String tension.

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Thumper828, Feb 18, 2010.


  1. Thumper828

    Thumper828

    Jan 29, 2010
    North Carolina
    I need a little direction on string tension. What exactly are the pros and cons regarding low or high tesion strings. I would like to have a better understanding of the two.
     
  2. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Seattle
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    A bit of a misnomer - the difference is better stated as stiff or flexible strings. Stiff strings tend to have a choked high register component compared to flexible ones at the same tension, given similar materials and construction.

    High and low tension is then a matter of selecting thicker or thinner strings.
     
  3. j_nition

    j_nition

    Jul 28, 2009
    IMO, lighter gauge/lower tension have more zing or twang and are respond to breaking out a nice finger vibrato to accent style. Heavier gauge/higher tension have more "bump", sustain, and balls (sure I just said it) but are harder to impossible to pull off a decent vibrato on.

    It's a trade off... I just went from a med gauge to a heavy gauge which upped my tension. While I miss being able to pull off a nice vibrato or even a funky bend here and there, I am enjoying a more powerful, present tone in the mix without having to try and compensate with so much compression, eq, and gain. I can also dig in more too without nasty fret clank.
     
  4. Thumper828

    Thumper828

    Jan 29, 2010
    North Carolina
    Ok. so the thicker gauge the higher the tension.I was thinking the other way around.
     
  5. Meatrus

    Meatrus

    Apr 5, 2009
    England
    When people say tension they are normally referring to stiffness, as has been pointed out already. Regardless of the gauge, different brands of strings will feel like they have more or less tension. The stiffness is created by how the strings are constructed, flats in the same gauge as rounds will normally feel very stiff, (much stiffer than the same gauge rounds).

    Whether you go for higher tension strings or lower is down to personal preference, so you probably need to try both first.
     
  6. eyecandy

    eyecandy

    Jul 28, 2009
    higher tension strings-
    pros: you can have a low action even with a thick gauge... enables fast playing,less fret buzz and great for pick players

    cons: neck warping

    low tension strings
    pros: soft, easier to slap, snappier sound
    cons: requires high action, sometimes hard to control strings
     
  7. Thumper828

    Thumper828

    Jan 29, 2010
    North Carolina
    thank yall for the info.
     
  8. Robertron

    Robertron

    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    So I'm gonna hijack this thread about tension rather than create a new one. :bag:

    I'm currently using Elixirs on an Ibanez SR505 tuned EADGC and the strings feel really tight. Is this because of the Elixirs?

    I haven't had much experience with different strings. I've loved the coated, smooth-gliding feeling of the strings so I haven't really tried other brands.

    Having read the steel vs. nickle thread in the sticky and a few others by searching the Strings forum. I'm learning that string tension depends on the string shape (hexagon or round?) and is specific to different brands and sets. Also that nickle strings can feel much more smooth sliding than SS strings, or is this also specific to different brands? Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm new to considering different strings for tension issues and I'd love to learn more about the topic!

    Basically I'm asking for a recommendation on some Nickle strings that don't drag on my fingers as much as StainlessSteel strings and are more flexible, with low-ish tension that would suit E-C tuning. I understand low tension for me is not going to be the same for everybody and finding the right strings for me will take a very long time, but a point in the right direction towards some sets and brands would be greatly appreciated. :help:
     
  9. j_nition

    j_nition

    Jul 28, 2009
    I think that the tuning your in is large part of your tension issue. (assuming you have a normal 5 string set strung up) ...If you think about it, your low range strings in terms of guage starts at probly around 125 which is HUGE for an E string. Even a Heavy set of strings is going to give you an E string of about 110 gauge.

    I think you'd want to get a normal 4 string set and find a single for the high C that matches the gauge of the second highest string of a 6 string set.

    that make sense to anyone else?
     
  10. Robertron

    Robertron

    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    Oh no I have been using a medium gauge 4 set with a 6th string so it isn't as if I'm tuning a .135 to E etc. Are elixirs more stiff than other strings? Would a set of DR Sunbeams feel more flexible?
     
  11. Meatrus

    Meatrus

    Apr 5, 2009
    England
    Elixirs arent all that stiff, but the Sunbeams will be a bit looser from what I have heard. Is the SR a 35" scale? If so that will add a little more tension than a 34" (standard).

    Dunlops have fairly light tension, but not sure if they make a high C. Not Nickel but Rotosound, and DR highbeams arent too stiff either.

    Really I would just get a lighter gauge though.
     
  12. To the OP:

    There are two things you have to remember when changing strings. If you go from a relatively low tension string to a high tension string, the neck will bow (what Eyecandy refered to as "warping"). This will manifest as more noticeable string height between the 5th and 9th frets (YMMV). This can be remedied with a simple truss rod adjustment to compensate for the higher tension. If you are unsure of doing this, take it to any reputable guitar shop for a "setup". There's lots of info on TB about how to do this.

    The second thing to consider is string intonation. This is affected by the gauge of the strings. Again, if you change string gauge, you need your intonation redone. This should also be included in a "setup". (If you don't know, the intonation is set by the saddles that your strings sit on on the bridge.)

    If you are unsure about truss rod adjustments, I would suggest you don't attempt it. Snapping the truss rod is a possibility if you don't know what you are doing. That being said, it is a very good skill to learn and could save you lots of money over the years - especially if you have a lot of basses to setup.

    Hope this helps.
     
  13. Robertron

    Robertron

    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    Yup it's a 35" Scale.

    I was going to order a set of DR Sunbeams 30-45-65-85-100. Nickel plated on round core and a lighter gauge than the elixirs. :)
     
  14. 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.

     
    Oct 27, 2021

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