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Increasing B-string tension

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Oct 31, 2004.

  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Is there a way that I can increase the tension of the B-string on a 34" scale 5-string bass? I don't want to move the bridge. Are there strings that have higher tension?
  2. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    If you haven't seen it yet, Bass Player magazine did a great string review feature several years ago, and as part of the review, listed (in their opinion) the relative string tension of each set reviewed....soft, medium, tight, etc. I belive that you might still be able to find a e-copy of it online somewhere.
  3. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    Well if anyone happens upon said review hoik it my way. Please.
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    another thing to consider is the heavier the string gauge, the tighter they will be.
  5. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    The E on my pedulla lacked tension - so i upped it from a 100 to a 105. It made all the difference.
  6. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    Not always true though... As some brands get bigger, they get spongier to keep the same tension as their lighter gauges. I think Darco or GHS did this IME. It depends on what the string's core is made of as well.
  7. Dincrest


    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    +1 regarding Big Joe's assessment of GHS strings. My bass had GHS Boomers on it (30-130) before I strung it with Smiths (30-125) and the Boomers were definitely spongier than your average 130 B.

    And isn't it also true that if you use a thicker gauge of string to increase the tension/feel, the notes often become less clear?
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    IME, thinner strings sound more "tinny", not more clear. This is clearly not true of all strings -- my favourite roundwounds are Thomastik-Infeld jazz rounds (E is .089) and they've got a killer fat warm tone.

    Upping the gauge of the strings will *generally* increase tension. Try high gauge Ernie Balls.
  9. You can put a small spacer behind the B string to raise the tension a little. A small PC board spacer from radio shack works for this pretty well.
  10. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Using a spacer, aka "The Willis Technique" simply doesn't increase tension*. You can do a search and find a multitude of threads on the subject, but given the same mass (gauge) of string and the same scale length, the tension of any given note is constant and cannot be changed by "non-speaking" lengthening of string (behind the saddle point at the bridge, beyond the nut at the headstock).

    It's non-debatable physics, and it's sad that some famous musicians and manufactures claim otherwise with designs and tricks like the above.

    *Note: this may very well change the "feel" of a string which is a subjective standard, but tension is "objective" and scientifically measurable.
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Ditto, ditto, +1, exactly right, etc.
  12. Can I buy you a beer? :D
  13. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    The positive comments from two longstanding members whose post counts combined reach over 5,500 is just fine by me.

    ...but I'll always take a correctly-tapped Guinness if you've got one on hand. :D
  14. Stevious G

    Stevious G

    May 5, 2003
    Few things in life as satisfying as a proper 8-minute pour.
  15. Aram


    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I've found Fodera strings to have an excellent B on all my basses -- I recommend checking them out. Good luck.
  16. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    The Ernie Ball Slinky .125 ("hybrid slinky") has a lot of tension even on a 34" scale.
  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I've often been told that using a string-thru-the-body type bridge will increase string tension because the string has to be long to reach through the body (essentially past the bridge). I've often thought this couldn't be true since the "fixed" points are at the bridge saddles and at the nut. This seems to tie into the logic in the argument stated above. Anybody have any thoughts on this?
  18. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    One thought, that it's not true. :D From my own personal experience, string-through-body can increase the dreaded "feel", as it can enhance acoustic resonance due to increased coupling with the body. This, however, is different for many players and exactly why it's subjective and not objective.

    Your initial thoughts about string tension at the fixed points were absolutely correct. It's simply how it is. :D
  19. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    The perfect length for filling the interminable space taken up by a drum solo. :help:
  20. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I've always figured that the center of a string was a little more "perfect" or maybe just more flexible than the extreme end, so you get a truer witness point when you run through the body, and a slightly different string feel.

    Just a theory.

    At any rate ... no, stringing through the body and moving the peg farther from the nut do not increase tension.