How to lessen string tension on Strat?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jtw, Feb 20, 2006.


  1. jtw

    jtw Member

    Messages:
    709
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    I love my EJ strat, but the string tension is quite tight, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on making it a bit looser? would loosening the claw affect this at all? I had also read that the shallow trem block could have something to do with this, and that if the ball ends sat deeper inside the block that the tension would be looser. Any truth to any of this? Thanks in advance for any help.

    Edited for terminology :)
     
  2. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

    Messages:
    14,152
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Location:
    MD.
    Well, one thing that I know works may not suit your set up. Simply lowering string height overall will lessen the perceived tension...you place less pressure on them prior to making contact with the fret, and they feel instantly slinkier. But again, it's all moot if you like 'em higher. Oh, and be sure to get the rest of your set up (nut slots, relief) set right before changing string height. It all plays in. AC
     
  3. slowburn

    slowburn Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,524
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    this may seem obvious, but how about a lighter string gauge? or tune to Eb.
     
  4. jtw

    jtw Member

    Messages:
    709
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Thanks for the info guys. Currently, I'm using the standard D'Addario 10-46 gauge. Tried 9s, but were too light. I'm willing to accept that the tension might just be what it is, and there may not be much i can do for it, but wanted to see if there was anything I was overlooking that could loosen up the tension at all.
     
  5. bobgoblin

    bobgoblin Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,372
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Location:
    tejas
    you might try using 3 springs (does the ej come w/4 installed?). unfortunately, the bridge might float w/only 3 springs,which means you'll have to adjust your right hand muting technique & your left hand bending methods. i'm not sure if this works, just a thought. good luck.
     
  6. slowburn

    slowburn Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,524
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    well you can reduce the amount the bridge floats w/ 3 springs if you crank em all the way down.
     
  7. teakwoodbetz

    teakwoodbetz Guest

    I spent about two weeks playing around with string vs. spring tension a couple of months ago and found something that works for me. I was messing with a floating Floyd so it might not be relevant to your set up at all. If your bridge is flush then I don't think I can help you, but if not let me know and I'll post my procedure.
     
  8. gregc

    gregc Member

    Messages:
    3,707
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2002
    Location:
    Long Island, NY, USA
    String it a 9.5 - 44 set. Works for me. I never really figured why some Strats are tighter than others. I know they are. When my fingers tire of fighting 10s I go to the 9.5 sets. Like you, .009s are just too small for me. I have a tough time lightening up my touch.
    gregc
     
  9. jtw

    jtw Member

    Messages:
    709
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Thanks for the offer teakwoodbetz, my bridge is indeed flush against the body. I appreciate the info though. bobgoblin, my EJ actually came with 5 springs installed, and was floating. gregc, thanks for offering that thought. I had thought of that last night and I think I might try the 9.5s and see how that goes. Again, thanks to everybody for their thoughts.
     
  10. 64lusso

    64lusso Guest

    I read a thread about Jerry Donahue a while back and he recommends gauges from a 9 set for the first three strings and gauges from a 10 set on the bottom three. I don't think anybody makes a set like this, but I tried it on a couple of Teles and am quite happy with it so give that a shot if the 9.5 deal doesn't give you what you need.
     
  11. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,793
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Two more things you can try, besides those already mentioned. One easy, one hard;) .

    If you don't use the trem, try blocking it so that is is raised off the body by a few degrees (try a shim under the bridge). You'll need to re-intonate, but that may give you slightly less tension by changing the break angle of the strings and the angle into the block. No guarantees, but it's real easy to try. (If you do use the trem you can just set it up the same way, but floating.)

    The second thing will work, but is not for the faint of heart. If you lower the neck pocket slightly (remove wood), you'll be able to reduce the saddle height and that will reduce your string tension. Don't do this unless you know what you are doing or find somebody that does. I've played teles that Jay Monterose has done this to and it does definately does what you want.
     
  12. monstermike

    monstermike Member

    Messages:
    1,273
    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    You can also put a forward shim in (at the headstock end of the neck pocket). You will get the same effect that Fullerplast is talking about without permanently altering your expensive guitar. If you're concerned about the shim altering neck-to-body contact - well, it will, but so many Strats (including vintage guitars) have shims at the other end of the pocket, and you won't lose any more contact than that...
     
  13. brianf

    brianf Member

    Messages:
    1,428
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2002
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Fender makes a set of low tension strings. Try those out!

    brianf
     

Share This Page