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Is it worth putting new strings on a cheap Chinese bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by nonsqtr, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi all, more newb questions here. :)

    I just got my "student bass", it's a Milano brand (Chinese), and it was the best one I could find for 500 bucks. Actually a tad more, I paid an extra hundred for a setup and a few accessories. It doesn't sound half bad, nowhere near a Kay of course, but not bad for a cheap bass.

    It came with generic steel (I think) strings, they have blue thread on the bottom and they're pretty noisy (when I slide up and down the fingerboard). They're clearly not the best strings, but I'm wondering whether they're worth replacing. They're not "unplayable", but neither are they completely comfortable. And, they sound a little funny when bowed.

    So, a couple of questions. First off (here's the newb part), how long do strings typically last? Should I use the current ones till they break, or should I replace them immediately, or is there some reasonable middle ground? Would D'Addario helicores be an "upgrade", or would the incremental difference be noticeable? Or, some other brand?

    I don't intend on doing any gigging or recording with this bass, at least not for the time being. For now, it's exclusively for practice at home. The intent is to sell this bass in six months to a year, once I've had a chance to bootstrap on technique, and get a feel for what to look for when I go for the next one. So that's the application, in the way of providing context for my questions.

    And lastly, I've seen people selling used strings on eBay, are they serious? Should I even think about buying strings that have already been used for six months? These guys are asking forty and fifty bucks a set, so the implication seems to be that they still have some life left in them. I've been playing electric for about thirty years now, and in that time I've only heard of one person trying to sell used electric strings that are six months old. :)
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Check the newbie threads. All of your questions are answered ad nauseum there.

    As for used strings, I think there were some of George Mraz's old strings for sale right here a while back.
  3. You're thinkin' of his underwear.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    If you are looking to try out different strings, used is not always a bad thing. However if you plan to really "play" a set buy new. What kind of a sound are you looking for. Different strings can affect the response.
  5. I actually love the sound of used Thomastiks. What scares me though is the indentations worn in the strings from the bridge placement of the last bass the strings were on.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Underwear? What does a Fruit of the Loom sound like when bowed? :D

    Thanks for the replies. I'm probably going to start off with jazz-type stuff, that's the most accessible at the moment. I still need to listen to more bluegrass and rockabilly, to see what they're actually doing with the bass. And, I'm almost completely clueless when it comes to orchestral stuff, so that'll be another area of learning.

    So, what's a reasonably priced "standard" set of strings (something equivalent to Ernie Ball in the electric world)? Are the D'Addario helicores worth a hundred bucks a set? Or is there a better set in the same price range?

    Not sure what kind of sound I'm looking for, that's part of what I'm supposed to be learning. Right now it's like, "oh, you mean there's more than one?" :)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Well it depends what sound you are going for. Do you want a long sustain and growl, or a more thumpy old school tone? Spirocores are usually the obvious choice for a long sustaining jazz string. I have recently started using Helicore Hybrids and I am very happy with them. They are darker than spirocores. If you want a more old school sound I would recommend Pirastro Obligatos.
  8. Sorry, not trying to leave anyone out. I you're curious about this, check back a couple pages on the classified for sale stuff is. Long story short.......someone advertised a set of strings for sale that were once owned by George Mraz. Some whacko decided to do him one better by advertising a pair of underwear once used by Geo.