String tension

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by freeridden, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. freeridden


    Dec 1, 2010
    Hi all,

    I did a search and didn't find exactly what I was looking for.

    I have a 2008 American Fender Deluxe 5 string bass. I have the E and B strings would through the body, but the A/D/G strings are connected at the bridge. While the tension in the E and B strings is manageable, I have trouble playing the A/D/G strings. They feel sooo tense. I feel like i have to attack really hard to play them, and I cannot play fast at all.

    How can I solve this problem? I saw some other posts that mentioned lighter gauge strings...would that help?

    Many thanks.
  2. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    First, you are speaking of pliability not tension: if tension drops for a string so does pitch. Another thread proved that if the string is lengthened between the ball and tuner, pliability increases because the longer the core wire between points, the more give the string has; more wire available to flex. He did this using one string and weights to measure how far the weight would deflect the string in different configs. Try stringing the other three through the body to add some core length.

    Edit: all major string companies put research into balancing sets of strings for a uniform pliability across a set. By stringing some through body, you have unbalanced the set.
  3. freeridden


    Dec 1, 2010
    I'm sorry to say this, but you did not answer my two questions. You simply corrected my improper use of the words 'pliability' and 'tension'.
  4. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    Lighter gauge strings. Done
  5. He did answer your question. He said to string them all the same way. In your case, through the bridge to have a larger ball to tuner distance.
  6. Adjusting saddles forward/backward (as you would do for adjusting intonation) can be used to adjust the tension of individual strings. It does affect intonation obviously, but you can make pretty significant changes to the tension before the intonation is put out audibly. Or at least, considering how typically imperfect your intonation will be considering all the constantly changing variables involved.

    Beyond that, I'm sure you've already ruled out changing the action as pliability is the issue, not string height, but adjusting string height does affect tension (due to very minor consequent changes to effective scale length, akin to a typical intonation adjustment).

    As mentioned, lighter string guages across the (fret)board (bad pun but I take 'em where I can get 'em) could help. Most string sets have slightly lighter guages on the higher strings, which I find is definitely a good idea (and should consequentially become the new "standard" guage IMO), so are you using a set like that? If not, I definitely recommend doing so as a first port of call. I would also recommend either top-loading all the strings or stringing them all through the body, as (mentioned above) "hybrid stringing" like that will cancel out the manufacturer's efforts to have the strings balanced eavenly. I know their engineering has apparently not worked sufficiently for you, but counter-acting it is much less likely to work than my other suggestions (IMO, obviously).

    Other than that, you can either try praying for your problem to be fixed miraculously (not recommended), or concede the ultimate defeat and take it into a guitar store, and get a professional to give it a go.

    I don't think his logic is correct. The string's vibrating fundamental doesn't exist past the nut or string saddles, so increasing/decreasing the length between the saddle and ball end shouldn't affect the amount of string available for flexion, and thus the pliability. I do believe that string-thru/top-load does affect pliability, but through other (subtle) nuances.
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Snag some lighter gauge strings and run 'em through the bridge, not body. This will at least add some consistency to the situation. So as to avoid the ever-looming "floppy B / E strings" thread, you may want to try a hex core string set if not having done so. Pretty much the same tension as comparable round core sets but a tad stiffer (less pliable) to the touch.

    As always, take a good look at your set-up when making the change-out.

  8. I understand you perfectly and what I did is change the strings. You have to try diferent brands. Ex: D´addario are more flexible than Sadowsky for the same gauge, and I think, less tension. That´s my experience, but both my basses are strung with Sadowsky strings. I´d love to have the flexibility of D´addario but the sound definiton of Sadowsky.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    This sorta supports my earlier post. The Sadowsky SS and BN strings are of a hex-core configuration. I use them whenever possible.

  10. I disagree that stringing through the body has any effect on
    the tension (or pliability) of the strings. For the speaking length
    of the string (section from nut to saddle) a specific tension is
    required to obtain the desired note (frequency). It makes no
    difference what you do beyond the speaking length of the string (e.g. at
    the headstock or at the bridge).

    The answer is to change strings. There is no adjustment that
    will change the tension of the strings without detuning your
  11. Please! Let's not muddy the water with facts.
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    It has no effect on tension, but it does affect pliability. This has been proven with real-world tests. The difference, however, is very small.
  13. Got a link for that?
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    I think you missed it.
  15. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    Instead of bickering about theories and just do the sinple lighter gauge string method. This is painful
  16. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    You can't argue with science. The distance between ball and tuner is longer on string through. Therefore there is more core wire available to stretch. Therefore the string is more pliable.

    As I said a fellow TBer investigated this quite thoroughly. I don't see why you disagree with, not mine, someone else's experiments. I didn't fabricate this.
  17. BrBss


    Jul 9, 2010
    Well since string length beyond speaking length affects pliability, are the sets balanced for a 3+2 headstock, or a 4+1 headstock? I guess you'd have to string some strings through the body if you have a different headstock configuration, so that the length from the tuner to the nut + the length from saddle to ball is equal on your bass is equal to the same sum on the bass the string company did this research for.
  18. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Ha, so why do they talk of balanced sets then?:eyebrow:
  19. BrBss


    Jul 9, 2010
    Balanced refers to the tension of the strings, which is not affected by the length of the string beyond the speaking length. Otherwise, sets would be balanced with different gauges for different headstocks.
  20. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Traditional bass guitar string sets did, and still do, have more tension in the G string, etc., as a way of compensating for the electronics of the day. Think about it: the "original" flats advertised by some companies are about a 50-100, when 45-105 gives a more balanced tension.

    If you want balanced string sets, I know of two that are truly balanced:

    1) Fender 9050CL flats in 45-105, but that doesn't help you because of your needing a 5-string set; so

    2) Circle K strings across the board. That's what they live for, and the nickel/steel hybrid construction appeals to many. The only drawback of the strings is that the wrap has so much nickel it can cause some people's fingertips to turn black.