Having an acoustic bass that sounds and plays great can boost your confidence and motivate you to practice and become a better player. But having bad strings on your great bass can make it sound and play not as good as it should.
Top 3 - Acoustic Bass Strings
That is why choosing the right strings for your acoustic bass is very important. Here are five of the best acoustic bass strings to help give you the fullest sound and best playability.
Best Strings for Acoustic Bass Guitars
1. Ernie Ball 2070 Earthwood
Ernie Ball is one of the most recognizable and popular string brands. They are very popular among guitarists and bassists alike.
When it comes to picking good strings, you can rarely go wrong with Ernie Balls. So, the Ernie Ball Earthwoods seem like a no brainer for acoustic bass strings.
These are great sounding strings, but they aren’t quite how you would imagine Ernie Ball strings to sound. They don’t have quite that bright and snappy sound that Ernie Balls are known for.
The Earthwoods have a fairly warm sound. This warmth gives these strings quite a nice sound that leans a bit to a vintage tone.
But even with this warmth, the Earthwoods still have great clarity and resonance. Every note rings out nicely with some added volume, giving your bass a clear and mellow tone that really resonates.
Even though these are roundwound strings, I found them to still be very comfortable to play. They have a nice balance between providing grip, while still allowing you to smoothly move across the strings.
They are also quite affordable. Even though these strings are going to last you a while, you also won’t be spending a ton to replace them when you need to. Very great value for money.
As someone who plays Ernie Ball strings on guitar, I had certain expectations before playing Earthwoods. And, unsurprisingly, they met my expectations. These are an easy recommend from me for anyone looking for great sounding and playing acoustic bass strings.
2. D’Addario EPBB170
Another very popular string brand, D’Addario is also one of the oldest. With such a long history, it is no wonder they are a first choice for many bassists.
That means the D’Addario EPBB170 acoustic bass strings have quite the high bar to live up to. And live up to it they do.
These are really great acoustic bass strings, both in terms of playability and sound. Combined with their affordable price, these are great strings for both beginners and professionals.
These strings have a bit of a snappier, brighter sound than other phosphor bronze strings. But there is still enough warmth that I feel actually helps to give them a fairly balanced sound.
They don’t have quite as a deep a tone than some of the other strings on this list. This, luckily, isn’t really much of an issue, at least for me. They also easily maintain their tone over extended, intense playing sessions.
These are uncoated strings, however. That does mean they have a more natural feel, but that also means they are a bit rougher to the touch and won’t last quite as long. Even though they are rougher, I still found them to be smooth enough.
From my experience, uncoated D’Addario strings do still last quite a while. But you will still need to replace them a bit more frequently than other strings.
But if you are looking for a set of balanced-sounding strings that are great to play, the EPBB170’s are a great choice.
3. Fender 8060
While known more for their guitars and basses, Fender does also make strings. Strings that are actually a little under rated.
The Fender 8060 acoustic bass strings are a prime example of their strings being under rated. These are great strings for how good they sound and how affordable they are.
These strings play really well. There is a nice balance between grip and smoothness, allowing easy movement along the strings and preventing slipping.
The sound isn’t quite as balanced, but not in a bad way. These strings just lean a bit more to the bright side and have a bit more snap than other acoustic bass strings.
Notes have a nice bit of shimmer to them, but are still bassy enough so that your bass doesn’t start sounding like a guitar. They also have a good amount of clarity and volume so that your bass can be heard clearly.
I would also highly recommend these strings for beginners with no experience in restringing an instrument. They are really easy to put on, don’t need to be stretched out much, and are tuned quite easily.
I did notice that they take a bit longer to break in and lose their excess twang. Once they are broken in, their natural tone shines through.
Fender strings aren’t going to steal the show or take your instrument to the next level any time soon. In stead, these strings are simply going to make your acoustic bass’ natural sound come through without getting in the way.
4. DR Strings Rare Phosphor Bronze
If you are a beginner, you might not have heard of DR Strings. But among experienced musicians, DR Strings are a highly regarded name.
Their Rare phosphor bronze acoustic bass strings are a great example of why their strings are so popular among professional musicians.
DR Strings are generally softer compared to other strings. This makes them ideal for bassists with sensitive fingers and beginners.
These strings are super easy and comfortable to play. And since these are bass strings, having a softer set is always a bonus.
Another thing that DR Strings are known for is their sound. From my experience, DR Strings have a fairly warm, mellow tone, giving them quite the vintage blues sound.
But these strings seem to have gone in the opposite direction. These are much brighter and snappier, not only compared to other DR Strings, but also compared to the other strings on this list.
One thing I noticed was that these strings don’t hold up quite as well when you start playing harder. DR claims that these strings are meant for players who want a loud and booming sound.
