Putting on Bass Strings – The do’s and don’ts.

As with everything there is a right way of putting strings onto the Bass. Things to remember include:-­

1)        Never take all the strings off the Bass together as this will damage the neck of the Bass.

The neck of a Bass is designed to work against the tension of the strings so if you take all the strings away the tension in the truss-rod will have nothing to stop it bending the neck. This sort of damage is unrepairable and the only course would be to replace the neck. So replace only one string at a time and try to ensure that the new strings are as close to the tuned tension as possible.

2)    Bridge

For Bass guitars the bridge end of the string normally has a bullet connection so they are easy to attach.

There are number of possible connections. The first is the through the body connection. With this one you simply push the string through the hole at the back of the Bass, then run the string over the bridge and connect it to the headstock. Another has the hole in the back of the bridge, so you thread the string through the hole and over the bridge and connect it to the headstock.

3)         Headstocks

When putting a string on the headstock you will come across two main types of machine-heads, as shown below.

  1. a) DIAGRAM 4 STRING WITH MACHINE HEADS ON TOP OF THE HEADSTOCK.

 4 string bass head

 1. b) DIAGRAM – 5 STRING WITH MACHINE HEADS ON TOP AND BOTTOM OF HEADSTOCK

 5 string bass head

The diagrams show how the strings should look in relation to the machine heads. (a) shows that the strings go from the inside outwards and (b) shows that the strings go from underneath upwards. Always to turn the machine-head anti-clockwise.

Place the string through the hole and then guide it around the machine-head, making sure the string sits underneath the end sticking out of the hole.

Never cross the windings over each other but have them sitting neatly next to each other.

Don’t use more than 3 windings for all the strings. If the windings fit tightly together then the friction between the windings and the machine-head will keep the string in tune. The windings should also be tight against the part of the string that went through the hole. A correctly wound string is shown below.

DIAGRAM SHOWING IDEAL WINDING.

bass string winding 

TUNING YOUR BASS

You should have bought a Bass tuner by now, follow the instructions that come with it. Usually you will have a gauge and when the needle reads “0” the string is in tune. Tune all the strings and then just play them individually so that you will become familiar with the sound of strings in tune. Beware that when you tune strings for the first time they may take a while to settle down so don’t be surprised if you have to tune them a few times before they stay in tune.

If you have put the strings on correctly then turning the machine heads clockwise will lower the pitch of the note (the needle on the tuner will move to the left) and turning the machine heads anti-clockwise you will raise the pitch (the needle on the tuner will move to the right). If you are unsure whether the a string is in tune or not always lower the pitch of the string and then work up to the correct tuning. This will ensure that you don’t break strings.


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