When we are out and about talking to the guitar - or in this case bass - playing public we often get asked questions about our products that we don't expect. Never is this more true than the questions that bass guitarists have about bass strings. These guys care about their strings in a way that surprising numbers of guitarists don't.
In this post I'm going to talk a little about the bass strings that we sell, which are top-quality strings made by Aurora in the USA, and I'm going to point out some of the features of the strings that gives them their distinct characteristics and their tonal quality.
I have actually never been asked by an electric guitarist about round wound vs flat wound strings. This may be because the fact that round wound strings have been the default string choice on guitars for so long that no-one even thinks about it. This isn't true of bass guitarists and bass strings. This may have something to do with the fact that playing bass is much more of a tactile experience. Not only are the fingers on both hands in contact with the strings almost all the time, but the heavy gauge of bass strings means that you feel the texture of the strings much more. Guitar strings, being that much thinner, have a much smoother feel even when they are round wound.
There are a lot of articles on round wound vs flat wound, so I'm not going to go into it in great detail here. However, if you just think that flat wound strings have a ribbon-like winding around the outside that gives them a smoother surface and a softer, less-trebly sound. Flat wound strings are often preferred by jazz players because of the softer tone they bring.
Round-wound strings, by contrast, are made using round wire wrapped around the core. This gives them a rougher feel on the fingers because you feel the ridges of the round wires on the strings. This type of manufacture gives very different tonal qualities though. The sound is brighter, which gives much more slap and pop, and this makes round wound strings the choice for funk and rock players.
The bass guitar strings from Aurora are all round wound, and give a great lively tone when you play them.
Hex Steel Core
Bass strings are all wound in some way, which means that the winding wire is wound around a core. This "core" underneath the winding is usually a steel wire. The exact combination of the core material, the core shape and the ratio of metal the core compared to the winding will all influence the sound of the string.
Cores are generally either a plain round wire or a hexagonal shaped wire. A hexagonal core string will usually have slightly more tension than a round core string and will give a brighter sound with more treble. So again, if you want slap, pop and bright tones then hexagonal strings are the way to go. By contrast, round cores tend to use less tension and if you're looking for a softer tone and you do a lot of string bending then you might opt for round cores instead.
The bass guitar strings from Aurora have a hexagonal steel core underneath the winding, as you can see in this photograph:
Tapering refers to whether the strings get thinner at the bridge / saddle, where they attach to the guitar (i.e. the opposite end from the tuners). This is nothing to do with how easy they are to change, it's to provide a different sonic characteristic. Some bassists just use tapered strings for the lower notes (thicker) strings.
There is a lot said about the tonal characteristics of tapered vs non-tapered bass strings, and much of it is contradictory. Some people think the tapered ends give a stronger "fundamental" note whilst others think they give more harmonics - they can't both be right!
In the end this is all about preference and what you feel is right for your style of playing and for the tone you;re looking for.
The bass strings from Aurora are all traditional non-tapered strings, which gives a consistent tone across all of the strings on your bass.
A feature that Aurora strings bring to your bass that most other brands do not is their colour. You can get Aurora strings in a range of colours including red, blue, aqua, gold, white and lime green. The colour is achieved by colouring the wound wire (not the core), and Aurora also silver plate the wire before applying the colour to give a more brilliant colour, and also some more protection against corrosion.
Bass guitarists have taken to coloured strings much more readily than other guitarists, and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's because the're tired of being the quiet ones at the back of the band! Adding coloured bass guitar strings is a great and inexpensive way to liven up the look of your gear. If you can, choose strings that complement the colour of the body of the bass, or alternatively match with the strap.
We most commonly sell coloured strings to bassists with white or black basses, as colour really adds here. However, a sunburst bass with gold strings will also look phenomenal, as will red with red strings or blue with blue strings.
Either in addition to, or instead of, colour on the strings you can also get strings that glow under UV light. The bass guitar strings from Aurora refer to these strings as "Chameleon" strings because of the way that they change colour. If you perform live, these strings are a great way of giving your performance some extra wow factor. Do you dare take your bass to this level?
I'm not going to tell any bass guitarist what strings they need to buy. As far as I can tell, you know what you want. This article was just to highlight the features of the Aurora Coloured Bass Guitar Strings so you know exactly what it is that you get in a pack. I have also tried to convey the high quality of the manufacture and to give you an idea of the tone you should be expecting when you buy these strings.
To view the product page for the bass strings click here.
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