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Progressive tension 5 string sets?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by usernamev19, Oct 6, 2019.


  1. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    So, I like what ghs and d'arrio are doing with their balanced tension sets, but I haven't seen many companies venture into progressive tension sets to somewhat emulate a piano, harp, or multiscale bass where the lower-pitched strings are heavier.

    Ideally, they would be long-lasting (think ti jazz rounds), modern-sounding rounds with around the following tensions (in lbs): 42 B, 40 E, 38 A, 36 D, 34 G

    I know d'arrio publishes their tension charts, but I am not a fan of them. And some companies don't publish tension charts - interested to see if anyone has done this through sets or singles!
     
  2. Aidil

    Aidil

    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    You could still use D'Addario tension chart as proxies to other strings you'd prefer. The gauges you're after will probably be 145, 105, 75, 55, 40.
     
    usernamev19 likes this.
  3. Here's the GHS Tension Guide.
     
  4. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    This is because on a piano and a harp, the strings are not all the same length, unlike a bass guitar. It is their length that is partly responsible for their pitch.
     
    michael_t likes this.
  5. ^^^This.

    In order for the thicker strings to have higher tensions, they also need to be longer to achieve proper tonal balance. That's why pianos and harps are designed the way they are.
     
    Vinny_G likes this.
  6. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    The above posters are correct about pianos and harps, but that isn't why such sets are rare. Such sets do not emulate pianos or harps because those instruments have such radically changing string lengths.
    Multiscale basses usually do not have tension falling from low to high because they are usually strung with mainstream sets that are normally top-heavy, so the result is only a slightly more balanced tension.

    Anyway, good to see this thread because progressive tension is my preference. It is actually optimal in many ways, many of which are backed up by physics.
    However, many decades ago tradition dictated top/middle-heavy sets and most bassists have a certain idea of how a bass should sound across a string set, even though top-light sets are fully functional and have no actual tonal quality issues.

    Equal tension ('balanced') sets are a welcome new choice, but top-light is still taboo.
    The only top-light sets i know of are rare Extended Range Bass sets, by necessity to avoid breaking the thin high strings while keeping a standard tension on the low bass strings.
     
  7. stanliv

    stanliv

    Oct 2, 2019
    I'm not sure why it would really matter since we don't always play the strings in ascending or descending order. I think the "standard" gauges probably are that way for a good reason
     
  8. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Order of playing strings is irrelevant, it is about the optimal tension for each string.
    Tradition should not be accepted without question.
     
    fig likes this.
  9. onda'bass

    onda'bass Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2010
    Buffalo Ny
    So how much change per string is progressive? I still think balanced is best, but would be curious.
     
  10. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    The strings Dingwall makes have progressive tension! They're for their multi-scale basses, though (the 37" B string at .130 is one of the best, apparently). It's the only set I've seen that is bottom-heavy and top-lightish progressively.
    I phrased my original post "somewhat emulate" since I don't have a multi-scale bass to mimic one, but progressive tension is something I really like about a piano where the bottom keys are heavier since those thick strings need more force. It just makes sense to me :)

    Thank you for chiming in! I think I was just looking for a comment you made on a thread about a multi-scale bass where you were talking about the harmonics on a multi-scale, and how mathematicians used some type of equation (balanced/average set problem thingy???) to figure out where the frets should be so it messed with something on multi-scale basses.

    Anywho, can you briefly cover why a progressive tension set (bottom-heavy, top-light) makes sense? I'd also be interested in seeing what strings you use - thanks to the above posters, I found ways to make progressive tension sets with ghs and d'addario strings. They usually go from 40lbs on the B to 33ish on the G
     
  11. stanliv

    stanliv

    Oct 2, 2019
    I think the "standard" gauges probably are that way for a good reason









    emi calculator gst login ifsc code
     
  12. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    This is probably because the bass is primarily a guitar, so it works the same way and has the same needs.
     
  13. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    A set could be passed off as progressive with a 38.9 B, 38.8 E, 38.7 D, and so on, but it wouldn't really be noticeable so it would be more like a balanced set (which aren't actually "balanced," the tiny tension changes just aren't noticeable). What I'm going for is a noticeable change to mimic the progressively heavier keys on a piano. I don't have a multi-scale bass, so I can't reap any tonal benefits lol. But the idea of a progressive tension set makes a lot of sense.

    Thanks to the above posters, I made up some sets with ghs and d'addario strings. Ghs boomer's (I don't like boomers, but I digress. .135, .100, .75, .55, .40) have a tension of 39 B, 37.8 E, 36 A, 35 D, and a 33.5 G. I look forwards to trying it out, really sounds like a joy to play. Especially when you factor in the progressive tension resulting from setting the intonation (longer B, shorter G). Also pretty sure the concept is backed by physics, but the idea just makes sense to me. The tone and progressive strings aren't going to make me superman or make my bass sound heavenly
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
    Vinny_G likes this.
  14. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    There really isn't, the changes we're talking about just aren't going to radically change the tone of the instrument, especially since it is electric. Strings are unbalanced because that's just how they are/were, it's a tradition. There's no good reason to make them unbalanced, and I suspect that's not a concern string makers had - it was just about getting a good sound. Even piano strings aren't progressively "tighter" when you look at the math of all the keys, the keys just get heavier as you go down in pitch due to a combo of the power required to hit those low strings, the multi-scale nature, and other fancy math/physics stuff. Since our instrument sits in the low pitched range, a progressive tension to mimic a piano/multi-scale bass just makes sense. Heavy bottom and light top strings are also popular on guitars for a variety of reasons, not all of which translate to bass depending on what you do with it. It comes down to personal preference.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  15. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    The reason for this is obvious: rhythm and lead playing. Is that what you're planning to do with your bass?
     
  16. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    Sure, and some guitarists just like beefier lower strings and lighter top strings, like me. :)
     
    Vinny_G likes this.
  17. The term "heavy bottom and light top" used by some manufacturers are a relative term, as in "compared to the standard set". If you look at the actual tension numbers, however, even the "heavy bottom and light top" sets typically have the low E as the lowest in tension, increasing gradually to the G as the tightest, with the top two plain strings with slightly less tension. (NOTE: I'm referring to acoustic guitar string sets.)
     
  18. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    Correct, they are not progressive tension. Like VinnyG said, a lot of guitarists like them for rhythm+lead play, or just cause they like bending a lot at the high registers. Lots of guitarists also just prefer the beefier "bass" strings. I've also seen a lot of people on this forum enjoy progressive tension sets in the opposite direction, with tight Gs and loose Es. Thanks for the updated GHS tension guide, btw! Includes a lot more strings compared to the 2013 pdf I found.
     
  19. The main page for bass strings on the GHS website has the link to the latest version.

    Products - Bass - GHS Strings
     
  20. usernamev19

    usernamev19

    Jul 10, 2019
    Just spent longer than I'd like to admit trying to find it when it was staring at me in the face.
     

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