FAQ - Bass
Here you can find those Frequently Asked Questions that we get on a regular basis. Don't see your question? Submit it, and maybe it'll appear here!
WHAT STRINGS WOULD GIVE ME THE UPRIGHT BASS SOUND?
As a player that plays both upright and electric basses, there are a couple of characteristic things that the upright has that if you want to emulate that sound (because honestly, you will never nail it 100% on an electric instrument), you need to achieve. First is the quick percussive attack at the beginning, followed by the swell (or bloom) of the note. The rich, warm tone is also a major characteristic.
That said, while you can achieve these characteristic nuances of the upright on ANY set of strings, many people prefer the warmth and feel of our Precision Flatwound strings or our Tapewound strings to help them get closer. And if you click this link, you can see a video we've made that does exactly what you're asking; emulate an upright bass sound, using flats and tapes.
WHAT IS THE TENSION OF *INSERT SET OF BASS STRINGS*?
First, thanks for asking! We know that more and more, the string tension of packaged sets is becoming important information. Also, the string tension of individual strings is very important for those players that want to try alternate tunings, or make a set of "balanced tension" strings for their bass.
We at GHS have made our Bass String Tension chart (please click on the link here) available to you, and have also laid it out with both single strings (in 1/2 step increments for tuning) and packaged sets. We hope that this will provide you the knowledge and information that you are looking for. And for those guitarists, we are planning on releasing our Acoustic and Electric Guitar String guide in early 2015.
CAN I USE LONG SCALE STRINGS ON THE IBANEZ CROSSOVER VI SHORT SCALE BASS?
There's actually two parts to this. First, it is not recommended to put a long scale string (that has a 36.5" winding length) on a short scale instrument. With the bigger strings, aside from making it very hard to fit the string through the tuning post (especially the smaller tuning posts found on many short scale instruments), you can cause undue stress on the core wire, which can lead to the string breaking. That doesn't mean that you "can't," however you need to take extra precaution when attempting this.
Secondly, the Ibanez Crossover VI is an instrument in the style of the Fender Bass VI, and as such has completely different string needs than a standard set of bass strings can provide. You will need to look for a set of strings that is designed for the E-E tuning that the Bass VI has.
WHY DO ROUND CORE BASS BOOMERS HAVE A 37.25" WINDING LENGTH?
For years, the standard for basses was either the Fender Precision or Jazz bass (to the point that in the late 60s/early 70s, people referred to playing electric bass as playing a Fender bass). To allow strings to fit those instruments, the winding length of strings was set at 36.5" to allow the winding to stop between the nut and the E string tuning post. This was referredt to as "Standard Long Scale," which would fit most 34" scale basses, and that was it.
However, with the advent of string-thru body bridges and different builders pushing the boundaries of what instruments were, choosing a set of strings just based on scale length is not feasible anymore. Case in point is the Hofner Beatle Bass, an instrument that is "short scale" at 30" but due to the bridge design, requires a string that has a 34" winding length (most commonly referred to as "medium scale" length). Also, anyone that has used a Warwick bass has realized that the bridge design almost guarantees that if you use a "standard long scale" string on your 5 string Warwick, the winding of the B string will start somewhere between the nut and the first fret.
So with the Round Core Bass Boomers, we wanted to offer a set of strings that would fit more instruments. By extending the winding length 3/4 of an inch, players can now use these strings on a bass with a 34" scale length with either a top-load or thru-body bridge, as well as a 35" scale length bass with a top-load bridge. Our testing with our Artist Family (that put the Round Core Bass Boomers on many different instruments) proves that this was an excellent move.
FOR THAT SWEET LOW END BOTTOM, WHICH BASS STRINGS ARE RECOMMENDED?
There are a LOT of different variables that go into the final sound of a bass, but let's assume that you already have everything dialed in the way you want it with your bass and amp/rig. So with that, there are a couple of ways we can go.
If you want your sound to remind people of the golden days of Motown, we'd recommend our Precision Flats, which have a vintage "thump!" all their own that will last a long time.
If you want an even warmer sound with an initial percussive thump and quick decay, we'd recommend our Tapewound strings, which are the most mellow sound we can give you, that can emulate an upright bass.
If perhaps both of these options are a little too much for you but you don't want the brightness of roundwound strings, then look toward either our Pressurewound or Brite Flats. Both strings have a mellowness to them, but retain the clarity of roundwound strings.
WHAT KIND OF STRINGS DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR A ________________?
The simple answer is that there is no "best" set of strings for ANY bass, or any style. Sure, people can recommend flatwound strings for motown, but there are a lot of guys that use them for other things as well. A couple of things you need to know first, which will help you in your string quest.
- WINDING LENGTH: We talk about this below (and why it is more important than the scale length), but this is the measurement from the end of the bridge to the nut.
- YOUR TONAL WANTS: This is the big one. If you want a biting, in your face tone, you will need to look for a brighter set of strings (like our Progressives or Super Steels). Conversely, if you're looking for a set of strings that have definition but are easy on the fingers, you'd want to look at the Brite Flats or Pressurewounds.
- A PLAYERS' TONE YOU ADMIRE: You don't necessarily need this, but sometimes it serves as a good starting point to zero in on the tone that you want out of your instrument.
With those three things, you should be able to start looking and find a set that will perfectly match the instrument you have, and give you the desired tone that you've been searching for.
What is Bass String Winding Length, and Why should I care?
The winding length is the distance from the ball end of the string to either the beginning of the silked end, or to where the string starts to taper at the tuning end.
Winding length is actually VERY important! Nowadays, it is common to see basses with different scale lengths, and new and creative bridges, thru-body stringing, or fanned frets, etc.. Knowing the winding length of your instrument is imperative to ensure you get the proper string for your bass, and is more important than scale length. For example: the Hofner Violin Bass is a 30" scale bass, but with the bridge, it actually requires a set of strings with at least a 34" winding length, which depending on the string brand, is considered medium scale.
To find the winding length for your instrument, measure from the ball end of the bridge to just past the nut (ideally, between the nut and the closest tuning peg to the nut). Any string with a winding length that falls within that measurement will work well. Too short and you risk having the silked/tapered end over the nut and into the first fret; too long and the "meat" of the string will wrap around the tuner, which can compromise the string. For your information, here are the winding lengths of all GHS strings.
- Short Scale = 32" Winding Length
- Medium Scale = 34.5" Winding Length
- Standard Long Scale = 36.5" Winding Length
- Universal Long Scale = 37.25" Winding Length
- Long Scale Plus / Extra Long Scale = 38" Winding Length
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BRITE FLATS AND PRESSUREWOUNDS?
Both strings use Alloy 52 (a highly magnetic nickel-iron alloy) for the cover wraps, and have our signature core-to-cover ratio. However, the main difference is that the Brite Flats are wound like a roundwound string, and then ground smooth. This allows them to retain some of the clarity and punch of roundwound strings, but feel like flatwounds.
In contrast, Pressurewounds have the final cover wrap run through two rollers during the winding process, which squeezes the string to more of an oval shape. This retains the roundwound character, but gives a smoother feel and a mellower sound; new, these sound like a set of rounds after a couple of weeks of playing.