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How do you tell when you need new strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by voleceq, Jul 8, 2001.


  1. Hey everyone! I just got my first bass about 3 months ago and was wondering how I can tell when I need new strings. Right now I have an Ibanez GSR190 (got it in a package) and was reading a post a little while ago about them and someone said they come with strings that need to be replaced soon after you buy it. Sorry if this topic has already been posted. Any replies are welcome. Thanks!
     
  2. pourboy

    pourboy

    Mar 11, 2001
    Boston, Mass.
    I generally change my strings every 3 to 4 months, depending on how much I'm playing. As far as a new bass goes, I always throw a fresh set on when ever I buy a new bass.
    later....
     
  3. whiteshadow

    whiteshadow

    Jul 3, 2001
    Ohio
    I guess that means I need some new strings. I've been playing for over a year and a half on the same strings. Wow...
     
  4. boogiebass

    boogiebass

    Aug 16, 2000
    When you feel like it or when your strings are so dead they won't stay in tune. Or when you want to try something else. Or when you want brighter sound...Lotta reasons, bottom line: when it suits you.
     
  5. CaracasBass

    CaracasBass

    Jun 16, 2001
    Madrid, Spain
    I try to change strings when the sound has lose it´s bright, that could happend in 2 weeks or 3 months, depending on your playing and/or how often you clean them. But usually I change ´em every 4 months.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I think this is very unlikely!! Generally the longer you have strings on the more they stay in tune - it's when they're new that they go out of tune more quickly.

    James Jamerson and Bernard Edwards - to name but two - left the same set of strings on all the time - we're talking whole careers here! And I never heard anyone mentioning they were out of tune.

    Lots of Reggae bassists like Robbie Shakespeare also favour that "dead" sound and will use very old strings for added bassiness.

    It's really only players who like a very bright sound who change frequently, but I find that it's when the harmonics get difficult to hear that I will change - but it's more likely I will just change to try some different strings. ;)
     
  7. boogiebass

    boogiebass

    Aug 16, 2000
    Not true, Bruce. I think you'll find mention in the Jamerson book of how James only changed his flats when he couldn't get them in tune. Old strings definitely lose the ability to stay in tune. I know this from experience.
     
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    When your mom says so.

    I change mine when I no longer like the sound. I haven't broken a string in many, many years.
     
  9. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    When the music store has 'em on sale. :D
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well what book are we talking about? In "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" it says on page 85 that his strings "weren't changed unless they broke" and that it wasn't uncommon for Jamerson to be playing with strings that were several years old". No mention of them going out of tune.

    There is a famous interview with Bernard Edwards which I have in a magazine, where he is asked what strings he used and he replies by asking well what strings do these basses come with, I've never changed them! And i never heard him playing out of tune!
     
  11. DanGouge

    DanGouge

    May 25, 2000
    Canada!
    Change when they don't sound right any more. My Smith which I want to sound bright sounds dead these days so I'm going to pick up a new set today or tomorrow (whenever I have time to get to the store). On the other hand my Gibson is set up to be as dubby as possible and I don't know when I'll need to change the flats it has...
     
  12. if you slap or play with a pick a lot, and are looking for a bright sound, then you would want to change your strings frequently. if you're trying to get an old school type of vibe then older ones might be better. one thing's for sure, when your intonation suffers because of your strings its definately time to change them.
     
  13. boogiebass

    boogiebass

    Aug 16, 2000
    Perhaps the quote was not in Slutsky's book although I thought that's where I saw it. I don't have the time or inclination to go hunting for it.

    Anyway, my comment was based on my own experience. I guess you won't be able to refute THAT in a book, however, so feel free to disbelieve me. Your opinion means about as much to me as mine does to you, I reckon.
     
  14. i just changed my strings after about 7 months, new one's are good but i bet i could have gone longer on the others.. :)
     
  15. Let's see, I change strings when I change strings. I don't mean to be a wise one, but for me, there is not a set time for me.

    I predominently use flats. But, I have half-rounds on two of my basses. I guess the safest bet would be to say when my intonation goes, the strings go. I've had sets last several years, and others go within a few months. I've got a set of D'Addario flats on my AmStd P that have been there for almost 2 years and are working just fine. Along with intonation I also listen for weird harmonics. Sometimes a string, usually an E or A, will develop a strange harmonic that causes it to sound muddy. When that happens, the strings go.

    I always keep a spare set of flats and half-rounds. When I change, I buy a new spare set.

    If you look carefully at the posts in this thread, I think you will see that most of us agree that your ear is probably the main indicator of when you should change strings.