Welcome to our bass string buyers guide. Here, we review the best bass guitar strings and share our thoughts on each top contender. You’ll also find information about how to understand bass strings and apply this information to make a better choice of strings. Use the table of contents below to skip to a specific set of strings.
Bass guitar strings reviewed:
- GHS Bass Boomers
- Rotosound Swing Bass 66
- D’Addario EXL160
- Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats
- Dean Markley Blue Steel
- Elixir Nickel Plated Nanoweb
- D’Addario Chromes
- DR Black Beauties
- Ernie Ball Super Slinky
- D’Addario ETB92
- Dunlop DBN45105
- DR Strings Fat Beams
- Fender Super Bass 7250
Our Top Choice - GHS Bass Boomers
GHS strings have been a big name since the ‘60s, and their bass strings are still some of the best around. Their selection of strings for guitar and bass guitar is vast, and the bass boomers are a famous flagship of theirs. They’re available in many string gauges and scale lengths, and there are options for five and six string bass guitars. The formula is a classic roundwound ‘power string’ with nickel-plated steel winding on a strengthened core. This provides a thick, rich tone with a long sustain.
The tone, sustain, and longevity of these strings make them very versatile. Being roundwound, they’re bright and punchy enough for things like metal and funk, but they’re not too exaggerated to suit virtually any other genre. When you play a note, the rich resonance rings out slowly, which is essential for slower songs and gives a more powerful sound in general.
You’ll find bass boomers on many renowned bass players’ instruments, and the best example is Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He even has his own signature version of the Bass Boomers with a custom 105 gauge. If you want to emulate his sound, this is the way to go, and most Bass Boomers come very close as well. These are the best bass guitar strings for slapping and popping. On top of the bright, balanced tone, the durability of these strings is a big factor in this conclusion. You’ll have to try hard to break one of these strings, and they will sound great for a very long time with regular cleaning.
If you get one of the thicker gauges, you’ll get the perfect tone for rock and metal.Pros:
- Solid quality
- Popular tone you’ll recognize from many world-class bassists
- Powerful yet balanced, versatile sound
- Roundwound power strings aren’t very beginner-friendly
These are some of the best bass guitar strings for technical bass playing and lively riffs. Whether it’s fusion jazz, funk, or extreme metal that makes you come alive as a bassist, you’ll have a great time with a set of Bass Boomers.
Rotosound Swing Bass 66
Few things are as annoying as getting drowned out by the rest of the band. The rich, metallic tone of these stainless steel strings will make sure that doesn’t happen. They played a big role in redefining the sound of rock n roll and bringing the bass from the background to the front of the soundscape.
The hard-hitting, articulate tone has a nice shimmer that lets you cut through busy arrangements. They have almost piano-like overtones, but it’s not too harsh to where you can’t tame it with your tone knob if you need to stick in the background for a while. It’s a very versatile sound, although you may not like how it sounds in the context of more vintage-sounding music.
Strings like these are very hard for beginners to play. It takes a lot of precision, finger strength, and thick calluses. They’re a better fit for the experienced bassist who wants superb sound. If you like slapping and popping your strings, you’ll love these ones. They have the punch and crunch to make such technical riffing sound loud and clear. They’re durable and hold their tone well.
Famous bassists who use these strings include John Entwistle of The Who and the Rush frontman Geddy Lee. You’ve heard these strings on a variety of albums, from Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to Oasis.
The RS66LD has a 45-105 string gauge, but you can get Swing Bass 66 bass strings in a vast variety of string gauges and scale lengths. There are also five- and six-string options. A regular set is very affordable, and you get a lot of sound for the price.Pros:
- Clear, powerful tone
- Strong and built to last
- Good price
- Can be hard to play
Swing bass 66 is a true classic that’s stood the test of time. They’re a great value option, and probably the best strings for rock n roll of various kinds.
If you’re looking for a classic, warm bass tone with a fat low end, you’ve found an ideal candidate. The D’Addario EXL160 bass guitar strings will give you that rounded, booming bass rumble you’ve heard and loved on many famous records.
