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Setup adjustments for Lighter Gauge Strings

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DavePlaysBass, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004

    Curious what people have found when going to lighter gauge strings. I prefer 45-100-130 strings but I am going to try a 40-100-125 set (Sadowsky nickels). On other basses when I have gone with 40 and 60 on the D and G, these strings clatter and buzz more than I like.

    My question is do people use more relief with lighter strings. I understand you may need to loosen the rod to get the same amount of relief, but my question is specifically is it reasonable to add more relief for light gauge strings. It is also possible to adjust the saddles. So I am looking for recipes others have had good luck with (i.e. add relief lower saddles vs less relief high saddles, etc. )


  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Tough question. The necesary adjustment is usually to loosen the truss rod a little since htey have less tension, but as far as 'what do you prefer, more or less relief' its a toughy. Thinner strings have a larger field of motion, which to me means they need more relief.
  3. I've been experimenting (successfully!) with lighter gauged strings for awhile. I really like them. Of course I'm on a 4-string, not a 5-er. I'm usually using a 40-95 set, or 40-100 set, with a 35" scale ESP LTD-F204. The DR hi-beam lights (40-100) seem to be perfect for me.

    I don't think they require "more" relief, but a truss adjustment is necessary, especially if your neck was already setup with a low action or with very little relief.

    The strings are going to feel softer and have less tension, so keep that in mind. This is gonna affect your low B, so if it's already kinda flabby, you might want to consider keeping that 130. If you play with a heavier touch, well they might feel too soft. But if you do raise your action to compensate for heavier picking, they will still feel easier than heavier strings.

    If I could mix and match strings, I'd probably consider a 45-first string, 60, 80, 100. Most true lights start with a 40. I believe DR lets you custom order sets. Might want to check that out.

  4. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Thanks for the replies. I have flirted with light gauge strings before but always end up going back. Looking back on it, I think setup had a lot to do with it. I too have thought that a 45-60-80-100-130 set would be a good way to go. But apparently no one else does.

  5. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    If you play with a light touch light strings are ok. If you like to dig in however don't go lower than 45-65-80-100-125. Lower than a 125 B string is going to be floppy even with a 35 inch scale. If your heavy handed stick to mediums. Brand matters too. In DR's I like 45-105's, in GHS Boomers I like 45-100's. None are exact. What brand do you use?
  6. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    The Sadowsky nickels 40-60-80-100-125 seem to have a fair amout of tension. My neck relief was unchanged as I pulled the Pro Steel 45-65-80-100-130 off. My neck has a fair amout of relief at 0.012" to 0.014" measured from the 9th fret with 1 and 22 fretted. Time will tell if I like the feel of the 40 and 60. Things are balanced differently than I am used to but I am reluctant to say they are unbalanced at this point. The arpegios and scales fly on the 40 and 60.