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Question for bass players that also play guitar

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by OogieWaWa, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. OogieWaWa


    Mar 17, 2013
    Oak Harbor, OH
    Hey, folks, I've got a question for those of you that play both bass and guitar, acoustic in particular.

    What strings would you recommend to put on an acoustic guitar for a current, gigging bass player to start learning with?

    My wife bought me a nice Alverez acoustic guitar almost 40 years ago, and I putzed around with it for a while, but nothing serious came of it. When our son left home he asked to take it with him, maybe he'd pick up on it. Nothing much happened there, either.

    So I asked him to bring it back over after 20 years; I'd like to learn more and try some stuff, maybe even use our guitarist's Martin during one of our softer acoustic/winery sets for a song some day. If he lets me! Mostly rhythm stuff.

    I'm mostly concerned with play-ability rather than tone right now.

    Use heavier gauge sets because I'm used to fretting what are basically up to about 1/8" cables? Or lighter ones for ease of fingering and fretting all those tiny, tight-spaced wires? I'm used to and mostly play heavier stainless flats, what material/construction strings would be most comfortable? I probably won't be doing a whole lot of bending or anything like that.

    Thanks in advance, I appreciate the help. Boom on!

    PS, other sage advice?
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    Atlanta GA
    I use D'addario 10 guage phosphor bronze strings on my Yamaha acoustic. Very nice tone, easy to play and pretty long lived.
  3. mikeoso

    mikeoso Acoustic Curmudgeon

    Feb 14, 2014
    eastern Iowa
    My basses all wear tapes, usually Roto 88s.
    My 6 strings all wear medium phos-bronze, .013-.056.

    The tension feels pretty similar to me...of course, part of that depends on setup. If your son has had the Alvarez for 20 years and not gone anywhere with it, it likely needs a new setup pretty badly. Keep in mind that the guitar strings, being thinner, are going to cut into your finger tips more than bass strings until you grow the callouses. In getting used to the guitar, you might want to start with a set of silk and steel...much lower tension, but similar feel.
  4. I get light strings for my Taylor.
    I think the last ones I put on were DAddarios.
    They may have been mediums.
    Michigander, OogieWaWa and lowplaces like this.
  5. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I have a Guild D-30 I rarely play. I put Elixir nano-coated strings on it hoping that they last longer and it's ready to play anytime I want it. It's been a few years and they are still good.

    Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating, Custom Light (.011-.052)
    RyanKinBK, mike o, Jazzish and 6 others like this.
  6. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    lighter strings mean better playability. i use extra lights - usually 10s - but for insane lighteness and flexibility, thomastik plectrums are THE strings to get. they're weird, and on some guitars they sound crappy till they break in, but after that they sound great, feel great and last better than some i've used, too. https://www.musiciansfriend.com/acc...lectrum-bronze-acoustic-guitar-strings--light

    btw, i stopped playing guitar for decades. turned out no one told me about lower action, and lowering the action got me back to playing again and made it fun.
  7. I play 12's on my standard size acoustics from concert to jumbo (D'Addario EJ16 or equivalent). I reserve lighter gauges for smaller acoustics like 3/4, parlor, etc. My electrics usually get 10's.
    OogieWaWa and Quinn Roberts like this.
  8. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Silk and steels are mellow, flexible and nice for finger style playing. They're a lot more forgiving when it come to squeaks, squawks or other ham fisted noises too. :)
    OogieWaWa, Element Zero and pcake like this.
  9. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    they are very nice strings. i prefer the martins to other brands, but the other brand i tried was also nice.
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  10. AboutSweetSue


    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    I use bronze 80/20 on my Epiphone Masterbilt. I’ve tried a lot of brands, phosphors, flats, monel, gauges, and so on. Martin and La Bella in either .12 or .13 work for me. I’ll usually tune a whole step down with the medium gauges.

    Whatever sound you’re looking for will be found by trying out many sets, gauges, and materials. Unfortunately, finding the right string is dependent on your tastes and the guitar itself. I say unfortunately because it can be a process finding that perfect match that you and your guitar mesh well with.
    OogieWaWa and lowplaces like this.
  11. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    I use these.

