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Acoustic Bass String Comparisons

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by holycrow, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. holycrow


    Nov 13, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    About a year ago I bought a beautiful Martin Acoustic/electric BC15E bass. I liked the bass, because it is not as big as the Tacoma models, but still has a nice big sound for it's size. I also liked the mahogany top which tends to make the bass sound warmer and less tiny than the hard maple top models.

    At the time, I posted a request for string preferences on this site. I got many recommendations and I thank everyone for their kind responses! Now, I thought I'd return the favor and offer my personal findings.

    In a nutshell, it may sound too simple, but I have found that most strings pretty much LOOK the way they sound. The bass came with Martin Bronze wound strings. I'm not sure who actually makes those. Maybe D'Addario. In any case, they sounded a little too "bronzy" or metallic to me, but otherwise they had a nice rich sound and good projection qualities. I decided to try for a more natural "string bass" sound, so I tried a couple of the strings people had recommended.

    The LaBella flat wound strings definitely sound like a flat wound string. They don't have the resonance or "liveness" of the bronze wound strings. However, if you want a "thumpy", deader sound, you might like the LaBellas. Then I tried the tape wound strings. They sounded pretty good, but, again, they sound like they look... plastic. They, too, don't have the resonance or projection qualities of the bronze wound strings. Then I tried the highly recommended Thomastik acousticore strings. It was an expensive experiment. These strings are bronze wound around a nylon core. To me they are way too soft sounding for a bass. They made the Martin sound more like an a nylon string acoustic guitar than a bass. They also feel funny, because the bronze kind of "slips" around the nylon core. You have to press them straight down against the fret or they don't play right. I didn't personally like them, but if you want a softer, acoustic sound, they may be what you're looking for. The adjustment in playing technique is a minor problem.

    So, I ended up full circle... right back to the Martin bronze wound strings that I started with. For my money they have the richest tone and best projection qualities... though maybe a bit brighter than I might like. Possibly over time they will deaden down some like most strings tend to do.

    On my Fender electric P-Bass, I use the D'Addario half round strings. I have not tried those on the Martin. Maybe sometime I'll give those a shot. On my electric they work well, because I play mostly with a pick, and so round wound strings are a bit bright and flat wounds are too dead. They are the perfect compromise. I might not like them on the Martin, because it just feels like sacrilege to play that Martin with a pick. Ha, ha!

    I hope this message is helpful to some of my brothers and sisters out there in Bass Land. Best wishes to you all!

    Rob Moitoza
  2. waxcomb


    Jun 29, 2003
    Martinez, CA
    Great! I just bought a set as my replacements for when I need them. They are really affordable on Juststrings.com at just around $13.
  3. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    That is exactly what I do. I leave the Phospher Bronze strings
    on forever,they lose a little of the new "Zingy" sound and warm up a bit. I have 4 ABG's and The oldest I have is a 1988
    washburn AB-20 and I have not put new strings on since 2001. :cool: