Low tension strings

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sharpman
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Low tension strings

Post by sharpman » 01 Mar 2018, 05:34

Hey guys, I have bad tendinitis in my picking hand/thumb which is quite painful. I pick fast and hard and play punk rock, I've tried many times to change how hard I play but have failed. I play a stingray with fairly high action and enjoy stainless steel strings for brightness, and usually use DR lo riders or hi beams but often it's whatever my local stocks. Anyway, a few times for whatever reason i have played other people's basses at gigs and my pain is so much reduced, and im sure it's due to lower tension strings. I understand a lighter garage is supposed to help but can anyone recommend some low tension strings for me out of the box that are stainless? Cheers
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slowlearner
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by slowlearner » 01 Mar 2018, 06:20

I would try the next lightest gauge in the strings you like. I'd also bring your action down lower. The other thing you can do is turn up the treble control on your amp. Then you won't have to hit so hard, but you'll still have the brightness.
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irvinz
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by irvinz » 01 Mar 2018, 07:12

slowlearner wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 06:20
I'd also bring your action down lower.
This.

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NotTheFish
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by NotTheFish » 01 Mar 2018, 07:24

A lower tension string is the Dunlop Super Brights. It comes in stainless and nickel.

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hamo
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by hamo » 01 Mar 2018, 09:18

Thomastik strings are the lowest tension i've used. Although they mainly do jazz style strings in flatwound style? Worth checking.
I personally didn't like them.
Can i also suggest some warm up stretches and strength exercises?
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by bigswifty » 01 Mar 2018, 09:47

If you notice a difference when you pick up someone else's bass, it can often be due to a different strap length. It makes a huge difference how your pick hand positions.

The other thing that comes to mind is whether you palm mute when picking? There's a huge TB thread about linking pick style/palm muting to tendonitis. The usual spectrum of opinions, but some people swear by not using your hand to mute and using foam instead to free up how you position your hand.

Sorry about your tendonitis. I have not had it with bass playing (touch wood) but I have with other things and it can be an absolutely b*stard of a thing.
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maxgroover
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by maxgroover » 01 Mar 2018, 11:00

A quick way to lower tension is to tune the strings down a semi-tone or whole tone :D But then you'll have to play all your songs up a semi-tone or tone to compensate.
bigswifty wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 09:47
some people swear by not using your hand to mute and using foam instead to free up how you position your hand.
Or, you can do the Rocco Prestia thing and fret every note with your middle finger and mute with the third and pinky fingers in the left hand. Takes a little getting used to but works really well for bass lines that don't move around too much. You then pluck or pick with your right hand as normal.
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sharpman
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by sharpman » 01 Mar 2018, 12:32

Hey guys thanks for all the replies.

First of all, I do bugger all palm muting so don't think that is a problem here. When I've played other basses at gigs they are at a similar height to mine so not saying it couldn't be but I am doubting whether its strap height. The high action is something that really bugs me, but everytime ive had a low action bass ive ran intro trouble when recording or with buzz from plucking so hard. Last time I had a comfortable and low action bass it only lasted a couple weeks because I was recording and the strings were close to the pickups(pickups as low as possible), and there was some audible clipping(even backing off the volume) plus strings hitting the pole pieces so I had to heighten the action. Ive primarily played a Stringray, a MIJ Ibanez Soundgear, a Warwick Streamer LX, and a Fender P Lyte over the last 15 yrs. The least painful and lowest tension(or perceivable tension) to me was the Fender. The Stingray, Soundgear, and Streamer LX I always had bad hand/thumb pain. The Streamer LX I played when I was only in a 50/s60s/70s covers band, so don't think this pain is even tempo related. I should mention I have tried a lot of different strap heights also, I used to play ultra high and now I'm low - plus everything in between with no peace.