D’Addario’s top-selling bass guitar strings draw their bass-heavy power from the roundwound nickel construction. They’re ideal for long-scale bass guitars, and you’ll get a fat tone with a powerful fundamental even from the medium gauge set. The 110 gauge string set will give you more of that goodness, and more overall power. That’s not to say that the strings lack brightness. There’s a rich harmonic presence, but it’s more subdued than that of the Bass Boomers. It’s less of an in-your-face sound, and perfectly suited for blues and old school rock. This places EXL160 among the best bass guitar strings for bassists who stick more to the background of the soundscape.
The digital winding grants optimal intonation and consistency, and the overall build quality and character make them a good choice for almost any playing style and genre. Compared to many other roundwound strings, the EXL160 bass strings are quite easy on the fingers. So if you’re a beginner with soft fingers, or a seasoned jam band veteran whose gigs tend to get really long, these nickel-wound strings are very convenient. And even with long daily bass playing sessions, these strings will last you for a long time. This makes them rather budget friendly, and the price itself isn’t bad either.
Balance is the name of the game for the EXL160 strings. Quality meets affordability and playability meets power. Despite being roundwound nickel strings, they won’t give you the traditional, deep and dull bass tone many associate with this type of string. It’s a more balanced and versatile tone that’s better-suited for a modern soundscape while still having a “classic” vibe. If you really crave the simpler, booming vintage sound, you may want to look at a different set of bass strings.Pros:
- Fat, bass-heavy tone
- Holds a tuning very well
- Great price
- These strings may not be bright enough to let your bass cut through a rich soundscape
These strings are surprisingly versatile. They can fulfill all your bass string needs, unless you’re in a band that plays very complex music and you risk being drowned out. They’re still probably the best bass guitar strings under $15.
Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats
This is the quintessential jazz bass string. Flatwound nickel-alloy strings with a silky smooth surface, created by the uncrowned kings of flatwound bass strings. The tension is light and slinky compared to many other flatwounds.
TI Jazz flats produce a beautiful tone that’s warm and rich, brighter than most flats. And many jazz bassists claim that the tone gets better as the strings age and it approaches a more typical mellow flatwound harmonic profile. Don’t pay too much attention to the name, though. These are among the very best bass guitar strings for soul, RnB, and anything old-school. They’re more versatile than the name implies. However, if you crave a powerful, punchy mid-range and a shimmering treble, you may not like these strings. It has more of a mellow, slinky, thumping sound to it.
Sliding and bending notes is so easy and comfortable with strings like these. If good playability is what matters most to you, these strings are an ideal pick. I wouldn’t recommend them to beginners, however, due to the quite high price. These are high-quality strings for bassists who know what they want.
TI Jazz Flatwound strings are available in scale lengths from 30” to 36” and the string gauge varied depending on the length. The long-scale version has a string gauge of 43-100. There are also five- and six-string sets, where the lowest string is 136. Despite the massive diameter, even this string is pretty slinky and easy to bend.Pros:
- Very easy and comfortable to play
- Nice jazzy tone
- Available for six-stringers
If you want the perfect strings for jazz and similar music, you’ve found your best choice. These are the best strings for fretless bass guitars.
Dean Markley Blue Steel
The name gives you a basic idea of what these strings are all about, but there’s more to it. The strings are made from pure stainless steel, which has been cryogenically frozen to enhance the durability and tonal qualities of the strings. The construction of these strings stands out in a couple of ways. First of all, the core wire is smaller and more flexible than the typical bass string core wire, which makes it easier to play the strings. This is one of the advantages of the compound winding of these strings.
Compound winding means there are multiple layers of winding wire, up to four layers on the heaviest gauge, and the layers alternate directions. This makes the surface smoother. Strings smaller than 050 gauge have ordinary single winding, bigger ones have an additional layer. At 095 yet another layer is added, and from 120 and up there are four winding layers. Four-string sets come in gauges from extra light to extra medium, while five-string sets range from light to medium.
