Best bass strings 2024: Get the best tone, feel and lifespan from your bass guitar with these string sets

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Close up of strings on a bass guitar

(Image credit: Future)

1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we choose products

When it comes to finding a fresh set of strings for your bass guitar, you’ve got options, and lots of them, which can make it hard to know exactly what to go for. In this guide to the best bass strings available today we’re going to help you zero in on the right set or sets for you.

As bassists, we often have to invest a bit more in a new set of strings compared to our guitar-playing counterparts, so selecting the right bass strings for your needs becomes increasingly important, ensuring you make the most of your time and money.

There are bass strings for all occasions, for all playing styles and types of bass. What is right for you and your instrument is a matter of taste, and a question of what you need from your strings.

Across the board, we all want value and price should always be a consideration. But when it comes to materials and construction, the bass strings you choose – not to mention the gauge, or thickness, of your strings – will have a huge impact on your tone and your playing experience.

Brands like Ernie Ball, Rotosound and D’Addario have been supplying the stringed corner of the rhythm section for years and are names you can trust. However, we’ll hopefully introduce some lesser-known brands that may suit your playing style and sound, too. 

Guitar World author Jonathan Horsley
Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and bass since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. For this guide Jonathan put a range of bass string sets through their paces.

Best bass strings: Product guide & reviews

There are lots of different brands out there, many with similar marketing tactics offering you the best sound, longest life etc, but we’ve hand-selected what we reckon are the best bass strings on offer right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner looking to restring for the first time, or a seasoned pro with a range of basses all needing some TLC - there’s something for every player here.

Best bass strings: Buying advice

70s Fender P-bass body

(Image credit: Future)

How to choose the best bass strings for you

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

String choice is one of our fundamental gear decisions. Which set is right for you is a combination of a number of factors, of which price is usually always one. 

Bass strings can be a considerable investment, but 30 bucks should get you a very decent set. We have a few options in this guide that present excellent value with no lack of quality. The Rotosound RS66LD Swing Bass 66 will cost less than 20 dollars, and they’re awesome.

In terms of tone, there are a few considerations to be made that will ultimately decide what type of string you go for, and the type of winding on the string plays a big part. 

Which strings are better: roundwound, flatwound or tapewound?

Starting with roundwounds, in which the alloy wrap around the steel core is exactly that, a thin filament of round wire that wraps the core. These are most common, with a stainless steel or nickel-plated steel wrap. With a stainless steel wrap, they’ll be among the brightest bass strings you can buy, with a pronounced low end and a fair degree of brightness. Introducing nickel into the mix can tame a little of the string’s brightness for a more vintage sound.

Flatwounds are constructed from a wire wrapping that is flattened, thus the string feels smooth to the touch, and these place more of a tonal emphasis on the lows and mids. Ideal for fretless basses, when you want to preserve your fretboard, they also reduce string noise and are just the ticket for ’60s-style bass tones, for Motown thump and all that. 

Tapewound strings will typically have a nylon coating over them and will take that old-school tone further, giving you an electric bass tone that approximates the sound of an acoustic upright bass. They are an excellent option for more muted fingerstyle bass tones, and have been used by the likes of Paul McCartney to good effect. You will typically find these in a heavier gauge to compensate for the low tension of the string, but they will feel very easy to play.

Are coated bass strings worth it?

More generally, coated strings can add a few weeks of life to your strings. The coating used on strings protects their metallic surface from corrosion which is exacerbated due to the natural oils from your fingers and the acidity of your sweat. 

However, that long-life can come at a premium, but if you crave new-string freshness it can save you money in the long run. 

Some players feel the coating takes a little off the top end, as though they’d been played in for a few hours, but the counter to that is that they stay as they are out of the packet for longer.

How we choose the best bass strings for this guide

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best bass strings available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best bass strings on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.

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