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Which gauge to go for?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by iCONICA, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. iCONICA


    May 14, 2012

    I've got super light gauge steel strings on now, and I like them, but I want to try heavier strings. If I go for the same strings in heavy gauge, so instead of .40 .60 .80 .100, I got .55 .75 .90 .110 would they fit the bass or would the nut need to be filed? I'm not having the bass modified at all to try out a new set of strings...

    Also, what determines the gauge? Are some gauges suited to particular styles of playing/music or skill level?

  2. PBnJBassist


    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    The heavy gauges should fit no problem. Also, what determines string gauge is strictly up to you. It's recommended that using lighter gauges is a solid way to work on technique since slinging heavy gauges doesn't count as strengthening hand & finger dexterity or muscles - those will build themselves over time with proper technique and scale exercises.

    Heavier gauges usually run with heavier tension with less flexibility than lighter gauges, allowing for lower action which, in turn makes for easier fretting. If you have a light touch, any gauge will work well. Heavy pickers and finger-style players tend to lean on higher actions (mid+) to avoid fret-buzz, unless that's a part of your sound.

    You could also have that "being a man" mentality as a reason for going toward a heavier gauge. Seems a handful of people on this forum lean that way and most of which decided, at one point or another, to switch back to lighter gauges. I, being one of them. :meh:
  3. jmattis

    jmattis Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Washington DC
    That's a pretty big jump if you're used to running the lighter gauges. I'd probably recommend something like a 50-70-85-105 (like the Ernie Ball reg Slinkys) set to start off with. What strings are you using though? There can be fairly big differences in string tension between similarly gauged strings. If you're using something like DR high beam super lights and go to a super heavy, high tension string, the difference could be big enough to elicit an extreme reaction like quitting the bass and moving to banjo.
  4. jmattis

    jmattis Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Washington DC
    That big of a jump will also pull your action up some. You'll most likely want to tweak your truss rod and/or adjust your bridge saddles a bit if you're going for a big change in string gauge.
  5. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I gotta agree with Jmattis, you'd prob better like the regular gauge. I like 45-105 which is also common regular gauge. However if hyour gonna be downtuning then the heavier gauge you was thinking could be better.

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