Another advantage of this unusual design is the durability. These strings last forever, more or less. All of this would be pointless if the strings didn’t sound great, but they sure do. The tone is rich, bright, and very punchy. When they’re brand new, the brightness can be quite intense, but it will be reduced to a beautiful shimmer before long. And that tone will stay consistent for a really long time. It’s the kind of tone you can use for almost any kind of music, but where it really shines is in rock and metal where that shimmer is essential to standing out. These strings are also ideal for slapping and popping due to their punchy tone.
While they’re not exactly cheap, their longevity and brilliant sound make them more than worth the price. Many people who tried these strings on won’t buy any other bass strings. They’re often called the best bass guitar strings for five string bass.Pros:
- Superb quality and durability
- Rich, punchy tone
- Smoother surface due to compound winding
If top-quality strings with a bright tone are your thing, consider the Blue Steel bass strings. They’re some of the best bass guitar strings around in all regards, but they’re a bit of an investment.
Elixir Nickel Plated Nanoweb
Elixir strings are famous for their special coating. The nanoweb coating on these particular ones provide a smoother feel for faster playing, and a brighter tone as well. Most importantly, however, it extends the life of the string. Since dirt and corrosion can’t get to the string, it will retain its crisp tone for much longer. So the higher-than-average cost will be worth it in the long run even for musicians with a tighter budget, since you won’t be changing strings as often.
The strings themselves are ordinary roundwound strings with a nickel plated steel winding on a hex core. The sound is warm with enough brightness to make it really musical. Another benefit of the coating is that it attenuates fret noises and hissing artifacts when you play. It’s a little bit muffled compared to those bright roundwound power strings, but bright compared to a flatwound set. The sound is clean and powerful and works for every kind of music, but excel most in rock and country music.
The downside of coated strings like this is that once the coating starts wearing off, the sound will become uneven and messy. But it will take a long time, you can expect these strings to last for about a year. They’re long-scale strings and available in super light, light, light medium, and medium string gauge. There’s also a five-string option. Thus, they’re a viable option for most bassists, since the overall sound is also versatile.
When it comes to coated strings, Elixir strings is the most trusted brand, and for good reason. They pioneered the concept and have kept developing top-quality strings and coating materials over a long time. Famous bassists who use Elixirs include John Paul Jones as well as Nate Watts who’s most famous for his work with Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross.Pros:
- They stay good for a long time
- Clean, balanced, versatile tone
- Easy on your fingers
- Not the most lively-sounding strings
These strings are easy to play, sound good, and last for a long time, so they’re a great choice for most bassists. If you really don’t like changing strings, these might be the best bass guitar strings for you.
The flatwound Chromes are a bit special, because they don’t sound like the typical flatwound bass strings. Rather than a dirty thud, it has a nice brightness and bite to it. It still has that flatwound bass growl to it, but it has some of the harmonics associated with roundwound strings. So it’s a great choice for those who want to try flatwound strings but aren’t quite sure about their preferences. Or for flatwound players who want a bit more brightness, but not too much.
The smooth, shiny surface both looks and feels great. This makes sliding notes a breeze, and there’s not much unwanted noise from the string. This is ideal for fretless bass, and the chromes are perhaps the best bass guitar strings for jazz bassists. They’re not the most flexible of strings, but the tension is nice and balanced, and the lower gauges aren’t very stiff. Due to the smooth, flat winding, these strings don’t put as much stress on your fingers. This makes them some of the best bass strings for kids and beginners. Unlike typical flatwounds, the Chromes have a flat steel ribbon wrapped around a smaller roundwound gauge. Almost like a tapewound design.
With a wide selection of string gauges, and scale lengths ranging from short to super long-scale, they’re a great pick for any bassist interested in flatwounds. And, best of all, they have five-string options. Good flatwound strings for five-stringers are few and far between, but these will satisfy most anyone who’s interested in this configuration.
