Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Confusion on Shopping For Bass Guitar Strings

The Confusion on Shopping For Bass Guitar Strings

Shopping for any kind of strings for for a guitar, mandolin or really any string instrument can be a bit tricky.  You wouldn’t think it should be, but for any instrument there are various gauges, (thicknesses) types of material and so on. This gets even more confusing when look for bass guitar strings.  For some reason basses have a lot more options that most other instruments.  Our goal is to make shopping for bass guitar strings easier.

These options include:

  • String Gauge  The thickness of the string is called string gauge.  Typically string gauges are measured in thousands of an inch.  A typical bass guitar E-string might be 105/1000 of an inch.  This is usually written as .105 and our string finder will show these number with out a decimal.  So string set might appear as 045-065-080-100.  This would show four strings in a set running form 40/1000 on an inch to 100/1000 of an inch.
  • String Length  For many instruments the scale length (or distance from the bridge to the nut) is fairly standard.  However, with bass guitars there are several scale lengths.  The common are…
    • Short Scale – 30 inches
    • Medium Scale – 32 inches
    • Long Scale (this is the most common – or standard) – 34 inches
    • Extra (Super) Long Scale – 35 inches

  • String Construction For guitar, most strings are either nickel strings, for electric, bronze, for acoustic and nylon, for classical guitar.  For bass guitar string construction includes…
    • Nickel strings are most common for electric bass guitar
    • Bronze strings are most common for acoustic or acoustic/electric bass guitar
    • Tape Wound string are strings with a nylon coating over a metal string.  These strings have the deadest sound.
  • Windings For guitars, most strings are either a single piece of steel, (no winding), or have a winding wrapped around the core (wound).  The winding is usually round wire.  For bass we have…
    • Round Wound – The windings are made of round wire giving the string a rougher feel, like a metal file.
    • Flat Wound – The windings are made of rectangular wire giving the string a smooth/flat feel.
    • Half Would – Since round wounds have a brighter sound but are harder on your fingers, strings can be wound with a flat surface and a round back.  These strings feel more like flat wound on the hands but have a sound more like round wound strings.
  • String Sets(or Number of Strings)  With guitar, most guitars have 6-strings.  There’s also 12-string and even 7-string guitars.  For bass we have…
    • 4-String Traditionally the most common bass configuration. (E-A-D-G)
    • 5-String This is becoming the most common bass guitar configuration. (B-E-A-D-G)
    • 6-String (B-E-A-D-G-C)
    • 8-String (e-E-a-A-d-D-g-G)
    • There are other variations such as Fender V (E-A-D-G-C), Fender VI (E-A-D-G-B-E), or other like F#-B-E-A-D and other 10-String or 12-String combinations

As you can imaging this has to be nightmare for string manufacturers.  And it’s even worse those trying to shop for a new set of strings for their bass guitar. I hope that the string finder will help you sort out all the confusion