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String Gauges

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by kwanzai, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. kwanzai


    Mar 25, 2002
    What is the advantage/disadvantages of having heavier or lighter gauges? Right now I'm playing through Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys (45-105). Thanks!
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    You have a pretty popular set of strings on your bass.

    I used to think string gauge was all about feel, and that it didn't make much difference, sound-wise. I don't think so anymore. I've found that I like the sound of medium light to light strings. Right now my Precision has .040-.105 Fender 8250's on it, and my JP-90 has .040-.90 (IIRC) Elites Stadium series. I've tried some pretty heavy strings, including the "Jamerson Set" which are .052-.110 stainless flatwounds, and found that my tone and definition suffered. YMMV, obviously, but a heavy E string in particular has lead to mud on most basses I've owned. The .105 Fender E mentioned above doesn't really count as it's round-core and taperwound. Low-tension E's have given me cleaner lows generally. Light G strings can be a little twangy, but not necessarily. The .040 G from the 8250's I mentioned above has plenty of boom.

    I guess it all comes down to personal preference. Steve Harris sounds great with his high-tension strings, and so did Jamerson.
  3. One player's perception of "advantages" can be perceived as "disadvantages" by another. As Flatwound says, it's all about personal preference.

    Fundamentally, gauge affects the tension required to make a string vibrate at the correct pitch. While lighter gauge are easier to play faster,that IS NOT implying that heavier gauge strings are higher tension and feel "tighter." There are several other factors that contribute to that as well.

    But a lighter gauge will vibrate faster and generally have a brighter tone but less sustain. I say "generally" because string design, materials used, cores, windings, flatwound vs. roundwound, et al, are influences on tone.

    All those factors being equal, a larger gauge gives a fuller, "bigger" sound with more sustain because it carries more of the fundamental and gives a pickup more "information."

    Then again, Jeff Berlin will tell you gauge has no effect on tone.

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