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String tension questions.

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Mike M., Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    I've been experimenting with differant string gages this weekend on my 4 and 5 string basses.

    I'm afraid my old, working hands are giving me some grief these days and I need to find strings that are either a lighter gage or of a less tension.

    My main question is concerning my 4 string bass because I haven't quite found the right combination. If you had a set of HEX CORE strings with gages of 40-60-80-100 compared to a ROUND CORE set with gages of 45-65-85-105, would the tension be about equal or the the same, generally speaking? If anyone knows for a fact I'd appreciate your expertise.

    I was thinking of trying either D'Addario's (Hex Core) @ 40-60-80-100, or some DR's (Round Core) @ 45-65-85-105.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. KhzDonut


    Jan 7, 2013
    I couldn't tell you whether hex core and round core have different tensions (in terms of lbs) but I've heard a lot of people say that round core have a more "supple" or "flexible" feel at the same linear tension than hex core.

    Also, core-to-wrap ratios will alter this, though I could not give you really hard data on it.

    I've definitely noticed that some brands are more flexible than others, for instance Circle K's are very supple feeling when compared to D'Addario or Ken Smith (at least that's been my impression). I actually go up a size or two when I use them because they almost feel floppy to me if I get the same gauge as, say, D'Addario or Dean Markley.

    As far as sound goes, I prefer them, but that's totally personal preference. Your mileage may vary, but I'd recommend giving them a try.
  3. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    Hex cores have way more string tension than round cores, last time I played hex cores, I thought I was getting Carpel Tunnel! I would recommend going to round cores and as light a gauge as possible. I've actually changed to balanced tension gauges and I no longer have any wrist or hand pain at all (I'm 43).
  4. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Thanks. I've been using D'Addario's (hex core) with gages 45-65-85-105 and I stepped down a notch. Still using D'Addario's but I'm trying 40-60-80-100. They're still hex core but there's just enough of a lesser differance in tension to make it noticable to the touch. I've been playing on them at home all weekend and so far I'm really liking this change.

    I did pick up a set of DR Sunbeams also at 45-65-85-105. Even though they're the same gage I was using I know the tension wont be stiff like a hex core set of the same gage. I'm going to give the current set I'm using some time and then I'll try the Sunbeams to compare and see which I like best. Offhand it seems like a set of hex cores at 40-100 would be fairly similar in tension to a set of round cores at 45-105, but we'll see.
  5. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Round cores generally have more tension because they generally have more mass, but the core itself is more flexible, so they generally feel easier to fret than equivalently-gauged hex cores.

    Obviously, this depends on how the string is wrapped, but if we assume that the outer wraps are the same on both, then the round core will have more tension and should feel more flexible.
  6. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    DR Sunbeams and TI rounds (both round core, nickel strings) feel very supple for their guage.

    I'd also suggest shooting an email to Basstringsonline.com. He knows his products very well and may be able to make some helpful suggestions.
  7. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    I recommend building a balanced tension set from singles (bassstringsonline.com is an excellent place to do this) or trying the new D'Addario balanced tension XLs. The equal tension on each string evens out the strength of your technique over the set and is more comfortable and less stressful on the hands. 100 80 60 40 and 105 85 65 45 are both significantly middle heavy, you might like something like 100 75 55 40 or round core 105 80 60 45.
  8. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Tension and stiffness are different things.
    Tension is how tight they are between the nut and bridge saddle. You don't feel this (directly) when you're playing.
    Stiffness is how much effort it takes to push the string down onto the fret. This makes a big difference in playability.

    I'm also looking for strings that are easiest to play with a fast light touch. Surely round cores are better than hex cores for this, but what about gauge?

    I think there's a tradeoff between gauge and string height. Heavier strings don't have to vibrate as far so the action can be set lower, but lighter strings are less stiff. Where's the sweet spot between heavy gauge+low action versus light gauge+higher action?
  9. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    You can't make a universal truth of hex cores being more rigid necessarily than round cores - this has more to do with the winding process than it does with core type.

    The magic is in a flexible large gauge - that is what you're looking for. Flexibility will give you ease of playing, and higher tension will get you greater harmonic content and lower action.
  10. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    What are the best magic flexible large gauge strings? (he asked the fellow who makes and sells strings)

    Perhaps a better question -
    What Circle K set would you recommend for a 33 1/4" scale Rickenbacker tuned standard with zero neck relief (that's proper for a Ric, as you may know) where the goal is a low setup for a light touch above all else?

    I had a set of your balanced Circle Ks on my Spector. I liked the tone, similar to Rotosound (my otherwise favorite) but it was hard to play. I thought it was the heavy gauge (had a .142 B on there) and switched to Rotos but really the fershlugginer guitar tech had the action way too high. This was before (and the reason why) I started doing my own setups. I really ought to get another set for the Spector.

    anyway thanks for all advices.
  11. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    FWIW mine aren't the only large flexible strings you can come by, but . . . .

    The .142 set has a .106 for E - a might big methinks. If it's a 4 go for a .102 balanced set, and if it's a 5 the .136 balanced set. Standard size will work on a Ric.
  12. Shardik


    May 24, 2011
    Halden, Norway
    +1 on the balanced tension sets. I personally use that on all my guitars and basses. Especially useful if you do any kind of string bending. I do agree that stiffness and tension are different properties of a string, but more tension means a heavier string, and the heavier the string, the more difficult it becomes to avoid a certain stiffness. On a lot of the standard sets, tension is pretty high on the two middle strings compared to their outer neighbours. IMHO, balanced tension is quite useful to avoid that extra strain of some strings having higher tension than others.
  13. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    FYI when placing my order, as soon as I clicked the "submit" button, Google Chrome threw up the big red "Danger Will Robinson" screen saying:
    "This is probably not the site you are looking for!
    You attempted to reach circlekstrings.com, but instead you actually reached a server identifying itself as *.sslcert19.com. This may be caused by a misconfiguration on the server or by something more serious. An attacker on your network could be trying to get you to visit a fake (and potentially harmful) version of circlekstrings.com.
    You should not proceed, especially if you have never seen this warning before for this site."

    Now, you and I know this is (probably) just your secure payment provider, but just FYI Google is scaring your customers away :(

    Tried again with Firefox and got a similar warning screen:
    This Connection is Untrusted
    You have asked Firefox to connect
    securely to circlekstrings.com, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.
    Normally, when you try to connect securely,
    sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are
    going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified."

    So apparently something is askew with your SSL certificates.
  14. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Ordered strings anyway.
    I figure it's more than likely just an expired SSL cert rather than Martian Body Snatchers trying to steal my identity. All my bank stuff is shrouded in PayPal security anyway.
  15. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I had the same sort of error - I think everyone does - but knew it was a common thing from reading on TB. (Skip, I'm sure you're probably on the case - I'd hate to see you losing sales because people didn't trust the security of the site.)

    I went ahead and got the 136 balanced 5-string set anyway, great value even with shipping to the UK. I'm sold on the balanced tension concept even more, having installed the Circle Ks. I can now play each string the same way and don't need to adjust my technique to play the B or E.
  16. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 27, 2021

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