What gauge string should I get for higher tunings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Luke Hamilton, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Luke Hamilton

    Luke Hamilton

    Feb 28, 2021
    I've recently joined a band and they tune up to F standard so I just wanted to make sure I get the right strings so that I don't add excess tension to the neck.

    I just bought a fender vintera 60s mustang bass and I want to put flatwounds on it.
    Any help or advice is appreciated :)

  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    A half step up won't make any difference unless you're already using large gauge strings.
  3. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    To be pedantic, a semitone up does make a difference =) Tension is multiplied by 1.12, a 12% increase. Not a lot and not dangerous if you are using a medium gauge set. But if you want to preserve the tension you prefer, which is obviously desirable, just use the next lighter set available, which is typically all gauges decreased by .005, this will approximately cancel out the tension increase.
    trothwell likes this.
  4. rob_thebassman


    Jul 26, 2010
    Normanton, UK
    playing bass since 2005
    I'd go for a 40 - 100 set
    Datsgor likes this.
  5. Considering your bass is a short-scale, I wouldn't worry about "excess tension on the neck", keeping in mind any given set of strings would have less tension on a 30"-scale than on a standard 34"-scale, even when they're tuned up half a step.

    Your main concern should be finding a set of strings that fit properly on the thru-body Mustang you have. Most "short scale" strings would be too short to fit on a thru-body Mustang, which actually requires "medium scale" strings by most manufacturers' specs with only a couple of exceptions.
  6. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Ah, sorry, i did not read this properly. If this is your first short scale bass then you have no idea what gauges you like for EADG on such a scale.

    A good way to guess is to use a tension calculator to discover what string tensions you like on 34" (or whatever scale you have experience with), then reset the calculator scale to 30", reset tuning to F standard, to discover the gauges that recreate that tension on 30" in F standard. Then perhaps adjust to slightly lighter gauges to compensate for how a shorter scale makes a particular tension 'feel tighter'.
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp Guest

    Jan 25, 2005
    Better answer:

    Tension equation:
    T = (U * (2 * L * F) ^ 2) / 386.4
    With all else equal:
    T is proportional to L ^ 2
    T is proportional to F ^ 2

    34" -> 30":
    T multiplied by (30 ^ 2) / (34 ^ 2) = 0.7785

    Tuning up 1 semitone:
    T multiplied by (2 ^ (1 / 12)) ^ 2 = 1.1225

    Combined effect:
    T multiplied by 0.7785 * 1.1225 = 0.8739

    When going from 34" EADG to 30" F standard, tension falls to 87% of its previous value. So any string set suitable for 34" EADG (.050-.110 maximum) will be safe to use.
    Because a shorter scale has a higher 'perceived tension' for a particular tension, i suggest as a starting point using the gauges you prefer for 34" EADG.
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