Bass guitars are beautiful instruments in so many ways. Not only are they the driving force behind so many songs in so many genres, but when you own one, you don’t have to change the strings as often as a standard 6 string guitar.
However, there will come a time when the strings will need to be replaced with swanky new shiny ones. If you have never changed bass strings before, this can be quite intimidating. But, don’t worry as we’re here to help you.
It’s actually quite the effort to break a bass string. But, firstly, we do not recommend trying it, and secondly, lay off the slap bass if you keep snapping your bass strings!
So, when it comes to restringing a guitar, how hard is the process? You’ll be pleased to know that it is pretty straightforward to restring a bass.
However, there are some important things to consider and know in order to get it right. If you want your E-A-D-G strings to maintain a good sound and stay in tune, you should follow our tutorial below.
Let’s not wait around. Let’s get those strings restrung so you can bring the bass back to life!
Restringing A Bass Guitar
Once you have removed your old bass strings by unwinding the tuning pegs until they become loose enough to pull out, it’s time to clean the fretboard. Without regular maintenance, skin and other kinds of debris can start to clog up certain areas of the fretboard.
Before you restring, use a soft cloth to remove this built-up skin debris. You can check online or visit your bass guitar’s manual for specific care and maintenance instructions.
Once the skin has been wiped away, it’s time to restring. However, there are a few things to consider first such as:
- What strings to use
- Whether to change the strings all at once or one at a time
Choosing the strings to use can actually be the hardest part of the whole process. You can choose between light, medium, heavy, and extra heavy. There is no simple formula here.
You just have to try out strings until you find a gauge that suits you best. Nevertheless, we recommend starting with a medium set which is the weight most commonly installed on new basses.
When it comes to deciding whether to restring one at a time or altogether depends on a few factors. By doing it one string at a time, the tension on the neck will remain and the time for each string to stabilize will be reduced. But, if you need to clean the fretboard, it makes more sense to take each string off at the same time.
Now you’re prepared for the restringing process, here’s how to do it.
As we mentioned, you need to detune the strings to remove them. This is easy! Do each string one at a time. Simply tune the string down allowing the neck to relax and adjust to the tension change.
While you shouldn’t have to cut the strings with a wirecutter, it can make it easier to remove them. Once slack, remove the strings from the tuning post and bridge.
You should clean the fretboard with a soft cloth at this point. Simply remove any debris from the frets so the surface is smooth.
Once the old strings have been removed, it’s time to replace them with new strings. Before you start, there are a few tips to understand. Do not overtighten the strings too much as the strings are stretching and will need to adjust to the new tension.
While the new strings can be brought up to the desired pitch, you will need to retune them a few times until they are fully stabilized. We recommend changing each string, one at a time, and most importantly, take your time.
Remove the strings from their packaging and simply uncoil them. There should be a label or color identifying what string is what. If this is not present, the ball end of the string should have identifiable colors.
But, for beginners – the thickest string is the low E, the next thickest is the A, then the D, and the thinnest string is G.
Insert the string through the correct bridge entry (in correspondence with the string). Slowly pull this all the way through but prevent it from grinding against the bridge hole with your finger. Align the string over the bass’ bridge saddle and nut guides.
Make sure you leave no slack and guide the string from the nut guides to the center of the corresponding tuning post. You should have an extra 2 to 3 inches of string from the tuning post which you then bend/crimp at a 90-degree angle.
Now, measure another ½-inch to 1-inch of string from the crimp and simply trim this off with wire cutters.
If any twists have developed from the tightening procedure, remove the string from the tuning post and push around 4-inches to 5-inch back out through the bass’ bridge.
Now, reinsert the cut end of the string into the running post before realigning it on the nut and bridge saddle.
Turn the bass’ tuning key to tighten the string. Make sure the string is pushed down along the guitar’s post as you wind the tuning peg. Continue to turn the tuning key.
As the ball end reaches the bridge, adjust the string to ensure it isn’t twisted or has gone slack. Continue to turn the tuning key until the ball end is tightly secure against the bridge.
The strings will continuously go out of tune after restringing due to the new tension. To combat this, you should stretch the strings along the entire length of each one. This will stabilize the pitch. Tune, stretch and repeat a few times.
And that’s how you restring a bass guitar!