string tension? or is it action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by basserman44, Sep 26, 2000.

  1. i've noticed on my four string that the tension in the strings is waaaay tighter than on my 5 string. its hard to pluck at times. i've noticed this on a lot of other four string as well as five strings. is it a matter of a good setup vs. a bad one? or just the way the bass is made?thanx in advance.

  2. Basserman, I think you'll find that tension along the playing area of the string is purely a characteristic of the string itself rather than the setup or action. A string has to be at a certain tension to achieve the desired tuning and, as long as the hardware was sound, that would be the same no matter how the string was tighten or how far off the fretboard it is. There are other area's of string tension, like over the nut and bridge and those are affected by the configuration of the hardware but after the string leaves these points, what it is is what it is.

    That said, there could be some things that you could change to make your pluck a little more friendly. First and foremost, CHANGE YOUR STRINGS to new ones. I would bet that you haven't in a while. Second, use a roundwound string because they are more flexible. And last, you might want to use a nickel string rather than a steel because the nickel is a little softer.

    Hope this helps
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    another thing you will want to consider is that the tension of the same size string increases on a bass with a longer scale length. for instance, the difference between a rickenbacker 4001 (33 1/4" scale length) and a fender jazz (34") is very noticeable.

    to decrease the tension, use lighter strings.
  4. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I believe both of your basses are 34" scale (string length). If you have the same strings (mfr, model, and gauge) on both basses, then the only differences are the action and the neck bow.

    If you raise the action on a string, it is going to take more force to get it to the fingerboard. If the strings on the 4 are higher than the ones on the 5, then that would cause the phenomenon you describe.

    Even if you have the bridge on the 4 set as low as it will go without fret buzz, a warped or twisted neck can be preventing you from getting your action as low as it could be. This would mean that at some spots, the strings are higher above the frets than on the 5 string.

    If the 4 is worth it, take it to a tech for a setup. You might be surprised and get what seems like a new bass for under $50.