I like the idea of the TI jazz strings, and may have to look into getting a set of these as everything ive read says they are lower tension - I hope I can find a set that is bright enough is the only thing. Cheers
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rev matt
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by rev matt » 01 Mar 2018, 13:07

Were the other basses stingrays too?
I was thinking it might be a slightly forward picking position or the way the bass hangs may be a little forward or back across your body which might suit your wrist better.
When you have to contort your wrist to pick the strings it is in an unnatural position and this is what causes injury.
Might be a good excuse to shop around for a different bass.
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sharpman
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by sharpman » 01 Mar 2018, 15:00

Cheers man, so the first time i experience no pain was playing a 73'P bass with flats and i recall thinking god damn this thing plays itself. And the next time it was a Mark Hoppus P and the string tension was so light my thumb didn't hurt as i wasnt pushing hard.

Incidentally, I've been wanting a sterling as i find the ray a bit too bulky and heavy and i have small hands-but I'm struggling to part with this bass as it's the happiest I've ever been tone wise, and in 15yrs of recording with my band this bass been the only 1 to deliver the tone I've always wanted!
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narcdor
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by narcdor » 01 Mar 2018, 15:08

That doesn't sound right, having low action and the strings still hitting the pickups that were low, what kind of bass was that? Sounds like the ideal setup for you so might be the right path to investigate.

The neck profiles on all those you listed are quite different, I find the P profile most comfortable as well, but even within P there is a large variance. I don't know vintage P's enough to say what a 73 would be. Do you know which flats or even a silk colour were on it?

Left hand pain for me is caused by high tension strings, high action, doing lots of quick short notes, playing with a pick quite hard like you say, and fretting hand position. If you can't change the picking strength the others are worth a look. I also mostly play with fingers so a pick is not my usual muscles, and I have to work up to it and keep 'match fit' with my left hand when I'm doing primarily pick gigs.
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sharpman
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by sharpman » 01 Mar 2018, 18:11

Yeah cheers, so when i had the trouble with the pole pieces and audible clipping that was with a low action Darkstar Warmoth P-the Ray buzzes too much when it's low which leads me to the next point that I want to get this bass to Sydney(maybe next tour) to get it plek'd. The 73 P I played had TI flats which I have owned and are low tension but they are not the sound I'm after. Sometimes the pain is so severe I lose all feeling in my right hand while I'm playing, to the point where the picj literally falls.out of my fingers as i have no strength or feeling. At that point I switch to fingers mid song and finish the song pain free
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narcdor
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by narcdor » 01 Mar 2018, 18:35

Oh my bad I was focusing on the fretting hand for some reason...

Ok TI flats are very loose, there are some low tension strings about and that should help a bit as they should be easier to pick. I was doing some deep diving into a string hole the other week and Dunlop super brights came up as low tension and quite bright so give them a go.

I’m not suggesting move to P basses, work on getting the stingray right if that’s the sound you want. I’m just moving on a stingray as to me it sounds very clanky with the three band EQ which you might interpret as fret buzz and raise the action. I assume you’ve had it set up by a pro? They should see you play it and get it as low as possible for your playing style. I’d also try to get your hands on a 2 band stingray to try that out, and if you can find one with a “slo” neck give that a go, it’s narrower, same as on a sterling. The sterling has a different pickup so might not sound the same.

Also you probably tried this already but a slightly thinner pick may do the job and reduce picking hand stress.
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sharpman
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by sharpman » 01 Mar 2018, 19:29

Cheers Narcdoor , yeah it was setup but that a while ago and i raised the action coz i had some great buzz issues-def nite a pre or eq issue. Re the Sterling, I keep trying to talk myself into 1 but before I bought the Ray I tried 1 and didn't like the tone as muchbut I Am due to try 1 again probably just to confirm
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Re: Low tension strings

Post by AEAD » 01 Mar 2018, 21:16

I Had a Sterling pleked a few years ago and tuned to AEAD.. the string tension is pretty taught and it’s pretty low. But it’s the best set up I’ve had. You have to be prepared to wait. They can take a few weeks.

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