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What difference will lighter gauge strings make to my bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by yawnsie, Jun 18, 2001.

  1. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I realise that this question concerns strings, but I want to know what effect the strings will have on my bass. Recently, I've decided to try playing with lighter gauge strings - not dramatically so, because I use a pretty light gauge anyway, but quite a difference. To give you an idea, my G string is currently a 40, while the next gauge down is, I think, 30.

    I realise that this will lead to less tension on the neck - how much difference do you think this will make, and will it be safe to do so? Will I need to adjust the neck at all, or will I be able to get away with this?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The next gauge is .035-.095.

    The neck construction is the important factor, a one-piece flatsawn Fender Jazz 4 neck probably needs more adjustment than a 7-piece quartersawn 6-string neck - a graphite neck might not need an adjustment at all.

    A .005 step is quite safe, you might need a quarterturn @ the trussrod. But let the new strings set before you tweak. Only tweak your setup when you notice a change.
    Beware that lighter strings swing wider, so you might have to use a lighter touch.

    But it's definitely worth it. I use a .035-.095 set, and it's perfect for me.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with what JMX has said but the other thing to bear in mind is that your nut slots may also be a problem if you change to a lighter gauge, I have done this a few times and it can have the effect of the strings rattling around in the slots and also you might get an annoying rattle when fretting near the nut, as the strings will be closer to the fretboard there.

    What can be done is to build up the slots with some sort of mixture of particles of material taken from a similar nut and a quick-drying superglue, or you could just put pieces of card or plastic in place - this only works as a temporary solution really though.

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