Low Tension Strings for Bass with Neck Issues

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by RBS_Johnson, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. Hello all,

    So, I did search, but unless it really isn`t discussed here much I am really bad at searching(which is a distinct possibility :D) I have a bass that the truss rod is broken in. It isn`t worth much, but I absolutely love the sound. The action is high with standard round wounds. I had a friend who runs a guitar store take a look at it today. He suggested before taking any drastic, expensive action towards fixing/replacing this bass that I should try a lower tension string set on it.

    This bass is a 34" scale, and I had intended on using flats for it before I found out the neck was terminal. It has had a long, long time to settle in, so I think the neck is stable. Upon hearing this, he suggested a set of light-ish tape wound strings to maybe make it playable for a while(or forever, depending). I know TI flats are low tension, how would something like that compare(note, I have never played on TI`s)? What would you guys suggest as a low tension string set to help this bass live on?


    P.S. - On my main player which is another 34" scale, I use light gauge nickel round wounds. Like 40-95`s or something this go round. Love them on it.
  2. Thomastic Flats are the lowest tensions strings I've ever played. They are kind of expensive though.Why not try and find a replacement neck?
  3. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Sometimes a problem truss rod can be fixed. The easy case is that the truss rod nut gets replaced.The worst case is that the truss rod itself must be replaced. You might want to take it to a good luthier.

    Added: Even if the bass isn't worth much for resale, if you love it (as you said you did) the cost of the repair might be justified.
  4. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    40 60 75 95 DR highbeams or sunbeams. I also just noticed they have a new Highbeam set that's 30 50 70 90 :eek: If those aren't low enough tension, I doubt anything will be.
  5. It is a 60`s teisco, so parts are kinda hard to come by. The truss rod is broken at the anchor point, you can pull it clean out of the neck(with he neck off the body). I took it a few places. Everywhere else just told me it was a lost cause(I got quoted anywhere from $400 and up, paid $100 for the bass). My friend was the first with helpful advice. Worst case scenario I will take all the hardware and electronics and put them into a generic p bass or something. I just thought I would try his advice first.

    If I find some used TI`s I will totally jump on them for this bass!
    Jaco, do you know if the DR`s last awhile?

    Thanks guys :)
  6. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    I use the 40-95 Highbeams on my mim fretless jazz and get 9 months to a year out of them, I'm a pretty fastidious hand washer, and it depends on your definition of when dead is dead. They last a lot longer than Sunbeams do. I never got more than a few months out of those.
  7. Ok, cool. I know TI`s last about forever, which makes them not seem as ridiculously priced in the long run.
  8. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Are the TI's lower tension at pitch than others of the same gauge? Flexibility has very little to do with the tension that the strings exert (from the tuners to the saddle) on the bass.
    'Tension' is not always referring to the linear stress required to bring a string to pitch (on TB, anyway), often it refers to 'felt tension'/ flexibility. NOT the same thing.
    What you need is a set of strings that have a lower total tension than what has been on that instrument.
    I would compare TI's actual tension as a set to another manufacturer's actual tension before buying something (especially at their price) that may not help.
    D'Addario, GHS and Kallium (spelling?) all have string tension charts to compare.
  9. The Eristic

    The Eristic Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2005
    Cartersville, GA
    I've had TIs on my P for, um, 7 years? Still going strong and very easy to play.

    As far as low tension sets, though, I've just put a set of Rotosound RS66LAs on one of my basses which has a touchy neck and rather difficult-to-adjust truss rod. 30-85 and they sound great, play great and the neck sights much straighter now. Probably going to change over to similar on most of my other roundwound basses.
  10. rfslick


    Dec 31, 2008
    Benicia, CA. USA
    If I had a neck that was that critical, I would use the strings I have and tune it a step low and play a step higher! I would not spend any money on new strings for it till I knew it was going to stay and play reliably.
  11. neckdive

    neckdive Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    In my experience, TI Flats have very little tension and will reduce pullback on the neck. However your concern seems more focused on action and what might your bass play like if you lowered overall tension on the neck.

