#1
So my friends are starting a band, and want me to play bass, and I can play guitar pretty well and can play basic bass stuff. But anyway I have a four string bass but I haven't I changed the strings since I bought it a couple years ago. So I don't know what bass strings are good for what? Are higher gauges better for metal or are thinner ones better for blues or does it depend on if you use a pick or not, or is it just personal preference. Any advice from an experienced bassist would be much apprieciated!
#2
I have 2, 1 with ancient strings and 1 where I change the strings in regular intervals. The old strings have a smooth, mellow sound and the new strings ring out crisp and clear. I personally prefer fat strings for everything, but your bass needs to be set up for the extra tension. I mostly play guitar, so I use a pick when playing bass as well. You get a lot of the "Music Nazis" who try to tell you that you can't use a pick to play bass, but if you go on YouTube you'll find a lot of big names that use a pick. Whatever is comfortable for ya is what's gonna let you play at your best.
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#3
What sort of sound do you want? Strings are a very personal thing. Also some strings work great on one bass but are just wrong on another. String gauge is mostly related to what tuning you want, most people aren't into particularly high or low tension.

I use La Bella Deep Talkin' flats on my hollowbody Ibanez, currently Rotosound stainless steels on an active HH 5 string, I used d'Addario nickel rounds on my ATK (rip) so it really depends
Last edited by smb at Jun 9, 2011,
#4
Well I'll probably be playing mostly in standard tuning. Maybe some drop d. And I use a pick for faster songs or songs I'm still mastering or when I just feel like using it. And I'll be playing sublime, to rage against the machine kinda style, if that makes any sense. Maybe some Tool and muse. And I use a fender P bass.
#5
Try Rotosound 66's? They're pretty bright, and ive been using them since about February and they're still pretty live.
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#6
There's two kinds of bass strings: flatwounds and roundwounds. You want round-wounds, regular gauge (flatwounds lean more towards an upright bass sound and if you're playing RATM that's not what you need). Regular gauge roundwounds are any brand's standard and they should take you where you want to go.
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#7
I agree with smb, a lot of players have strong personal preferences for their strings. I could recommend a brand that another user has completely sworn off of, or a brand that another user loves. I'll try my best to really simplify it.

There's three types of strings you could choose from, and one is the obvious choice. More often than not, you're going to want roundwound strings. There are flatwound and tapewound strings, but those are usually relegated to a certain genre (jazz), application (fretless), or desired tone quality (really thumpy, bassy upright sound).

As far as string gauge goes, there's a relatively easy way of looking at it. The usual "middle" ground for bass strings is something like .45-.100 or .50-.105, and that's good for almost any application. Lighter gauges (.40-.90) will be less tense, but are usually suited for short-scale basses or jazzier applications. If you're really drop-tuning your bass (think like 1-2 steps down), then a heavier gauge (.55-110 or .55-.115) will help retain tension with lower tunings, at the expense of being really tense at standard tuning (and a truss rod adjustment, if need be).

As far as brands go, I'll recommend a few at the expense of being torn asunder by my fellow users. Seriously, for most players, strings are serious business.

Rotosounds - Are known for being very bright. Good if you like some treble in your bass.

D'Addario/Ernie Ball - Both are what I consider the "middle ground" as far as tone goes. Not quite as bright as Rotos, not as beefy as DRs. Both companies make a multitude of strings in different gauges and materials.

DR - My personal preference as a player. More mellow and beefier in tone than usual, at the expense of not being as bright as most.

Hope this helps just a little.
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#8
Not fender. Also, what graybass said.
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#9
i dunno man, right now im on fender taper wounds and theyre pretty good for what i play, (metal, thrash) but i change my strings only like 3 times a year, but buy a few sets and see what works for you
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#10
You gotta experiment. My favorites are D'addario Chromes, and I play metal. Steve Harris also uses flats and I thought I heard somewhere Soundgarden's bassist used flats.
#11
I've used rounds just like everyone else here when I started, but I've since switched every bass to flats, just my thing, from garage rock to doom metal it works for me. I hate string noise, overly bright bass clicks (I play an esquire that goes from volume to output go figure) and changing strings. I buy whatever brand is cheapest at the place closest to me. Which include, fenders, d'addario's, rotosounds, and E Ball.
#12
I switched back to roundwounds from playing flatwounds for while. When I had flats I used mainly TI, LaBella, and Pyramid Golds.

Now I use DR, Rotosound, and Warwick strings.
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#13
The two basic considerations are the windings (roundwound, flatwound, tapewound) and the gauge.

Medium gauge roundwound would put you in a good basic middle-of-the-road territory. Then you can develop more unique preferences as your experience and personal taste develops.

It's good you want to change the bass strings. They don't last forever, and your intonation and tone suffer as the strings lose their life.

You might find the roundwounds to be overly bright when you first get them. But they will likely settle in a bit after you play them for a while.
Last edited by joesix at Jun 13, 2011,
#14
Quote by joesix

Medium gauge roundwound would put you in a good basic middle-of-the-road territory. Then you can develop more unique preferences as your experience and personal taste develops.


You might find the roundwounds to be overly bright when you first get them. But they will likely settle in a bit after you play them for a while.


yes

Start out with roundwounds because they will take you about anywhere. Then you can always try out other kinds of strings (as your wallet permits it.)
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#16
One thing you need to do is decide how much you are willing to spend on bass strings, because those suckers can get expensive. Some of the DR and Cleartone sets run more than US$40.00 for a four-string set, and if you want something bohemian like Thomastik-Infeld, you might spend even more.

Flats are cool and they have a following in every genre, but most people play roundwounds. If you choose rounds then your decision becomes largely between stainless steel and nickel-plated. Stainless strings tend to be brighter sounding. They are usually a little rougher on your fingers than nickel-plated strings. You could also go for coated strings, which are said to last longer. Sadly, trying a bunch of different bass strings isn't a cheap thing to do.
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