String Strang Strung

Jun 3, 2021 | Welcome Column

You’d think a big mouthed bass player could change his own strings. Well, it turned out he could…but not without plenty of anxiety and angst.

Coming out of the pandemic hibernation, I determined after a few jam sessions that my strings were pretty much mush. In my lazy retirement years, I never had to worry about my strings as every year at FDF in luthiers pavilion, my dirty blond girlfriend got a salon spa date with the Bass Doctor Matt Bohn.

He would use this opportunity to examine my bass checking for any abusive behavior on my part in the last year. He checked my sound post, the bridge alignment, for any wear on the nut, for any new dings on the body, neck or head, the and finally advise me on the condition of the strings.

As you all are painfully aware, there has been no luthiers pavilion or Bass Doctor for now going on two years. If I remember correctly my strings were at least two years old in 2019, my last spa visit. Do the math that would make them 4 years old plus or minus a few months. Upright bass strings generally last a good while especially if you take care of them by making sure your hands are clean before playing and always wiping them down after. Generally, I’m pretty good about that but borrowing some Bob Wills lyrics,  as far as string life goes, “we’ve come to the end of the line.”

Besides the mushy tone I told you of previously, the strings were changing color. I use Innovation Super Silvers. Without going too deeply into bass string physics as I don’t want to lose any more readers than I already have with this bass string nonsense, the Super Silvers are composite string with a top coating that makes them silver. Anyway, this coating had worn off on two of the strings on my bass further letting me know of the long time between salon visits.

Much like haircuts the last year, I had to DIY this time by doing the complete tune-up on my own. Doing the visual was easy as there was not much opportunity for any new scratches or dings because my bass only moved within a six-foot radius from the stand in the last 15 months. So no problems there.

For the rest of the exam, I needed a big enough surface to lay the bass on its back. Luckily, I had acquired such a surface a few years back and was able to repurpose it for this exercise. I put the bass on its back on my bed and using the winder that came as a gift with the strings, I somehow managed to change the strings in ~ 3 hours. I needed help from my wife and dog though to get it done.

While I had the strings off, I cleaned up the fingerboard and head. Oh yeah, I purchased a dental mirror from Amazon and stuck it in one of the F-holes to examine the sound post. I didn’t know what I was looking at necessarily but it all looked intact.

Finally, I was able to button all back up and get it off the bed before bedtime.

I never have been much of a DIYer, only out of necessity and poverty so I felt pretty good about getting my dirty blond girlfriend cleaned and fixed up with new strings. With some jams starting to kick back, it feels good to have her ready to go.

All that bass work and talking about it has left this old guy tired. I am going to sit back in my recliner and watch some bluegrass on YouTube and have a shot of tequila.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Catch you next month.

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