Why go to a heavier string?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by philthygeezer, May 16, 2005.

  1. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    What are the advantages of going to heavier strings in the same lineup?
  2. I've switched from 45-65-80-105-128 Blue Steels to 50-70-85-105-128 and got more tone and punch from the top 3 strings. It takes a little while getting used to it, but you'll cope (I was actually mostly used to DR Hi-Beams which is a very Slinky string compared to Blue Steels.) I think my sound is more even across the board, and the lighter strings are cutting through better now.
  3. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    The downside is that you don't get the type of classic snap that comes from, say, Medium-Light strings. You get snap alright, just a little difference in tone. I've been thinking of going back to Mediums for the time being because a decent set of Heavys (DR) haven't been available in my area for quite some time.

    Between a Medium set and Heavy set of the same exact type of string, there is minimal difference (sonically) that you can always just EQ to make up the difference.

  4. philthygeezer


    May 22, 2002
    Is there any difference in how you can set up the action?
  5. btrag


    Mar 7, 2005
    This maybe player-dependant, but, which gauge strings are easier to play faster? My intuition says that the lighter ones are easier to pick faster.
  6. I would think that given the same player (same touch) the heavier gauge the string or the higher tension the string the lower the action can go. I say this because higher tension means less deflection when the string is plucked, making for less fret buzz. This is speculation on my part as I don't have the background in physics that some of the guys around here do.
  7. olesne


    Mar 25, 2005
    Careful. If you use a string too much heavier than what the factory recommends for your model bass you can pull your neck a little out of wack over time. :bassist:
  8. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    I like heavy strings for the the higher notes, but I like my E in a .95 gauge. Unfortnately it's hard to find a box set with heavy gauges on D and G and lighter gauges on E and A.
  9. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    Depends on the difference of strings. Medium to Heavy would result in little to no action difference. Only the slightest tweak. Really light strings would be damn near impossible to get low action as it would buzz and flop like crazy.

  10. What I like about the slightly heavier gauge than normal I play with, is that (when the setup is right - took alot of experiments for me) you plug normally you don't get the snap and growl that you do with lighter strings. I feel I can get more different sounds now, because I can both the very light touch sound (low volume but bassy), and a well rounded sound still with good attack and punch but no clicking or clacking, and then the growly tone when I play hard. With lighter strings I found it hard to get the the normal sound, with good attack and punch without having the action set to high. And to me it wasn't just a matter of playing with a lighter touch. That don't produce the same amount of attack. Of course all this is individual, as to what sound you like and so on. I've just found a technique and setup (bass, strings etc) that makes me happy because I can get what I want from just using one bass, and without altering the eq.
  11. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Heavier strings with a lower action is just a different feel ... I can usually play a little faster/cleaner on that setup, I find the slap sound is better, and I find that the intonation rings a bit truer since you're not bending the string as far each time you pluck it. The sound will also have a little more "ring" or "clank" (different high mid response), but you may end up liking that as well. You never know.

    If you just go to a heavier string and don't set the bass up, you'll end up with more relief due to higher tension and you will be BUMMED. Take a relief measurement before you start, then adjust the neck to have the same relief with the new strings (wait a while for it to settle in and re-adjust), then drop the saddles just a little tiny bit ... and see what you think.
  12. timinator


    May 8, 2005
    String gauge is huge when you're looking for that feel that lets you play unconsiously: too light feels rubbery while too heavy feels... ok, too heavy! A good shop will sell you individual strings if you want to try let's say a little heavier D and G while keeping the same E and A. Feel is key!

    Different gauge doesn't seem to affect tone as much as playing (plucking) toward the bridge vs. toward the neck, but going one set heavier is smart if you like to tune down a half-step or so. If you just want more playability, take the time to put on a heavier set for about a week or two, but keep the old lighter ones and switch back. You'll find what feels better for you pretty fast.

    Strings are personal, but stupid expensive, so pay attention to what works. Nickel plated are easier on your frets, but steel sound brighter. Hex core vs. round core also has a little effect on tone... Have fun!
  13. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    Steel vs. Nickel also determines string life as well. I find Nickels die MUCH faster than steels. I use DR Hi-Beams.

  14. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Heavy strings seem to last longer, that is in my case.
  15. kilgoja


    May 26, 2005
    i use Ernie Ball hybrids ....with 105, 85, 65, 45....all 20 whatevers apart...that seems to be good for me...i found that the 100 and 80 e and a strings that came on my stingray were easy to bend out of tune when playing hard and fast.....the 45 g string is a little small but the 50 is too big ....so i just stuck with the 45...it's mostly for leads or runs anyway so it works great for me..if you slap alot you might want to go with a 50 g string
  16. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Everything else being equal, you can genreally dig a bit harder with lower action on heavier gauges as opposed to lighter. Especially if you play with a pick.

    But as with everything else there's the tradeoff. If you're a precision finger picker and move around on the neck, the lighter gauges are friendlier, I think.
  17. I really don't want to sound like a jerk, but I do ;) I am indeed a finger player that moves around the neck a lot (too much my bandmates think ;)), and I play heavier strings. I think you should go by what sounds best, because you will eventually get used to how the strings feels. And that goes both ways I suppose. If you like the sound of really thin strings, you'll get used to that too. Actually moving on to something that at first is a bit uncomfortable, is a good way to get conscious about your technique and improve it because your weeknesses comes through a little better. So basically, allways going with what feels best initially isn't, IMHO, always gonna get you the best results in the end.