    But I tune them a half step below standard.
    OogieWaWa and pcake like this.
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I use 12’s.

    Think I have Dean Markleys on atm.
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  13. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    You also have to decide on the material (brass, steel, etc); but regarding gauges I would not buy anything bigger than the light gauge strings. Generally, 12 gauge is a good starting point.

    When setting up the guitar, higher action tends to create more volume, clarity, and sustain within reason at the cost of playability.

    Lighter strings will have less energy and therefore less volume. It matters a bit more for acoustic guitar than electric guitar, but that is what microphones are for.

    Honestly, for me nylon string guitars are a closer match to bass guitar than steel string guitars. You can technically put nylon strings on an acoustic guitar, but the bracing is so much more rigid on a steel string guitar body that it doesn't really work.

    I use D'Addario Phosphor Bronze light gauge.
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  14. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    is that E flat? my husband tunes to D.
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  15. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I play TI Jazz Flats on all my basses. I use Elixir Phosphor Bronze Nanoweb 11-52’s on my acoustics and Elixir Optiweb 10-46’s on my electrics.
    OogieWaWa likes this.
  16. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    Elixer Polywebs. warm tone, and since I don't play as much as I should, they seem to last. I also play with as low an action on my acoustic 6 string as possible. BTW, not as much of a fan of the nanowebs. I used to use D'addario phospor bronzes, and can't say anything bad about them.
  17. It's kinda weird how much acoustic guitar strings can cut your fingers up. Electric guitar strings can feel really light and bendy, but I find some acoustic guitars, namely those with ungodly action, can have strings that really dig into your fingers in ways that bass strings just don't. It's nothing you can't train past, but it's worth consideration. I've got a parlor guitar with a 24"scale and I use Daddario phosphor bronze custom lights on it and I get on just fine on that guitar. However, those strings are made for that sort of guitar - super light top three strings to mellow out the top end and light bottom three strings to help the lower notes speak up a bit. I've tried a few sets and this one just works on that guitar.

    If I had a dreadnought I'd probably go for 80/20 bronze in a light gauge and figure out what I might want from there, the nice thing about guitar strings is that even moderately priced ones are under ten bucks a pop so experimenting isn't difficult. Also - if you really want to cut down on volume while you practice and get the tension down, you can get either silk and steel strings or flatwound electric guitar strings - at least that's what some people do with their parlor guitars :) .

    At any rate the thing that matters is that you get to playing, here's hoping your search is quick before finding a good set, maybe try Daddario 80/20 bronze super light and see how you like those, if the feel is right try changing the brand and see how the sound can change, if you feel like they're just a bit too light you can always get heavier strings after these ones wear down, not so easy to play through strings that are just too heavy right off the bat.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  18. dr doofie

    dr doofie

    Jul 6, 2017
    That’s a lot of information for you to take in. Wowzers.
    For playability and not tone, you really just need to be reasonable. In my experience bass and guitar are two completely different animals, and don’t really parallel each other. (Any bass player will tell you that.)
    Go with light to medium gauge strings.
    My guitar has light medium (maybe 11?) d’addarios and it’s playable, they don’t break, and you won’t need to mess around with the truss rod, nut, bridge, ad nauseum.
    My bass has flat chromes and are like cables. Doesn’t affect playing at all on either instrument. Yeah you’ll get blisters from the steel strings, but it’s fun :)
    Sorry so long winded.
    hrodbert696, OogieWaWa and pie_man_25 like this.
  19. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Interesting. I would think that heavier gauge strings would work better on parlors (usually, around 24" scale length).

    On my acoustics (24.9, and 25.4", scale lengths for the 6 string guitars) I usually used 12s, and 10s on the 12 string (25.5" - 27" scale length).

    To the OP, proper setup is just as important as string gauge on an acoustic, so get that squared away, too.
    OogieWaWa and Dabndug like this.
  20. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    There are different types of acoustic guitars. Is it a classical guitar, flamenco guitar, steel string? Maybe post a photo if you're not sure what type of guitar it is.
    Joedog, BucketOfFish and OogieWaWa like this.

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