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Tuning up new strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Easy Rider, Mar 2, 2004.

  1. Ok, this might be a strange question, which probably makes me look stupid, but here goes...

    How tight should double bass strings be?
    Today I finally put on a new set of strings, after having broken the D and G by tuning them too high.
    So, I used the same principle I used for years on bass guitars, put on the string and when the angles over the bridge and nut start to get 'tight' or 'sharp', which means the string tension is getting there, the first note you reach (e.g. the G on the G sting) that has good volume and sustain is it.
    Now, I've done this on all four strings, and the D and G sound great, but when I tightened the E and A about as much as the D and G they're just flopping about.
    Now, do I need to tune up the E and A more? Or does my bass just sound shabby? OR is the difference in tension between the E/A and the D/G supposed to be that big?
    I hope this sounds familiar or at least makes some sense to anyone, because I don't want to break any more strings or snap off the neck.
    I don't know any people that know about double basses, Talkbass is all I got, so... help?
    Many thanks ahead!

  2. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    You should just get a tuner. Or a tuning fork. Or pick up the phone and tune the A to the dial tone (I think that's A440).

    Every type of string is going to have different tensions, and that's on purpose. If it's tuned to the correct note, then the tension should be right.

  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Are the strings tuned in proper intervals of 4ths? If so you probably have it correct.

    On some basses, the lower strings can be floppy. Do they rattle on the board?
  4. I have a tuner, and I tuned it with that tuner. All the strings are tuned to pitch.

    No, the E and A don't rattle against the board.

    The D and G feel and sound good, but the E and A feel and sound (if you can call it sound, especially the E doesn't produce much sound at all) like they're tuned too low... but I don't know for sure.
    Well, it could also just mean that the bass is crappy. Kinda figures, it's an inexpensive ply bass.

    Any ideas?

  5. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    My guess is that they are tuned right and they're probably louder than you think.
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    True. It is difficult to hear the output of a DB from the position of the player. This is especially true in the lower frequencies.

    It may also be the type of strings that you are using or the tension the strings are creating isn't well-suited for that particular bass. Other factors such as string height, tailgut, soundpost placement and almost anything else associated with setup can have a role in the bass's output.

    Lastly, but most importantly, you'd be surprised at how much technique comes into play when it comes to getting a nice, loud and articulate pizz sound out of a DB.
  7. Hm, yes, I noticed you can't hear your own sound very well.
    I'll have my brother have a go tomorrow and listen for myself.

    And it's also true that these aren't the best strings. Not absolutely and not relative to the bass. Thick, high tension strings are what my bass needs. I had a hunch in that direction and now I'm pretty much sure. I was thinking about Superflexibles, until I noticed the price. Well, Spirocore mittels were actually what I wanted, but my wallet knocked me unconsious before I did anything stupid. So I'll have to make do with these for now.

    The action is pretty damned high, doesn't that usually cater for more volume?
    I'll do some searching on how the other variables relate to the sound.

    Thanks for the help everybody!

  8. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    When I practice, I face a corner in the kitchen. I can hear every string and how sloppy I am.
  9. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I like doing that- it's amazing how much louder the bass sounds a few feet in front of you.
  10. Well, you guys were right, the strings are a lot louder than I thought.
    I tried facing a corner (sort of anyway) and heard a lot more of what I was doing.
    But most importantly I tried some different right hand technique, making the pluck more aggressive, more 'funky' if you will, and the E and A (especially the latter) came alive.

    And I have to say...

    I LOVE this instrument! :D
    The whole thing shakes and growls... it's the voice of the bass gods themselves.
    Very much a spiritual experience, if you ask me.
    Haven't had so much fun in a long time!

  11. God...i'm glad that's over!
    Welcome to the Double Bass EZ...And these questions don't make you appear stupid...we've all been there.
    I was just kinda lurking on this thread just to see how everyone handled it.
    You guys are just great!
    EZ...do try to spend alot of quality time on our Newbie Links.
    And Chas, my dial tone is an F.....
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    JJ had the phone idea. I am more inclined to go with the resonant hum of my furnace or perhaps a half-full stem piece from the china cabinet. :)
  13. So sorry JJ, for giving the credit for the brilliant dial tone idea to Chas. I'll make it up to ya!!

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