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How do you choose string gauge?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Grapevine921, Jan 10, 2018.


  1. tension

  2. tone

  3. whatever is on sale

  4. carrots (I don't know my string gauge)

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Grapevine921

    Grapevine921

    Feb 8, 2011
    Please choose an option on the poll!

    Hello everyone! I've been thinking too much about why I've made the string choices I have over the years and it brought me to this question: what makes me decide on the gauge? I mostly opt for medium or light gauge strings because I feel like I can play with a wider dynamic range without straining my fingers. Too light and I feel like I'm missing out on low end and too heavy gets too painful when I get aggressive with my non-fretting hand. Thoughts? Please discuss!
     
  2. Grapevine921

    Grapevine921

    Feb 8, 2011
    Nothing?
     
  3. shawshank72

    shawshank72

    Mar 22, 2009
    Canada
    I like balanced tension, actually need and crave it.
    Play flats and love my low action, so I've settled on 50/65/85/110 as it gets me there.
     
    Grapevine921 and Killed_by_Death like this.
  4. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Cannot vote. I decide based on tension, tone and sometime what's on sale. I do know my string gauges. :D
     
    MonetBass, Grapevine921 and MrLenny1 like this.
  5. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    N.H.
    I play in dance bands and Med gauge
    works best for that style for me.
    45. 60, 80, 105, 130.
     
    Grapevine921 likes this.
  6. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    For me it's tension first and tone a very close second. I personally prefer a string with higher tension for my plucking hand. Although I don't want the strings to be so taut that they restrict my fretting hand.

    When I started playing 35" scale basses I discovered I could switch to a lighter gauge with certain brands, and still get the string tension I needed.

    I can't say I've ever used a light gauge set, nor have I ever used a heavy gauge set. I'm comfortable with regular and medium gauge sets.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    Grapevine921 likes this.
  7. grimjim

    grimjim

    Jan 26, 2014
    Chicago, Illinois
    Endorsing artist;DNA Amplification, GHS strings
    I went with a custom set, a combination of tension and tone. I'm playing a 5 string in A standard so the thinner strings were very floppy especially on the two lowest strings. So I'm running 45, 65, 85, 110 130.
     
  8. tlc1976

    tlc1976

    Aug 2, 2016
    Michigan
    I prefer lighter gauge, balanced tension or close to it. Which seems to give me what I want, being more mids and overtones, not as much boom. Also heavy strings just wear ME out, I'm not a heavy handed player.
     
  9. I choose the type of string (round or flat, etc.) and to some extent the brand for tone. I chose gauge based on how I want it to feel (and in some cases what will fit into the existing nut slots). I like my short-scale basses to feel a little less tense than the long-scale ones, so the gauges are pretty similar: .40" or .45" to .100" or .105".
     
  10. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I have a preference for a bit of twang or snarl - hi mid emphasis. That seems to happen best with a fairly aggressive right hand technique and a set of 35-50-70-95 nickel rounds. On a D standard tuned bass, 45-60-80-110 lands in about the same tension neighborhood, though the twang is a bit different.
     
  11. "Tension" has two parts to it; 1) Pulling weight and 2) Stiffness/flexibility.

    I like a set that's as tension-balanced (1) as possible. In terms of stiffness/flexibility, they need to be comfortable enough for the left hand (for fretting) but at the same time firm enough for the right hand (for plucking). For me personally, finding the right gauges is just a matter of finding an optimal balance between the firmness for plucking and the suppleness for fretting. This also means I don't always use identical gauges for all strings, depending on their make (brand), type (rounds vs. flats) and construction (hex core vs. round core).
     
    Linnin likes this.
  12. Linnin

    Linnin SUSPENDED

    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Tone first and foremost. As far as tension goes, I like higher tension and heavier gauges than most. What I cannot stand is flippity floppity low tension strings especially light gauges. Nope. No Thanks.
     
  13. The diameter of the strings has little to do with the timbre of it, so I go for balanced tension, but ironically most sets are not very balanced.
     
  14. briandavismurph

    briandavismurph Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Chicago
    I replace what the bass came with from the factory, your truss rod and nut will thank you for it.
     
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    RS 66's = 35-55-70-90
    TI jazz rounds = 43-51-68-89

    i've been playing TI's for a couple of years. very nice, rubbery, low tension.
    i've played the rotos for years (and years). very light ( :D ), fairly even tension.

    i like both for fretlesses. i have one fretted instrument which has the rotos. i don't choose because of tone, but i'm used to the tones from those strings (those two different tonal qualities when new, not so much after breaking in.) i don't really care about price (although i look for deals on those two). both of them are easy to manipulate for me, so i'd be in the "tension group" per the poll.
     
  16. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    I voted "carrots" - because I always vote carrots. But, I'm very aware of the string gauges on my basses. I like strings that are stiff and/or high tension (I play with a pick a lot). I like flats - mostly in the neighborhood of 45-105 - except the ones that're only available as something else. The few rounds that I use are either 45-105 Hybrid Slinkys, or the 50-107 short scale Boomers. Tapes are Roto 88s; 65-115. I'm more interested in the tone than anything else - as long as I can play them with a pick, I'm happy. But, I have no trouble playing any string I use finger style, either...:cool:
     
  17. Due to health issues (Arthritis and joint fusions) I prefer strings that are less stiff and smaller gauges. .40-.95 and .45-.100 are my favorites. When playing a 5 string I prefer a .115 -.120 B string.
     
  18. Member8675309

    Member8675309 Banned

    Aug 19, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    I can’t just choose one option because there are multiple factors that go into my decision.
     

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