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What effect does string gauge have on tone ?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by AdamR, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Ive been using Roto 40-95, If I moved up to a 100 or 105 what effect would that have on my tone ?
  2. Mook


    Jun 19, 2002
    in my opinion, smaller gauge has more "air" to it and gives more overtones. Larger gauge has a stronger "fundamental" tone.

    I think as bass players, unless u are going for a signature sound, we would want the stronger main tone of the bass note.

    Also, the smaller gauge, obviously has less tension, therefore more "flop". A larger gauge gives more of that tight "piano-tone".

    My opinion, tho....


    PS -- moving up one gauge size (ie, .100 to .105) usually won't be a day/night difference. But, if you went from, say .80 to .110, it would be more obvious.
  3. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Slightly tighter sound for the move to 100 versus 95. 105 may give to much felt tension increase compared to the feel of the 95's. Id suggest trying 100's first rather then 105's.
  4. tedsalt

    tedsalt Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    going the other way, from heavier strings to lighter strings, can give more growl or mwah (with lower string setup)
  5. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    Heavy + darker
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    If anyone can reliably tell what string gauges someone is using from a recording in a double blind test, I will give them $10.
    purpleflyhunter and punky like this.
  7. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA

  8. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    I would pick the gauge based more on playing style, and specifically how aggressively you like to attack the strings. I like a slightly loose feel and attack pretty hard so I go a shade lighter than standard gauge. Tone will vary, but I think minor adjustments can more than make up for it. I also find it easier to stay in tune on the E string above the 5th fret with lighter strings. I think this can be more difficult the heavier the string gets even if your setup is near perfect.
  9. ryansalmond


    Nov 21, 2007
    Lighter strings = less tension, therefore easier on your right hand/wrist, more vibration therefore more sustain (purely speculation on my part), and less actual force required to produce an 'aggressive' attack sound therefore possibly less likely to break. A lighter guage also produces more overtones, and overtones simply put are where the tone of the instrument is- overtones are the difference between your bass and a synthesizer, for example. Lighter guage also means less tension on the bass's neck.
  10. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I used to like heavy gauge strings on my 4-string fretted Fenders, because the 50 gauge G string gave me a more even tone.
  11. If anyone can reliably tell what bass, strings, amp, wood, fretboard material, right hand technique, etc someone is using from a recording in a double blind test, I will give them $10.

  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Exactly, so play what you want!
  13. sevdog


    Mar 2, 2008
    I think you just created the quote for my signature. There's a lot of good info spread here on Talkbass but a lot of the "you have to use ___ (insert product) to sound like ____ (insert style or tone)" stuff gets pretty ridiculous.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I can tell rounds from flats...usually ;)
  15. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    I thought I was the only one with that Superpower Jimmy? :ninja:


    God Bless, Ray
  16. PBnJBassist


    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    That's about all I got from it, too. I experimented with heavy set flats from Rotosound to GHS, Ernie Ball and D'Addario - then shifted to extra light gauge La Bella, D'Addario, and a custom light GHS set. All I got from it is the heavier, the darker. A .095 will sound just a bit different from a .110, but as far as I'm concerned, I am now an extra light gauge player. No more bridge cables for me now. :p
  17. Oh yeah??? Well, I can usually tell finger from pick, and I can totally pick out slap... Well, mostly...:bag:

    Seriously though, from what I've seen and heard and read and listened to, as a bassist playing for people (versus for your headphones and recording studio for your private collection), 95% of anyone listening can't really tell exactly what you are doing.

    They hear something really cool, and hopefully loud, in the background, and maybe cheer a solo. But there is no way they are going to discern neck pup from bridge, or Pbass from Jazz much less SS from Nickle or probably even flats from rounds. Some fans can probably pick out a fretless..

    It seems to me that there are so few people out there who know what they are hearing that it is not worth the time to worry about these sorts of things. If you just want to dial things in for your own enjoyment then who's to tell you you're wrong? If you are playing for the few musicians in the audience or the even fewer bassists in the audience, then more power to you.:bassist:
  18. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    I worry about these things for my own sake, if anyone can tell and appreciate it that is a nice bonus.

    I don't know how people can ignore this stuff and be happy, but that's me.
  19. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft

    To offer a serious response; String core material (tension) has made more difference for me than gauge. Switching from hex to round was a "night and day" experience;)


    God Bless, Ray
  20. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Other way around. A lighter string will be more flexible and thus have a larger vibrational amplitude at the fundamental frequency. As such, the harmonic overtones will be quieter with respect to the fundamental.

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