String Tension Too Loose

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by chaosMK, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    My strings are too loose. The action isnt bad, but I use a pretty strong fingerstyle (to get punch and growl out of my setup) and find my strings getting pulled a bit wider than they should be.


    Any thoughts on what to adjust? Truss rod adjustment is my last choice since the tech down here takes days to get it done.
  2. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I don't know what strings you have on there, or if you detune, but at a glance, it looks as if you could stand to adjust (1) your technique, (2) the weight of your strings (i.e., go to a heavier gauge), or (3) both.
  3. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    i am no vic wooton, and probably shouldnt be criticizing, but you are mauling that string! i have an aggressive right hand (no comments!) but damn, you HATE your strings!
  4. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Man, what do you have on there, rubber bands :confused:

    Seriously, you need to adjust something .... are you a DB player that just moved to electric? That pic looks like you have almost no tension on the string at all ...... :meh:

    As previously mentioned, significantly adjust your technique and move to the heaviest gauge string you can find.
  5. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Ill look into heavier strings once my current set gets damp.

    I use standard tuning and Blue Steel Medium (E at 105). They are a little thicker on the low end and a little lighter on the higher range than other strings that I've used.

    Its possible that my right hand has just gotten super powers (been practicing drumming rudiments with my right hand for a few years, to the point where I can play stuff like Fear Factory with relative ease) and my fingers are incredibly percussive- sending the strings flying with one tap- but I think it might have something to do with my neck/action/saddle height.

    If you look at the pic, I have my thumb floating on the B string with no tension at all. Its not like I am trying to pull the string.
  6. Please stop hurting that bass I can hear it screaming! :p
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    No, I'm afraid that kind of string deflection has absolutely nothing to do with your action, your saddles, or your truss rod.
  8. didier


    Aug 4, 2005
    Has it always been like this, or have they actually gotten looser recently? Can you compare how the tension & action feel to another bass?

    It's hard to imagine that any adjustments or increasing the gauge is really going to tame that rip you are putting on them.

    Do you break a lot of strings?
    You have some badass strong fingers, bud!
  9. The problem is definatly you and not the bass. No instrument is meant to be played with that much force...
  10. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Jeeze everyone. Lay down a bit.

    Man, it's all your technique. While some strings are heavier than others, it's all how you play. Play with a lighter touch, and turn the amp up a bit.
  11. thisSNsucks


    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    heres my question, are you bending the string you're plucking that much or is that the string you rest on after you strike a sting? If its the one you're plucking thats bending soo much then your plucking technique is kinda off. I dont mean any offense to that, you can play however feels and sounds good to you.
  12. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    You may also want to anchor your thumb on the bridge pickup, your neck pickup looks pretty close to the neck so it doesn't really surprise me that the string tension feels low to you if you pluck near it.
  13. You can get all the punch and growl you want without string deflection that extreme. There's no advantage to such a heavy handed technique.
  14. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Try tuning up to standard pitch :bag:
  15. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    If you don't have carpal tunnel syndrom will.
    To set a string in motion does not require an archers string pull, it requires a firm but gentle touch. You want punch... play by the bridge. Relaxed control will give you a great tone. Let the pickups, wood and amp do the lifting. It's like sex, you don't have to slam as hard as you can for a great result!
    Zen and the art of bass playing
  16. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. It looks like I need to get my right hand back in check. I do feel some strain after playing a long set and really dont want to develop Carpal Tunnel!

    I probably started upping my attack when I picked up my most recent bass head a few months ago - a Mesa/Boogie Bass 400 with original 6L6 tubes in it (about 180 watts, which isnt much). At higher volumes it produces a kind of tube compression that is pretty nice sounding, but it isnt as loud as my former amps (Ampeg SVT-4) so probably I just started using a fiercer attack. My band plays quite loud so I am usually putting in some effort to cut through. I recently upgraded the Bass 400 with some KT-88s which would double my headroom, so hopefully this will reduce the need to hit so hard.
  17. awesome! :p
  18. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Yea, I tend to dig in myself,, but whoa... maybe you need to go w/ a heavier gauge string, simply for playability... or stainless steel instead of nickles...
  19. You can do what I do - play with your thumb anchored closer to the bridge. That makes it a little more difficult to murder the strings like that, plus you tend to get a crisper sound from certain pickups. I know my bass (p/j combination fender) gets a more pick-like sound when played close to the bridge. I use the bridge pickup as my rest.
  20. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Back to your original question, the physics of the string are such that both heavier guage and longer scale length will require higher string tension at the same pitch. So, if you have a technique that requires more energy in the vibration, there are ways to approach the problem.

    That said, the original point of the electric bass was to get the amplifier to "add" the energy. This frees your fingers up for technique requiring more finesse at the same volume.

    When I'm not paying attention, I tend to break strings on the rebound off the lower string. So, I break the string below the stopped string which is playing. Bad technique. However, your photo looks like you are actually deflecting your stopped string. Perhaps, you should try upright?