Longevity is one of the greatest advantages of these strings. With proper care, they can last for years without intonation problems or significant loss of tonal integrity. The tasteful brightness and strong fundamental stay strong, maintaining what almost sounds like a mid-scooped bass tone. This quality makes the Chromes great for slapping and popping, which can’t be said about many other flatwound strings. D’Addario Chromes are almost a category of their own.Pros:
- Beginner friendly
- Nice brightness compared to other flatwounds
- Strong, long-lasting design
- A bit expensive
Bassists who want the convenience of flatwounds without sacrificing all the zing of roundwound strings will love the Chromes. If you’re looking for typical flatwounds with a more dull tone, these aren’t the ones for you.
DR Strings Black Beauties
Old-fashioned craftsmanship meets innovative, modern design in these beautiful bass strings from DR strings. They’re most famous for their handmade strings and they’ve been doing it since ’89. These particular ones are special due to their special coating. In addition to giving them a cool, black color, these additions give the strings a different overall sound.
Don’t let what you may have heard about coated strings deter you from giving the Black Beauties a chance. The unique K3 coating doesn’t have a negative impact on the sound. If anything, it improves it. Many bassists report a louder and clearer tone than what they’ve experienced with typical uncoated strings. It still has the positive effects of coating as well, extending the lifespan of the strings and reducing harsh overtones. And of course, the black coating makes your bass look more badass.
The strings are available in light, medium, and heavy gauge. For the heavy gauge, you can choose between taper or no taper. There are also light and medium five-string sets and a medium 6-string set. This fact hints at a very versatile string, and that is also the case. The balanced, high-quality tone of these nickel-plated steel wound strings work for every kind of music. Famous users include U2’s Adam Clayton, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, and Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster. So it can be anything between mellow and fierce, depending on what you like.
The coating is thinner than average, which is part of why it doesn’t impact the sound as much. They’re still smoother than uncoated strings, and similar in many ways to the classic Elixir strings.Pros:
- Enhanced longevity and playability due to coating
- Versatile, balanced tone
- Handmade and stylish
- Due to the plastic coating, they may be a little harder to play when it’s hot and humid
This is the perfect string set for those who want a happy medium between coated and uncoated strings. If you’re looking for something more like Elixirs, these are not your best choice. All in all, many would consider these the best bass guitar strings for metal bassists.
Ernie Ball Super Slinky Bass
Since its beginning in the early ‘60s, Ernie Ball has played a big role in the evolution of strings for guitar and bass. Their Slinky line is extremely popular, and you have without a doubt heard it on a plethora of records. These bass strings are popular across the genres, from The Eagles to Blink 182, and from Tool to Maroon 5. This is a testament to their versatility and well-balanced sound.
The Super Slinky is one of the best-selling nickel-plated bass strings in the world. It’s a lighter string with gauges of 40, 60, 75, and 95. In the five-string set, there’s an additional 125 gauge string. Being so thin, they’re very easy to play, making them ideal for beginners and for those who love to play complex technical riffs and chords. They consist of a nickel-plated steel winding on a high carbon steel hex core. So the overall tone is rich and balanced, offering plenty of treble without sounding weak in the low end. The nickel surface is easy on the fingers and reduces the wear and tear on your fretboard. All these qualities, along with the affordable price, make the Super Slinkies the best bass guitar strings for beginners and casual players.
All those decades of high-profile string making show through in these strings. Their tone is crisp and punchy, and the balanced sound lets you play chords without causing an ugly, muddy rumble. They’re the best lightest gauge strings on the list, and the best bass guitar strings for light string gauge enthusiasts.
The Slinky bass strings are very similar in most regards, and many would prefer the slightly heavier Regular Slinky strings over the Super Slinky. It’s a matter of taste, and it’s best to take a closer look at both.Pros:
- Beginner friendly
- Versatile, balanced tone
- Best light gauge bass string
- Light string gauge means a weaker sound and less durable strings
If you want something that’s affordable, versatile, and easy to play, you’ve found the right string. Especially if you play an Ernie Ball bass guitar. If you want a heavier gauge, you’ll be better off with a set of Power Slinky or Hybrid Slinky strings.
D’Addario ETB92 Nylon Tapewound
The only tapewound string on the list. Tapewounds are more specialized and not as widely used. If you find that ordinary strings feel and/or sound too harsh, tapewound strings are what you’re looking for. The nylon wrapped around these D’Addario strings makes them smooth and subdues the sound.
