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Setup/Tension for Picking

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by SplinteredSkull, Jun 18, 2016.


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  1. So I originally learned to play bass with a pick, but have been a primarily fingerstyle player for a couple years now. I know how to get the setup I like for fingerstyle, but I want to get a bass ready for primarily tremolo and speed picking. I'll be in standard tuning. On my current basses, it's easier to pick towards the bridge, but I still like the sound of being right over the pickup most. However, the strings have a little too much give there.

    Should I raise the string height to help? Get slightly thicker strings to increase tension? Does anyone know any good, higher-tension round wound strings?
     
  2. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Tension is constant at pitch. Nothing will change tension in a given string at a given pitch.

    Compliance, or how the string feels (stiff or spring like), is a different story. Changing setup to make the strings "feel" different is a band aid approach. The real answer is to try different string sets until you find what you like.

    In general, heavy gauge strings are stiffer. Flat wounds are stiffer than round wounds.
     
  3. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    To add:
    Hex core strings tend to be stiffer.
    Also strings designed for down tuning will be constructed to be a bit stiffer. (Ex: DR Strings DDT)
     
    DiabolusInMusic and Zooberwerx like this.
  4. AEVAREX

    AEVAREX

    Jun 10, 2013
    Western Ma.
    I switched to DR Lo Riders many years ago while searching for a higher tension string because I didn't care for the amount of string excursion I was getting with many other brands. And though I've never tried them I was told by Jason at BSO that DDTs have a slightly higher tension than the Lo Riders due to a larger core. Both round wound strings with hex core.
     
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  5. Stiffness is the word I'm going for! Not tension.

    I think I remember having Lo-Riders and switching out partly because they were too stiff for me at the time. No longer.
     
    AEVAREX likes this.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    i would approach it the other way; if you have a good setup for fingers playing, just adapt your pick playing to sound right with that setup. (for me that means the pick is a bit further back than the fingers)

    real bass players can do both on the same instrument and have them both sound good.
     
  7. Well like I said, I can just pick back closer to the bridge and it's fine but I prefer the sound of the pick where I also strike with my fingers. Picking to most all regular songs is fine, I've switched mid-gig before, but I would definitely prefer more stiffness for something like tremolo picking to make it easier on myself.

    Of course it also slightly varies with the kind of pick, how much flex it has and the tip it has
     
  8. AEVAREX

    AEVAREX

    Jun 10, 2013
    Western Ma.
    walterw, if you notice in his first post, SplinteredSkull let's us know that he did try playing more tword the bridge but wasn't getting the sound he needed. Hence his request for advice on higher tension/stiffer string brands so he can pick where he is finding the tone he wants but gets less string excursion. He did try to adapt his pick playing to sound right with his setup. (for him it's not working)

    As far as
    "real bass players can do both on the same instrument and have them both sound good"
    Seriously you typed that out and your brain didn't stop you.
     
  9. shawshank72

    shawshank72

    Mar 22, 2009
    Canada
    I'm a pick player and this is why I prefer higher tension strings.
    Low action is achieved even with my heavy handed pick technique.
    Sorry I can't help with the rounds suggestion as I use only flatwounds.
     
    SplinteredSkull likes this.
  10. My main player right now is actually a P with Chromes, and the sound is better than I expected for what I'm doing, but the flats still don't give me the attack like rounds do. But the flats are definitely stiffer than one of my other basses with light rounds.

    If you're in standard, what gauge do you use?
     
  11. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Real bass players, other than Jeff Berlin, tend to have humility and compassion.
    Thanks for playing.
     
    UNICORN BASS likes this.
  12. shawshank72

    shawshank72

    Mar 22, 2009
    Canada
    50/65/85/110
     
  13. I'll have to give that a go then, thanks!
     
    shawshank72 likes this.
  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    yeah, that came out more dick-ish than i meant it to, sorry.

    i still think the point it valid though, it seems strange to put different strings on a bass just so you can use a pick on it.

    if the goal really is to play up higher on the neck with a pick without too much string deflection, maybe there's a different kind of pick that will facilitate that? i've recently re-discovered the big rounded triangle type ("fender 346"), those can be cool for striking a string without "catching" it as much, especially at an angle.
     
    AEVAREX likes this.
  15. It's not really a necessity thing. I can do what I need to without changing strings technically, but it's looking for ways to make it easier to do what I want. I don't need different strings to use a pick on it, rather I'm looking to have one bass set up to use for this specific application and have the the elements of that bass facilitate easier picking.

    And I am also currently experimenting with different pick shapes and materials as well. I actually find the sharp tips and Jazz XL types are better for not catching much, though regular picking I like Clayton triangles simply for the wide grip.
     
  16. AEVAREX

    AEVAREX

    Jun 10, 2013
    Western Ma.
    Yeah different shape, thickness or material of pick could facilitate easier picking. Another option could be having an EQ set to try and achieve the sound your after while picking close to the bridge with your current string type and setup. But certainly trying different strings or picks is cheaper than having a dedicated EQ or specific bridge pickup to achieve your goal. Personally I'd rather turn an equalizer on and off than swap out instruments in the midst of a gig, but it's all about what works the best for any given individual.
    let us know how things work out and what you end up settling with.
     
    SplinteredSkull likes this.
  17. Currently, I have different basses and preamps to achieve certain sounds for certain genres. For example, my P with Chromes is paired with an Orange preamp for classic rock, indie, and motown. I have a Jaguar paired with a Rusty Box for modern, grindy tones. I have an ESP in C standard paired with a Joyo American for stoner rock.

    E standard and tremolo picking were dropping hints at Black Metal. So it may be that I get another bass to dedicate to that genre and that works better picking towards the bridge than say, my P does. I've been eyeballing the Sire M3 mostly just because I want to try a Sire and I've heard good things, but it also has a 1.5 nut, 12" radius, dual humbuckers, and extensive onboard EQ so that I could dial in a tone that sounds good picking at the bridge.

    There are a lot of ways to go about it is the main point I suppose haha. I wanted to see what recommendations popped up in terms of action height and higher tension strings
     
  18. shawshank72

    shawshank72

    Mar 22, 2009
    Canada
    I find it to be balanced in tension.
    Feels right.
    Good luck.
     
  19. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Got it, problem is that as a speed picking setup and string requirements, to achieve optimal playability is a different goal than finger style.
    I used to be in metal bands and trust me it's different.
    A compromise can be found.
    Truly to play the open string chugging you gotta play back by the bridge and palm mute just like the guitars.
     

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