Knowing When to Change the Strings on Your Bass Guitar
8 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Maintaining a Bass Guitar
Some bassists think that you don’t need to change strings on a bass guitar until they unravel (the strings, not the bassists), but to keep your bass working properly, you need to know when to change the strings. If the strings are never changed, eventually the only sound you’ll get out of them will be a dull thud.
The fact is, bass strings need to be changed regularly. The dirt from your fingers and dust particles from the air wear them out. In addition, they get metal fatigue from being under constant tension. (Hey, come on! Don’t you get fatigued when you’re under constant tension?) Old strings lose their brightness and sustain, get sticky, and become hard to tune.
Here are some clues that a change is necessary:
The strings show wear and tear. You can see dark spots or rust spots along the strings.
The strings sound dull and lifeless. Dull and lifeless strings don’t sustain. Also, hearing an exact pitch and playing a harmonic for tuning are both difficult.
The strings feel sticky and stiff. Unless you eat a cinnamon roll before playing your bass, this is a sure sign of trouble.
Jimmy Carter was president when you last changed your strings, or you just can’t remember when you changed them last.