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Can old strings make a bass sound worse?

Rebassu
Posts: 5
6 months ago
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hello everyone, I´m a bass beginner, first of all, I want to thank you all for the advice on my first post.
so, I play a bass that has 21 years, that is the bass my stepfather used when he was my age, although the bass sounds fine the strings are the same since like 2 years ago (the last time my stepfather used it) I thought of buying new strings the moment I started playing, but there's a problem, Argentina always had high prices on this kind of products, basically bc of inflation. so I want to know, is it worth it?
LoudLon [moderator]
Posts: 1900
I've had my current bass for seven years and have only changed the strings once. Instead of buying new strings, I just boil the ones I already have. Put them in a pot of water, bring it to a boil, let them boil for about ten minutes, then lay them out on a towel, pat dry them and let them cool off. It doesn't take very long. Do this every six months or so to keep them sounding crisp and clean. Of course you will eventually have to buy some new strings – you can't boil the same ones forever lol – but if you're a cheapskate like me, this is a good trick to know.
Kronisk
Posts: 19
If you are going to try playing professionally at any point, you will need to change strings. There is no way around it. New strings should be put on before any important gig, or any and all recording sessions. That brighter sound just makes everything sound better.

That said, while the bass does not sound as great with old, oil-worn strings as it does with fresh strings, you should not be too concerned with it if you are just playing at home, jamming, or rehearsing.

Because of the price problem, I would advise keeping any pair of strings for as long as you can. I doubt that even rich bassists change strings unless they are playing a gig or recording.
2nick3
Posts: 512
Some bassists, even gigging ones, never change strings. It's a personal preference - some like the sound and feel of old strings, some don't like the sound of their strings once they've broken in. As Kronisk says, a lot of professional players change them regularly - I think because the can. The brighter tone will help cut through the mix in a live setting, but even then it might not be the tone you're looking for.

Some strings last longer than others, as well. Different types, different materials, coatings, they all make a difference.

When they don't feel good to you, or don't sound good to you, or you just want new ones, then it's time to change. That point is different to everyone.

At some point a string can stop holding tune/intonation - then you need new ones for sure.

I went to a show where the bassist had 2 identical basses that he'd switch between. Visually identical. But they sat differently in the mix in the room - there was a definite difference in the sound. I asked him about it after the show, and he said that one has new strings for each gig while the other one has 10 year old strings on it - he's never changed them. For some songs that was the sound he wanted.
Depends on genre and string type. Normally roundwound steel strings are bought for their zingy clarity. This quality will disappear after some time. Nickel flatwounds, on the other hand, are installed for their thumpy tone. This type of strings won't change much over time. Most flatwound players like their strings a little older, or broken in, as we say.
johnny880
Posts: 395
There is a kit at the guitar shop you can buy to restore your strings on all your guitars. But i kinda like Loudlons method…
2nick3
Posts: 512
There's a video on YouTube where the guy suggests pulling the strings straight away from the fretboard around the 12th fret and letting go - basically snapping the string against the frets. It supposedly knocks the gunk out of them and gives you most of the zing back.

There's then the debate in the comments over if that is bad for your frets or not. Or the strings themselves. Fun comment section (OK, now I have to find that video… )

You can hear a difference in the strings when he does it. Of course knocking all of the gunk out of the strings and onto the fretboard seems to just be moving the problem around, but then I remember Jay had a video on cleaning your fretboard without removing the strings, so there you go…

Found it!
I've literally tied strings together before to make them work,use what you got.gather cans recycle them,do whatever to make a few bucks,I'm assuming your too young to work,so now yards or whatever kids do for money in your country,then get online you can find strings really cheap,I just got 2 sets today for under 20$, actually but was off of TALKING BASS.COM, got some diaddario NY XLs for 8.50$ a set
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I've literally tied strings together before to make them work! use what you got for now but upgrade when your able too,gather cans recycle them,do whatever to make a few bucks,I'm assuming your too young to work,so mow yards or whatever kids do for money in your country,then get online you can find strings really cheap,I just got 2 sets today for under 20$, actually but was off of TALKING BASS.COM, got some diaddario NY XLs for 8.50$ a set. A good set of strings will most likely make a huge improvement on how you really feel about the bass

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