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Bidd

What Strings should I purchase?

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EDIT - Sorry I think i put this in wrong section of forum

I'm on the verge of joining a band in Uni, that play Blues and Funk - Hendrix, BB King, Howlin Wolf etc, and I've realised that I have yet to change the strings on my bass even though I've had it for 18 months and have been playing with stock strings since.

Basically, I've been playing a lot for the past 18 months but in bedroom, and a few half arsed jams so I've never really cared about the tone of my guitar, but I think its time to buy some decent strings. I simply do not really understand a lot of the technical side of the bass guitar, I basically read tabs and play. so I need advice badly cos I know fook all.

What strings would you more experienced lot recommend? I play a basic Washburn T14 so its hardly packs a nice tone, but because I plan to play slap and 12 bar blues type stuff, I want to treat myself to some new strings that may improve the sound. You have to forgive my stupidity as words like Roundwood or flatwood, or 105 super slinky gauge blah blah have literally zero meaning to me as I havent experimented with other basses, so please treat me like an idiot Edited by Bidd

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Hummn you are in a dilemmea arent you?

Basically Roundwounds give you a bright crisp twangy sound (Mark King) Sound brighter the newer they are.

Flatwounds sound warmer (some say dull) but IMO more applicable for blues & r'n'b (Herbie Flowers) which is what I play. Flatties buzz less and are easier on the fingers IMHO- But I re itterate may sound too dull for for your choice.

Gauges- Basically (and VERY simply) smaller the gauge the more tension they need to make the note but can be eaiser on your fingers.

45 -105 is std I use 40-100 (light guage)as do a lot of folks but, opinion is heavily divided and its a lot down to choice.

Bear in mind when you cahnge your srtings you will need to check your set up and maybe re set the intonation (you may have to make other minor changes too if you cahnge guage.)

Any more advice PM me and I'll try to help.

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[quote name='Bidd' post='5614' date='May 24 2007, 11:13 AM']EDIT - Sorry I think i put this in wrong section of forum

I'm on the verge of joining a band in Uni, that play Blues and Funk - Hendrix, BB King, Howlin Wolf etc, and I've realised that I have yet to change the strings on my bass even though I've had it for 18 months and have been playing with stock strings since.

Basically, I've been playing a lot for the past 18 months but in bedroom, and a few half arsed jams so I've never really cared about the tone of my guitar, but I think its time to buy some decent strings. I simply do not really understand a lot of the technical side of the bass guitar, I basically read tabs and play. so I need advice badly cos I know fook all.

What strings would you more experienced lot recommend? I play a basic Washburn T14 so its hardly packs a nice tone, but because I plan to play slap and 12 bar blues type stuff, I want to treat myself to some new strings that may improve the sound. You have to forgive my stupidity as words like Roundwood or flatwood, or 105 super slinky gauge blah blah have literally zero meaning to me as I havent experimented with other basses, so please treat me like an idiot[/quote]

I really don't know very much about strings as after buying expensive instruments I don't really like to pay for extra and I don't know a thing about the science behind them. But I'll try to help but Burpster covered adequately.


To put it simply gauge refers to the thickness of the string - the higher the number 'gauge', the thicker the string is. 45-105 refers to the high G string having a gauge of 45 and the low bottom E string having 105 with the D and A strings in between.

Heavier strings (higher gauge number) like the LaBella strings I recently sold with a bass:



These are 52-110 (there are heavier). Heavier strings are generally perceived as being more 'powerful' due to the size an weight and the increased attack required to pluck them (which can make them difficult playability wise). Heavier gauge strings can also mess with intonation (bass goes out of tune the further up the neck you go). Although in a tradish blues band, this may not be an issue. In a blues band, heavier strings are sometimes expected.

The strings pictured above are also flatwounds, which can also be expected in a blues band. The stock strings on your bass are probably medium gauge roundwounds. Roundwound are bumpy to touch (run your finger along a string), usually flexible (easily lifted and bent) and produce a 'zingy' sound which will deaden in time.

