Strings – Part 3: Acoustic Bass Guitar

Fender BG 29 Acoustic Bass

The Acoustic Bass Guitar is an odd animal.  Not quite the same as an electric bass nor an upright.  It has a sound all it own which some people love and some people hate.  I acquired my Fender BG-29 acoustic back in the mid-90’s when playing “Unplugged” was all the rage.  I had been thinking about getting one as that I had alot of friends who played guitar and was tired of being left out of many an impromptu acoustic jam session.  I saw the Fender in a local music store in Sacramento, CA and decided to check it out.  I loved the feel and sound of the bass so much I had to buy it.  This is the instrument that led me to string experimentation.

The BG-29 came stock with Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Bass 7060 strings in gauges .045, .055, .075, .095.  These are roundwound strings, which I left on this bass for quite a while.  The phosphor bronze strings have good volume but tended to be a bit to clackity for my liking.  I next tried Ernie Ball Earthwood strings which had a similar tone to the bronzes, so my quest continued.  At one point I shelled out the extra dough and put a set of Elixir strings on, they had a mellower tone than the bronze’s and the Ernie Ball’s, but I still wasn’t satisfied.  At this point I was done with the noisy, squeaky, finger noise prevalent with roundwounds and decided to try a set of Fender Nylon Tapewound strings.  These got rid of most of the unwanted noises but left me with a thuddy sounding tone that I was not at all happy with.  Flatwounds would be the next obvious choice but I wondered if flatwounds would have enough acoustic volume?  While searching for the perfect strings online I came upon D’Addario Half Rounds.  I have been very pleased with these strings.  They have a fine balance of tone and volume while the string noises associated with roundwounds are greatly reduced.  I may still give flatwounds a shot someday, but for now I am very satisfied.

To me the Acoustic Bass is a great instrument to have around the house for when inspiration hits.  I almost never play it amplified, as to me that would almost defeat it’s purpose.  Plugged in it has a completely different sound. Feedback is an issue when plugged in, a lesson I learned that the hard way at a coffe house gig.  After that I bought a Sound Hole cover like you would use on an acoustic guitar which is great at fighting feedback.  Amplified the acoustic bass almost sounds like an electric, leaving one to wonder what the point is.

That about does it for my mini series on strings.  As I have said, strings have been on my mind recently as I have been experimenting with my Jazz and P Basses, so I thought I would write about it and share my experiences.  Of course all of this is subjective to my tastes in tone and feel so I would encourage you to experiment for yourself and decide what works best for you.

To start this series from the beginning click here.

Any topics you all would like to see me write about?  Leave a comment or drop me email and I’d be happy to consider it.  Thanks for reading!

8 Replies to “Strings – Part 3: Acoustic Bass Guitar”

  1. I recently purchased an Aria acoustic bass. Love it, but the correct string problem has also hounded me. I tried some Status Graphite flatwounds but they didn’t give me enough sustain in the mid to low register. I may try Elixirs to try to minimise string noise. Here is a video of me playing my Aria. These are the flatwounds. Nice sound, but as I say, not enough sustain. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f0yZNHvZW4&sns=em
    Cheers,
    Russ 🙂

  2. Great video Russ! You make it look so easy. I’m still a fan of the Half Rounds, especially now that they’ve settled in. I tried Elixir’s at one point, can’t recall why I didn’t keep them, but I know I liked them better than the phosphor bronze. I’d love to hear what you finally decide on,

    Stanton

  3. How much do you think this bass is worth if somone was selling it used in good condition??

    thank you sooo much 🙂

  4. Andres, hard to say, if I had to sell mine I’d hope to get something in the $300-$400 range, but I love mine and it would be hard to part with so I may be biased here.

  5. Nice topic!
    I bought the BG 29 a few years ago, used, for 300 euro’s (incl. Fender hard case).
    Didn’t play it often, because I didn’t like the sound, compared to my upright and my jazzbass (might be a matter of poor playing-technique on this one ;-). I tried to put d’Addario flatwound strings on it, and that’s where this topic becomes interesting. The fact is: I found out that other strings don’t fit in the ‘bridge-tunnels’ of the BG 29!! And since the g-string broke due to messing around with it on the headstock during removing and replacing, I put the guitar away, Thought about selling it and maybe trying a Cort acoustic bass sometimes, with more possibilities in string-variety.
    Now I understand that you were able to try different types/brands of strings on your BG 29… did you make the holes/tunnels in the bridge wider? Or did you use strings with end-balls that fit in the holes? I’m curious about that, because I’d like to find a way to put other strings on mine (at least a new g-string..).

  6. Thank you Stanton for this well thought out informative article. I googled “fender bg29 string recommendations” and am glad I found this page listed at the top.

    I’ve owned the bg29 for some years now and am simply in awe of it. Easy to play, extremely comfortable, and light, this instrument has a gravitional appeal unlike any other instrument I’ve owned.

    I have a question if I may. Below is the amazon link I found for the Addario half rounds. Would you mind confirming that these are the same strings you purchase for your bg29?

    Thanks, and thanks for sharing your string buying decisions with us.

    http://www.amazon.com/DAddario-ENR71S-Guitar-Strings-Regular/dp/B0009FC950/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1388562118&sr=1-1&keywords=Bass+Guitar+Strings+half+short

  7. Hello Breck. Thank you for the kind words, I’m glad you found my post useful. The BG29 is a great bass, I have mine hanging on the wall next to my bed for easy access. As for the strings, yes, the link you provided is the set I have on mine. If I recall the E string is a bit of a tight fit through the bridge so be careful when installing it as the wood there is fairly thin. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them once you’ve played them a bit. Cheers!

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