Bass guitar strings are an essential part of any bassist’s setup. They provide the foundation for all the bass lines and tones that you create. They come in a variety of gauges, materials and construction types, each of which has its own unique sound and feel. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know which strings are best for your style of playing.
This blog post contains my subjective personal opinions for different bass strings that I’ve tried. Strings in each category are ordered by my subjective preference.
Steel round wound strings
Steel strings sound a little scooped, die faster and eat up frets faster than nickels. I use them on my active Jazz Bass for funk and metal.
Dunlop Marcus Miller Super Bright Steel (45-125): They provide the sound you would expect from their endorser. Bright, bouncy and crisp.
Nickel round wound strings
Nickels are generic, all-around strings which can match any situation. I use them on my PJ bass for pop and rock. Coated strings last longer, but may sound a little muted and may cause ground noise when moving the fingers through strings – I don’t like them.
Dunlop Nickel Wound (45-125): A very balanced string set with a strong sound. Not the brightest string ever, but still bright and articulate enough. Has a 130 version too.
Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (45-130): Overall, sounds good – especially the B string. Has a crispy, lively sound. E and A strings are a bit loose for my taste; but this helps with finger stamina on long gigs.
D’addario NYXL (45-125): I love the sound of those strings. Sounds very full, maybe a little metallic with slightly subdued highs and an emphasis on low mids. Lasts about 3 months before starting to lose top end. Their tension is a bit high on high action, but they feel OK on low action.
Fender 7250 Nickel (45-125): Great all around strings. Lasts about 3 months before starting to lose top end. Tension is neither too loose nor too tight.
Dunlop Super Bright Nickel (45-105): The name is misleading, they are not extremely trebly strings. They rather have a very clear articulation and top-end. The problem is, their tension is too low. My left hand likes them, but my right hand feels like I’m playing through rubbers.
Flat wound strings
Flatwound strings lack top end, but sound fuller. Good for a vintage sound, bad for modern. I use them on my P bass for latin and jazz.
Dunlop Stainless Steel Flatwound (45-125): Those are the perfect flat wound strings for me. They sound bright, feel very balanced, string-to-string tension is similar and neither too tight nor too loose.
D’addario Chromes (45-100): They are bright sounding flats. However; they are too stiff to my liking.
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