I didn’t quite get that feeling from them. However, since most people aren’t going to be playing too hard on an acoustic bass, that isn’t going to be much of an issue.
This is great, since these strings do feel a bit more fragile than other bass strings. And if you are playing softer, more finger style stuff, these are great strings for that.
5. D’Addario ECB81SL Chromes
The second set of D’Addario strings for this list. The ECB81SL Chromes are quite different from the EPBB170’s.
Where the 170’s are a bit more vintage, these have a more modern feel and tone. The biggest difference is also the these are flatwound strings, where the 170’s are roundwound.
Being flatwound, these strings have more of an emphasis on the lows and mids. I find that this makes them great for genres like jazz and R&B.
There is much more warmth in these strings and not really any snap or brightness to them. Their sound is actually quite soft and mellow.
Being flatwound also gives them better playability in my opinion. They are smoother, faster, and much more delicate on your fingers.
But flatwound strings do have a significant disadvantage on acoustic basses. They have a bit of a dull, thumping tone on acoustic basses.
This means that they don’t project as well as roundwound strings for example. If you are planning on playing with flatwounds, you are going to want to use a pickup or have your bass mic’d up to make sure it is audible.
These strings are quite expensive, unfortunately. They are more than double the price of the other strings on this list.
You are getting some high quality strings that sound great and last long. I do feel like they are a bit too expensive when compared to the other strings on this list.
But if you don’t mind paying extra and want to be guaranteed that you are getting some of the best strings available, then these are a great choice.
Choosing the Right Acoustic Bass Strings
Choosing the right strings for your acoustic bass is going to be fairly similar to choosing strings for an electric. If you already play electric bass, you are probably going to use the same or similar strings for your acoustic.
You probably already have a certain type of sound that you prefer. Sticking with similar strings also means that you will already be familiar with them.
That being said, there are a few differences between electric and acoustic bass strings. So, let us look at the differences and other things to look out for.
This is going to be the biggest difference between acoustic and electric bass strings. Generally speaking, electric bass strings are made from either steel or nickel. Steel strings also come in either stainless steel, or plated with either nickel or copper.
When it comes to acoustic strings, the two options are bronze and phosphor bronze. The two are quite similar, with phosphor bronze just having some added phosphor, hence the name.
The reason why acoustic basses use these types of strings is because they are softer and have lower tension. Acoustic bass necks aren’t as strong as electric bass necks.
The steel and nickel strings used on electric basses have much higher tension. This higher tension can bend an acoustic neck much easier, leading to warping and even damage.
Core and Winding
The construction of a string can be broken up into what type of core it has, and the winding around that core. For bass strings there are two types of cores and two main types of windings.
This core allows for a tighter fit of the winding while still leaving some space between the two. Hex cores are stiffer, but provide a brighter tone and are ideal for slapping and tapping.
Round cores allow constant contact between the core and the winding. These have a darker tone, and have less tension, making them ideal for fingerstyle playing.
Roundwound is the most common type of winding you will find on bass strings. This just means that the steel, nickel, or bronze wire is wrapped around the core in cylindrical way.
This type of winding offers the most brightness and pop for strings. If you play a lot of slapping, popping, tapping, etc, these are the ideal strings.
Roundwounds are the toughest on your fingers due to their ridges and higher string tension. Roundwound strings might not be ideal for beginners.
While not as common for acoustic bass strings, you can still find flatwound strings fairly easily. Flatwounds, as the name suggests, is where a flat wire is wound around a core.
This makes the surface smoother than a roundwound. Flatwounds also have less tension than roundwounds.
The sound of flatwounds are much mellower and warmer than roundwounds. They also don’t have the same snap. Flatwounds are ideal for playing genres like jazz, blues, R&B, etc.
Because of their smoother feel and lower tension, flatwounds are great for beginners or players with delicate fingers. They also don’t wear out a bass’ fretboard as quickly, which is great if you want to keep an acoustic bass’ fretboard looking pristine.
There are other windings like half round and tapewound. These are already fairly uncommon for electric bass strings, and pretty non-existent for acoustic bass strings.
Scale length refers to the distance from the bridge to the nut. Most basses have a scale length of 34”, or long scale.
This means that you should buy strings that are labeled for long scale. Long scale strings can also be used on short scale basses, 30” – 32”. You simply need to cut off the excess string.
Just make sure of your bass’ scale length, especially if you have a 5- or 6-string. These can sometimes have a scale length of 35”, which means you will need strings for extra/super long scale length.
This isn’t a definitive list of all the best acoustic bass strings. This is just a selection of five of the best strings available.
There are many other strings that are just as good or even better. If one of the sets on this list isn’t to your liking, don’t be afraid to test out other sets until you find the one that is perfect for you.