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The Fatter The String, The Fatter The Tone?

Discussion in 'Bass Strings' started by Jay2U, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I don't think so!

    A fatter string requires more tension in order to make it's higher mass resonate at a given frequency. More mass and tension require more energy for the same amplitude. Apart from the fundamental tone, harmonics appear along the string. The more energy, the more harmonics. As those harmonics are multiples of the fundamental frequency, the result will be a richer tone, not a fatter tone.

    As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I analysed the waveforms produced by both, thin and fat strings. It can be clearly seen that the percentage of harmonics versus the fundamental frequency depends on string gauge. In other words: Thinner strings produce more boom.

    In the graph tone, gauge and tension are listed.

    StringTensionCompared.jpg
     
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  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Looks good on paper, but why does an A played on the second fret of the G string sound so much thinner than the same A played at the 12th fret of the A string? Does the shorter speaking length of the string have something to do with this?
     
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  3. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    The active (vibrating) string length then isn't equal, so there are more variables. Tension, on the other hand, will be about the same. This probably causes the 12th fret A to sound what I'd call more dull. I'd say the A on the G string sounds brighter (more harmonics). Very interesting. Apart from comparing waveforms, one seeks for a logical explanation.
     
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  4. StreamerII84

    StreamerII84 Warwick Endorser

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    Man i clicked on this thread super fast.

    All science and graphs aside, and having gone through many strings, the fatness of the tone is dictated far more by location on the neck that the note is played and the action of the string, as opposed to the string guage.

    I would argue that the type of metal that the string is made of and construction methods (round vs hex core) have more to do with fatness than the thickness of the string. I get a FAT tone from medium light round core nickel strings with action slightly above "clang" and a light touch.
     
  5. Nieltse

    Nieltse

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    Hmmm....well...theory and wave forms aside.(wich I like! )
    I just swapped strings from a pretty heavy gauge (145tc-105-85-70-50) to more regular 135,105-45 and to be honest...the thicker gauge had soooo much more lows!
    Almost too much to my opinion...but now on the lighter gauge ...I'm missing something, maybe it's just the string tension ...dunno yet.
     
  6. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the graphs, they are very informative. What I learned is that different brands have different sound from the same gauge. I did noticed that lighter gauge may have indeed bigger lows than higher gauge strings, sometimes. Warwick's 45 strings are pretty dull for me, I alway prefered the 40 sets. I am using optima gold now, with a pretty low gauge for the B string, but really tight and fat.
     
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  7. jester

    jester ocdemon

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    I love threads like that. One thing that may be a bit counterintuitive is getting more higher harmonics with a fatter string. It is fatter and stiffer, making it harder to make the finer oscillations needed. But apparently it somehow happens.
     
  8. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Yes! Part of the equation is where the string is agitated with respect to the witness points. The A at the 12th fret is strummed close to the centre of the active length, so the second harmonic won't be present at all. The A at the 2nd fret of the G string is strummed close to a quarter of its active length, so the second harmonic will be present quite abundantly. Try strumming the A on the G string halfway...
     
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  9. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Good Vibe Sponsor

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    depends on who's asking
    Since the signal from a pickup is produced by a metal string interacting with the pickups electromagnetic field, a number of factors will effect the signal produced. I would expect the type of metals used and design of the string, along with the frequency and amplitude of the strings vibration to have noticeable effects. It is pretty complicated situation. Here is a nice article I found concerning this topic which many members may find interesting. This article made it clearer to me what a huge effect pickup positioning has on the final tone.

    How do Guitar Pickups Work? | Atlantic Quality Design, Inc. Musical Products
     
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  10. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    It is the combination of ingredients that make the soup. Measuring just strings is impossibru. pickups, tonewood, bridge and nut, preamp. finger or pick placement, touch, strength. There are too many variables to simply state string thickness alone has this effect.

    On a P bass for instance when you dig in the lows vanish.
     
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  11. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I guess the lows don't really vanish, but harmonics increase, getting a larger percentage of the volume.
     
  12. jester

    jester ocdemon

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    But you can evaluate the string thickness effect by keeping all other variables the same as much as possible.
     
  13. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    On a specific instrument, yes.
     
  14. tpa

    tpa

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    This and similar argumentation can be applied wrt the relative placement of the pickup. You have the waveforms - why not make a frequency spectrum of each? Tension vs. spectrum is also part of the short scale discussion. With similar observation: Low tension or short scale => more boom.
    More perceived boom, however, might differ from less harmonic content or more fundamental.
     
  15. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I might do a YouTube video on this topic. Strings and wooden instruments are far from ideal, so their properties will blend in.
     
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  16. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    The fatter the string, the louder the tone.
     
  17. tomb68

    tomb68 Supporting Member

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    This is a really great thread. I try lots of strings these days but keep coming back to Thomastik Jazz roundwounds for overall tone. No matter how much science goes into it the hands and the ears have the final say. I have been recently pleasantly surprised by sets from GHS and somewhat disapointed in sets from LaBella. It also seems like Ernie Ball Music Man basses sound best with Ernice Ball strings. I know, who would have thought?
     
  18. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    Only strings I ever disliked:

    GHS boomers, way too rough on the fingers.
    Slinkies, they just sound utterly shite. Scooped crap. Honestly. Worst strings ever.
    Elixirs, only mids seem to come through? And they feel slippery.
    Warwick EMP, they go dead faster then any other strings I have owned. E string was useles after 1 day of playing. Happened twice.
    Warwick Red label, had two sets, each set had one bad string.

    Best experience so far:

    DR lo-riders. My go to strings.
    Warwick Black labels, are much like the lo-riders.
    Rotosound Swing bass 66, just good. I buy those when the DR are out of stock.
    d'Addario's, both the nickels and the chromes. But they sadly don't seem to last very long.
     
  19. tomb68

    tomb68 Supporting Member

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    I had some un-fond memories of GHS but some of their newer offerings interested me, particularly the balanced nickels. They did feel a little rough at first but broke in nicely and they are pure nickel, not nickel plate and the sound is good for the price. I also tried a set of pressurewound boomers and liked them as well. Less rough under the fingers and sounded good on my FNA.

    Honestly given my memories of GHS from the 80's and 90's this was a really nice surprise.
     
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