Re: A question about strings...??

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Posted by El Pájaro on January 10, 2001 at 06:36:18:

In Reply to: A question about strings...?? posted by Tre on January 09, 2001 at 21:36:42:

: What are the standard string gauges for a bass guitar? An electric guitar usually comes with .009-.042 strings. So anyone know what a bass usually comes with? .045-.105 strings? Please help, thanks.

Hey there,
Pat H's right: .045-.105 strings are usually labeled as "standard gauge". But that doesn't mean you'll necesarilly want to stick with that gauge. I feel a little experimentation may pay off here. Why? It's a complicated issue, so I'll try to address it briefly.
What makes a string sound the way it sounds is a combination of factors; what matters is that the string vibrates producing a note which is a combination of the sound of one frequency (the fundamental) and a number ot other frequencies that are perfect multiples of that first frequency (the overtones or harmonics).
It's important that the fundamental/overtones ratio remains close to perfection to make the string sound as intonated as possible (mind you, no string instrument sounds PERFECTLY in tune at all times, but that's another story). One of the factors that has influence in that ratio is the "string stiffness" factor. When old Greek mathematician Pythagoras developed his overtone theory, he was thinking in a "theoretical string" that had lenght and flexibility but no mass. Bass strings, on the other hand, have limited lenght and LOTS of mass, so the heavier they are, the less they act like a string and the more they act like metal bars clamped at both ends ...not good! This makes the overtone series less true -thus the intonation goes through the window.
As you might have imagined, the point is to find strings with the right balance between "weight" (so your bass doesn't sound wimpy) and felxibility (so the instrument sounds more in tune with itself). For that purpose, master luthier/repairman/sound guru Rick Turner recommends trying .040 strings, which come closer to that balance I was talking about. Perhaps you should give'em a try. Buena suerte and keep that bass up front in the mix,

El Pájaro

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