They’re among the best bass guitar strings for beginners, because the surface is so smooth that hurting fingers and fret noise won’t be much of a problem. The sound is a bit muffled compared to ordinary strings, a mellow thud with shorter sustain and reduced upper harmonics. It’s still a rich tone with plenty of articulation, just a bit toned down, making them some of the best bass guitar strings for jazz. Smooth is the word. You can still get a nice punch out of them if you play harder. They’re quite responsive and dynamic.
Tapewound strings have more advantages as well. First of all, the tape helps protect the string and extend its lifespan. It also protects your fretboard from the grating effect of bare metal strings.
ETB92 strings fit all normal scale lengths, and there is a five-string option. The medium string gauge set has diameters of .050, .065, .085, and .105.Pros:
- Nylon wrap reduces wear and tear
- Beginner friendly
- Attenuates various noises from imprecise playing
- You risk being drowned out in busy musical arrangements
If you like the bass to gel with the music and stick in the background, these tapewound bass strings are an ideal choice.
When you think of Dunlop, bass strings are probably not the first things that come to mind. But these nickel-wound strings deserve more recognition. The tone is well-rounded and even, with a clear distinction between the lowest notes. And they have a smooth surface for easier fretting.
The strings are even in volume and harmonics, and more responsive than many other strings. Depending on the force and the way you pick the string, you get a different tone and output. This is true for all strings, of course, but some are more responsive than others. The tone is balanced and warm in general, with a powerful fundamental, as is typical for nickel strings. They produce enough overtones to cut through any soundscape, without sounding too aggressive.
If you’re a casual bass player with sensitive fingers, you’ll like the feel of these strings. The smooth nickel winding is gentle on your fingertips, even compared to many other strings of the same general type. And all strings feel the same, except for the thickness. This makes things easier for beginners, since adapting to the different feel of each string can be a bit of a challenge. There are six string gauge options to choose from, the lightest is 45-100 and the heaviest is 60-120.
If round nickel strings are your type of string, you’ll enjoy these a lot.Pros:
- Clean, powerful tone
- Easy to play
- Good selection of string gauge
- Somewhat shorter lifespan
If you like classic nickel strings, this is a high-quality option that won’t disappoint. Probably the best strings for acoustic bass guitars.
DR Strings Fat-Beams
Handmade, compressionwound stainless steel strings with a round core. The sound of these strings is rich, deep and, well, fat. Since the strings are made by humans and not machines, you can be sure that any error that may have occurred during production was noticed and corrected. So these are top quality bass strings.
They bring out the lows and produce a rich midrange with a long sustain, and just the right amount of treble to stand out in a crowded mix without sounding too metallic. They have a subtle piano-like character to them, but not too much. If you like a punchy low end and a rich midrange, you’ll love the fat tone of these strings. The playability is nice as well, being compressionwound they combine the smoothness of flatwounds with the precision or roundwounds.
Fat beams are, as the name implies, quite thick strings. But not too thick. The light gauge is .100 while the medium is .105 gauge. There are five- and six-string options as well. All made from the finest American stainless steel. The consistency and balance between strings are great. Fat Beams fit all long-scale basses.
They’re a very agreeable price considering the quality. Some of the best bass guitar strings under $20.Pros:
- High-quality handmade strings
- Powerful, versatile tone
- Good price
- May not last as long as more expensive options
If you like a fat, balanced tone for your bass and you can’t choose between winding type, this is the string for you. Fat Beams are among the best compressionwound strings on the market.
Fender Super Bass 7250
No list of strings is complete without an entry from Fender. This set of nickel-plated steel roundwound bass strings are simply great-sounding bass strings that work for almost any purpose. No bells and whistles, only a great execution of a timeless design.
