How do you decide on string gauge?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Doug4321, May 29, 2017.

  1. Doug4321


    May 29, 2017
    It's one thing to decide which brand or type of string. Base it on the sound you want, etc. But each string comes in several gauges. How do you decide which?

    It's a little tough to just try them out since switching gauge can mean readjusting the bridge and truss rod. (Plus the expense). More work than just trying a different brand in the same gauge or tension.
  2. After a couple of years of numerous "experiments" and "test drives", I have found a formula that seems to work for me fairly consistently.

    I only play 4-strings basses and like a set of strings that are even across all strings in terms of tension around 40-45 lbs. per string. This generally translates to a set with gauges 45-60-80-105 or as close to them as possible. Unfortunately, not many manufacturers offer a set with those gauges as a factory set.

    Strings choices are a very personal matter. The only way to find out what works for you is simply to try them out.
  3. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    balanced tension

    right now I've got some 0.044" - 0.106" strings on & they're perfect

    Pbassmanca and Bodeanly like this.
  4. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Balanced tension and some meat on the bones for me.
    Took years of trying out different gauges but now I'm set.
    As a heavy handed pick player who enjoys low action this is what I arrived at.
    Unfortunately for me it's hard to come by this setup but I'm lucky for for selling singles of my favourite string.
    Pbassmanca and Bodeanly like this.
  5. Thinnest possible. I see no reason to use super heavy strings unless down tuning substantially.

    I almost always use 0.40 to 0.100 (0.120 B) and have for years. Exceptions for me are flats/tapes which tend to be heavier gauges.

    Personal preference in any case!
  6. rob_thebassman


    Jul 26, 2010
    Normanton, UK
    playing bass since 2005
    45 65 85 105 is a good starting point in my honest opinion, work around that or us that, or not.. up to you :)
    Mystic Michael, Honch and bobyoung53 like this.
  7. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    I never really seemed to care until Talkbass. Welcome to the rabbit hole, amigo. These days, as others have stated, I look for balanced tension and some extra stiffness to get sweet action (DR Lo-Riders, 45-105).
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I like medium gauge for playing/gigging dance music finger style.
    You'll have to try some to see what works for you.
  9. Doug4321


    May 29, 2017
    Current Fender jazz came with 45-65-85-105.

    Back in the day I had a medium scale Aria. I remember switching to medium scale rotosound swing which come only in 40-90. Besides fitting better they really livened up the bass. But I had to raise the action to get rid of buzz. That said, probably could have adjusted the truss rod instead?

    I guess to reiterate, what drives you to choose a heavier or lighter gauge? And do you tend to have to readjust the truss rod as well as the action?
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Most basses come with the above mentioned 45-65-85-105. Medium light. I just keep things simple and stick with that. I have way too bad of a bass buying habit to get used to anything else, and have to change things every time I buy a bass.
  11. beaglesandbass

    beaglesandbass Think first, then post? Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    I honestly don't pay much attention to string gauge. If you set up two basses with differences of .05 in each string, i doubt I'd be able to tell the difference.
    Root 5 likes this.
  12. Jason Harris

    Jason Harris

    Jan 17, 2017
    I tend to use 55-115 heavier gauge, due to my heavy attack with both pick and fingers.
    Suppose i just like the tight tension and feel of them
    scuzzy, PillO and shawshank72 like this.
  13. My two best basses have the adjustment at the heel. So, rather than monkey around with the setup every 6 months I just go with slightly heavier strings in the summer when humidity is a problem and lighter the rest of the year. Not perfect but gets me in the ballpark.
  14. I use the gauge that whatever bass I may be using sets up best with. That said, gauge is the final thing I consider when choosing a set. It's not that it isn't important, but I've played enough sets to where I know what to expect from a given brands respective gauges.
  15. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    A bass has strings on it. You play it for a few minutes or a few weeks. Do you wish they felt different? That's how you decide.

    You correct your setup as needed, regardless of why it has changed. Period.
    Joedog, Honch and Baltimore Bass like this.
  16. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    It takes 2 things--- time and money.
    Joedog and gjohnson441496 like this.
  17. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    I like that .106 E string......
  18. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    Come to think of it, I like that Ken Smith bass too......
  19. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I prefer standart or light.
  20. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    Hey man, how do you make the little comment appear below your TalkBass moniker? I can't figure it out.