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Michael Ichiyama (ichinumba9)
Username: ichinumba9

Post Number: 24
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2003 - 3:16 pm:   Edit Post

Hello, I've been looking around at info on strings and I see that different companies have different string tensions for a particular scale. I ordered a custom medium scale Alembic and was wondering which string would be the tightest string for a 32" scale? I would think that if you are trying to get the most low end, sustain, harmonics etc. you would want the string with the highest tension. I'm not sure. If anyone has any knowledge on this subject and recommendations for the tightest strings for 32" scale, I would be most thankful.
Bob Novy (bob)
Username: bob

Post Number: 20
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 12:45 am:   Edit Post

Hi Michael,

I can't give you a simple answer, but I'll offer a few suggestions on how you might proceed, and then a few general comments.

1) Try using the Search function, looking for 'tension'. I just did a quick check, and it turns up about 18 hits covering most of the interesting discussions I recall from the last few months. (As you'll discover, if you haven't already, we do have a tendency to wander a bit in these threads so you can't always go by the subjects). Lots of good background stuff here.

2) You might turn up more specific suggestions on brands by searching on 'strings'. However, be careful to use the plural form, and match whole words only, so you don't end up with all the "5 string Europas" and such.

3) Hope that some of the 32" scale owners chip in here (I'm a 34 going to 35 myself). However, you'd get better advice if you told us a little more about what you were looking for - flats/rounds, nickel/stainless, bright/whatever - or at least something about your preferred music and style. Some of these combinations will really narrow down the choices, especially for 32".

A few quick summary comments, and some things I've been wanting to get off my chest...

- Do NOT buy longer strings and cut them (Joey explains why elsewhere).

- You're right that in principle, higher tension strings generally behave in a more theoretically ideal fashion regarding harmonics (and also permit lower action).

However, carefully designed strings (such as Thomastiks) can easily sound and play better with lower tension, than average quality strings of higher tension. I was always a high tension fan, but these guys hooked me despite my initial skepticism. Try to keep an open mind, and don't get stuck thinking you just want to look at tension numbers.

- I'm not clear on the relation between tension and sustain (I think it's a bit tricky), but with Alembic you'll have more sustain than you know what to do with, so I wouldn't worry about that.

- "Most low end" is also not necessarily a matter of tension. Sure, to some extent more tension means heavier gauge and that might help with low end, but the design of the instrument (in particular neck laminates) can easily be a bigger factor, as can different styles of strings.

- If you really just want tension, you get more with bigger gauges (given identical string design). But you can't make a simple gauge comparison across companies, or even different styles from the same manufacturer, so it really helps to see the tension specs.

Personally, I'm a little skeptical about brands that don't publish tensions. And further (just my opinion, there are exceptions, blahblahblah), I'm really suspicious when I see them offer a range of light/med/high sets all with perfectly spaced gauges (like 100-80-60-40, 105-85-65-45, etc.) - it's rarely that simple.

- All that aside, you're eventually going to just have to try a few - when you get your custom - and hopefully you'll find something you like. But see point (3) again, so maybe some of the others can help you put together a short (I should say, "medium") list.

(Message edited by bob on January 31, 2003)
Paul Lindemans (palembic)
Advanced Member
Username: palembic

Post Number: 238
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 1:09 am:   Edit Post

And hup ...printing again!
Thanks Bob.


PS:maybe I'll wait printing and read first what Joey has to say on this one
Adriaan Simons (adriaan)
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 9
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 2:13 am:   Edit Post

My experience with the low tension Thomastik Jazz Flats on an fretless Epic is that your fingers don't get as sore as with - say - DR HiBeams or LoRiders.

The low E string sounds really big - much bigger than what I was used to with DR, but Thomastik decided that the A, D and G strings should be somewhat lighter than other brands make them. Those upper strings are fine once you get used to them, but you sure can make them sing. As I play mostly jazz, the big sound from the E string is a real bonus.

From a distant past I recall high tension Rotosounds and GHS Bass Boomers. I think Rotosound is not the most subtle of strings. The first new set I put on the Epic when the Alembic strings had gone dull (that took about 6 months) were GHS Bass Boomers. I took them off after just a day: I thought they were just horrible.
Michael Walker (rockandroller)
Username: rockandroller

Post Number: 24
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 9:53 am:   Edit Post

Anybody here have a list of the companies that DO publish their bass string tensions??? So far I only know of one: D'Addario!
Nick Brown (nick_bassman)
Username: nick_bassman

Post Number: 9
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 2:19 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Michael

You can add Thomastik Infeld to your list

Bob Novy (bob)
Username: bob

Post Number: 21
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, February 03, 2003 - 7:29 pm:   Edit Post

Hmm... maybe I should back off on my comment about publishing string tensions. It seems to me they were pretty easy to find a decade ago, when I was looking at guitar strings, but maybe my memory isn't that good - or maybe it's because there aren't as many bass strings sold, who knows.

I still think it *should* be available, because getting fairly even tensions across the strings is important to some people. So if people know of others who make this info available, that could be useful.

On the more general topic of evaluating string quality, one thing I've found useful is to look at them under a magnifying glass. I look for surface smoothness (some look like they could saw right through your fretless fingerboard), and also for the thickness of the outer windings (count the number per inch or something) - a smaller outer winding can make the string feel a lot smoother, in addition to being more flexible. Someone who played my bass with a set of roundwound Thoms asked if they were half-rounds.

But again, looks - and numbers - aren't everything, and it still comes down to how they sound and feel to you.

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