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Which gauge combination for evening out tone across strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by ProfFrink, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. ProfFrink


    Jan 16, 2015
    (It looks like this should have already been answered, but I couldn't find in search. It's hard to come up with good search-terms for this)

    I have an Ibanez SR1200, which is very nice, except that I find the upper strings (D,G) to be quite a bit more "zingy" than the lower ones, which is a bit annoying sometimes. This brings me to my question:

    Which gauge combination will make the sound more even across strings? 40-105, or 45-100?

    It looks like 45-100 should be more even because the gauges are closer together, but OTOH you you will have to have higher tension on the G and lower on the E, so not quite obvious...

    Is there even a rule for this or does this change from make to make?
  2. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    This has been a riddle to me as well. My first bass, a passive Yamaha kinda sounds that way, but it's even more pronounced with my active pre/emg laced Spector... I've described it as 'too guitar-ish, hi-fi, or piano like' at various times anywhere on the D & G strings.

    I tried about 12-15 different sets before deciding that IMO The Ernire Ball Cobalt Rounds seemed to produce the most evenness to me, so I've been sticking with those. Personally i prefer thicker and stiffer strings, and couldn't wait to try their 55-110s (which I really really liked and ordered 4 pairs from Jason at BassStringsOnline! :))

    My amp(s) knobs end up possibly making the biggest corrections to the issue, but I'm still working on dialing that all in, so I'm anxious to hear what more experienced players here have to say about strings & other possible contributing factors.

    Subbed :thumbsup:
    ProfFrink likes this.
  3. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I don't know the answer, but I do know I am always thinking it about D and G strings. If some maker could increase those gauges significantly while not completely screwing up relative tension, it would be a significant improvement.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    If you think G strings are tough to even out, try C strings.

    In my experience it's not so much the gauges that contribute to evenness. String construction also makes a difference, and I feel that round core strings are best for this.

    My favorites when it comes to string to string evenness are DR Sunbeams.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  5. Achieving an optimal tonal balance is a process of trials and errors as no specific set of gauges would sound the same on every bass. For example, what sounds "balanced" on my Jazz bass wouldn't necessarily work well on my P bass.

    It also depends on the brand/type of strings. The same set of gauges of strings from different manufacturers can sound and feel quite different on the same bass. Also, what works well with rounds may not work with flats when it comes to tonal balance. And so on...and so on...

    As a former "balanced tension enthusiast", I've come to realize "balanced tension" does NOT always guarantee "balanced tone", depending on the bass and the brand/type of strings.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  6. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Of course, the broken design of the split P on 90% of the P designs in the universe didn't help. Never understood that one. Moving the poles further away from the neck is a sure bet way to screw up tone evenness.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  7. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Exactly, this is the dilemma. Consistent tone (which is somewhat subjective) across 4 strings is barely possible, and even less possible for 5+ strings.
    Impossible though, gauges determine tension.

    GHS has an equal tensions set with the G having 2 wrap wire layers instead of 1, and the E having 2 wrap wire layers instead of 3, this helps.
    It also helps if the strings are super-flexible so that the thicker strings don't get so much more of a darker tone (this is Kalium's approach).
    With 2 pickups you can tilt them differently so that the higher strings are biased towards the neck pickup for warmth, and the low strings biased towards the bridge pickup.

    The traditional approach is top-heavy sets for less change of gauge, but then you get more change in tension and therefore also in tonal brightness.
    My personal preference is a bottom-heavy set to tighten up the low strings and loosen the high strings, but most bassists won't like this because they have a phobia of Gs any smaller than .045 or .040. This way you get a more even brightness but the tonal character changes more due to more change in gauge.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  8. I would say your .45-.100 is a good start. I use SIT sets (Nickle Powerwounds) in these gauges for fours and the same gauges in the five string set (B in .125 I believe). That,coupled with backing off the bass EQing , keeps things pretty balanced.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  9. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    DR's Jonas Hellborg set sounds similar between strings possibly due to only having a single wire wrap on each string:

    My only complaint with the set is the E string has less tension than the other strings.
    ProfFrink likes this.
  10. If you are seeking for more even tone, 105-45 obviously, the tension is more even than 100-45...

    I personally would prefer 100-45, or 95-40 because the lighter feel...
    ProfFrink likes this.

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