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Stretching your strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by zaten, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. zaten


    Mar 20, 2006
    Dubai - UAE
    Is is true that you have to stretch your strings when you install them "otherwise they go flat"?

    I saw this on Iron Maiden's Death On the Road DVD (special features) whenHarris' technician was talking about the bass Harris uses and preparing it for the gig.

    For the info, Harris uses this Rotosound signature set (very bright FLATwounds).
    I've tried them once but didn't like them because of their very high tension. I found that make playing the first fret very hard :meh: plus I didn't get his sound (which I love) with my Geddy Lee Jazz.

    Maybe I should have stretched them like the technician said and that would have lightened up the tension. Any thoughts?

  2. I have done this since I first satrted playing many years ago. Install the string, tune it to pitch, then give it a little tug at various points along it's length. It doesn't hurt to give the string a little "snap" after the stretching. Tune the string again (it will be very flat) and repeat the process until the string stays in tune. It seems time consuming, but you will stay in tune for the most part afterward.

    As far as Rotosound flats go, they are a very tight flatwound. They're also as bright as a roundwound. The Steve Harris set is the heaviest set they make. You should try their lightest set. They may work for you.

    Stretching will do nothing for the string tension at pitch.

    Steve Harris uses Precision basses, the Geddy Lee is a Jazz bass, so you won't get exactly the same sound. I actually keep a set of Rotosound Rounds on my Jazz bass. They are two years old, and sound incredible.
  3. Strings will 'stretch' somewhat (i.e., go flat) when they are first installed. Just playing on them for 5-10 minutes and retuning a few times usually does the trick.

    Interestingly, the DR's (at least the Hi Beams that I use on most of my basses) have much less of this 'problem'. Usually one or two retunings after playing for a few minutes locks them in for good. I don't know if this is due to the round core or whatever, but they behave (and sound) differently from other strings.

    You can tug the each string a little bit to 'quicken the stretching process', but don't overdo it.

    None of the above will have any impact on the eventual tension, sound, etc. of the string.
  4. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    DR's instructions specifically say not to stretch the string. Every time you stretch the string you are creating micro-fractures in the core.

    Don't stretch. Put them on. Tune them often..... and don't put strings on 30 minutes before a gig. Put them on a couple of days before a gig and just play normally.
  5. I guess you learn something new every day!
  6. bkief1


    Dec 25, 2005
    DR's instructions are correct; you cannot stretch a thin metal wire in that fashion and expect it to return to the exact original position. That is a physical property of metal.

    I might suggest tuning one whole step above what you normally tune the string to (example E to F#) and let it stay there for, optimally two hours or so. After this time, tune as normal and you'll be fine. If you're in a pinch (at a gig or something), 15 minutes will do, but you'll need to check the tuning regularly.

    This method is reliable and has worked for me for some time. Once you stretch/deform a string, it'll never quite be the same.
  7. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    I always run my right hand down the full length of each string tweaking between my thumb and fingers then tune back up to pitch.
    As much as stretching the string I think it makes sure there's a straight line coming off the bridge, nut and tuner post rather than a gentle curve.
  8. Getting technical: Hook's law, which applies to all steel based alloys states that. When you put steel in tention it will stretch and return up to a point. If it ever goes beyond that point it is forever damaged at a molecular level and looses the abillity to recover. Think of the stress over the bridge.

    Then you've got work hardening which leads to fatigue. I 'm currently sitting in Hatfield, UK - The town that taught the world about metal fatigue failure!
  9. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    I believe the stretching of strings is more about taking out any curving over the bridge, nut and tuner post than actually stretching the string lengthwise, which is why bass strings tend to benefit more from it than light unwrapped guitar strings do.
  10. paul n

    paul n

    May 6, 2005
    Arden, NC
    I actually think stretching is MORE important on guitars than on bass. I played guitar for 15 years before realizing I was meant to be a bass player. If I didn't stretch those strings enough it wouldn't stay in tune, no matter how much I retuned it.

    The more I play bass and the more times I resrting the less I stretch the strings. Just this week I killed a Rotosound RS66 "G" string by stretching it. The string was nice and twangy when it first went on, by the time I stretched it it had lost all that briliance. I think next time I'm just going to put them on and either tune higher for a while or just play them till they stretch.

    We'll see I guess.

    ~Paul :)
  11. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    doesnt tuning higher stretch the strings too? i fail to see the point of avoiding stretching the string, yet tuning higher for 2 hours.
  12. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    I am not sure if stretching the strings is more important on guitar.. Considering that if you do not stretch the strings on both instruments... they go out of tune.
    I usually like to give my strings a good pull after tuning to pitch. Almost as far as to making the string floppy again :)
  13. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    A big +1. I firmly believe that stretching hurts the strings somewhat.

    ... Although I'm sure that this guy disagrees with me. :D
  14. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    That guy is definitely overdoing it!! :eek:

    The first time I saw that video I just cracked up and expected him to say that it was overkill!
  15. You are going to 'stretch' the strings when you play anyway so I see no reason to give them a light to moderate stretching workout if you have to replace before / during a show. If you don't, they will go out of tune - guaranteed. No need to go crazy, though (like our friend in the video). Now, if you have the luxury of changing your strings only advance then, sure, listen to the good people at DR - they probably know something about it. But let's remember, we are just talking about strings! :D
  16. It looks as if everyone has an opinion, so I guess whatever works for everyone is good. I learned about string stretching years ago before there were internet forums, or even internet. I've never used DR strings, so I wasn't aware of their recomendations. I have never broken a bass string.
    The guy in the video goes much further than I do.

    Before threads like this existed, how often could a bassist discuss string stretching or any other topic with a thousand other bassists? It's truly a wonderous thing!
  17. Ummm... tuning a string a whole step up is the same as stretching it... not a good idea, especially with the DR's if their literature is to be believed.
  18. NegatroN


    Mar 22, 2006
    That is exactly what I thougt when reading this thread. I play rather hard so the string is streched with every stroke. In my opinion, being streched is normal behaviour for a string.

    I always do some stretching with thumbs and forefingers of both hands over the whole string. That way the whole range of the string is streched and I never had any problems with that. All strings stay in tune and none ever sounded dead after the stretching.
  19. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    That's the same way I do it and that makes at least three of us in agreement. :)
  20. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    i don't, they stretch on thier own.

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