How to Change Strings on a Bass Guitar

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
A brief guide that is very simple and shows you a quick way to change the strings on your bass guitar. After you have done it once you will never forget how.

Steps

  1. Examine the head of your guitar. Note how the strings come off the grooves in the nut at the top of the neck, pass or bypass holders and the direction that they wrap around the tuners. This is very important for tone. You should have no less than 2 wraps around each tuner but no more than can fit around the tuner without overlapping.
  2. Loosen the first string via the tuner until the wraps on the winder begin to visibly relax. You can either take all the strings off at once and put new ones in all together, or do them one at a time. Most people prefer to change them one by one because it will keep the neck safer. I, however like to take it all off and put new ones in because you can clean your fretboard more easily. But that is your choice.
  3. Once the string is loose enough, pull it from the tuner. It will be bent on the end where it was stuck into the tuner.
  4. Pull the string out either through the bridge or the body, depending on your particular bass. Sometimes it will be difficult to grasp the end of the string to pull it out, so alternatively begin by pushing the string out then pulling.
  5. Clean the revealed portion of your bass guitar neck with a soft cloth or towel. There are MANY treatments available to clean your guitar with, pick whichever is your favorite.
  6. Note if the old string had the correct amount of winds around the tuner, use it as a template for cutting the new string of the same gauge to length. If not, it still can be used to guide you in cutting the length of the new string.
  7. Pull the new string of the same gauge through your bridge assembly in the exact manner you removed it. Be careful not to damage the guitar finish. Pull the string completely through the bridge before laying it on the nut.
  8. Thread the string through and around guides, if any, being careful not to damage the string. Finely wound or strings with coatings can be nicked or bent easier than one might think.
  9. Pull the string taut, tighter if you want but tension is not necessary here. Wrap it around the tuner until there is about an inch left.
  10. Examine the wraps on the tuner; they should not be overlapping, but laying side-by-side nicely. Correct it if necessary.
  11. Bend the end and poke it into the center of the tuner. Make sure not to put the tip in before wrapping if possible, since doing this will twist the string and can lower its integrity and sound quality.
  12. Hold the end in the tuner and turn the key until it begins to pull tight, and bring it in close to tuned; a final tuning will be performed after all strings have been unstrung and restrung. There should be at least two complete wraps present on the tuner, but still no more than can fit on without overlapping. The new string should sit on the bass just as the old one did.
  13. Replace the rest of the strings following the previous steps.
  14. Tune your bass guitar and play!

Video

Tips

  • Always unwind your strings, never cut them. Get a string good and loose before removing it.
  • Always proceed from a string on the edge of the neck through to the last. Never start in the middle.
  • If you have a monorail bridge, the easiest way to remove the ball end of a string is by bringing the string perpendicular to the body, pushing it in, sliding it towards the bottom of the bridge a bit, then pulling it out gently. The string saddle may try to also lift out, but do not allow it. Either hold it in gently while pulling on the string, or wiggle the string a bit until it becomes loose from the string saddle. Otherwise, the string saddle will be damaged and useless!
  • Make sure your strings will be long enough. Compare your replacements one by one with the old strings.
  • Count the wraps on your winders for each of your strings. If there are less than 2, then you should extend your strings 1 or 2 inches. View your strings side by side to compare them and see if you need to make them longer.
  • All strings stretch over time. They become thinner when they do and thats one reason why your sound changes. New strings stretch that initial bit faster because they have never been under tension. After replacing your strings it is normal to need to retune your guitar after playing some.
  • Never attempt to adjust the bridge unless you know what you are doing or youll need to have your intonation reset.
  • Normal strings should be changed about monthly, depending on amount of use. Coated strings will last a while longer.
  • If you would like to extend your strings lifespan, then keep your bass in a case, or buy coated strings. Strings left exposed oxidize faster and lose their tone sooner.
  • Try different brands of strings until you find the ones that fit your style and budget; different strings can have drastically different tones.
  • Experiment with different wind types and compositions like nickel plated or steel. Also, flat wound strings will give a more traditional bassy tone and are usually used on fretless basses; whereas round wound strings will give a more trebley tone and are usually used on fretted basses.
  • Use a pencil to rub a little graphite around each string slot. Graphite is a very slippery substance and will allow your string to glide up and down the slot smoothly and avoid some bass tuning issues.

Warnings

  • Cutting strings puts awkward twisting forces on the neck.
  • Make sure that you buy strings of the right scale length. If you are not sure what the right length is, search the internet for information or ask the salesman at the music store what length your particular bass requires.
  • Be careful removing strings. They CAN and WILL poke you, trust me on this one.
  • Be careful not to damage the nut on your guitar or youll be using the Wiki on how to replace your nut!
  • Due to the amount of tension the bass neck normally resists, do not remove all the strings at once, since this can severely damage the neck components including the truss rod and wood.
  • Do not mess with your truss rod unless you know what you are doing. You can easily split the neck of your guitar!
  • Using round wound strings on a fretless bass can groove and damage the fingerboard over time, so stick with flat wound strings.

Things You Will Need

  • Your Bass guitar.
  • A new set of strings.
  • Clean, dry cloth towel.
  • Your preferred cleaning treatment.

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Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Change Strings on a Bass Guitar. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



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