Light or Heavy gauge. Difference?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Albini_Fan, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    I'm only asking because I can't afford to try them all out. If I get a heavy guage string set, I will have them for awhile (Month or so). Is there any difference in sound? Playability? I imagine heavier strings would be easier to play hard with a pick at fast speeds, my strings are light guage and seem to bounce around too much. But I also play with a pretty flimsy pick..

    (I've only played with the lightest sets I could get, I don't know why. I bet I will get heavy strings, and everything will fall into place and I will become a musical genius! Or not.)
  2. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Yes, there will be a difference in sound. Light gauge strings typically have more treble and upper midrange, while heavier gauge strings will usually have more bottom end and low midrange, but the heavier strings can also have a very crisp top end.

    The feel and playability will also be different under both hands. My suggestion is that you visit some music stores and play as many basses as you can, taking note of the different strings. Try a variety of picks as well.

    You can also do a search here for "tension" or "stiff" to find out which medium gauge strings have higher tension (such as DR Low Riders).

  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    A month or so? That's not a long time!

    Maybe the best thing to do is pick a heavier gauge than you're used to but not the heaviest available. Assess whether that moves things in a direction you like. If it does, you can try the next gauge next time round - if not, just go back to where you were before.

    BTW, what gauges are you using at the moment?

  4. Obsolex

    Obsolex Guest

    Nov 17, 2002
    Yeah man, a month is not a long time at all. I try to have mine on as long as possible, until they sound like complete ****, lolz :D.
    But, yeah, the HEAVIER have way more of a bottom end, and a crisper tone. The LIGHTER tend to be more floppy, and have more treble.
    But i'd reccomend starting from a HEAVIER guage, and gradually going LIGHTER if you need or want to do so...

    Hey, and look at it this way, if you change your strings every month, you'll be able to try out 12 guages per year!! lolz, I don't think there are even that many... lolz...
  5. I'd try a 110 set for if you want some good tension for pick playing. I'd say go for a heavier pick as well if your going to dig in with the heavier gauges. I usually play with my fingers but try 98mm or higher for picks to help out as well. Those work well with higher tension and adding some serious punch to the sound

    Side note...

    I've never had any problems getting a nice deep tone out of light gauge strings. I usually use 100's though I'm thinking of posibly going lighter. Not trying to start an arguement or take the thread over, just pointing out my experiences.
  6. sdguyman


    Jan 31, 2003
    San Diego
    I have tried both 95 gauge and 110 gauge E string: the heavier stings take a little more preasure to push down on the fret board than the lighter gauge (In my opinion). I guess it depends on your style. I typically like to slap, pluck, and tap my strings and find it easier to do with the lighter gauge strings.
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    After trying numerous gauges, I always come back to .035 to .095 (Pyramid stainless steels).
    They feel the best to me, and they sound great.
  8. Stamf

    Stamf Guest

    Jun 17, 2003
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi all, first post here :)

    What do you think would be easiest to tap with? For example Terminal Beach by Stu Hamm... I am learning this piece and just wondering...
  9. lonote49

    lonote49 Guest

    Jun 29, 2002
    Cottage Grove, MN
    I use heavy gauge flats on my P-Bass clone primarily because I like the "stiffness" and the ralatively low amount of string excursion. I keep the action very low on this instrument and using lighter strings means I have to increase the amount of relief in the neck to accomodate the increased string excursion inherent in lighter gauge strings. I am strictly a finger-style player and I find it a lot easier to play faster stuff with the stiffer strings...I get better "bounce" with my plucking fingers. Light strings just feel too floppy.
  10. CrawlingEye

    CrawlingEye Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Easton, Pennsylvania
    I use 45-105 Prisms, seems to me that in comparison to the 45-100's, the low E and A are tighter. I don't mean tension, I mean the sound. It's a lot punchier than before and just seems more evenly balanced to me. That's all in my opinion though. :)
  11. tappel


    May 31, 2003
    Long Island, NY
    Generally... Slappers/tappers use lighter gauges. I think Victor Wooten and Mark King, for example, both use 35-95. That's not to say you can't get a good bottom end with those strings. I saw Victor Wooten a few weeks back with the Mike Stern Band. In addition to his usual jaw-dropping solos, Vic did lots of low end grooving and sounded great doing it.

    Setup has LOTS to do with playability. I have an american P bass with a great neck and fret job. I can set it up very low and still be comfortable playing with heavy strings.