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Bass Guitar Strings - Beginners Buyers Guide

Bass Guitar Strings - Beginners Buyers Guide - We'll ensure you get the correct set first time

Hello and welcome to our beginners buyers guide for bass guitar strings.

If you’re visiting this page, no doubt you are on the hunt for a set of bass strings but a bit baffled by the vast range on offer.  Don’t worry, we’re here to help.  

In this concise jargon free guide, we’ll take you through a simple step by step process to get you the correct length set for your bass guitar.

It’s really important to get the correct length strings because if they are too long or too short, your bass won’t sound at its best and in some cases it can be unplayable.

The bass string landscape can cause a lot of confusion amongst even the most experienced players, so it’s understandable why so many players are concerned about getting the right strings for their bass.  But we’re here to eradicate all confusion and fear.

Let’s get started… 

The main culprit for this bemusement is ‘scale length’.   ‘Scale length’ is a common term used to describe the length of a bass and most basses are categorised into one of four main groups;

Short Scale
Medium Scale
Long Scale and
Extra-Long Scale 


But, this is where the confusion really comes into play because string brands and bass manufacturers don’t follow any strict guidelines on length.  So whilst a particular bass may be considered ‘short scale’, in some instances, certain ‘short scale’ bass sets may not fit due to the dimensions and construction of the bass…. Very confusing, we know!

If this all sounds a bit scary, please don’t worry.  We come across this day in, day out and the best thing you can do is take a specific measurement on your bass before doing anything else.

In order to get the correct length bass strings we always encourage our customers to measure from the ball end of the string all the way up to the headstock side of the nut.   

Below is a step-by-step guide on exactly how and to measure your bass;

Step 1) Grab yourself a tape measure

Step 2) Looking at the current set of strings on your bass, measure from the near side of the ball end all the way up to the headstock side of your top nut (see image below).

*NB* The distance you’ll measure will be the length the strings need to be before any silk wrap or tapering should start.  Ultimately, we want the silk winding or taper to start a short distance beyond the nut.


Measuring your bass string length - Measure from here

Measuring your bass string length - Measure to here


**PLEASE NOTE** If you have a bass where you cannot see the ball end i.e. the ball end is sitting in the body of the bass, you will have to measure your string once it has been removed. 

To accurately do this, before removing the string from the bass, draw a mark on it just behind the nut. Then, once you’ve unwound the string from the machinehead and removed it from the bass, measure from the ball-end up to your marker.   This will be your 'ball end to nut' measurement. 


Mark the string here

A Quick Tip

Before taking the string off your bass, be sure to cut the string beyond your marker and remove the straggly, curly bits from the top of the string.  If left on, there's a risk of the string waving about scratching the body of your bass.  Plus, trying to pull these straggly bits of string through your bass' body is not a pleasant job. 


Finding Your Set

The sets that we have recommended below are all part of the Ernie Ball Slinky range.

Each set is nickel wound and is 45-105 gauge (medium thickness).  This is a very popular combination so these sets will comfortably suit nearly every bass and musical style too.

Ernie Ball makes some of the world's best strings and for good reason.. they sound great and feel great too.  Not to mention they won’t break the bank either.

Countless rock stars play these strings as well so even if you’ve just started out, you can play the exact same strings that they use too!

For these reasons we highly recommend all of these sets as great starting points for your first set of bass strings.


Once you have your measurement, compare this to the information in the first column of the table below.  Then look across to the second column and you'll be shown which set of strings from the recommendations underneath will be the correct set for your bass.  

So long as your measurement is accurate, you’ll find the exact length set of strings you need so be sure to take your time and double check you have taken the correct measurement. 

Your bass measurement and corresponding recommended string set 

Recommended Sets of Strings

Set 1 - Ernie Ball Short Scale Bass Strings - 45-105 - 2852

Set 2 - Ernie Ball Medium Scale Bass Strings - 45-105 - 2856

Set 3 - Ernie Ball Long Scale Hybrid Slinky Bass Strings - 45-105 - 2833

Set 4 - Ernie Ball Super Long Scale Bass Strings - 45-105 - 2849


We sincerely hope this guide has helped given you the confidence to find the bass strings you need.  

As someone new to buying strings, we totally understand that you need assurance that the product you are buying is suitable for the job at hand, top quality and won’t let you down.  That's why we’re confident you’ll be more than satisfied with the sets we have suggested and we're sure they'll help support you as you progress through your bass playing journey.

Of course, if you need any further guidance or have any specific questions, please feel free to get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help you out where we can.

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