My StudyBass

All About Bass Strings (Page 2)

continued from Bass Strings p. 1

Bass String Gauges

Gauge refers to the thickness, or diameter, of the string. The diameter is expressed in inches. A typical E-string is .105 inches in diameter. A typical G-string is .045 inches in diameter.

There is a trade off between tone and playability when it comes to string gauge. With lighter gauge strings you lose some tone, but they are very easy to play. Heavier strings have a great tone, but take a little more finger power to fret and pluck.

The lower the pitch you need, the thicker string you will need. If you are tuning down much, you may want heavier gauge strings.

Try a bunch of different gauges and see which suits your playing. If you are playing a lot of slap, try some light gauge strings. Just go easy on them so you don’t break them.

Scale Length

The scale of your bass refers to how long it is from bridge to nut. Most basses are 34” scale. This is known as long scale. Some basses, like the Hofner Beatles bass and others, have short scale necks which are, um…shorter. Make sure you get the right scale strings for your bass – most likely long scale. If your strings are too short, you won’t be able to put them on your bass! If they’re too long, you won’t be able to wrap them around the posts because they’ll be too thick at the end.

The Sexy Silk Wrappings on Your Bass Strings

You may wonder what those silk wrappings are for. They don’t do a whole lot. They help prevent scratching a bit and may help prevent the winding from coming off the core string. Mostly, I think manufacturers use them for a little brand recognition. Just make sure the silk is not on the point of contact at the bridge or nut. If so, you may have the wrong scale length string for your bass.

What Strings Should I Get?

It’s impossible to tell anyone what set of strings to use. Finding the right strings is a long process of trial and error. The same set of strings can sound different on different basses and under different fingers. There are just too many variables to consider – playing technique, pickups, bridge, body, etc. You just have to experiment and find what you like.

Don’t use strings just because your favorite bassist endorses them. You’d “like them” too if you were getting paid to like them and got boxes of free sets.

The best advice is to experiment a lot until you find your favorite set. And when you get a new bass you might have to do it all over again.