The sound is crisp and punchy with plenty of dynamic output, owing to the combination of steel and nickel. The combination gives the strings a nicer feeling than pure steel strings, while retaining most of the brilliant tone. If you’ve ever bought a proper Fender bass, you’ve probably played these strings since it’s often their stock strings. And you were probably impressed by their tone, compared to the cheap stock strings on most bass guitars. They have a nice growl to them, making them ideal for funk and rock.
The lightest gauge is 40-95, and the heaviest is 58-110. The lighter ones offer a very high playability without sacrificing too much tone, but some users report that they break faster than average. However, these strings are pretty cheap, so it won’t be a problem.
There’s not much else to say about these strings, they’re quite typicalPros:
- Balanced tone
- Not the best string quality
These strings are versatile, easy to play, and affordable, so they’re some of the best bass guitar strings for beginners.
Selecting The Best Bass Guitar Strings
From simple pulses to funky bass riffs, the bass is the main driving element of a musical piece. Just like the bass groove lays the foundation of a song’s character, so does the bass tone itself. The strings you use play a big role in the sound of your bass guitar. This is why it’s important to pick the best bass guitar strings for your specific needs. Some bass strings offer a brighter and punchier sound that’s great for genres like rock, funk, and metal. Other strings have a fatter, more dull tone that’s better suited for blues, jazz, and reggae. Different strings can also feel quite different when you play them. To beginners, these differences may not be very obvious, but as your hands and ears adapt more to the life of a bassist, you’ll notice them more and more.
Since the strings are such an important factor in the overall bass tone, there are many different types of strings. They differ in thickness, materials, and even shape. Many manufacturers offer a multitude of options, and different versions of the same general string type, so it’s important to get a basic understanding of what qualities are good for what. That way, you can make an informed decision and get the very best bass guitar strings for your needs.
It can be a bit overwhelming to try and figure out your specific needs and preferences, but this guide to the best bass guitar strings will make it easy to choose the right strings. Even if you’re new to the bass guitar.
What to Look For in The Best Bass Guitar Strings
There are four key qualities which you want to keep an eye out for when choosing bass strings. They are:
- String gauge
- Scale length
- String core
- Winding and coating
We’ll cover these aspects one by one. Before we get into that, you should give some thought to what genre, tuning, and styles you play. Also, think of your favorite bass players and their bass tones. The way you play and the tone you seek will affect which specific qualities of each aspect make the best bass guitar strings for you.
Here’s a simple, comprehensive breakdown of each factor.
The thickness of bass strings affects both the bass tone and playability. This is called string gauge, and it’s usually measured by the diameter of the low E string (in standard tuning.) A set of medium gauge bass strings has a string gauge of around .105. Sometimes, the gauge is represented by the diameter of both the thinnest and thickest string. For example, 45-100. When it comes to sound quality, thicker strings will produce a thicker, heavier tone. They also lead to higher string tension, which means you need to apply more force when fretting and picking. This can make it hard for beginners to play with high-gauge bass strings, but more experienced players will often prefer thicker strings. It’s also important to note that when you switch from one string gauge to another, your bass guitar neck may need adjustments to accommodate the new level of tension. This means you’ll have to bring it to an expert. It’s also likely that you’ll have to tune your bass more often at first.
String thickness affects tonal characteristics, but it’s the length of the string that’s most important when it comes to pitch. The longer the string, the deeper the pitch. This is why bass guitars are so long compared to most stringed instruments. If you’re a beginner bassist, you may not realize that bass guitars have different scale lengths. This refers to the measurement between the string nut and the bridge. Most bass guitars have a scale length of 34 inches.
If you have a five string bass or extra long scale bass, which is recommended if you’re a metal bassist, you need to make sure that you get strings that are long enough. If you play a short scale bass, which is recommended for children and people with small hands or short arms, you should get short scale strings.
Getting the right scale length is important because you need the right level of tension that your instrument was designed for. In addition, using taperwound strings with the wrong scale length will really mess up the tone.
Bass guitar strings have a fairly simple design, but there are a few different components and the specifics of each one determines how the string sounds and feels. Each string consists of a core wire which has a ferrule or ball end that keeps the string secured to the bridge, and a second wire that’s wound around the core wire. This is the coiled outer layer that you fret and pick. In many cases, there’s an additional coating on the string. Different strings use different materials and structures for each of these components, which affect the sound, playability, and longevity of the strings.
