How often should you change strings?

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by redgold, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. redgold

    redgold Supporting Member

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    My son's bass teacher told him to change once a month... is that normal? I change my guitar strings every 3-6 months. :huh

    Also, what guage strings would you guess comes on a Flea Bass? The action is nice and I don't want to futz with it.

    Thanks.
     
  2. fisticuffs

    fisticuffs Member

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    45-105 is pretty standard. I change mine every 4-6 months. I gig 3-4 times/month and practice every week.
     
  3. R.S.Fraser Sr.

    R.S.Fraser Sr. Member

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    Bass strings?
    once a month is normal if your son's teacher works out of a music store.
     
  4. fisticuffs

    fisticuffs Member

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    I see what you did there.
    My guitar player plays bass in another band. He gigs just as much with them as he does with us. He hasn't changed his strings in 4 years. I know becasue I had to use it as a last minute back up and afterwards changed them for him. Just gave him an extra set I had laying around last night.
     
  5. CavePassivePedals

    CavePassivePedals Member

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    With flatwounds - I turnover basses more often than I change strings.
     
  6. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    only when they break

    only half :)
     
  7. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    Likewise. If I break a string I just put that bass away and start using another one!


    Once a month??! Does this instructor own stock in a bass string manufacturing company??
     
  8. mikesgig

    mikesgig Member

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    There is no right answer - some players like the sound of well worn strings - others (like Chris Squire back in the day) change for every performance to have the brightest edgiest sound. For a student I'd say when you can afford it. In a pinch I would clean Rotosounds in boiling water then wipe with rubbing alcohol. This would "revive" the strings somewhat by cleaning off all the gunk from nightly playing. Old strings get to a point where they are difficult to tune - intonation problems - but this takes a long time with bass strings.
     
  9. therhodeo

    therhodeo Member

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    Definitely depends on your sound. If you like big round vintagey tones then by all means leave them on until they break. If you're playing funk or something you're going to need a bit more life in them.
     
  10. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    Once a month is a little bit much for bass. Besides, you can boil them and they come out like a fresh pair. Just put a drop of detergent in the water and all the sludge comes right out. I used to use GHS roundwounds and would boil several times before finally replacing after 6-7 months. They sound their best on the first boil because they're not so zingy at that point but they still have a lot of character.
     
  11. NashSG

    NashSG Member

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    I could see changing them maybe once a month if you are in a touring band playing gigs all the time or you need alot of treble, but for a kid starting out, that's crazy.

    This would be more with roundwound strings, I don't think flatwounds change tone so much as they get playing time on them as much.

    Boling roundwound strings in some water and vinegar does work clean them up and bring back some of the high end. I also agree, it really only works to do this once or twice, as after that dead sounding is dead sounding. I've usually got a set that was played then cleaned then put back in the case as a set of spares. I don't break strings very often, but it has happened a couple of times and grabbing one of the used then boiled strings sounds way less out of place than putting a brand new string on. New roundwound strings are way zingy sounding to me and kind of need one good sweat on them to break them in a bit.

    That said over the past couple years, I have gotten more into flatwound strings on my Jazz bass, which are much darker sounding than roundwound. I love how you just don't get the string noise or fret buzz off them through the amp, just that bass note fundamental thump.

    I do have roundwounds on my SG bass, but that bass has natually a way darker sound with the short scale and humbuckers.
     
  12. whiteop

    whiteop Senior Member

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    I have done this. Make sure to dry them and then oil / lube them.
     
  13. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    For bass? Give me the deadest round wounds available, please.

    For guitar I love that zing and balance you get with new strings. That, and if you leave them on too long the frets really do a number on them. I have a lot of guitars, but if I'm only playing one for an extended period of time I'll go anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. After that, the darkness starts to get on my nerves.
     
  14. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    For guitar I don't have a set amount of time between changes. I just know when it's time.

    For bass, I change them more because I want to explore a different type of string or gauge vs. needing to change them because they are bad.
     
  15. lankybass

    lankybass Member

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    my squier classic vibe j never gets changed... ever.. even after the strap pin pulled out and slammed the neck against the edge of a stage peice.. big inch long chunk came off the fret board by the g-string but it still intonates and plays flawlessly..

    but the peavey cirrus gets a new set every 4-5 months probably.. Idk if it's because it's an active bass or what.. but this thing sounds literally like crap if the strings aren't fresh
     
  16. jcground

    jcground Member

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    45-65-85-105

    Flea has his own signature set of GHS Boomers.

    I agree with the other recommendations here - once a month is far, far too often to change bass strings for a kid taking lessons. It's a waste of money. If he plays a lot, every 4-6 months is more sensible if he likes the bright sound of new strings. If he likes more of a fundamental thump, he could put it off for much longer. That's personal preference.

    I know players who never change their strings unless one breaks, and that's very rare in the style they play. I've read that James Jamerson used the same Fender with the same strings his whole career, and he's one of the greatest bassists of all time. However, if your son aspires to pop and slap like Flea, string changes are going to happen more often. ;)
     
  17. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Member

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    When I play rounds I change them about every 2 weeks or so. But I play a lot, and I need FRESH strings for what I like to do with rounds. Can't stand the sound of them after 2-3 weeks.

    Flats I can let go awhile. I've been playing flats lately (again) and will use the strings as long as they give me the nice distorted grunt I like out of them.
     
  18. Malinoski

    Malinoski everything wrong possible

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    Never, unless they break.
    I got basses with strings that are almost 30 years old and they sound like they did 29-1/2 years ago.

    Learn to play the thing then worry about the sound.
     
  19. Jarrett

    Jarrett Member

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    This is pretty much it.

    If you like old tones, use old strings. If you want more zing, change more often. I play daily, rehearsal multiple days a week and gig one or more times every week. I like zing and change my strings about every 6-8 weeks. If I was playing less, I would change them less.

    I play 5 string basses and sometimes to save money, I don't replace the B string on every change. Not much zing in that string anyway. So I will buy a 5-string set, then next a 4 string set. Depending on the quality of the B at that point, I will decide whether to get a 5 or 4 string set next.
     
  20. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I think the most recent strings on any of my basses is probably no newer than 4 years old.
     

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