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What factors affect string tension?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bobby King, Jul 16, 2005.


  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I've got a question for anyone out there:

    I can have two very similar basses, let's say two P-style basses. They'll have the same strings, same neck scale, same string height, same type of bridge. Nevertheless, on one, the strings will feel looser and more flexible, while the other will feel tighter and stiffer. What factors contibute to this?
     
  2. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    Jul 16, 2005
    Syracuse, NY
    The only factors, in all reality, that should affect string tension are the string gauge, their age (strings tend to loosen up with age), and the sale (ringing) length of the string.
     
  3. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    -Ray
     
  4. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Neck relief would be my answer. Even a slight difference will make the strings seem stiffer.
     
  5. That isn't true. Neck relief has no bearing on string tension. The operative term in your post is "seem". Perceived tension and the actual measurable tension are often two completely different things
     
  6. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    The key difference between tension and feel is that feel is a dynamic thing. A perfect string of a given mass per unit length will always have the same static tension for a given tuning and scale length. But as soon as you pluck it, the vibration and movement of the neck, body and hardware and the stiffness of the string come into play. Furthermore, when you fret a note the tension changes slightly and the effort to fret a note depends on the action and relief, which affects the feel.

    Alex
     
  7. BassikLee

    BassikLee Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2004
    Deltona, FL
    Owner: Brevard Sound Systems
    I know for me, there are often completely unrelated and illogical things that make the "feel" change. The clearest example is this: I am of the "willis ramp" school, sort of. I like the pickups up high enough so that I can't dig in. I play over the bridge pickup, fwiw. OK, so on a bass with the same measured sting height, but a lower pickup height, or greater pickup/string distance, my FRETTING hand feels different. Odd?? yes. Do I need electro-convulsive therapy to fix this?? who knows. It could be that something seemingly unrelated to what you are perceiving is the actual cause.
     
  8. This is most-likely due to the fact that as your pickups become more or less sensitive, your fretting technique must compensate to mitigate things like fret-noise.

    It's all about TOUCH....TOUCH IS 99.5% of bass playing. BTW...guitarists have no idea.
     
  9. WillBuckingham

    WillBuckingham

    Mar 30, 2005
    Wouldn't scale length affect tension?
     
  10. flange

    flange

    Feb 22, 2005
    Cochrane Alberta
    Tension won't be different between the two but the
    feel can definitely be different. If the strings feel
    really stiff in first position the nut height is probably to high.
    A difference of .020 can be felt quite easily. This applies to the original post.