1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Taper core question

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Brendan, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Teacher slapped some taper cores on the school bass, and those things are deep, yet tinny, and kinda funky (as in Funk music, not just weird sounding), and is just killer for slap. Is this unique, or are all Taper Core strings? If it is, I just might invest in some taper cores! But, with that exposed core, are they was stable?
  2. The jury is out on whether there is any advantage in a tapercore. If you like 'em, stick with 'em.
  3. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    actually, taper core strings intonate much more accurately than non-tapers, especially on the bigger strings. they provide a more concise witness point to the bridge, which in turn forces only harmonics that are closer to multiples of the fundamental to sound.

    first off, some theory...

    when an ideal, perfect string is plucked, only frequency multiples of the fundamental will sound. the fundamental is directly related to the length of the string, and all the harmonics are multiples of the fundamental, all in tune and sound pretty, regardless of how high they are.

    with a real string, the witness point of the string to the bridge, along with the fact that real strings are not infinitely flexible like a "perfect" theoretical string, both work together to cause a sort of "gray area" for the string, where it is bending, not at a perfect point over the bridge, but more of a curve, due to the thickness of the string.

    this gray area reflects in the fact that the actual length of the vibrating portion of the string is not clearly delineated. this causes higher harmonics to be present that are out of tune with the fundamental. a smaller witness point and a sharper break angle will cause this gray area to be smaller, and keep the higher harmonics more in tune with the fundamental.

    a pic will help explain this better...


    that's the main reason why tapers are better than non-tapers.
  4. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    First of all, thanks for the theory John. Nice to actually learn something. Of course, given all the strings on those (beautiful) things of yours, your knowledge of strings --while impressive-- is definitely not surprising.

    Now, here's my $.02 worth of gibberish following Mr. Turner's scholarly work:

    One of the reasons I purchased my Ken Smith was because of its unique tone and ridiculous amount of growl. After a few months, I did some basic maintenance including restringing the bass. As usual with my other basses, I strung it with Ken Smith Medium Roundwounds, plugged it in, and...wait a minute...something's wrong with the sound. Still unique but not as much growl, a bit too bright and thin...what the heck?? And, to add to this, I was about to go into a studio to lay down a track with the Smith. Well, as it turns out, Smith sets his basses up with taper cores, not round or flat wounds. Could that be the difference? Absolutely. Just a totally different sound than either flats or rounds. In my mind at least, and on my bass, definitely a funkier, jazzier sound. More mellow and rounded than a roundwound, but definitely brighter and more sustaining than a flatwound. I don't do much slapping, but didn't really think it was harder to slap with the tapercore than the roundwound. I didn't have any problems playing finger style either, and I often played them pretty hard.

    [Edited by Saint on 01-25-2001 at 05:44 PM]
  5. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    The 1st time I put a tapered B string on my bass,I really noticed an improvement in the clarity of notes played on that string,both on the lower and higher registers.I haven't looked back since.
  6. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    my pleasure, saint :D

    one thing to remember, also, is that the difference on the thickness of taper cores compared to non-tapers means that if you change from one to the other you are going to have to reintonate _and_ reset the action on your bass - going from regulars to tapers, you will find that they buzz on the frets if you don't raise the action, and the bridge saddles will also have to be moved forward a bit.

    going the other way, from tapers to non-tapers, you'll find the action will feel very high and the strings might feel a bit tighter. your intonation will also be a bit sharp - probably need to move the saddles back to intonate properly.

    just a 411 on intonation:

    HOW TO INTONATE YOUR BASS (this can never be posted often enough)

    1. tune the open string with an electronic tuner.

    2. notice that the harmonic at the 12th fret is in tune with the tuner.

    3. fret the string at the 12th fret:

    a. if it's also in tune, bingo, you don't need to intonate that string.

    b. if the string is flat when you fret it at the 12th fret, and in tune when you play the harmonic, you need to move the saddle for that string (on the bridge) forward (towards the pickups/neck) a bit. repeat 1-3.

    c. if the string is sharp, move the saddle back (away from the pickups and neck).

    this can be a time consuming process (imagine it with a 7 or 8 string :rolleyes: :D) but the rewards are that you will sound much better, you will be more in tune from fret to fret.

    remember that being in tune is always a compromise on a fretted bass - some frets will be sharp a bit, others flat. usually, on a well intonated instrument, this is unnoticeable to even the most trained ears, but a tuner will catch it.

    you may find that the first few frets (near the nut) are sharp a bit when the string is in tune. if this is the case, it probably means that the grooves in your nut are not cut quite deep enough. unless you are handy with a file, take your bass to a setup/repair man and let him do it. should be cheap.

    if you want to do it yourself, just file the nut _a little bit_ with a diamond (triangular) file, and experiment to get the height proper with the action that you like and no fret buzz. don't over do it or you'll need to get a new nut.

    these kinds of setups are really subjective - there's a lot that depends on your action (how high you like the strings above the fretboard) and the gauge of string you use. switching from a heavy string to a lighter one will sit the string lower in the nut.

    i guess the point one must always remember is that there are many setup factors that go into making a bass feel and sound good to play. know your instrument- regardless of how "good" it is, it will sound much better when you know what's going on with it and you have it set up optimally.

    i'm rambling.

    good night john boy :D.

