Guitars, Strings, Playability, Feeling, and Sound

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by skier, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    I went with the .009s on my Strat (a guitar I hated so much that I shipped it to someone in the USA who needed a guitar) because the scale is longer than the Gibsons I was accustomed to. After that I put the .009s on my Epiphone. The BMG I bought in Taiwan came setup for .009s so I left it that way. After playing .009s for a few years, I was tired of not having more vibrato control, more "pushback" from the strings, so I went back to .010s several years ago (more on that below).

    But, I noticed that I was developing some bad habits. When using my ring finger, sometimes I would use my middle finger on top of the middle finger it to push harder. That is stupid and really slows down articulation. I'm retraining myself to not do that now that I have the .008s. I'm sticking with the .008s and I'm also going to retrain my vibrato to work without the pushback from heavier strings. Hey, I'm looking for a job with a little security and this is going to take awhile! lol

    I have been using those general type A-shaped spring hand exercisers for years. But I saw a finger exerciser for musicians, so I ordered it. The model is the Flanger FA-10P and it arrived today. I've used it for about 15 minutes and I really feel the burn! I can keep this in my man-bag and carry it around with me. I finally admitted that I haven't been playing as much as I should. I sometimes go weeks without picking up a guitar and then I expect to be right back where I was. That is unrealistic, but it is also human nature, lol. My goal is to use the exerciser and play more often and gain back the vibrato control I used to have, while eliminating any of those bad habits I allowed myself to fall into.

  2. Wayne Tadman

    Wayne Tadman New Member

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    I've always used 10's on my burns marquee but I bought a used tele last year and fitted 10's. Then bought a set of 9's out of curiosity.
    Now there's no going back. 9's all the way for me. At least on my tele.
    Not tried 9's on the burns yet as I hardly play it now.
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  3. Felonious Punk

    Felonious Punk Member

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    Yes, I was also a macho man at the time! That's a good point about the tuning and stability. I have 010s on all my electrics now but I don't play them outside the house much anymore. All my gigs are solo acoustic...only the occasional power chord :)

    FP
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  4. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    Now that's another interesting area: gaps in playing. I do think we all have them, perhaps excepting those who perform regularly for their entire lives. But I've found it to be a double-edged sword, though still worth it.

    When I haven't played for a while, my technique also suffers and I'm not on my game. BUT, I find I have new ideas and new things I try and have grown as a player from this. I think that jamming with other good or great musicians also helps me to learn new approaches and improve. So for me, a hiatus in playing an instrument now and then has turned out to be a good thing. Of course, some hiatuses have been too long. But I have multifarious interests and it takes time to make the loop, likely why I feel I'm good at a few things, but not a master of any.
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  5. JSchmo_Bass

    JSchmo_Bass Well-Known Member

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    On the Bass side, I should add that while to standardize the gauges of all the brands I tried to as close to 105-80-65-45 and 160-180 lbs of total tension as possible, but have had to try a variety of guages within certain sets, such as with the GHS Brite flats, to get to the sweet spot.

    There Is no doubt that changing gauges also changes the tone, even within the same string lineup. The tonal changes are more prominent on the lower strings. I figure that is due to the various wrapping techniques and materials used to get to a particular thickness. Of course add to that that different gauges and tensions change how you pluck. Like I said, down the rabbit hole!

    happily I am not a 5 string player, as I hear that finding a good low B string is very tough indeed...as individual as the Bass and the player.
  6. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    You stated in a prior post that the differences were greater between string types on a bass than on a guitar, and we agree. Therefore, it follows that the lowest strings of a bass would exhibit the more prominent tonal changes. I've thought about that and am not sure if it is the materials and/or wrapping techniques as you posit, or if it's something else, such as a possible hearing sensitivity we have that's greater at the lower frequencies, or perhaps we actually can "feel" the differences. As a fellow bass player, I'm sure you've played loudly at times and noticed just how guttural the sensation of being near a large/loud bass amp can be. Years ago, I had an Acoustic 371 with a powerful, something like a 400W RMS amp driving an 18 inch woofer facing backwards in a folded horn cabinet. When playing loud rock, my pant legs in front of the amp would flutter in the breeze created by that speaker at high audio levels. And I could also feel the "thump" of a strong pluck on the E string just as I also felt the kick on the bass drum (especially a 24 inch bass drum as opposed to a 20 inch). We bass players are often near the trap kit to assure we work together well for a solid bottom and I felt those things.
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  7. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    Oh, meant to include:

    I don't own a 5-string, but I have played some owned by others and I like having the low B-string available and it's powerful, low tones. I found it very easy to naturally add that 5th string into my playing, though I find the neck wider than I like, though it obviously has to be.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
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  8. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    This is interesting because I bought a bass not so long ago, and I have yet to change the strings on it. I always wipe my strings with alcohol wipes, and then I spray the strings with dry lube. That practice has allowed me to get perhaps 3x the useful life out of my strings. So, I've done that with the bass too and it still sounds good.
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  9. Felonious Punk

    Felonious Punk Member

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    I have a 14 year old SX J bass with the original factory strings :). LOL! I'm not changing them unless one breaks.

