).
     

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