Whereas flatwounds are smooth to touch with a large surface area (can be painful after a while), often aren't flexible and (should) produce a softer, warmer, (traditionally) bassier/upright sound.

If you want to play slap bass, you would probably need roundwounds. But if you want to do Howlin' Wolf covers, you'll probably need flats. So you could either put up with rounds on everything or ask to stick to fingerstyle funk (the funkiest funk around).

There are other kinds of strings which I do not know enough about: Nylon tape wound (black nylon covered), half-rounds (how the f' do they make those?) and many more I'm sure.

---

[b]I think this thread should be pinned as a string thread somewhere. I for one would like to learn a lot more about different brands/types of strings.[/b]

---

[quote name='The Burpster' post='5740' date='May 24 2007, 01:47 PM']Flatwounds sound warmer (some say dull) but IMO more applicable for blues & r'n'b (Herbie Flowers) which is what I play. Flatties buzz less and are easier on the fingers IMHO- But I re itterate may sound too dull for for your choice.[/quote]

I played Herbie's Jazz last year, it had nylon strings on it. Did he use flats in the past? (did they have nylon strings in the past?)

---

Have you seen this book on Ebay? It might be useful to you:

[url="http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/learn-blues-bass-with-cd_W0QQitemZ320116111222QQihZ011QQcategoryZ31211QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem"]http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/learn-blues-bass-wit...1QQcmdZViewItem[/url]




paul. Edited by paul, the

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and seeing as you havent changed them in a long while you may want to go for a set that lasts longer,like some of the DR's or the Elixirs. the Elixirs are coated roundwound strings (see above explanation) but unlike other coated strings they are coated once the string has been wound (the round string wire is wrapped around the central string core) so the coating lasts longer and you get a brighter sound than some other coated strings. i've had mine on for 9 months now and they still sound good. Though there is a drawback with the longer lasting strings is that they cost more, DR's are around £40 a set and i think the Elixirs are about £30-£35 a set.
so it also depends on how much you want to pay in one shot, cheaper strings will be cheeper in the long run but as you have to replace (or not :) ) them quicker they can cost more in the long run.
unfortunately you can't tell what they are gonna sound like until you try them ( many years ago i spent alot of money buying blind until i found something i liked)
oh and i play in a rock/blues type cover band and the elixirs sit in nicely.

this site is a good place to start on the different brands

[url="http://www.stringbusters.com/"]http://www.stringbusters.com/[/url] Edited by lowhand_mike

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[quote name='lowhand_mike' post='5855' date='May 24 2007, 04:23 PM']and seeing as you havent changed them in a long while you may want to go for a set that lasts longer,like some of the DR's or the Elixirs. the Elixirs are coated roundwound strings (see above explanation) but unlike other coated strings they are coated once the string has been wound (the round string wire is wrapped around the central string core) so the coating lasts longer and you get a brighter sound than some other coated strings. i've had mine on for 9 months now and they still sound good. Though there is a drawback with the longer lasting strings is that they cost more, DR's are around £40 a set and i think the Elixirs are about £30-£35 a set.
so it also depends on how much you want to pay in one shot, cheaper strings will be cheeper in the long run but as you have to replace (or not :) ) them quicker they can cost more in the long run.
unfortunately you can't tell what they are gonna sound like until you try them ( many years ago i spent alot of money buying blind until i found something i liked)
oh and i play in a rock/blues type cover band and the elixirs sit in nicely.

this site is a good place to start on the different brands

[url="http://www.stringbusters.com/"]http://www.stringbusters.com/[/url][/quote]

I paid £15 for my DR Nickel Plated Lo-Riders - but I'm not overly impressed. I think I'm a flats man.

---

If you have a music store near you, a vintage one would be best - try out the basses and have a look at how they are strung. Listen to the differences between strings and how differently they feel under the fingertip.

paul.

