1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Related to thread of mine about high tension flats and possible stress/wear on neck

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by KataPolt, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. KataPolt


    Aug 4, 2004
    Previous thread in bass forum...

    Hi everyone,

    The conversation in my thread in bass forum has stopped, and I think it is now in the topic of strings more than basses, so I am posting this here so you can help me understand. :)

    It would be great if you can click on the link above and read the previous thread :)

    I like using high tension flatwound strings, and I worry that they can be more damaging or put more 'wear' to the neck than strings with less tension. Also, I was thinking about US Fenders that have graphite reinforcement rods, and the Skyline Laklands which do not, and wondernig if I should worry about longevity of neck if I get a bass without graphite rods to use with high tension flatwound strings. Can you share any thoughts or knowlege about this, please?

    Then, someone in the thread posted that the only thing that matters for tension is the string gauge or thickness. I then asked how that could be, because I have used TI Flats before, and while they are similar in gauge/thickness to other strings, they are much, much less tension. Can someone explain this?

    Thank you very much! :hyper:
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    OK, here we go: string tension is determined by several factors, but the most important is probably core design. A big, fat hex core like Fender 9050's and La Bella "Jamerson" strings have will generally lead to a high tension, stiff feeling string. A small-diameter round core like the TI flats have will tend to have the opposite effect. The underlay wraps and final wrap also have an effect on the feel of the string. I think the silk underlay of the TI's also promotes flexibility. A stainless flat like the Fender 9050 doesn't want to bend much partly because of the core, and also because of the tightly wrapped stainless ribbon. Stainless steel is a very hard metal, and the "edges" of the wrap are against each other restricting movement.

    I don't know what flats you've tried so far, but Fender puts the 9050 M's on the Standard (MIM) Jazz bass, and they're pretty high tension. I've tried both the 9050 M's and the Jamersons, and I didn't notice much difference in feel. So it looks like Fender thinks non-reinforced necks can handle the tension.

    Incidentally, a couple of years back, I tried a set of GHS Boomers in .050-.115 when I was into high tension strings. When I took them off, I decided to try some Fender 9050M's on the same bass, and had to tighten the truss rod. So they're definitely high tension. The bass in question has an Allparts neck, and it seems to handle high tension strings with no problem. And keep in mind that James Jamerson's bass didn't have graphite reinforcement.

    I guess my point is that modern, "good quality" bass necks are supposed to be able to handle high-tension strings. It's one of those "try it and see" propositions.
  3. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    There are three variables in strings--tension, mass, and pitch. If pitch stays the same, and mass goes up, tension goes up. "Gauge" is only a shorthand way of referring to the mass of the string. If you use a low-mass material like nylon, you get a thick gauge but lower tension because of the lower density of the string material. A stiff core wire will make it stiff, but will not in itself increase mass if the rest of the string is also steel or nickel.

    I'd say, if anything, older basses had big thick necks precisely to remain stable using the higher-tension big flatwounds that were popular then. There are exceptions--the 60's Gibson EB mahagony necks were famous for breaking at the headstock partly because they were a lighter wood, and partly because they were skinny. Modern basses often have these little skinny necks that are OK for slinky strings, or require reinforcement of some kind. But, since fat flats are generally out of favor, and people demand skinny necks, many modern necks are not as heavy as they used to be.