The Ultimate Bass Guitar Strings Guide – Information You Need to Know




Bass Guitar Strings Guide

It is pretty difficult to play your bass guitar without strings. Needless to say, the type of string you choose is very important. The type of bass guitar strings you want to get depends on several different factors though, so it’s not always easy to pick.

The goal of the bass guitar strings guide is to arm you with the ability to choose the right strings for you. In this article, you will learn details that are important when choosing the bass strings that will make sense for your instrument and your music.

Bass String Names and Orders

The strings might be the most important part of your bass guitar. The first thing we need to understand is there are different strings, and different string notes, for the three different types of bass you commonly will find.

Bass guitar strings are usually named for the keynotes produced when the open string is played. An open string is one string that is not pressed down on top of any fret. Beginning at the apex of your bass guitar here is the order of the strings and the open note associated with each.

4 String Bass (From thickest to thinnest string)

  • The 4th string produces the E note
  • The 3rd string produces the A note
  • The 2nd string produces the D note
  • The 1st string produces the G note

5 String Bass (From thickest to thinnest string)

  • ​The 5th string produces the B string note
  • The 4th string produces the E note
  • The 3rd string produces the A note
  • The 2nd string produces the D note
  • The 1st string produces the G note

6 String Bass (From thickest to thinnest string)

  • ​The 6th string produces the B note
  • The 5th string produces the E string note
  • The 4th string produces the A note
  • The 3rd string produces the D note
  • The 2nd string produces the G note
  • The 1st string produces the C note

Notice that for the 5 string bass guitar we add a low note (The B Chord), while the six-string bass guitar keeps the B note as its lowest, and adds a high C note.

The Bass String Gauges

String gauges are measured by the diameter of the string and are usually expressed using the measurement of thousandths for every inch. A heavier gauge produces a richer tone that is determined by the strength of your fingers. Additionally, a heavier gauge produces a lower tone. Most bass strings have a medium gauge, a standard 4-string bass guitar ranges between 0.045 and 0.105 inches thick.

Some manufacturers are known to take the mix and match approach in creating string sets. You can find that most of the bass four strings guitar sets have G and D strings with medium weight gauging around 0.045 to 0.065 while those of light strings A and E strings measure 0.080 to 0.100.

In a similar case, another light 5 string bass guitar may gauge heavier on a B string with 0.130. Some bass guitar users prefer to buy single strings that gauge according to their preferences than be limited by the manufactures string gauge guide.

The most important thing when it comes to choosing your string gauge is to get the perfect gauge that will suit your taste and the most advisable one is the medium setting for the new bases you can experiment with another gauge later.

What Are Bass Guitar Strings Made of?

Any good bass guitar player knows that a solid bass guitar riff can set a crowd buzzing, so the sound your strings makes is extremely important. Bass strings are made using metal alloys that impact their tone, durability, and feel. Here are the standard materials that are used to make your favorite bass strings.

These are the most common things you’ll find on the market, but there are always new materials being tested. As a beginner, we recommend you stick with something from this list until you develop an ear for the variations in tone.

Nickel-Plated Steel

Nickel-plated steel tends to be the choice of most bassists in different music genres as the material offers a comfortable feel with a bright tone.

Pure Nickel

They are warmer with less magnetic attraction, and they produce high vintage tones. They offer the best sound for the early 50s and 60s pop bass and rock and country bass.

Stainless Steel

This material is very popular with metal, rock, and jazz players since it produces a dazzling tone that has excellent corrosion resistance. It is durable and smooth.

Copper-plated steel

This bass strings material is known to retain the sparkly and bright response of steel. It has a thinner copper coating, and it is known to produce rich acoustic overtones, it’s a very durable material and it feels soft against the player’s hands.

Polymer-coated strings

Most manufacturers have come up with a simpler way of extending the bass guitar string life by just coating the strings with synthetics. This helps to prevent the strings from being damaged caused by corrosion. The effect this coating has on the string tones can differ between manufacturers, though.

Color-coated strings

Some bassists love to spice up their instruments and what better way than to use colored coated strings. They come in different colors, and they offer a visual impact on your guitar at the same time they extend the life and smooth playability.

Bass Guitar Strings

Bass String Construction Methods

Most bass guitar strings have an outer wrap and the most common winding metals used are nickel and stainless steel. The winding of bass strings affects both the tone and the feel of the string. Most famous winding methods include:


The method uses round wires that are made of nickel and stainless steel. Stainless steel combined with this method is known to offer louder and brighter sounds while enhancing the popping and slapping techniques of the strings.


These strings are wrapped with a steel core wire that is flat with a smooth feel, and it’s known to produce rounder and mellower tones.

Difference between Bass Guitar Strings and Electric Guitar Strings

For those who are new to the guitar world, it can be hard to understand the primary difference between a bass guitar and electric guitar as both instruments are very similar.

The difference between an electric guitar and bass guitar strings comes from the standard tuning and gauge of the strings, rather than anything to do with materials and construction.

The electric guitar has a standard tuning EADGBE using 6 strings, while the standard 4 string bass guitar is tuned EADG and has a whole octave that is down in pitch. This means the bass notes are much lower than you’ll have on a 6-string electric guitar.

Now that you have an understanding of the strings on your bass, and what the differences are, we’d recommend you take your education one step further and check out a detailed buying guide like the one found at MusiciansFriend.

The Final Note

Strings are such an important part of your bass guitar that you’ll want to experiment with different types, materials, and gauges until you find the ones that you prefer. To some extent, the bass guitar strings you prefer will change and morph over time and depending on the type of music your playing.

As a beginner, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference, but as you become more experienced you’ll start to notice every minute variations in sound, feel, and quality.

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Edward Bell Author

A ukulele player pretty much from birth, Edward has gone on to play banjo, lead guitar, and bass for a number of bands and solo projects! Edward loves talking, teaching and writing about music!

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