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[quote name='bass_ferret' post='6038' date='May 24 2007, 09:06 PM']Half rounds start off as oversized round wounds. They are then squashed (rotosound) or ground (everyone else) to take the round tops off to make them feel like flats but sound like rounds. At least thats the theory, some achieve it better than others.

I use Status half rounds myself on all my basses to keep a consistent fell but others do it with different strings on all their basses. The journey to string nirvana is a long and expensive one, what one person loves another will hate so its impossible to tell you what strings to buy. But if you are gonna be slapping flats dont really do it.[/quote]

Really? I thought it would be the other way around as I prefer the sound of flats but like the feel of rounds.


Couldn't you just turn the string around?

I think I'm going to feel really embarrassed very soon as I don't understand.

paul.

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[quote name='bass_ferret' post='6038' date='May 24 2007, 09:06 PM']The journey to string nirvana is a long and expensive one, what one person loves another will hate so its impossible to tell you what strings to buy.[/quote]

Amen... I'm still on my quest to find my perfect set of strings. I think I'm gonna try some halfwound stuff next. My favourites so far have been GHS Bass Boomers.

The best thing is to try whatever you can. Buying strings from the internet will save money. Buying strings is a very personal thing, and with so much choice, i.e. material, roundwound/flats, brand, coating, core shape, etc. I would be reluctant to say there are strings that are best for blues/funk. Just try what you can, and judge for yourself what you prefer.

But if you want my opinion, must kind of nickel roundwound string would suit you. It doesn't have such a bright tone as stainless steel which IMHO is better for blues, and it's more easier on the fingers for slapping. Incidentally, GHS Bass Boomers fit that bill. :) Edited by s_u_y_*

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[quote name='Bidd' post='5614' date='May 24 2007, 12:13 PM']I've realised that I have yet to change the strings on my bass even though I've had it for 18 months and have been playing with stock strings since.[/quote]

Yeah, by that time most strings will be dead sounding and also feel awful b/c of corrosion.

[quote]because I plan to play slap and 12 bar blues type stuff, I want to treat myself to some new strings that may improve the sound.[/quote]

Not really much of a problem. Slapping requires a string that can vibrate freely. This means you will have to use (a) roundwounds, i.e. a string using some round wire for the outer windings, (:) it shouldn't have too much mass, which mostly means diameters shouldn't be too large. Additionally, depending on your taste, the string should be able to produce some to outspoken pronounced brightness.

As for gauges, most multipurpose sets are somewhere in the .045 - .100" range. Though for slapping (as well as tapping) gauges like .040 - .095" or lighter often not only play more comfortably but also sound better.

As for brightness, there usually is an increase from pure nickel via nickel-plated steel to stainless steel strings (but, as so often in life, there's exceptions confirming the rule). For the most part, either relatively bright nickel-plated strings (SIT Rock Brights, Elites, Alembic etc.), strings of special alloys (Thomastik-Infeld Powerbass) or stainless steel strings will do the job quite well.

Alas, whether a string produces more of an elegant or an aggressive slap sound can't be predicted from the parameters usually made available to the public. A typical example of the former would be D'Addario ProSteels, of the latter Warwick Black Label.

Well, the thing then is that "phat", brightness and aggressiveness can be controlled by playing technique. Your attack should be controlled though determined, in no way speaking of nervousness and inattentiveness. It helps using not just the bony part of the very fingertip but also the fleshy part behind it for variation of harder vs. softer attack. The more you get near the bridge the narrower the sound will get. Actually the more the harder you pluck. If you play in a middle position the sound will be able to develop and get richer.

Further, as money probably will be an issue, too. It pays to buy long-lasting strings even if they're expensive (but often they also sound better). It's just that in case you also should be using a pick you should avoid coated strings (Elixir and such) b/c you will scrap off the coating all too soon.

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[quote name='paul, the' post='6048' date='May 24 2007, 10:15 PM']Couldn't you just turn the string around?[/quote]

No, that would be be awful sounding b/c you'd had a maximum dampening effect on string vibration. And not very much else.