    You can do this for free by temporarily removing the E and G strings and play the A and D strings for a bit with the reduced tension on the neck. After doing this, see if the neck relief has been reduced due to less string tension bending the neck back.

    Lowering the nut and saddle height can be adjusted to drop the action as well. Only file the grooves in the nut down if you are comfortable doing this to get down to the very lowest you can go without causing buzz. Too many people focus on the truss rod as the only way to drop action while having their nut height much to high.

    You can test the nut height by putting a capo and a folded business card on the first fret. Adjust it so the capo string is just over the first fret without touching it simulating and reduction in nut height. With only 2 strings on the neck and a capo on the first fret, how does the action feel between the 5th - 12th frets? Now try removing the A and the D strings and playing only the E and G strings. How does the action feel? Do you have room to lower the saddles on the bridge?

    The point of this test is that if you can't lower the action using this simple test, lower tension strings probably won't solve your problem and it will save you $80 or so on a high end set of TI's.

    Good luck.
  12. I don`t have a problem spending $30-40 for new strings for it that will last a long time. Even if this neck is toast, it will be replaced by a similar one of a similar scale, so no big loss on the strings. New TI`s are not an option right now though. I am also looking into La Bella`s tape wound series, if anybody has any experience with the white tapes as far as tension goes.

    I will try some of the suggestions here after I get off work(whopping 4 hour shift). Neckdive, that seems like a good procedure. I know the nut is cut nice and low, and I can go down some on the saddles. I just know the neck has a bit too much "arch". The correct word escapes me right now.

    Thanks guys.
  13. Wagz


    May 2, 2012
    Milwaukee, WI
    The correct word is relief.
    You also may a bit of success shimming the neck to get it angled back a little. Those old Teisco basses sometimes have a really high bridge and pickups so the neck sits really high in its pocket.
  14. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    I was going to post the same. I have TI Jazz flats on my Jazz bass and love 'em. In comparison, I have a set of flats on my Precision (forgot the brand, but not TI anyway) and they are very tension heavy, making it a chore to play that bass :(
  15. Thanks you Wagz. It was bouncing around in my head but it could`t get out. Most of the Japanese ones I have had were a thin body, hence the higher neck, pickups, and bridge. This one is just medium high, not nosebleed section heights like some.

    Eddie, how would you say the TI`s compare to round wounds of similar gauge?
  16. rotosound funkmaster 30-90
  17. Isotonic

    Isotonic Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Round Rock TX
    Back in the nineties I loaned my bass amp to a guy in an African Drum band. The bassist had a Teisco. The neck was warped as can be, but the bass sounded really good with the GK RB-400. I would say that bass is worth saving, or put the pickups on something more stable, or have a neck built.

    Ultimately value comes down to how good it sounds and how enjoyable it is to play. I have always had my eye on a certain $3500 bass. One day I actually had an opportunity to audition one and I was very disappointed. It's not that the bass wasn't gorgeous and beautifully built. It's just that it had a very polite tone. There was nothing inspiring about the tone. I would rather struggle with an inspiring tone, than have a perfect playing bass that had a bland tone. (not that you can't find both, just saying).
  18. This one plays pretty nice as well. I actually have been thinking more about having the neck pocket routed out to standard fender dimensions and using a Jazz or Precision neck on this body. The strings would be in from the edges of the board just a hair more than average, but I think it would be OK. I want to try some strings as a stop-gap measure though(funds being limited by my upcoming wedding). Who knows, maybe I will find a set I really like ;)
  19. The Rage

    The Rage

    Nov 12, 2013
    On the back of the box of Dunlop strings there's written: "Low Tension"
  20. davrip


    Jun 30, 2012
    The lowest I have used are Fender tapewounds.

    Last forever, cheap and coming from Labella and Fender Flats, feel like cotton...