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Homemade bass E string?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by friedtransistor, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. I was wondering if I am the only one here who has thought about doing this. I had at one point tried making a string, which turned out decently, but with some issues. We have rolls of ~.045" steel wire laying around in our barns, so I took a length of it and strung it up. I didn't clean it off, but it sounded ok in place of the G string. Only it snapped after hitting about D. So I decided to wrap one. Sat down, with a length of 22 guage bare copper wire, and started winding. Mind you, I don't have a machine, so it took about three hours, and I ran out of copper after 12" of core. I have this little harpish dulcimer thingie, so I strung it on there to test. Sounded nice and smooth, and would have been longer and more beautiful sounding if I had more copper. I hadn't taken my time, so the windings were unevenish, which I think is why this time it wouldn't hold its tuning. My question is, if I hadn't rushed, and wound the wire more evenly, would that have help the tuning stability? Also, we have this old wiring in our barn that we tore out of the house to replace, and there's plenty to make a full string, plus it's thin. I am unsure o what it is and whether it would work. It looks like aluminum, as it's grey (or is it gray? I can never figure ou the spelling on that one...) on the outside, but when sanded down it's kinda copper-colored. It's the stranded neutral wire around the two hot wires that led into the house.
    To give you an idea of what I'm after, I've wanted to do this after learning how piano strings are made, as I love the sound of the bass register, with those thick copper-wound strings.
  2. Copper wound strings sound really interesting. Won't work - see last paragraph.
    The issues with the tuning probably don't come from the winding unless you were clamping on to the them on one end and tuning on the the other. Windings can slip!

    Keep in mind that generally, thicker strings aren't made with a single winding but instead multiple layers of smaller wire. Piano strings are made with a single winding, but they're struck, not plucked. Their stiffness is what gives them that tone, as the don't flex when the hammer strikes them. Piano strings are also (I may be mistaken, believe me I'm no expert) a much higher tension than bass strings.

    That electrical wiring you found in your barn? Yeah, aluminum. Not the greatest wire ever for string building, as aluminum snaps much faster, as in at less tension, than steel, I believe.

    Also, your copper strings will surely work well acoustically, but keep this in mind: Copper isn't magnetic. Magnets do not affect copper. This means they won't work well, even not at all, on an electric bass. But if they sound amazing to you, try stringing them up on an acoustic.
  3. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    you'll need to go piezo with non-magnetic strings.

    i've always wondered if gut strings on a piezo electric bass would sound good..
  4. SamanthaCay


    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    This is a good place to start;

    I've put some thought into this in the past yet have yet to do anything in regards to making strings mostly due to the cost and space required to get started.
    The big factor is building a string winder, it's big expensive even in a rather primitive form and you can't make musical strings without it period.
    Dan Bass likes this.
  5. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Sounds a lot easier than spending the $10 for a brand new set of strings :)
  6. What makes you say that? The first metal guitar strings were wound by hand, no?

    And +1 on the piezo.
    That's also a DIY project you can do! Under-bridge piezo w/ a buffer!
  7. SamanthaCay


    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Early "guitar" steel strings where wound on manual (non electric) winding machines just as wound strings of other materials had been made for hundreds of years before.

    However there probably were at some point piano strings wound by hand without the aid of a winder, it is something that wouldn't work on a fretted instrument due to the inconsistencies in the winding process making for an un intonatable string.

    Edit; In short, winding even the most basic quality string for the pupose of use with fretted or even fretless instruments is a very precise and delicate process.
  8. Cheapest set I can find is $13.62! Too rich for my blood! :D
  9. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Sounds like an awful lot of work to save $13, but whatever blows your skirt up.
  10. SamanthaCay


    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    Some of us want strings that just arn't being made.

    At least I do, anyways.
  11. Wow, thanks for the responses! Ok, so, I figured there wouldn't be a way to fix the tuning issues. As for the wire, I didn't know aluminum was copperish under the surface. Plus, I know that copper isn't ferrous, hence why I wound it on a steel core. Now, I had a feeling bass strings used multiple wraps, but I don't have the materials. And as for those of you complaining that $10-15 is too expensive, try $25-35 a set. I love the crisp fresh sound of new strings, hence why I switched to prosteels, then hibeams, but the cost forces my changes down to once, maybe twice a year. And I have been saving old strings just in case I need to get by. I might look at getting a job this weekend, though, so I'll have some more cash to try, say, those Reds (the copper-coated strings).
  12. Oh I know, I spent $25.50 on my current set (although I've had it on for a year and a half) I was being facetious.
  13. LMAO :D
  14. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

  15. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
  16. Circle K? :bag:
  17. Yep ;)
  18. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    That's why Bass Strings Online RULES :)