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How to Restring your Bass

How to Re-String

Being able to restring your bass is an essential skill....and it is a skill!!! 

Bass Strings dont break unless something has gone wrong when installing them. They are manufactured under tension and the only way to break a new string is to basically over tension it. 

We have seen lquite a few customers break strings and none more so than during the "Great Covid re-string" period where everyone was restringing their old basses. We do around 20 restrings a day...thats 100 a week, 5200 a year.....we've been here 30 years...thats 156,000 restrings......the number of strings that we've broken whilst restringing....about 5....Strings dont break when installed correctly, they break when something has gone wrong in the re-string process...see below.   

Common Catastophic Mistakes

Overtensioning/Overtuning the string 

Use a Tuner and make sure you are not over tensioning the string or mistakenly tuning to an octave above the note that you are actually looking for. This will result in breakage. This is an incredibly common mistake. 

Turning the Wrong machine Head

This is a common mistake, you are looking down at your strings whilst turning a machine head...but you are "turning the D tuner rather than the A"....Your electronic tuner says you are no where near in tune but the string you are actually tuning is overtensioned and about to snap. We have had people say the string broke before it was even at tension....generally they have been turning the wrong tuner....we've all done it! 

Twisting the string whilst tuning

The string ball initially needs to be able to spin whilst you are tuning the string, this stops the actual string winds from being twisted or over compressed, this is especially important on low strings such as an E or B

String getting caught in the Nut

Make sure the string is moving freely through the nut. If the string gets caught in the nut whilst tuning you will end up snapping the string as you are stretching the string between the nut and the machine head and it will not take much to snap it due to the extreme tension between these two points. This is worth looking out for especially if you are changing string guage. 

Dont Stretch the string aggressively

Yanking at the string is not good for the string, again it is putting excess tension on the string and can snap it. Gently tug at the string in multiple spots moving up and down the neck....gently!! Tune it to tension and let it sit. 

Break angle over the nut

Dont cut the string too short! Allow enough length to get at least 2-3 winds on the machine head. Make sure that the string is winding itself downwards (the winds should be higher than the point at which the string angles off the machine head) This creates break angle between the nut and the machine head that insures that you dont have rattle from behind the nut.

If in Doubt

Get your local guitar store or tech to do it for you. Bass strings aint cheap and you dont want to blow your hard earned by breaking a string

1/4 Inch Shank - Danger

Some basses use small machine heads, Ibanez and Warwick for example use a machine head with a 1/4 inch shank. Its a very tight machine head that you need to be very careful with when installing strings....especially on a B and E string. Its a very tight angle to bend a string around so go super slow and carefully. 

Flat Wound Warnings

  • Dont string flatwounds "Thru the body" unless you are using strings designed to do that. The break angle coming through the body and over the saddle is too much for most flat wounds to bear. 
  • Be gentle when installing flats, the ribbon design is less forgiving than a round wound so go slow and carefully



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