Home guitar What Are the Strings on a Bass Guitar Called? A Full Guide

What Are the Strings on a Bass Guitar Called? A Full Guide

by Madonna

The bass guitar, a fundamental component of modern music ensembles, owes much of its distinctive sound to its strings. These essential components of the instrument play a crucial role in shaping tone, timbre, and playability. Understanding the nuances of bass guitar strings is essential for both novice players and seasoned professionals alike.

What Are the Strings on a Bass Guitar Called

Standard tuning serves as the foundation for bass guitar playing, providing a common reference point for musicians worldwide. The standard tuning for a 4-string bass guitar is E-A-D-G, while a 5-string bass guitar typically adds a low B string, resulting in the tuning B-E-A-D-G. For those seeking even greater range and versatility, a 6-string bass guitar adds a high C string to the standard 5-string tuning, resulting in the tuning B-E-A-D-G-C.

String Numbering

Strings on a bass guitar are numbered sequentially from the thinnest to the thickest, with the highest-pitched string designated as the first string and the lowest-pitched string as the last. This numbering convention provides a consistent reference point for musicians when discussing string positions and tuning adjustments.

Tuning Frequencies

Understanding the frequencies of each string in standard tuning is essential for achieving accurate pitch and maintaining harmonic balance within an ensemble. In standard tuning, the frequencies of the strings are as follows:

4-string Bass Guitar (E-A-D-G):

  • 1st String (G): Approximately 98 Hz
  • 2nd String (D): Approximately 73 Hz
  • 3rd String (A): Approximately 55 Hz
  • 4th String (E): Approximately 41 Hz

5-string Bass Guitar (B-E-A-D-G):

  • 1st String (G): Approximately 98 Hz
  • 2nd String (D): Approximately 73 Hz
  • 3rd String (A): Approximately 55 Hz
  • 4th String (E): Approximately 41 Hz
  • 5th String (B): Approximately 31 Hz

6-string Bass Guitar (B-E-A-D-G-C):

  • 1st String (C): Approximately 65 Hz
  • 2nd String (G): Approximately 98 Hz
  • 3rd String (D): Approximately 73 Hz
  • 4th String (A): Approximately 55 Hz
  • 5th String (E): Approximately 41 Hz
  • 6th String (B): Approximately 31 Hz

SEE ALSO: How to Tune Your Six String Guitar

Alternate Tunings

While standard tuning is the most common tuning for bass guitars, many musicians explore alternate tunings to achieve different tonalities and accommodate specific musical styles. Common alternate tunings for bass guitar include drop D tuning (D-A-D-G), half-step down tuning (D#-G#-C#-F#), and whole-step down tuning (D-G-C-F).

Tips for Remembering String Names

Memorizing the names of bass guitar strings can be challenging, especially for beginners. Mnemonic devices or phrases can help reinforce string names and their corresponding pitches. For example, “Every Applesauce Does Good” can be used to remember the standard tuning of a 4-string bass guitar (E-A-D-G), while “Big Elephants Always Drink Giant Coffee” can aid in recalling the tuning of a 5-string bass guitar (B-E-A-D-G).

String Gauges

String gauge refers to the thickness of a string, typically measured in thousandths of an inch. Thicker strings produce a fuller, richer tone and provide greater sustain, while thinner strings offer increased flexibility and ease of playability. The choice of string gauge depends on personal preference, playing style, and musical genre.

Maintenance Tips

Proper care and maintenance are essential for prolonging the life and preserving the tone of bass guitar strings. Here are some tips for keeping your strings in optimal condition:

Cleanliness: Regularly wipe down your strings with a clean cloth to remove dirt, sweat, and oils that can accumulate during play.

Storage: Store your bass guitar in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent corrosion and degradation of the strings.

String Changing: Replace your strings periodically to maintain optimal tone and playability. How often you need to change your strings depends on factors such as frequency of use, playing style, and environmental conditions.

String Stretching: Stretch new strings thoroughly after installation to minimize tuning instability and ensure proper intonation.

Nut and Bridge Maintenance: Keep the nut and bridge of your bass guitar clean and lubricated to prevent string binding and tuning issues.


Bass guitar strings are not merely components of an instrument; they are the conduits through which musicians channel their creativity and expression. By understanding the intricacies of string names, tuning, and maintenance, bassists can unlock new realms of musical possibility and achieve greater mastery of their craft. Whether you’re a novice exploring the fundamentals or a seasoned professional pushing the boundaries of sonic exploration, a comprehensive understanding of bass guitar strings is essential for realizing your musical vision.

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