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Strings are Shot Perhaps? How do you tell?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Violen, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    I have never had new strings. The closest thing ive had is playing on basses at shops that probably had new strings.

    My first bass was a plywood rental that i bought, if the strings were new, that was for five years so i have no idea.

    My current bass has Helicore Hybrids on it. It was the rental bass at KC for professionals in jazz/pitt playing who came into town. Im guessing the strings are dead.

    I just feel like they dont give anything back when i dig into them. Sonically i have no idea if there is a change. I have tried changing my action but it just feels like a one sided relationship. I am pretty sure for pizz they are shot.

    What are signs/how do you tell when your strings are done?
  2. Violen:
    I would not assume the strings are dead. Do the Hybrids stay in tune OK? If so they are probably still OK.
    However.....Helicore Hybrids on a plywood rental bass are not exactly a recipe for good tone and volume.
    Helicore Hybrids are not very lively on a plywood in my experience. I would also guess the bass setup (bridge and soundpost) is not the best it could be which would also cause the instrument to lack tone and volume.
  3. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    My Current Bass is a carved german flatback that is about 100 years old.

    That is the base with the hybrids on it. They did a full setup when i bought it, and i trust that the shop did a great setup on the plywood bass i used to own as well.

    Lets talk about strings. How do you know when they are shot? Is it merely a tuning issue?
  4. Violen:

    Well.......do you know how old the strings are? Have you noticed a lack of "life" in the Hybrids since you got the bass? That's the first clue. Also the difficulty in keeping them in tune. When the strings are worn out they often produce funny tones. Hybrids should last for a couple of years with heavy playing.
    Hybrids are not real expensive. Buy a new D or an A and see how it sounds with the others.
    Good luck.
  5. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Generally, a duller tone is not necessarily a sign of "dead" strings, as all strings mellow over time for a variety of reasons.

    Is intonation becoming inconsistent?
    Is there a marked difference in tone from string-to-string, more than just the differences in diameter and tension would indicate?
    Is sustain markedly or noticeably less on one or more strings?
    Is there any noticable physical damage to the speaking length of the strings: separated windings, dents, etc.?
    When tuning using harmonic tones, are any of them out of tune with the fundamental, wobbling, or lacking sustain?

    If the answer to any two or more of the above is "yes," then it might be time to change strings.
  6. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Helicore Hybrids came w/ my bass. I think they were on there when the bass was set up to be sold in the US after its manufacture in Germany. So they could have been on there forever. I finally just changed the strings for the hell of it. The Hybrids gave zero indication that they might be on their way out and looked good.

    FWIW, I switched to Evah Pirazzis and it's been a pretty chill transition.
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think there are 2 ways to know:

    1) You sit with a luthier and make small adjustments to the soundpost and such and see if what your ear isn't hearing shows back up.


    2) You put a new set of the same strings/weight on and see what happens. If you switched brands or gauge, it might even be difficult to go back and answer that question.

    Different brands of strings "fail" in different ways. You have to live through the cycle with a particular set a few times before you can really recognize it. Some get duller, some get "better", some get stiffer and seem to just not be vibrating like they used to, some just stop producing all the richness that they used to. Some break or unwind.

    If you can find a 3 month or so old set in the classifieds, pick them, a swap them. Then you'll know and have a backup set.

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