TONE TALK Bass: Tapered and Standard StringsOnce you have finally gone through the difficult task of choosing the right bass, the last thing you want is to have to worry about yet another element to choose, such as strings. Have you ever purchased a new set of strings and wondered why the action was drastically different compared to your last set of strings? The B-string was much lower or higher? Chances are it's the strings by the ball end are either tapered or not. In this issue, we'll help you choose the right bass strings.
Standard or Full Wound Strings
“Standard” means “conventional construction”, which means “round wound” (or “full contact”) string. The string is the full thickness of its size the entire length of the string. The string will get thinner for the tuning posts. These strings are the most common ones in the market and they are the ones installed on your bass when you purchase one.
A tapered bass string when the first string is thinner than the full thickness of the string. This “Tapered” length will vary depending on the manufacturer. On the B-string which is usually made up of 3 winding layers, the tapered section will be as thick as one winding and become the full thickness of the string. Tapered strings are usually indicated with a “T” after the size. However, it is not typical to see a tapered string in the .070 or lower size as these are usually constructed of one wrap wire the entire length of the string.
Taper-CoreTaper-Core is where the outer wrap ends at the bridge, leaving only the inner wrap left, and that inner wrap is what passes over the bridge saddles. (The term “Taper-Core” is a bit misleading, as you’re technically not passing any exposed core over the saddle. A more appropriate term would be “Taper-Wrap”, but everyone knows it as “core”, so that’s what it’s called.)
Exposed-Core is similar to Taper-Core, except only the core passes over the bridge saddles.
The only way to know which strings would fit your playing style best is to try them out. Some strings may not sound as good as you would expect and some would just make your guitar shine. You also have to consider having your bass set up as you change gauges and string types.
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