If it was for a decent pick attack there'd probably be quite some alternatives with "conservative" sounding roundwounds. The most decisive parameter being a smooth finish (e.g. the type of D'Addario XL will do). More of a coarse finish will result in a "grindy" pick attack (think Rotosound Swing Bass etc. etc.).

A decent flatwound type of throb, however, also requires a certain mass (and construction type). I think of "non-flatwounds" GHS Brite Flats are worth mentioning in this department. Even in a lighter gauge such as .045 - .056 - .077 - .098" (no need to go up to .049 - .062 - .084 - .108" if not desired otherwise). They also don't sound nasal ("twangy") as most (though not all) flats do (esp. in lighter gauges). Edited by Bushmaster

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[quote name='bass_ferret' post='6069' date='May 24 2007, 09:42 PM']Well I guess it depends on how exactly you define feel. They do vary but the ones I currently use are very smooth, nearly flat smooth. But they dont have the stiffness of flats. This is what Status say about the ones I use:

"This design of string is ideal for use on a fretless bass where you want to retain the clarity of the note but reduce the possibility of marking the fretboard. It starts life as a round-wound string then has the outer wrap ground down slightly to produce a small flat on the outer surface."

Rotosound Solo Bass Stainless Pressurewound - The original pressure wound bass string designed in the mid 70's. The strings are rolled to flatten the surface. This process produces a brighter tone than flatwound strings whilst still eliminating finger noise & reducing fret wear. These work well on fretless basses.

D'Addario ENR Half Round Bass - Half Round bass strings are wound with pure nickel, then precision ground, leaving the outer surface semi-smooth. They retain the flexibility and most of the tonal characteristics of round wound strings. Try them for their flatwound feel and a vintage roundwound tone.

These are the ones I found sounded most like flats: Elite Groundwound Bass - Quality Groundwound Strings ideal for that worn in feel and sound to your strings.[/quote]

Thanks for the informative thread!

I might look into getting some half rounds. Do you know any bassists/youtube/audio clips that use them?

Cheers,

Paul.

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[quote name='paul, the' post='6048' date='May 24 2007, 09:15 PM']Couldn't you just turn the string around?[/quote]

I think that's just about the silliest thing I've ever written.

Why do I feel somewhat proud?
:)

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OK I used Rotosound RS 66 strings for years. Fact: they are now insanely expensive and do not stay as bright as they used to as long as they used to. And thats with me playing a lot less shows than I did in the past.

I now use Detroit Bass Stainless Mediums from webstrings.com They by contrast are insanely cheap and seem to last an incredibly long time.



Check em out, I cant praise them enough.

[url="http://www.webstrings.com/electric_bass_strings_index.html"]webstrings.com[/url]

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[quote name='paul, the' post='6198' date='May 25 2007, 01:46 AM']Why do I feel somewhat proud? :)[/quote]

Actually, I very much like that sort of toying around with ideas. You can always still give things a second thought. But if you just put up with things as they allegedly are, and always have been that way, blah..., you're helplessly stuck with it.

I can't post sound samples but if I may just mention a few recommendable alternatives not yet discussed so far:
[list]
[*]Dean Markley Ground Round Wound™ Bass (2626 MED .049 - .062 - .084 - .108) [overall powerful sound, mild highs, yet good pick click]
[*]Ken Smith Slick Round Medium (.044 - .062 - .084 - .106) [smooth bass, live mids, semi-bright, cuts through played pizz or with a pick]
[*]Rickenbacker 95577 Round Ground (.048 - .062 - .077 - .098) [just as expected: a mellower version of their classy pure nickel rounds]
[/list]
Maybe bass_ferret would be the one to comment on the sound and feel etc. of Status halfrounds -? <expectantly>

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[quote name='Bushmaster' post='6576' date='May 25 2007, 03:29 PM']Actually, I very much like that sort of toying around with ideas. You can always still give things a second thought. But if you just put up with things as they allegedly are, and always have been that way, blah..., you're helplessly stuck with it.

