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First time changing to gut D and G - any advice?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Dilbertisme, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. So the "New Old Stock" La Bella plain gut G and D I won on eBay for $50 are due to arrive today. This will be my first-ever string change on a DB, so I'm a bit nervous. I've read all the threads on the subject, including David Gage's, but all of those threads describe changing strings with silk-wrapped ends, which I assume the plain guts will not have. Do I need to do anything different when dealing with plain gut strings? Are they more or less prone to slipping, for example? Should I twist them a-la Gage, or run the end twice through the roller, as others have suggested? Any tips from you experienced gut wranglers would be much appreciated.
  2. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    If your bass was set up for steel strings, the nut and bridge slots will be too small for the gut strings. The nut can bind the string when tuning so that the string only stretches between the nut and the tuning peg. This can break the string before it ever reaches pitch.
    A quick trip to the luthier would be best. The slots can be sized for your strings easily with the proper gauge files.
    LaBellas are not my favorite gut string, but the price was right and you will get a good idea of the gut/steel dilemma. Give them a few weeks to really stretch out.
  3. do the new guts fit your nut and bridge? guts often are fatter than other strings. if so, the grooves may need widening.

    in any event, lube the grooves with graphite.

    also, the gut strings won't come with balls on the ends. depending on how wide the holes in your tailpiece are, you might want to take one of those felt pads that come on for example Pirastro strings and put one on the G string if there is a chance the gut string (usually ends with just a knot) could slip through.

    like ctxbass says, give them time to get stretched and settled in. also to get their sound in your ear, to get to really like that sound, may take some time. it's really a different experience, playing gut...
  4. So if I have the nut and bridge slots widened to accommodate the gut strings (and by eye it does look like this will be required), does that mean the nut and bridge will no longer be usable with steel strings if I decide gut is not my cup of tea? This is getting more complicated by the minute!
  5. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I have had no problem with putting steel strings steel strings back on any bass that I had set up for gut strings. Worst case, if the strings do not seat properly, the nut can be shimmed underneath and refitted on top, and, assuming you have an adjustable bridge, it should not be much of a problem to re-fit the top of the bridge.

    Bonaventura is right. It does take a bit for the ear to adjust.
    I played Fender bass and practiced double bass on steel strings this weekend. When I played my bass this evening with gut strings, my first reaction was "What, am I crazy?". After a few minutes though, the whole gut thing came right back to me and I was in love again.
  6. Okay, I took my baby to Lisa Gass at L.A. Bassworks, and she had the Obligato G and D off and the La Bella guts on in no time. Sure am glad I didn't try to do it myself! She filed the nut (slightly) and bridge slots, and also smoothed out the slots in the tailpiece. Lubricated the slots with graphite, too. (No. 2 pencil, anyway.)

    The bass is sitting on its stand now, tuner plugged in to the pickup, and every time I walk past, I can't resist tweaking the pitch up a little bit. So far, I like the sound and love the feel. Full judgment reserved until they settle in for a while.

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