12 Best Bass Strings in 2017
To achieve those rich, deep tones that every bassist loves, you definitely need to be using the highest quality of strings. There are now so many options on the market that it can be very difficult to know which ones will give you that exact tone that you love.
We have crafted this guide to help you navigate these options and to make sure you know exactly which type of strings you want to buy. Here you will also find a list of the very best strings on the market that will have you hitting those lows in just the right way.
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Bass Strings Ultimate Table
- Getting That Perfect Sound
- Understanding Gauge
- What You’re Made Of
- It’s All In The Length
- Top 5 Best Bass Strings Reviews
- Match the Strings to the Music
Top 12 Bass Strings Ultimate Table
Getting That Perfect Sound
All aspects of a bass guitar are important, but the strings have the most influence on the sound. This is why the strings need to be often replaced and be researched into to ensure you are playing to the best possible standards.
The thickness of the bass guitar strings is something that is referred to as the string gauge.
This measurement of the diameter generally includes light, medium and heavy. Basically, the heavier the gauge, the lower the tone. This richer sound quality is great musically but really takes a toll on the strength of your fingers.
Not all string gauge sets are created with the same gauge throughout. In fact, many companies mix and match the different strings with different gauges to produce rounder and unique sounds.
There is no perfect combination of string gauges. The one that is right for you is personal to what sounds good to you and what feels best on your fingers when you play.
NOTE: Most bass guitars will come with medium gauge strings, making it a good place to start.
What You’re Made Of
The materials that make up the strings as well as how the strings are made are the two aspects that have the greatest impact on the tone and durability. The best bass strings are made of:
- Stainless Steel – This is the most common material for strings used by rock and jazz musicians.
- Copper-Plated Steel – This is an option that preserves the steely sound that is so rich while the copper accents with overtones.
- Nickel-Plated Steel – This is the most popular string material across all levels of skill and all kinds of music. The brighter tone produced is really universal.
- Pure-Nickel – This metal is less magnetic than steel and thus offers a more vintage sound. The warmness of the 50s and 60s songs originates in these kinds of strings.
- Polymer-Coated Strings – Synthetic materials can be used to coat the strings and add to their durability and to how long they will be effective; this is a material that can have a different effect on the sound depending on the manufacturer.
- Color-Coated Strings – If you want your strings to have added presence when you play then there are color-coated options. These protect the strings without negatively impacting playability.
It’s All In The Length
The scale length is a distinction made out of the measurement from the bridge to the nut at the end of the fretboard. Strings are generally sold to match the scale length and should be bought accordingly.
It is not recommended that you buy longer strings and try to cut and adjust them to the desired size. This can damage the makeup of the strings and impact the tone and intonation negatively.
Long scale is the most common for bass strings but not all fit into this category, and this is why we have included a variety of strings on our list that come in short, medium and long scale sizes.
- Short – 30-31 inches
- Medium – 32-33 inches
- Long – 34-35 inches
- Extra Long – 35+ inches
Pro Tip – Remember that you will need to change your strings on a regular basis. How often you need to do this depends on how often you play and where you play.
Those that are playing in hot indoor environments will need to change their strings at least once a month. Those that carefully look after their strings and play in studios could have strings last a year.
Top 5 Best Bass Strings Reviews
The Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings are the kind of strings that can really have an impact on the quality of the tone you get when you are playing. The quality of the nickel-plated steel and the plain strings alone are enough to rave about, but when they are wrapped around a hexagonal core wire to give more depth, you will not be able to use lesser strings again.
The gauges of these strings are mixed so you get thicker EAD strings for longer cords and the skinnier top strings for more accuracy and bending. When you play on the right mix of strings for your style, it also makes a difference in how long they last.
These strings can be played on daily, with shows being performed a few times in a week, and they will make sure you reach a month of use before showing signs that they need to be replaced.
The D’Addario EXL170 strings provide a brighter tone that is great for playing a wide range of music styles. In terms of the materials and mechanics of the strings, they are suited for long scale basses and are round wound with nickel-plated steel. This combination also contributes to the higher sound quality.
The finish on the strings is very smooth and even, which makes them easy to work with when installing them for the first time and easy to play on. After you have them fitted to your bass guitar, you can tune easily and consistently.
These are the best bass strings for the most affordable price. If you play often and need to save costs in replacing the strings, then these are perfect. You can explore other brands all you want, but in terms of economy for the sound and the quality, the D’Addario EXL170 are unbeatable.
The first thing that sets the Elixir strings apart from the most common bass strings is the fact that these feature a thin coating. This coating helps to keep the strings protected, which means you can play on these strings for much longer than you could play on strings made of a straight steel or nickel material.
The coating makes the strings smooth while also enhancing natural grip. The comfort that you feel when using these strings is just the beginning when you consider the impeccable tone quality that you experience too.
The strings play with a brightness that is not overpowering in the overall sound. Intonation is always spot on when the guitar has been tuned, and you can choose the same strings but with a different scale size and gauge based on your preferences. You get flexibility with strings that can easily be suited to your needs, and that can last for upwards of 6 months.
The Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings have been designed to produce a balanced tone that is incredibly rich. It is something that is suited for most styles of playing as well as most types of bass guitar and music genres.
These strings are heavier than what many bass guitars come already fit with, and this is one of the main reasons the tone is so powerful. The booming lower sounds are beautiful and really fill out the sound of a single cord or song with these strings.
These round wound strings are made to of the highest quality materials and are made to make sure you can always get the good all around sound you strive for. If you are going to become loyal to any bass string making company, it should be this one. Considering the price, becoming addicted to these strings is also economical. You can replace these monthly or even more often without breaking the bank.
The D’Addario ETB92 strings are great bass strings for a few reasons. First, they are specifically designed to create a warmer and deeper tone; this originates from the fact that the strings are tape wound and that they are made of flattened black nylon.
The strings are perfectly sized for a long scale bass, which means you can install them easily without needing to cut them and risk damaging the makeup of the strings at the core. These are heavy duty strings and will take some strength to be able to manipulate properly without fatigue.
These are not a great choice for beginners, but they are a perfect for intermediate and advanced players that are working on producing a more rounded tone. The makeup also means that these strings will last for a very long time before they need to be replaced.
Match the Strings to the Music
We have outlined all the different aspects of bass strings and what you can expect from various lengths and materials, but what you always need to keep in mind is the type of sound you want.
Many bassists starting out try to look for bass strings without thinking about their music.
Our list contains a highly varied collection of strings that will suit most styles, but it is important to note that it is a combination of the gauge, length, material and how old the strings are, that will make or break your sound.