What set of strings would be best for tuning to BEAD and Drop A on a 34" scale bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by alphaneon, Mar 14, 2022.

  1. alphaneon


    Mar 9, 2022
    Just what the title says, thank you for your help!

    Edit: The reason I say BEAD and Drop A is because my bass has a HipShot drop tuner and I will go between the two semi-frequently.
  2. What type and gauges do you normally use for EADG? Any preference between stainless steel and nickel-plated steel?
  3. Buy a 5 string set of your usual favourites and throw the skinniest one away.
    Felix1776, dalahorse and Sid Fang like this.
  4. With a typical factory 5-string set, the B is always the lowest in tension. If the OP wants to have the option of being able to go down to the low A and still have adequate tension, I would suggest beefing up on the B a little. For example, 65-85-105-140 (instead of the usual 130/135).

    As a general rule, a 105E and a 145B would have roughly the same tension.
    alphaneon likes this.
  5. There’s a reason for that. We’re back to the tension and compliance discussions. By the time you get up to a chunky B string you’ve got a chunk of metal under your fingers which can feel pretty inflexible to start with. A lower tension B gives a little bit of compliance back to the string.

    Agreed that cranking up the gauge to accommodate a drop tuner would address the tension problem but for the 99% of the time that the drop tuner isn’t used, that’s going to be a mighty uncomfortable B string.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    What he means by compliance is that a thinner string is more flexible, and will vibrate in its overtones more, which will be more consistent with the tone of other strings in the set. The lesser tension from having less mass in the core of the string is a byproduct.

    That said, GHS makes a 138 stainless round that has good flexibility and tone.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
    alphaneon likes this.
  7. alphaneon


    Mar 9, 2022
    I usually use 45-105 and have always used nickel-plated, but would be interested in trying steel this time!
  8. DR DDTs (stainless steel roundwound on a hex core) are designed with a slightly larger core wire for tuning stability and adequate stiffness when down-tuned.

    They come as a 5-strings set 45-65-85-105-130, which may be a good place to start. If you happen to find the 130B too light, 135 and 145 are also available as singles.

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
    alphaneon likes this.
  9. I’m not sure that I do mean that, actually. I was talking purely in a mechanical sense that the feel of such a heavy string B string may be inconsistent with the other gauges.

    What you say regarding the tone of the string may indeed be correct but that’s not what I’m saying.
    HaphAsSard, iiipopes and alphaneon like this.
  10. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA

    DDT-65s, and as they say "Custom sets and singles are available in all of the gauges above through your favorite retailer"

    or perhaps if you hate money and want to throw some away, DDT5-55s and throw away the highest string.
  11. TOOL460002


    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz
    I run DR HI Beams 65/85/105/125 in BEAD (45G on EADG FWIW) and dropping even a half step is not really doable. So, ya, 130-135, although dunno what that does to your open B. Good luck!
    PMagers likes this.
  12. David76112


    Feb 19, 2012
    Check Fret Nation single strings section.
  13. Mr Kringle

    Mr Kringle

    Nov 10, 2021
    United States
    I used some Ernie Ball beefy's on mine to play in drop A. I also used a 5 string set like what was mentioned above.
    I had to make slight adjustments to truss rod and bridge to keep everything intonated correctly. it worked pretty well.
  14. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    I hate to self-quote (j/k, I love it) but what I would do is try the DR DDT5-55,
    Should the 135 prove not enough, then I'd procure the single 140 or 145.
    alphaneon likes this.
  15. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    Consider also whether you want to retain similar tension to what you currently get in EADG.

    If so, then go with a set with gauges (or if you can find the numbers for a given manufacturer, tension is really the relevant measurement) similar to the biggest 4 of a 5-string set, as others have suggested.

    For some, though (myself included), detuning is less about accessing lower pitches and more about the sound of slackened strings; so going heavier starts to defeat the purpose at some point. Even so, almost no one will find .105/.085/.065/.045 playable down in BEAD; but you might consider something more like .120/.095/.075/.055 for BEAD if you want to get that detuned sound (maybe .125 or .130 if you think you’ll drop down to A0 often).

    I used to play the same gauge as you in EADG, but liked the sound of slackened strings so much that I went lighter to get something like the detuned sound and feel in EADG!
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2022
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  16. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    @alphaneon you might find string tension calculators useful:

    Stringjoy Guitar String Tension Calculator

    String Tension Calculator

    Note that the measurements vary between these two calculators, and that strings of identical gauges from different manufacturers can have noticeably different tensions due to the details of their construction (the fine print on the Stringjoy page explains this well, along with why balanced tension between strings may not necessarily result in balanced output or sound). I find these useful for making educated guesses. Some manufacturers (such as Ernie Ball) will provide these numbers if you contact them directly.
    alphaneon likes this.
  17. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    One(?) more thing: some manufacturers make dedicated BEAD sets (Rotosound and Ernie Ball, for example), and others will put together custom sets at no additional charge (Stringjoy and Curt Mangan, for example).

    Good luck! :thumbsup: