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How to match Bass to Strings properly

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Lorenzop, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Lorenzop


    Oct 23, 2012
    Any thoughts from you experienced bad players?
    Would you pick strings that reinforce or contradict the qualities of wood / pickup combo you have?
    For example if your bass is overall trebly and thin what you do? Put "punchy strings" ( flat wounds??) on it or nice trebly strings (Dr Highbeams) ??
    Or if it's great at sustain do you put "dead" or "live" strings on it?
    Do you match to pickup frequency response curve or do you try to flatten it??

    Questions questions ...! :)
  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I just start trying different strings until I find the ones that play and sound good on that bass.

    I try not to think about it to much and let my hands and ears do the rest.
  3. I tend to let the bass play and sense what string would be a good fit. Most of the time my gut is right on how I feel. My Jag is a very nice P bass, wanted some flats to give it that classic sound.

    My Ibanez is growly and trebly and I wanted to go in between. Keep the growl but also give it a deeper percussive tone to it. Flats would have been too low and deep so I chose tapes.

    I think the best example of this question in practice are the guys who have 3 P basses with 3 different string types. :D
  4. +11
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Buy the strings you like. Any string that fits the scale length of the bass will work and any of them will sound good to someone - it's simply a matter of personal preference.

    I know what strings I like - I don't care whether the bass has an opinion.
  6. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    My process is this:

    Buy a new bass/install new pickups.

    Play it with whatever strings come on it or in the case of a pickup change, whatever strings I've got on the existing bass. Then, assess the sound. Think about what to me is lacking in the sound and then try to find a string that will help with that. When I first started playing bass, I spent a lot of time in research mode reading threads and string reviews. then I would try something based on what I had read.

    Now that I have tried a pretty good amount of strings, many of the same type on a couple of different basses, I have a backlog of assertive experience I can fall back on. So now I will usually pick from a handfull of "go to" strings that I know possess certain qualities in tone and feel that I like. Helps to minimize wasted money.

    Occasionally though, a bass or some pickups come a long that just do not respond how I thought they would, with strings that I "know". So then I have to go back to research mode and probably blowing $60 on a couple sets of strings that end up not working out. : \

    *If you are completely in the dark, you could try PMing a user that knows a lot about a lot of strings and asking for a more personal response.
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I use the same sets of strings on all my basses except one. Roundwound stung basses all the get the same set. Flat strung basses all get the same set except my hollowbody Realistic violin bass. It's super dark, so I use a flatwound with a really bright top end to try to counteract the lack of highs. Some folks buy a used bass and just use whatever's on it till they break because it's working for them, or they'll spend a couple hundy searching for the perfect string. Me, I'm somewhere in between.

    But that's a darn good question, I'll tell you that. I'd say it varies with your tastes and the individual basses on a case by case basis. And strings certainly can bring out the best and worst.
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 lol can I use that?
  9. When I bought my Jazz (3,5 years ago) I didn´t like the string it came on (I think they were 8520 super bass by Fender) and strung it with a set of Sadowsky flats. It was pure juice, still have them on the jazz and everytime I pick it up I can´t imagine this bass without these strings.

    On my L2500 I have Sadowsky blue nickels. I try to string this bass only with rounds in order to have one with flats and one with rounds, but it doesn´t seem to convince me 100%. I also try it with D´addario nickels but in the end, I think, it will end up with another set of Sadowsky flats.

    I don´t want to hijack this thread but I´d like to know how is the B string on the Sadowsky flats?

    I think it´s a hit and miss thing with strings. Depends on what are you after...and if you think you have found the right strings, after maybe 5 years your opinion will differ.

  10. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    A couple years ago, I picked up a used bass that had flats on it ... thats all it took to bring me back 40 years ago when was using flats then ..

    .. the problem was, there were so many different kinds/guages of flats available now days that I had to decide where to start in my search ..

    .. after buying 3-4 sets and trying them each for a couple weeks, I quickly realized that two things were happening .. one was that I was not letting the strings age to the point that I could determine what they would actually be like when they 'settled in', and the other was that I was forgetting the little nuances about the set that I had tried a month or two before ...

    ... what I did was find an inexpensive version of the bass I use, and picked up several of them, quite inexpensively. I then strung as many as a half dozen sets at a time, and was able to compare side by side, on nearly identical basses. I was able to get a comparison of the details of each, both sound and feel, and then make a bit more of an educated guess as to what would fit which bass and for what application.

    .. it was a fairly long process, but in the long run it really didnt cost me much if anything, as I bought all the basses used and sold them for close to what I had paid, and many of the strings I tried were bought used as well .. it was a good experience, and nice not having to take someone elses opinions of a string and then try to translate if that would be the same for me .. JMHO
  11. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Play it like it is and then decide what you would like to change about the sound. Then educate yourself by reading what is likely to go that direction. Places like bassstringsonline.com are a great resource because it's their job to know what the different strings do and they have access to and experience with many brands. They also will have less of a personal bias. If you ask on TB many people will just tell you what they like which is not the same as helping you find what you want.
  12. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    And there's relatively little chance they truly know what they're talking about anyway. Sorry, but there it is. :(

    Bass strings are absolute murder.

    They are (by far) the most underrated part of a bass's sound AND the most difficult buy to get really right. AND they're not cheap. Yes, it just gets worse.

    Getting the actual fit right is hard enough, never mind the sound, and voiced length often varies from batch to batch anyway.

    Will the gauge properly fit the nut?

    Then one string may be acoustically hot and another not (G and D, respectively in most cases), then how they conceal or reveal dead spots or handle open low strings, etc., etc...

    Then they sound different on a different bass. [sigh!]

    I hate it.

    You just give up on all that and compress the daylights out of it.

    When you're doing DI bass recording, it really opens it up the problem for you. It's really demanding.

    I got a really terrible bass off of eBay from some touring bassist in LA a few years ago. The bass is a book in itself, but it had an absolutely fantastic set of flats on it that I salvaged and put on another instrument.

    Except for fit, they're just perfect, maybe the only really good set of flats I've played -- at least on that bass. They sound right and they're totally even.

    And bass is about flats in traditional recording. Rounds are fine for what I call "effects bass" or "second-track bass," and they're a bit less trouble-prone.

    But I have absolutely no idea what that set is! :mad:
  13. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Kind of irrelevant to the topic, but I can vouch for that. I recorded a song, didn't bring my bass in, had to use a studio bass, Danelectro Longhorn with flats, if I recall; the bass on the track was spot on.

    Also, if you still have the strings, folks here LOVE to try to identify mystery strings, if you didn't already know that. I'd try that if you haven't.
  14. My streamer standard has rounds, but my VM fretless jazz sounds more aggressive, and that has tape wounds (and I'm hardly digging in)
  15. +1

    That's it in a nutshell.
  16. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    You should pick your bass for its playability and sound.m Therefore overly trebly basses etc should not be bought. String choice is simply the last tone.
  17. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    My choice of basses is pretty simple so all it comes down to is finding the right set for each. My ears tells me what I want about tone and my fingers the feel. I could care less who the manufacturer is to begin with but after a time and with some experience you get a pretty good idea of what to expect from each.

    PBasses tend to like flats and I like old school flats so GHS or LaBellas work for me.

    JBasses are a little more of a challenge because of their tonal versatility. They like certain rounds but for my style of playing many are too bright right out of the package and I don't want to break them in over time. So for me it has to be something that leans towards and round but without that brightness and initial zing.

    For that the GHS Pressure Wounds have been my holy grail and they would be great sounding string on my PBass as well but I prefer that variety. When I had my Modulus M92-5 because of the tonal variation I could get from that active system in that bass I used DR rounds and liked them.

    So I think you fit strings to the type of bass you play and also the type of music you play. If I played a lot of slap style I'm sure my choices would be a little different but I don't and what I do use makes sense for how I play. Everyone needs to figure that our for themselves.
  18. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    No reason to overthink it IMO. If you like the bass AND the strings, no reason they shouldn't work together. Provided the bass is set up properly.
  19. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I can really relate to Bongo as I HATE dealing with strings at all. I don't like having to think about them or why one set is better than another. My simple formula is TI's for flats, Sunbeams for rounds. I favor Precisions and these choices tend to work well for me but as Bongo points out, there are just so many factors involved.
  20. I hear where the OP is coming from. Some basses 'want' to sound a certain way. I've got two P basses that sound very different-one has a maple/bound and blocked neck, and the other is rosewood with dots. I thought I'd put rounds on the maple one and flats on the rosewood, because 'you'd expect' the maple one to be brighter sounding.
    And you'd be dead wrong. The rosewood one sounds MUCH brighter.
    This created a situation where the strings were 'fighting' the inherent sound of each instrument. Didn't work well for me. Didn't like it.
    Swapped the strings around-happiness.