  7. Robert B

    Robert B Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Hampton, Va USA
    Well, she's married to Al Gore and is well known as an advocate for putting ratings on CDs... oh ... nevermind... thought you said "Tipper Gore." ;)
  8. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    that's a good one
  9. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Thanks John. You should be an artist:) That explains a lot. I think I might slap some taper cores on next time I re-string bass. Thanks and Kudos...
  10. A previous owner put a hole in my bass for a b-string to go through. To be intonated properly when strung the regular (non-string-thru-body) way, the bridge saddle of the B is almost all the way back. If I tried to put a B string in there, I would have to bend it practically 90 degrees at the saddle. Is that OK to do? I tried it with an old set of strings for about 2 minutes, and nothing immediately exploded. What would the benefits be? Better intonation? More sustain? There's only the one hole, for the B-string. Would it sound just too different from the other strings?

    Honestly, intonation is a bit touchy on the B-string, and I am considering taper-cores or utilizing this hole to assist.
  11. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey c-ba55

    the strung-through-body concept is theoretically for increasing the feeling of taughtness of the string - doesn't really do much for intonation.

    the theory is that being strung through the body forces the string to have a more secure witness point with the bridge, since the break angle is more severe. this helps the string feel tighter at the bridge.

    some people think that through-body stringing increases string tension, but this is not true - the tension of a string in tune has to do with it's mass and length, and nothing to do with the bit of the string past the bridge saddle.

    it's not unusual for the saddle of a low B to be pushed all the way back when using a non-tapered string. conversely, i use all tapercores on my 7 and 8 strings, and the bridge saddles of my basses are all almost straight in line with each other. that's the difference that the taper core makes.

    i personally don't like the exposed core taper strings, though. they break too easily, ime. the dean markleys that i use are tapered down to the last winding, which i think is the best solution to the problem.
  12. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    All I can say is:

    "Yeah, what JT said!" :D

    I've been using tapercore strings exclusively for the past 6 years now (GHS Super Steel Contact Core), and they're everything he said.

    I also agree about the exposed core vs. one winding, the few sets of exposed core strings I tried (IIRC, some Rotosounds) didn't last too well, had a few breakages at the bridge. Must have been the exposed cores.

    Also, on string breakage with tapercores AVOID the LaBella Super Steps, I put a set on once, and within an hour had 4 strings (E A D G!!!) broken! :eek: :mad:

    In the 6 years that I've used the GHS's, nary one broken string, (only one defective, an E that the windings were loose on, the GHS sales rep for FL replaced it with an entire set, good service too) and I beat the snot out of my strings. :D
  13. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    I've asked this question before and didn't get much of a reply so here goes again...Do any taperwound sets work with string through body bridges? Rotosounds do because they have an adjustable ball end but they are exposed core. I know personally that Dean Markley SR2000 doesn't. GHS told me no, Labella told me no. Does anyone know?
  14. michael


    Mar 10, 2000
    So well put by JT, thanks.

    "Do any taperwound sets work with string through body bridges?"

    My American Deluxe Jazz came strung with 8250s through the body:

    "Super Bass 8250s and 8255s
    Looking for something a little different? Wound on a round core, these strings have a tapered winding on the E and B strings for easy intonation and a more balanced tone. The 8250 series is designed to fit Fender's string-through-the-body basses, while the 8255 series is designed for any long-scale bass that is strung through the bridge. For great balance and tone, try the 8250s or 8255s and hear the difference!" (http://www.fender.com/spa/strings-bass.html)

    I liked them a lot but not the longest lasting for me. (Nickel Plated Steel). The open E is impressive. Solid, deep, and clean harmonic structure.

    I don't know of any other brands yet but it's the way I want to go - through the body taper wound no bare core. Hope to find some in stainless.
  15. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    Thanks michael, DRs website says that there Long Neck Taper Core strings will fit string through body bridges. These are stainless steel too. Anybody tried them?
  16. Chris Halleran

    Chris Halleran

    Mar 26, 2000
    I've got Ken Smith taper core mediums on my Carvin Bunny Brunel 5 string with through the body bridge. I didn't sting them myself, but I guess there was no problem.

Share This Page