With the release of the newly re-engineered Sadowsky Blue Label Flatwound Bass Strings, we thought that it was time to put together a quick and easy guide to restringing your bass. Whether you’ve changed thousands of sets of strings or are just getting started, this guide (and video) will have you doing it like the pros at Sadowsky in no time.
AND, if you feel that this video is too fast—we sped it up on purpose—stay tuned for a more in-depth string change video from Roger Sadowsky later this year.
1. Prep: Tape the back of the bridge with the kind of low tack masking tape used by painters. Taping behind the bridge helps to prevent dings/scratches from string ball ends. Never apply tape to old, vintage, or peeling finishes.
Optional: put a polish cloth under the strings and over the pickup area to further protect the finish. We don’t always do it, but it’s a good practice.
Note: We like to unwind the strings rather than cut them off 1) so that you can keep the strings as a backup set if you break one during a gig and 2) to prevent a sharp end from dinging your bass—if you haven’t noticed, we’re really serious about protecting the finish!
2. Cutting the String Ends: Insert your strings in the bridge and then measure the ends before cutting. We measure 3 post lengths from the insertion point on a post with a ½ inch diameter shaft. Measure 2.5 post lengths on a ⅜ inch diameter shaft. These are the most common shaft diameters. This measurement is important because it allows for enough room for 3 wraps on the string post. Three wraps provides enough downward pressure so that your string has better contact with the nut without overcrowding the post. If you don’t have enough pressure, you can have buzzy open strings (especially on A strings with a round string retainer for the G and D strings, common on Fenders). For cutting strings, we recommend the string cutter available on www.stewmac.com.
3. Winding: First, do not pre-wind your strings on the post. This can create a twist in the string which can lead to a broken core and can change the natural path of vibration and make that string sound “off.” Do, push the string end down into the post. Then bend the string through the slot. As you begin winding, use your thumb to simultaneously push the end down and force a clean angle on the string end. See the video for reference. As you wrap the string via the tuning peg—we recommend the Music Nomad “Grip Winder” which is available on our webstore—keep tension on the peg/string and guide it down the post for each wrap. Hold the string down with your thumb and avoid putting it under the string tree during tightening/tuning to prevent the string silk from shredding. The last wrap of string should come off the lowest point on the string post.
4. Stretch and Tune: First, tune up your instrument. Then, stretch out the strings along the length of the string. Grab the string under your four fingers and use your thumb as a fulcrum to pull up and stretch it out. After this, retune your instrument. Then restretch the strings. Repeat this until the strings do not need to be retuned after stretching.
5. Last: Press down with your thumb on the string right before the bridge. This will take your softer, rounded break angle and make it into a more defined, sharper angle. If your string is soft over the bridge, your intonation will also be soft over the bridge and your action will be slightly raised—which can lead to tuning and setup issues.
6. Celebrate: Find someone to high five!
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