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String Tension between basses help

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by rickr, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. rickr

    rickr Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I have noticed throughout the years the difference in string tension on various basses. For instance, right now I have a 34" 24 fret Warrior bass and a 34" 20 fret Fender bass. The tension on the Fender seems to be much higher than that of the Warrior. Can someone tell me why that is?
  2. maxpayneatlarge


    Mar 9, 2012
    Same type of strings? I know different strings have different tension.
  3. rickr

    rickr Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Yep exact same strings
  4. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Given the same make and model of strings on the same scale length of bass, I'd have thought the tension is the same. They may feel different due to the action and relief of the two basses.

    Different strings? Quite probably different tension.
  5. KeddyLee


    Nov 12, 2013
    Agreed. Same scale, same string, the difference you're feeling is neck relief.
  6. rickr

    rickr Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I have both necks set perfectly straight with no relief. Its quite puzzling
  7. The physical tension is the same. Math, Science blah blah blah.
    The set-ups and/or structural designs/hardware are playing tricks on you.
    Bolt-on vs Neck-through.
    Top-load vs String-through.
    Low-mass vs High-mass bridge.
    One-piece vs Laminate neck.
    think. maybe wood does matter think. :rolleyes:wait that doesn't make any cents, disregard that last one:rolleyes::scowl:what was I thinking saying that here:scowl:
  8. Bigfork


    Aug 30, 2009
    Bigfork, MT
    How are you determining that the strings have different tension? Is that a "feel" thing based on plucking? Is it am amplitude thing? Have you stuck a strain gauge on there? Not trying to be a jerk, just curious about the unit of measure and how quantitative vs. qualitative it is.

    In theory, the tension of a string set to vibrate at a specific frequency depends on the length of the scale and the density of the string - which for basses usually means the string diameter and the type of string (round vs. flat wound? Metal type, core type etc.) So, if the strings are the same type, same gauge, same material, same manufacturing process (i.e. the same) and the nut and bridge are set up properly so that they are acting as proper anchors, then the only difference that could cause a difference in string tension is the scale.

    This argument applies to playing an open string. If you are playing the e-string, at the 3rd fret and observing a difference in tension, it could be related to the fret or string height and the repeatability of the your finger position between two different necks. Seems to me that would be pretty subtle though.

    I've been able to feel the difference in string tension (at the tuning machines) when tuning a 30" scale bass vs. a 34". Not sure I could tell the difference between a 0.100 string and a 0.105 on the same bass. You may be extraordinarily sensitive (tension super-power), mistaking some other set-up parameter (such as string relief), or perhaps something isn't as much the same as it appears to be.

    Whenever I a stuck with something that is supposed to be impossible or unlikely, I go back to what I am actually measuring and what that really means.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    First lets get terminology correct.

    Tension is: unit of measurement -per-unit of measurement. Lbs/in2, etc.

    Compliance is the perceived flexibility.

    You are speaking of compliance as the exact same strings have to be at the same tension on different instruments to achieve the same pitch.

    There is an argument that if the core of the string is longer from the ball to the tuner (the most obvious difference between different instruments) that there will be more flexibility because there is more core length available to flex (stretch) when struck or fretted.
  10. vxjoe


    Sep 22, 2013
    Is one bass a top load vs through body? That would give a longer ball to tuner length and more give.
  11. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    A more flexible neck or bridge would give more perceived flexibility even when the strings are pulled to the same tension for pitch-
    think heavy vs light fishing rods.