Some of my basses seem to kill strings much faster than others, and I want to find out why!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ZachM, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. ZachM


    Nov 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Apologies if this is the wrong forum for this particular post. It's partly a question of how common this experience is, and partly on what can be done to remedy it. Anyway: Have any of you owned a bass that just seemed to kill strings quicker than your other instruments?

    I have owned maybe seven different instruments during my time as a bassist, and of those, two of them consistently seem to lose their brightness and sheen much faster than the others.

    My main bass for a long time was a Lakland DJ5, and that bass never had this problem, the strings retained their brightness for quite a while and I didn't notice them going "bad" quickly. Same deal for the MIM Fender P I had, it stayed good for a long time. During the time I played these basses the most, I was doing a lot of gigging - like 20 gigs per month - so I kinda ruled out string durability as a problem here. The basses just seemed to not let the strings die so quickly, somehow.

    My Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV is where I began to really notice this problem, and since it has the Gibson three-point bridge, I assumed that maybe it was an issue with not getting enough bridge contact with the body. But I've played a few of them now, and the ones I didn't own seemed to not have this problem.

    And my current main bass, a 1982 Peavey t-40 is the same way. I'm getting like, 2-3 gigs or 1.5 weeks MAX from the strings before they sound and feel dull. And I didn't have this problem with a previous T-40 that I owned.

    Anyway, have you had this issue? And if so, is there anything obvious I should be troubleshooting or that I can do?
  2. Stainless steel vs nickel frets probably.
  3. twc1313

    twc1313 Practice is the cure for GAS...or so I've heard.

    Oct 28, 2013
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    As a sweaty acid handed beast, I kill strings very easily; so much so that I use Elixirs and Flats to remedy this. I think your issue is the humbuckers on both the TBird and the T-40. IMO humbuckers (especially the Tbird) have a much rounder and darker sound than the single coils of your Jazz and the two coils of your Pbass.

    For me the two basses that are giving your problems will sound darker and have less bite than the other two even with new strings. For me my SUB Ray4 is (also a humbucker) is also very sensitive to strings more so than my P/J's or Jazz.

    I don't think it's the bass dulling the strings, I think the nature of those two basses just brings it out tonally more.
  4. ZachM


    Nov 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I had considered that possibility, but both of the basses I have problems with have nickel/silver frets, so they shouldn't be denting the strings worse than normal.

    They are indeed darker sounding basses, that's true. But the difference is quite obvious when unplugged too, and the strings not only sound dark, they feel dead. And in the case of my T-40, I had a different one previously and it didn't kill strings nearly so fast as my current bass.

    Regarding the T-40, I threw on a set of Slinkys and they were dull in a little over a week. Thinking I had just gotten a set of duds, I threw a set of Kalium strings on there... they got really dead in the same amount of time. I'm not particularly sweating a lot, nor am I playing with dirty hands. Could it be an issue with neck tilt / setup / break angle or something? Maybe the neck joint isn't screwed down tightly enough?
  5. twc1313

    twc1313 Practice is the cure for GAS...or so I've heard.

    Oct 28, 2013
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    For me, all nickel strings die in a week, especially Slinkys. If you have the cash, try a set of Elixirs and if those go dull in less than 3 months, then consider the bass doing something. I have never heard of a bass deadening strings, but the suggestion of Stainless Steel frets could be something.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
  7. ZachM


    Nov 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I actually played Elixir strings a while back when my body chemistry was really hard on strings, but I've really gotten into balanced tension strings these days and mostly play Kaliums. I may go back to them if this becomes the norm again.

    The strings that have been dying are Nickel though, so I maybe need to at least switch to stainless for a bit and see what happens.
  8. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    Unless someone refreted them with stainless steel frets, none of them would have stainless steel frets.
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