The core is little more than a metal wire with a brass ball in one end. Almost all bass string cores are made of steel. However, it can come in different shapes. The two basic shapes used are round and hexagonal. Round cores have been around longer, but hex cores are more common these days. Thus, the first notable difference between the two is that round cores provide a more vintage tone while hex cores sound more modern. The winding clings better to hexagonal cores, which grants higher tension, a more consistent result, and an overall brighter bass tone. Round cores produce a more dull and balanced sound, and they tend to be more flexible.
Think of the tone you want to achieve, and which type of core matches that description. Now you’re one step closer to finding the best bass guitar strings.
In essence, bass strings are just like guitar strings but much thicker. The windings come in more or less the same varieties. The materials and shapes of the winding will determine the sonic characteristics of your bass sound.
First of all, the winding wire can come in these four different shapes:
Roundwound - This is a plain, round wire wrapped around the core, and it’s the most common bass string winding. Sound-wise, it’s very versatile and balanced and fits more or less any genre. The deep ridges in the string can produce a lot of resistance when playing slide notes, and this can also create a lot of fret noise. Over time, a buildup of skin in the ridges can dull the tone of the string, so it’s a good idea to clean them on a regular basis.
Flatwound - Made by winding a flat wire around the core. This is also quite common on bass strings, and very popular among fretless bass players in particular. The overall tone is warm and mellow with a nice thump, and the smooth feeling makes the strings easier to play. You’ll also experience less fret noise and more ease of play.
Halfwound - In essence, these are roundwound strings that have been ground down to create a middle ground between roundwound and flatwound strings. The tone is warm and the strings feel smooth.
Pressurewound - Instead of grinding the round wire down, compression forces it into the halfwound shape, creating a heavier tone with more punch.
Tapewound - An additional nylon wrap around a roundwound string produces a dampened, thumping sound, a bit like a palm-muted guitar string. These are less common, but they may be the best bass guitar strings for jazz or funk.
Furthermore, the material of the winding wire will affect the clarity and general frequency profile of the string. These are the common materials you’ll find:
Nickel/Steel - The most popular and classic winding material. Its tone has a nice balance of warmth and brightness.
Pure Steel - The second classic winding offers a bright, metallic tone that helps the bass cut through a busy mix. Stainless steel provides extra clarity, which is great for rock and metal. It feels a little harsher on the fingers.
Pure Nickel - Strings with a pure nickel winding produce a much rounder, deeper tone than pure steel. It has a more vintage sound to it and is great for more mellow bass playing. The nickel has a smoother feel.
Copper-plated Steel - The addition of copper adds more intricate harmonics for additional presence and shimmer.
Cobalt - Strings with a cobalt winding offer more clarity and volume for a high-grade modern sound.
Some strings also have an additional coating. The main purpose is to protect the strings from corrosion and general wear and tear. It will also affect the tone and feeling of the string a bit. Elixir strings popularized the polymer-coated bass strings, which is now the most common. These days, most manufacturers offer a version of this design. This coating provides a fatter tone with more sustain but a less powerful fundamental note. Another type of coating you may have seen is color-coating, which is more for the look and feel of the bass guitar strings.
Last but not least, there’s the taper. This is when the last bit of the string that goes over the bridge saddle has less winding. The result is a brighter tone with longer sustain. It’s also important if you’re using heavier string gauges, to ensure that the strings can still fit in the saddles.
Final Thoughts on The Best Bass Guitar Strings
All the strings listed above will make your bass sound great. It’s all a matter of preference, playing style, and skill level. If you want to get the best sound out of your bass, take the time to make an informed decision. We took many different factors into consideration when reviewing these great bass strings, to make sure that you can find what you need.
If you’re not sure what you’re going for, it’s best to buy a few different sets of strings and comparing them yourself. This is the best way to form your own idea of what sounds best to you, and what works best in the context of your music.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced bassist, this list has the right strings for you.