"Behind every good band is a great bass player and behind every great bass player are great bass strings" - J.Dawson
I started playing bass at 12 years old, I'm now 40. I first started playing bass because my dad taught me, also my elder brother was learning guitar and needed to practise so I was roped in to help him.
28 years later and I'm still playing in bands with my bro.
I love playing bass. I'm a natural player, I have rythmn and an ear for what ties in with the beat, you can't beat a good jam!
Anyway, I wanted to write something about my passion. What better place to start than on the fantastic Strikingly platform with it's easy to use and fantastic web builder.
Bass Strings 101
Let's Start With the Basics
Bass String Packets
When you buy your strings first of all know that they come in individual packets that are labelled individually in their gauge (and not as E,A,D,G) so .10 .13 .17 and so on. You will also see their position on the bass too, i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
4 or 5 Strings (or more)
I'll admit I still play my 4 string bass, I've tried a 5 string and considering I mostly play rock and metal I probably should be using the lower B but I played the 4 string for such a long time that I found it too weird to make the switch so in the end I didn't. Am I the only one? I don't really care but it would be interesting to find out haha.
The Top Brands
Which Bass Strings I recommend
Rotosound Bass Strings
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Rotosound - I used these strings in the early days, they are very bright sounding for a long time.
Dunlop Bass Strings
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Dunlop - I've only recently tried these but they are a decent brand and do sound very bright. Great for slap bass.
Ernie Ball Bass Strings
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Ernie Ball - the staple diet I have stuck to for years despite trying other brands. Can't go wrong with a set of Ernie Balls.
Elixir Bass Strings
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Elixir - I've only ever bought 1 set of these and it was a while ago, I'll be buying more soon so check back for a fuller review.
Fender Bass Strings
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Fender - my dad swears by these. I've had a few sets myself in the medium gauge and they were pretty good. See below for a general overview.
More About Bass Strings
Strings are one of the most important parts of your bass guitar. The quality, material and type will always play key roles in giving you a unique sound. Learn more about bass guitar strings and experiment with them.
Since bass guitar strings are a much heavier gauge than regular guitar strings, the bass players is not likely to ever break a bass guitar string.
However, this is not true with the tenor string, which is the smallest string located on the bass. For this reason, it is extremely important to take proper care of your bass strings.It is highly recommended that you change your bass strings every couple of months whether you feel they need it or not. Oftentimes, your strings will get not only dirty but will get a build up of gunk on them that will cling to them. This build up will cause your sound to be down-graded.
Never put only one new string on and leave a four month old string on. When you have different age strings on your bass guitar, then the sound that is produced from your bass is not going to be the best it can be.
In fact, it is going to be quite contorted. The life of your bass guitar strings can be vastly extended if you wipe down your strings each time you use your bass.
Another thing that needs to be discussed is never leaving your bass outside or stored inside near a window over any long period of time.
The reason for this is that over time or a long period of time the cold or the heat can cause your bass to become ruined. It can also cause your bass guitar strings to become way out of tune.
When times permits the bass strings is with a soft, cotton cloth and a couple drops of rubbing alcohol, which can be purchased at your local drug store. For a few seconds, let the rubbing alcohol soak into the cotton cloth before beginning to clean the strings on your bass.
The next step is to position the moist part of the cotton cloth between your index finger and your thumb. Continue by placing the cotton cloth at the beginning of a string and pinching the string with your index finger and your thumb against the moist part of the cotton cloth. Now all you have to do is rub up and down the length of the string.
Continue this process on all the other strings until they are all clean. Your bass will now produce a much brighter and clearer sound. Remember, do not get the alcohol on any part of the wood on your bass since it will dry out the wood. Continue enjoying your bass guitar and remember to care for your bass guitar strings.
Anatomy of you bass guitar string
Your string is composed of two different types of wires-the core and winding one. The core string is a thick wire which runs along the fingerboard from one end to the other. The winding string wraps around the core string, covering the length of the wire. If you are going to look closely to your bass guitar string, you will see small grooves running along the wire- that's the winding string.
Bass strings are usually made from nickel or stainless steel. A stainless steel string has more sound with it - much like a warping kind of tone. It is a favorite among the rock bassists due to its "grainy" sound and better sustain. It is a high-end string which caters to aggressive style of play. Nickel strings on the other hand can be mellow when used for soft music but you can also expect a respectable driven sound when you play it on a rock or metal piece. Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers loves to play with nickel-plated strings. Nickel and stainless steel are generally the material for round-wound strings. Some manufacturers also produce strings made from Nylon for acoustic bass guitars.
Round-wound and Flat-wound
With round-wound, the winding strings hugs around the core-forming a cylindrical shape. The ridges along the string help the tapping and popping sounds from famous bassists like Larry Graham and Victor Wooten. Generally, most players right now are using round-wound because of its crystal clear sound. As the name suggests, flat-wound strings have flat and smooth windings. It has a more old-school feel from it because of its thumping sound. It has shorter sustain that is noticeable on reggae and Motown music.
Simply put, gauge is the thickness and the diameter of your string measured in inches. A standard E string has a.105" gauge and a standard G-string measures.45" in diameter. If you want a lower sound much like those heard in Motown records, go for a higher gauge. If you are playing funky tunes, go for the lighter gauge for easy popping and slapping.
As you can see, it is not just about the material of your bass guitar's body and fingerboard. The form and material of your string can also make a difference on your sound. Try to research more about your favorite bassists and discover what type of string they are using.