I can't post sound samples but if I may just mention a few recommendable alternatives not yet discussed so far:[list]
[*]Dean Markley Ground Round Wound™ Bass (2626 MED .049 - .062 - .084 - .108) [overall powerful sound, mild highs, yet good pick click]
[*]Ken Smith Slick Round Medium (.044 - .062 - .084 - .106) [smooth bass, live mids, semi-bright, cuts through played pizz or with a pick]
[*]Rickenbacker 95577 Round Ground (.048 - .062 - .077 - .098) [just as expected: a mellower version of their classy pure nickel rounds]
[/list]Maybe bass_ferret would be the one to comment on the sound and feel etc. of Status halfrounds -? <expectantly>[/quote]

Cheers, brilliant!

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MB1.

if you wanna keep it cheap,ashdown strings at sound control roundwound 40 /100s £9.95 for a set (think theyve got some other heavier gauges too) they are quite good,great value,and are actually made by rotosound,not a lot of people know that!good price good quality!good luck!

MB1.

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Sorry to hijack the thread, but my perfect strings would have the feel and flexibility of rounds with the warmth and soft tone of flats.


...I need more basses. Edited by paul, the

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I have been trying some flatwounds on both my basses. I have used Roto's Monal Flats and Roberts Flats. The Roto's 45-105 I found too tight and was tempted to go down to 40-100 but at nearly £30 a set I might wait. As for the Roberts the A-D-G seem ok but the E was too floppy and sounded some what dead. My next stop is probably going to be some Roto Solo55's preasure wound. I don't like steel strings they sound too zingy for me but nickle plated seem ok I have used Rotobass 45 & 50's in the past. They sound like a played in set of steels but slightly warmer and you can slap with them (if thats your thing).

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Good to see an old thread.

[url="http://www.bgra.net/2004/index.php?content=feature&page=strings"]Here's[/url] a site with some string reviews and information.

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I'd to add that the main contributing factor to a good slap sound is a nice low action. Witht hat in mind, and your desire to play fingerstyle 12 bvar blues, I'd avoid strings that are too light.

Also, IMHO, if you have been playing for 18 months, the extra effort required by 45-105 guage strings will give you a good workout.

If I were you, I'd go and get myself a decent set of 45-105 strings. If you can bring yourself to shell out £30, try a set of Warwick EMP 45- 105. They're coated strings with a really nice sound. Also, get one of those micro fibre cloths or a pack of j cloths and make a point of wiping down the strings after you finish playing. I get 6 months + out of mine, which is pretty good.

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Pinned. Thanks for dredging up the old info from Basstalk mate.

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Hi Guys,

I've never found anything to compete with the tone, feel and life of DR's (Hi Beams or Fatbeams) I use 45 - 105's and they feel like 40 - 100's in terms of playability.

You can buy cheeper but you can't buy better (IMHO)

They boil up great too.... !!

Mark

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[quote name='dr.funk' post='29614' date='Jul 10 2007, 10:12 AM']My first set of Elixirs arrived this morning, can't wait to try them out :huh:[/quote]

.....and?

I have to say I started using Elixirs a couple of years back and though they are expensive they just go on [i][b][size=4][u]forever[/u][/size][/b][/i] are even in tone across the neck and keep that tone pretty much until I realise that they are starting to look a little skanky and need changing.

The first set I got were freebies at the Guitar show in Wembley and I was hooked. Next year I bought a box from the Strings Direct stand (or possibly Stringbusters) at a knockdown price. This year no one seemed to be selling the bass strings so I could not stock up again damn them!!! :)

The box by the way has lasted two years of an average gig + rehearsal a week, and its not that I do not change the strings regularly, its that they hold tone for so long even beating them up quite hard with a plectrum.

IMHO after too many years playing you can buy cheaper, but it really is a false economy unless you find that elusive string that lasts with the sound you want

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I spent years searching for the perfect strings until about a year ago i started using DR 40-95 guage. Amazing. Never used any others since!

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