The Importance of Bass Strings
Bass strings play a huge role in the overall tone you get out of your bass. There are a lot of different bass strings from which to choose. Understanding the various aspects of bass strings will help you know what to buy and try out. And, it’ll hopefully make you sound better!
Bass String Construction
Every bass string is comprised of two strings the core string and the winding string. The core string is a thick wire from one end of the string to the other. Around the core string another smaller string is tightly wound in a spiral all the way up the length of the core string. If you look closely at a bass string you will see little grooves all the way up the string. That is the tiny winding string. The winding string adds brilliance to the string’s tone.
If you have an old set of strings, try unwinding one to see how it looks.
Types of Bass Strings
The different types of bass strings usually refer to the string’s winding string. There are two main types of windings and some that fall in-between them. The two main windings are roundwound and flatwound.
Roundwound Bass Strings
A roundwound string has a round shaped string wound along the core. Think spaghetti.
Roundwound strings are the brightest sounding of the two windings. These are the most commonly used type of string. They feel a little rougher because they have more grooves. There is also more finger noise because of all those grooves.
Roundwound strings are used in almost all styles of bass playing. And they are essential for slapping, popping and tapping where you want a nice bright tone.
When you first put them on you may find they are too bright. After a little playing, they will lose some of that zing. I like them after a week or so.
Flatwound Bass Strings
Flatwound strings have a ribbon-like winding wound along the core string. It’s like metal fettuccini.
Flats have a mellow sound to them. They feel smooth and silky. They have very little finger noise since they have fewer grooves up and down the string. Flats also have a long playing life since there are fewer cracks where dirt and oil can build up.
You may find flatwound strings to be a little too mellow for rock, r&b and funk. But you might like them for jazz and reggae where you might need a more mellow sound.
Groundwound and Halfround Bass Strings
In-between rounds and flats there are a couple of other types of string. Both in terms of tone and under-the-finger feel they are in the middle. I’ve been playing some groundwound strings recently and I really like them. They have a good brightness and hardly any finger noise.
A groundwound string is a roundwound string that has gotten a shave. Basically, they take a roundwound and grind off some of the roundness.
A halfround is kind of an oval-shaped winding.
This article continues on Bass Strings p. 2