Not Even Tension - Even Tone!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Stan_da_man, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    Does even tension equal even tone? I don't think so.

    Every balanced set I've played always has one string that seems lower volume than the others or just has a slight difference in tone.

    The 45-100 gauge gets knocked to death on here but has far as tone and volume goes, I think this gauge is most consistent for keeping it even across the playing field.

    So - what's your take on it?
    Doner Designs likes this.
  2. I'm one of those people who used to live and die by the tension numbers. Not any more.

    Tension figures are still important in my mind as an aid in the process of determining what may or may not work for me personally, but they're only a part of the whole equation.

    So, no, "balanced tension" does NOT always mean "balanced tone".
  3. I just absolutely hate when the D string is the highest tension. I understand why, but my basses usually have flatter radius necks so it doesn’t bother me as much.

    I don’t necessarily strive for perfect balance, but I do prefer lower tension on the lowest string with a gradual increase as I move up in pitch.

    Regarding volume differences, I can usually adjust my pickups to mitigate that, if present.

    Regarding uneven tone across strings, I’ve never had a note sound the exact same between two strings. In fact, I actually like that as I’ll choose my fretting location based on the tone it gives me (as long as it doesn’t compromise my playing).
    MattZilla likes this.
  4. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    GHS Balanced Nickels are the strings that in my experience are the most balanced in terms of string-to-string volume; tone, and tension. I like them, and they are staying on my Am. Pro. Precision.
    trothwell likes this.
  5. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    All you do is recommend GHS strings though...
  6. There are many good reasons why some of us are GHS enthusiasts. One of the reasons is their factory sets provide the best blend of nicely balanced tension and balanced tone.
    RumbleMan3 and gfen like this.
  7. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    So what? GHS are the string experts.
  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My experience is that every set (regardless of whether or not it's tension balanced) has differences in tone across strings. Actually, given the comb filtering that pickups do (which is different for every string), that's inevitable - strings can never completely fix that.

    Differences in volume are due to string construction details (core diameters,etc), pickup layout versus fretboard radius, etc.

    Anyway, I'm still a fan of balanced tension (or slightly tapered, with the low strings a bit higher in tension) sets - I like the fact that they start to "snarl" at about the same effort level across the board- to me that helps me play with more consistent tone.
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  9. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    But actually I have written reviews of D'Addario EXL170 Balanced Tension and also Fender 9050 Flats. How many others are writing comprehensive string reviews?
    Aqualung60 likes this.
  10. ...not to mention sharing wealth of knowledge and historical perspective!

    History of Fender Brand Strings
    Aqualung60 and Linnin like this.
  11. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Yeah! You tell 'em Mikey! ;)
    michael_t likes this.
  12. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    One set of strings that are extremely high with wildly unbalanced tension wise is amazingly balanced for string-to-string tone. Volume less so, but still close. Those would be the Fender 9050M Flats.

    GHS Precision flats are also unbalanced tension wise, but still exhibit excellent string-to-string balance of tone and volume. The Precision flats are exemplary in that their total set tension is about the same as an identically gauged set of hexcore Bass Boomers: 184.6 lbs. vs 186.5 lbs. That's quite an achievement. Bass Boomers themselves being exceedingly well balanced in terms of tone & volume.
  13. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    And fender rumbles.
  14. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I've got a set on my Jazz currently. At first I really disliked them after having Dunlop Super Bright Nickels on that particular bass. Once I did a new setup on the bass for the GHS Balanced Nickels they quickly became my favorite strings for that bass.
    Linnin and michael_t like this.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I have pickups that allow for adjustment of string-to-string volume. Non-issue for me. But no, I never found that to be the case at all.
    Element Zero and Arthur U. Poon like this.
  16. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    I used to get really perturbed at uneven, unmatching string tones until I hung out with a true classical guitarist who mentioned that each string is an instrument unto itself. He spent as much as one would pay for a brand new Honda Civic for a guitar with six distinct voices which would serve as his portable mini orchestra to go perform his arrangements at conservatories and such.

    We are all conducting a four or more voice section whenever we pick up the bass. A little sub-orchestra. That mentality has brought me a lot of joy in exploring just how very different each string is and all of the notes are on them are.

    ([edit] I should add that he wasn't some eccentric with a snake oil geetar- that concept is aparrently de rigeur for pro classical players.)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
    McFarlin, HaphAsSard, bkbirge and 5 others like this.
  17. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I haven't tried any balanced tension sets. I'm concerned with tone, higher tension, and lifespan with my string choices. That's enough for me to worry about. :woot:
    Jeff O'Connor likes this.
  18. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Nice way to look at it! Thanks for sharing!
  19. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    My right hand plucking finger told me that the perfect “balance tension = balance tone” Flatwound bass string are TiJF344.

    The most “unbalance tension = unbalance tone ” Flatwound string are go to Chrome ECB81.

    MattZilla likes this.
  20. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Fresno California
    Not my experience at all. Except the few sets of Dean Markley Blue Steels I tried a decade ago. Never again. But hey, that’s just me. I dig Fodera light medium nickels on my main fretted, D’addario NYXLs on my fretless, D’addario chromes on my wife’s p bass, and TI Jazz Flats on my now retired Ibanez. Of all the sets I currently use, I’ve never heard a difference in tone or volume. All the strings in each set sound like they belong together.