Author Topic: How much does string gauge matter?  (Read 190 times)

Tennesseemick

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How much does string gauge matter?
« on: April 15, 2019, 10:29:53 AM »
I apologize if this has already been discussed here.

I'm looking at some TI Jazz flats for my Epic. (Talkbass has some decent prices) The bass was set up with the following gauges: .045, .060, .080, and .105. The TIs are .043, .056, .070, and .100. Do those differences matter? What other changes may be necessary? For instance, what should the heights be?

Any other technical specifications shared are appreciated so I can share them with the guy who will do the set up.

Thanks in advance!
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adriaan

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 10:59:07 AM »
As long as they're the JF344 set for long scale, you're good. The differences are noticeable, but the most likely issue will be that they're lower tension than most other strings out there, so you will probably need to loosen the trussrods a bit. After that, you may look into bridge and nut height.
And you should really get around to doing your own setups, just keep Joey's Post on Setting Up Your Bass handy.

Tennesseemick

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 11:36:27 AM »
Thanks! If this was a beater Fender or something, I might try.  :D
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adriaan

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 01:24:00 PM »
Actually an Alembic is easier to set up than a Fender. Try it, a little care and attention and common sense - plus Joey's step by step instructions - and you no longer need a guitar tech for your seasonal adjustments, or when you try different strings.

StephenR

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 03:15:16 PM »
I also do not think you will have a difficult time setting up your bass if you try a different brand of strings. IMO the difference in the gauges of the TI strings will be much less of an issue and adjustment than getting used to the very low string tension. The TI strings are amazing quality, sound great and last a long time but the string tension is not to everyone's taste. If they work for you they are excellent strings, though.

mica

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 04:14:50 PM »
If you prefer high tension flat wounds, I'm a fan of the D'Addario Chromes -- but order one scale length longer than your bass (i.e. Extra-long scale strings on a long scale bass).

mario_farufyno

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2019, 10:17:58 AM »
Height and Gauge are extremely individual, each person develops during life his own tastes about how stiff wants his strings. And this can change in time, too.

In general terms, heavier strings and/or higher string height makes them feel stiffer. In the good side of it, this helps to avoid fret noises and makes pitch more stable. It also can improve tone in the sense that you'll hear upper harmonics better. So, why not everyone uses heavy strings set up to the sky? Because it is easier to play fast and bend lighter strings. So we all have to discover how low we can go, it's a compromise game, you may say. 

I tend to record with heavier sets, but live I prefer lighter ones. Consider that I also try to use them as low as my bass and technique can handle, in the limit of choking when hitted real hard (I can almost get a slap/chick picking tone when hit harder). This pushes me to improve finger control on how hard I pluck as the intention is to use strengh to change bass tone and even pitch slightly (I play fretless for years and like those little - almost "vocal" - imperfections).

The problem is being able to keep fingers under control and consciously do those things in a live situation. But, to be honest, I've just changed the way I set up my bass when got the Alembic and better (and louder) amps, because you have to hear yourself really well to keep plucking light. Also is good to say that playing softer doesn't means sounding weak because you compensate with the Amp's master volume and, showing less strong upper harmonics, in fact will enhance lows and the bass will sounds heavier.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 10:32:17 AM by mario_farufyno »
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mario_farufyno

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2019, 10:30:47 AM »
You will see that different brands and models differs concerning stiffness (round core feels more flexible than hex cores, for example). Steel sounds brighter than nickel and flats sounds rounder than roundwounds. But every change should be followed by new adjustments in height and intonation if you want it to feel close as it felt before changing strings characteristics, though. Be aware that changing gauges will mess intonation in the way up the neck, for sure.

There is no such thing as a correct height or recomended gauge, you must try and try to find what suits you. Is good to learn how set it yourself to experiment alternatives.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 10:36:02 AM by mario_farufyno »
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Tennesseemick

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 11:29:35 AM »
Thank you all!

With this direct encouragement, I'm a bit encouraged to try. This go-around, though, I'd like a pro to look at it. The bass is in mint condition (1986 build) but has some oxidation on the metal, the edges of the frets need to be smoothed a bit, and I'd like the truss rods checked out. The strings seem to be the original set so I'm pretty sure no adjustments had been made in 33 years. Oh, and I'd need the correct tools.

I appreciate all the recommendations, too. I had D'Addario flats on my Casady. I loved them and the "double bass" voice they added but they muted the already-very-subtle differences in tones. Even so, I'm not wild about the Ernie Balls (the "recommended string") and would put flats back on, EXCEPT....

it's on a wall in our music room and I'm in love with my Epic.

I want a smoother sound than rounds and am interested in hearing what range of tones I can get.

When I think I couldn't love my Alembic more, all of you add to the total experience. <3
Every day is its own kind of perfect.

jazzyvee

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 04:41:10 PM »
I'm thinking of trying out flats for the first time and thinking specifically about La Bella 750N- B Black Nylon strings .050, .065, .085, .105, .135.
I play to try these out on my black maple Europa 5 bass which usually has Alembic Strings on. 045 - .065 - .080 - .105 - .128
I've been reading some reviews and watching some you tube videos and they seem to offer me a warmer tone which could work well for some of the music I cover.
My reservation at the moment is mainly due to my reluctance to opening up the nut and saddle slots. Will the slight difference in gauge of the Labella strings require me to do that or can I still use them without having to do that and still get a low action.


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Tennesseemick

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 01:07:21 PM »
If you prefer high tension flat wounds, I'm a fan of the D'Addario Chromes -- but order one scale length longer than your bass (i.e. Extra-long scale strings on a long scale bass).

Uh-oh. I ordered the TIs in long scale. Should I have ordered the x-long or were you referring specifically to D'Addarios?
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mica

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 01:30:03 PM »
Uh-oh. I ordered the TIs in long scale. Should I have ordered the x-long or were you referring specifically to D'Addarios?

That's for the D'Addario strings. I honestly do not know on the TIs, I'm sure an expert will chime in here for you.

adriaan

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 02:12:59 PM »
The JF344 set fits my Epic just fine.

I have the JR346 set on my 34" custom 6, which has the tailpiece set back a little further, and am about to put on the JF346 set, which appear to run longer red winding at the headstock than the green on the rounds, but the red should clear the nut just fine.

mica

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 02:20:16 PM »
Thank you, expert Adriaan!

adriaan

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Re: How much does string gauge matter?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2019, 03:10:33 PM »
Mica, if you thought Jazz Flats might be a tad floppy, you should try the Jazz Rounds. :)

Amazing strings, either way.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 03:12:56 PM by adriaan »