    FP
  10. Felonious Punk

    Felonious Punk Member

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    I used to use the Blitz Cloth on my acoustic before Elixirs won me over.

    https://www.blitzinc.com/products/string-care-cloth

    Your way is probably more economical.

    FP
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  11. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    It's simple - remove the finger oil. Coat the strings to retard oxidation. There is more than one way to accomplish these goals.
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  12. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    I, too, keep bass strings on for a very long time - bass strings don't seem to get stiffer over time like guitar strings do. My favorite have been coated strings because they're easier on the fingers and have less buzz. I've gotten good at setting up both guitars and basses over the years, but eliminating buzz from the E and A strings on a bass is more difficult to achieve because the range those low strings vibrate when plucked hard is significant. Finding ways to stop them from hitting the frets when they vibrate is not easy unless you make the action higher than anyone would like - not a good solution. The coating seems to temper that to a degree.
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  13. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    I adjusted my bass recently and it made a world of difference in the playability.

    Btw, fingers are feeling good today after using the exerciser yesterday.
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  14. BazzBass

    BazzBass Well-Known Member

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    Carol Kaye used to bring her bass to the shop and swap it for a new bass rather than restring her old one. So her story goes, take it with a pinch of salt,judging by her past claims to have played on songs she didn't play on. As if she needed to embelish her hit songs record....

    Now, I have a $200 SX Jazz and it plays as well as my Fenders. I love using it at gigs. Great bang for the buck. Such a nice neck on a $200 bass, wow
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  15. Felonious Punk

    Felonious Punk Member

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    I think my SX bass was 129 when I bought. Still plays and sounds great!

    I spoke with Carol Kaye once on the Namm show floor.

    FP
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  16. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    What did you adjust? I've noticed that basses, at least I've played and owned, don't go out of adjustment nearly as quickly as a guitar even though the string tensions are much higher and the necks longer. That said, it has sometimes given me a false sense of security in that I have tended to ignore them until they're more out of adjustment than I would have ever tolerated on a guitar. I think that's the case because the guitar changes over a short time and is quite noticeable whereas basses take time to go out of adjustment and we tend to adapt to those changes over the long term.
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  17. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Truss rod and bridge saddles. The bass is a Chris Fender Precision copy. It sounds good but I'll have to open it up and take a look at the wiring because it buzzes if I take my hands off the strings, lol.
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  18. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    Buzzing on a bass can be tricky and it's so important to get the cause correct. With your background, I've no doubt you can easily tell the difference between a mechanical and an electrical buzz. If the manufacturer used any electrolytics for filtering and the bass is old, they may have dried out. Otherwise, I'd first suspect a lifted shield on an internal pickup cable;
    a broken lead, loose or cold solder joint, or some such on a filter cap lead, etc.

    Let me know what you find - I've learned a lot from the solutions of others (though yes, I have been known to later pawn those fixes off as my own just to assuage and embellish my own frail, male ego).
  19. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    I've never tried a coin as a pick; but I will now. A quarter seems about the right size. I wonder if the hardness of a coin as a pick will increase the E and B- string breakage frequency.
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  20. JSchmo_Bass

    JSchmo_Bass Well-Known Member

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    RE whether string gauge impacts tone. Not sure, but one other fairly obvious observation is that the differences in strings in general are far less when one lowers the tone and suppresses the high end. At least on bass, even the very obvious flats vs rounds distinction can start to blur unless using a pick. So does it follow that differences we speak of are are mainly in the harmonic structures above the bass fundamental frequencies (Eg above say 150 Hz)?

    RE 5 string bass

    yeah sometimes I wish...!

    I just got back into music, a band, and bass playing only 3 years ago at age 49, having not played since age 20. So I decided at that point to stay with 4 strings and focus on (re)learning the entire neck as well as I could. Made good progress and am now arguably a better a player than I ever was as a punk-*ssed kid. But To do that I needed to set defined boundaries that were within my cognitive and muscle limits to learn new stuff and physically play.

    In fact my 2 P basses are both PJ limited editions with Jazz necks (as original from Frnder). having a more consistent neck shape and set up across my instruments helps me play them equally well.

    Had I stayed with playing bass in my 20’s 30’s and 40’s, then oh yes give me
    5 string- clearly it offers a lot, including a more linear way to play up the neck.

    But it’s all good. Heck, for the little dive bars I played pre Covid I found I need to use a HPF set at about 80-100Hz just to tame the boom and not piss off the staff. I can’t imagine unleashing a proper low B in there.

    I do hope someday to play a bigger venue on a big bass rig and feel my pants flap!
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