Low tension thicker guage/high tension thinner guage

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by keatz, Jul 12, 2020.


  1. RudyTardy

    RudyTardy Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I totally understand this inquiry with regards to the combination of stiffness and gauge. To me, it is entirely related to the shape and size of the neck, and how the neck responds to relief on the particular bass in question.

    I can contrast two basses of mine for example:

    1) Fender CS '59 Precision. This thing has a massive neck with tall frets and took me a long time to find the right combination of neck relief/string gauge/string stiffness. Turns out DR Pure Blues 45-105 and .010" relief work the best. Round core, aka slightly more flexible, and the size of the string feel suited to the neck. My fretting fingers don't have to work so hard due to the round core, and I can dig in when appropriate.

    2) Sadowsky UV70 Jazz. The neck is truly a feat of engineering. I keep the relief at .006" and use DR Nickel Lo Riders 40-100 on it. The insanely low action with the stiffer string helps enable fluid motion without having to worry about unwanted clank. The lower gauge is easy on the fretting hand but not floppy under the plucking hand.

    I would love it if I could just find one gauge and brand set to work on all my basses, but they each have a specific purpose and getting the stiffness/gauge combination correct is, to me, the key to unlocking the potential of every instrument.
     
    Vinny_G and [email protected] like this.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    If I have to choose one, I choose lighter gauge. Fortunately I don't so I choose both.
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I disagree entirely.
     
    RoketRdr and uwrossl like this.
  4. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Neustria
    Or one bass with four strings ;)
     
    jay_shoe, Killing Floor and keatz like this.
  5. foothilla

    foothilla

    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    LOL,..of course you do.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Yeah, that's what lots of experience doing something on a daily basis that someone else says can't be done will do for you.
     
  7. foothilla

    foothilla

    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    Oh, I know, Big Jim!

    If there is one guy that can defy physics, by getting a low-tension/low-action/heavy-touch combination to ring true,....it's you!

    If there is a guy that can get a Jamerson-like tone with ultra light strings and no processing,....it's you!

    You're the man, Jim! :thumbsup:
     
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Damn right I am! So let's break it down...

    1. "Heavy touch" does not mean "Playing so hard that you can shoot arrows with it." Yes, if you use low tension light strings with a low action, you can get fret rattle. For me, that's entirely by design. I happen to like fret rattle sometimes. But while sometimes I do play with a heavy touch, it never means yanking them within an inch of their lives.

    2. I am not trying to be Jamerson. I am trying to be me and nobody else. Yet, when I need those kinds of so-called "vintage tones," I don't seem to have a problem getting them with my setup. Does it sound identical to Jamerson? Of course not. And using a pre-CBS Precision with LaBella Jamerson flats and very high action is no guarantee that you're going to sound like Jamerson whatsoever, either. And not everyone who uses light gauge rounds on a Precision sounds like Mike Dirnt in 1993.
     
  9. foothilla

    foothilla

    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    1- The definition of "heavy touch" can be pretty subjective. To those of us that have done literally thousands of professional set-ups, you quickly learn that Physics punishes a heavy-touch/light-strings/low-action combination with a wildly vibrating string that will quickly send your note sharp, or cause you to fret out.

    2- You could use Victor Wooten's setup and achieve the tones of Jamerson and Duck Dunn. But, you're the king, so what I was saying doesn't apply to you. I was giving widely accepted, generic set-up advice to mere mortals.

    But, trust me, Jim,.....I know that you are #1. I know you can do anything that you set your mind to! :hyper::bassist:
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
    JimmyM likes this.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I'm far from number one. But I am my personal favorite.
     
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  11. RoketRdr

    RoketRdr

    Nov 7, 2019
    Houston
    Tell that to Adam "Nolly" Getgood. Plays Dingwalls with 37# tension Kalium strings with low action and there is not a more heavy handed bass player around. I use his setup and play hard as hell with a pick and don't have any issues.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
    JimmyM likes this.
  12. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Neustria
    With a sound drowned in distortion, you certainly don't hear any fret rattling and you can dig as hard as you want, especially with a 0.60mm pick as thin as paper. ;)
     
    foothilla likes this.
  13. foothilla

    foothilla

    Aug 21, 2016
    Los Angeles
    Getgood uses thin picks, which greatly reduce attack. He has an abnormal style where he essentially uses his pick to act as a slap thumb, and he plays with so much dirt and effects that you could probably fart near his pickups and it would make a distorted, sustaining note come out of his amp. If you handed his bass to a more "traditional" electric bass player, who plays clean and with a heavy touch, his bass would probably feel/sound terrible (assuming it's set-up as you described). Although a slapper, with a light-to-medium touch, might like his setup.

    When things like bass setup are discussed, generally people aren't talking about the exception to the rule. And Getgood is definitely employing a unique style. His technique is abnormal.

    My measure of action and attack are based on doing a lot of setups. When I am discussing things like this, I am talking about the average bassist,....not a guy that is admittedly trying to sound like a midi.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
    Vinny_G likes this.
  14. RoketRdr

    RoketRdr

    Nov 7, 2019
    Houston
    Gotcha...and agree. I was a guitar player for 30 years before I picked up the bass so his playing style and tone appealed to me. I always loved dUg Pinnicks tone so naturally liked Adams. I use a .6mm pick as well and play “through” the strings really hard like Adam which gives a natural compression. I suppose if a traditional style bass player ever picked up one of my basses and tried to play they would struggle with it and probably not like it.
     
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  15. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Sep 19, 2021

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