Bass String Favorites – Bass Musician Magazine Writers and Readers Share Their Top Choices… When we reached out to Bass Musician Magazine staff, as well as our readers (via Facebook) about their favorite bass strings, we were overwhelmed with responses!
Staff and readers weighed in on strings including Ernie Ball, D’Addario, La Bella, GHS, DR, Lakland, DarkHorse, SIT, Music Man, Elixir, Aurora, Sadowsky, R. Cocco, Elites, Pyramid Gold, Thomastik-Infeld and Pirastro Original Flat Chromes.
After reading through all of the submissions, this is what we found out…
1… Bass Players are obsessive about gear and like talking about it (but we knew this already)
2… Bassists have strong opinions when it comes to gear
3… There are no across the board ‘winners’ when it comes to strings, as each player dabbles and tweaks to fit their unique situation, style and bass (or in most cases, BASSES)
We thought we would share a sampling of the responses we received, which include not only the bass strings players chose, but the ‘why’ as well… (And yes, some are endorsees of the strings they use… but we will assume that bass players ONLY endorse what they dig.)
And note, BMM Staff Writer Maureen Pandos, a Portland, OR based Luthier, who specializes in double bass, has done an entire article on best double bass strings… check it out!
If you missed the opportunity to weigh-in on your favorite bass strings, or have comments or questions about the ones listed, check out the end of this article!
Bass String Favorites
ERIC PARSONS / BMM STAFF WRITER
My main basses are Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 5 strings; one is fretted and the other is fretless. I use Ernie Ball Regular Slinkys Round Wounds on the fretted, .045 to .130 – they work well with most styles of music and are reasonably priced. I use D’Addario Nylon Tapewounds (ETB92-5) on the fretless, .050 to .135 – I love these strings, they sound as liquidy-smooth as they feel. If you play fretless, you owe it to yourself to try a set out.
D’Addario Chromes Medium Gauge; offer all the benefits of flats with a round sound if you want it.
Oh yeah, on the Ernie Ball Cobalt Hybrids, they do what they hype them up to do.
If you watch the above video they are louder, brighter and they last. I have had a set on one bass since February 2012, when I was able to get them. They are still kicking butt!
IGOR SAAVEDRA / BMM STAFF WRITER
My favorite strings are La Bella; they’ve been making strings since 1640, where they started in the small town of Salle in the Abruzzi region of Italy before moving to NY in 1913… their longevity is a huge point for me. I have been an endorsee since 2005, and have my own model La Bella Igor Saavedra Signature Bass Single Strings for South American distribution. These strings are the classic Stainless Steel model, but the cool thing about my model is that they can be purchased by the unit/gauge, always with an orange color on the headstock end. I love the sound they provide, reliable, bright & long lasting. As you know I play an 8-string bass tuned from high to low F-C-G-D-A-E-B-F#, and my chosen gauges are .020 – .025 – .035 – .050 – .060 – .080 – .100 – .125. Isn’t that crazy!
BRADLEY RUSSELL / BMM STAFF WRITER
La Bella Hard Rockin Steel Bass Strings (M40 Round); the slightly lighter gauge makes these strings very flexible for bending and tapping. Great bright tone, but not too brittle with a nice warmth to the tone!
JONATHAN MOODY / BMM STAFF WRITER
My favorite strings are Progressives from GHS. They have a good mix of articulation and clarity as well as a solid low fundamental. Plus, they can really growl, when needed!
GHS Precision Stainless Steel Flatwounds! They are awesomely silk-smooth to my fingers, tone is even across all strings, warm tone, lots of low-end punch, warm mids, highs are just right not too bright, clear tones not muddy, just the right tension, stay in tune forever, they last forever, consistent high quality, priced low enough that anyone can afford and they are made right here in Battle Creek, Michigan USA!
MAUREEN PANDOS / BMM STAFF WRITER
Pirastro Original Flat Chromes, because that’s what my teacher Homer Mensch loved and I listened to him without question. (Remember to check out Maureen’s full article on bass strings!)
BRAD HOUSER / BMM STAFF WRITER
I use and endorse DR Brand Strings, DDT rounds 45-105, 130 b string; they last forever, and are just right with a nice ‘heft’ to each note. Also DR Legend Flats; they are ‘flexier’ than standard flats and I love them on my Reverend 5-string. On my Lakland hollow-body, Lakland Flats are primo… perfect, although DR Flats are close.
Álvaro Martín Gómez Acevedo
The DR Hi-Beams are the best strings I’ve played. First, I prefer steels to nickels. Second, there are lots of great steel strings in the market, but none of them has both the smooth feel and longevity of the Hi-Beams, in my opinion and experience, of course.
DR Strings Black Beauties. I’ve been using them since they first came out, replacing Hi-Beams. I find them to be very consistent, and to offer great tone, but that’s just me! BTW, in the interests of openness… I should mention I’ve endorsed them for almost a decade. But I’ve played them for something like 20 years.
For the Warwick Corvette, I love DR Low Rider Nickel Plated. I’m still trying to find the right strings for the MTD with maple neck. (ANY SUGGESTIONS?)
JAIME VAZQUEZ / BMM STAFF WRITER
SIT Strings Rock Brights Medium Light (45-65-85-105), I love them! Why? First, SIT Strings guarantees your strings to Stay-In-Tune and provide unsurpassed brilliance and bendability! Second, their exclusive construction process gives you an amazing brightness, great feel, volume, longevity and a lot of punch for all applications. Third, Rock Brights are my sound; I am an SIT endorsee.
DarkHorse Strings Stainless Steel Light Round Wounds… Absolutely love the sound, feel, and longevity of them; I haven’t found a better string since I started playing over 25 years ago. For me the thing that jumps out the most are the harmonics, they sing! The strings have a very vibrant midrange as well. The DarkHorse Strings Nickel Round Wounds did a great job on the fretless I had as well.
JIMI DURSO / BMM STAFF WRITER
For my Fender bass guitar, I use GHS Boomers, 50-gauge. I like the brightness, which lets my lines cut, and the thick gauge give me a heaviness, which keeps it functioning like a bass. Since I often perform as a bass/drums duo, this also allows the bass to fill more of the sonic spectrum, so other instruments aren’t missed. Twang!
Aurora Strings are my favorites. They have fantastic tone out of the package and hold it for a very long time. The coating on the strings is incredibly durable, even after a year of use not even a scratch on it, and I’m a fairly aggressive pick player. Plus they come in so many great colors!
Now let’s hear from YOU… what are your favorite bass strings and why?
Let’s keep the conversation going! Do you see your favorites? If so, share why YOU like them. If your bass strings missed the list thsi time around, add your favorites below. And feel free to ‘agree to disagree’ as we like good bass conversation and camaraderie; there is always something new to learn, try or tweak.
Oh, and any bass string suggestions for Joseph’s MTD with the maple neck?
Executive Editor, Bass Musician Magazine