I guess my husband got tired of me talking about the condition of the strings on our instruments. He took me to a local music store and bought some strings for both of us today. I was intending to wait for a setup and get the strings then, but I went ahead and tried some Darco extra-light gauge. I know lots of folks don't like 'em, but I thought they were worth a shot. I also asked the advice of the store owner (a really decent chap) and told him how I was just starting out, wanted something fairly inexpensive, am interested in playing a wide variety of music, and that I didn't slap. On the way home, I stopped by MegaloMart for something to polish the fretboard while I had the strings removed. I was intending to get some mineral oil (same thing as bore oil), but took a spin around the wood care section. After comparing tung oil, boiled linseed oil, and the mineral oil, I settled on Formby's Lemon Oil Treatment instead. It seemed the least toxic/flammable, easiest to apply, and would do some cleaning at the same time. I've read that lemon oil will dry wood eventually, but I've seen many luthiers and woodworkers recommend it. Perhaps the process for making it has changed over the years? Regardless, it removed a lot of gunk from the rosewood, restored the moisture, and now it feels/looks great! I've never changed strings before, so I followed the directions at <a href="http://www.bassplayer.com/gear/install.shtml">BassPlayer.Com</a> -- and both the bass and I survived! After that, I set it aside for awhile and looked up information on setting the intonation. I dug through the search results here and followed <a href="http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=2674">Mr. Turner's instructions</a>. I had to move the bridge saddles away from the nut quite a bit (my last strings were not unlike suspension bridge cable). It worked beautifully -- <i>Thank you, Mr. Turner!</i> Whoa! I feel like I'm playing a totally different instrument. I loved my bass before, but now I...I...<i>really</i> love it. The prior strings were too thick for my tender newbie paws, and pretty dead-sounding, to boot. I kept the old strings intact just in case I need a backup or if I feel like trying them out again later. The Darco's are punchy, but not too bright. I dig 'em. I'm sure I'll test some different strings next time, though. I know many of you do the same thing twenty times a day, but I'm just proud of myself for doing it on my own (with the help of the 'net) without any injury to myself, the instrument, or my surroundings. And, best of all, I learned a great deal in the process.