is ukulele easier to play than guitar?

Can you put bass strings on a guitar?

You can put bass strings on a guitar and still play it as an active instrument. However, the thickness and tones of a bass string make it wholly unfeasibly to use in a long-term setting

If you put bass strings on a guitar, you need to adjust the truss rod and bridge to make viable sounds. The extra thickness risks putting the neck under heavy strain.

If you find yourself wanting to try this feat out, then you can get some interesting sounds from your guitar. This includes lots of tones you might not have heard before.

It’s an experiment curious guitarists have tried for decades to varying degrees of success. Below, you’ll learn about how guitar and bass strings differ and some more details

Guitar strings vs bass strings

There are two major differences between guitar and bass strings. These different dynamics play a big part in making up your guitar and how you play it. So where do these differences occur?

String size

The biggest difference between guitar and bass strings is their size and thickness. Bass strings are much thicker having a density of 3.2mm (0.125in) compared to the 2.3mm (0.09in) of a normal guitar string.

Alongside the thicker mass, bass strings are normally designed to reach up to 30in thanks to basses having a longer neck. This makes them far longer than a conventional guitar string which often only goes up to 24in long.

These vast differences between the two in thickness and length already paint a portrait of why it can be difficult to put bass strings on an electric variant.

Note types

Alongside the physical differences, the strings between the bass and standard guitar are toned to different note forms.

With guitars being six-stringed instruments, you will find that guitar strings are naturally tuned to EADGBE. This differs from bass strings which only cover EADG.

Furthermore, the notes covered by bass strings are not the same found on a standard guitar. They are tuned an octave lower marking even more differences between the two platforms.

Can bass strings fit on a guitar neck?

You can put bass strings on a neck without having any excess string left over. However, to do so is not an easy task.

To complete this, you need to perform a total overhaul of your guitar setup making significant alterations to key parts such as the truss rod and the bridge.

The initial setup is tricky as bass strings need a wider nut slot just to fit. You then need to considerably alter the action height to ensure there’s enough height between the string and the fret.

All this puts excess torsion on the neck of the guitar which could potentially warp it or make it lose shape if you keep the setup over longer periods.

How do bass strings sound on an electric guitar?

The setup for putting bass strings on your axe might be extremely tricky but it sounds good, right? Sadly, the answer is not really.

Instead of getting a great depth of low sounds from your guitar, there’s not a lot of clarity when you play the notes.

There’s no crispness in the notes being played and it fails to reach the same parallels as what you would get using a 6-string bass or tuning lower on a standard guitar.

Without the strings holding a good tune either, it makes everything sound muddled and out of tune after a short time of playing. trying

It means you need to amp your pedal and effects setup significantly to get any sort of good sounds when playing. This comes after adjusting all the tone and volume controls on your guitar itself.

Therefore, you are going to need to spend a lot of time trying to find a sound that exists outside of the avant-garde sphere of sounds.

Potential risks to your guitar

When it comes to trying bass strings out on your guitar, several main problems could cause long-term damage to your instument. This includes:

  • Damaging the neck
  • Short string life
  • Snapping the bridge

The problems of these are often caused by two main dilemmas. That is excess torsion on the instrument and natural differences between the two string types.

Too much torsion

As touched upon, the extra thickness and length of bass strings mean that there’s a lot more pressure on the neck if they are wired on.

What the excess forces do to your guitar can be devastating. For starters, the pressure on the neck is much greater than what the instrument is designed for.

Having higher forces exerted on the wood slowly forces the neck to lose its shape. It means that if this practice is kept up for too long, you face the neck losing its straight shape and rendering it unusable.

On top of that, the wider nut slots and bigger size also put unnecessary pressure on the bridge. With this area being less susceptible to higher pressures from larger objects, it could potentially snap at any moment.

Unusable strings

No matter what setup you have for your guitar, the strings themselves may be unusable. The excess length found on bass strings means they can become floppy and wiry when you play them.

It’s just the same issue if you tighten it too much. The tightness removes any good tones from when the note is hit and the excess force could cause them to snap in minutes.

That means you need to get the balance just right when trying out this trick. Especially if you want any sort of longevity from the strings.


Do bass strings sound the same as guitar strings?

No – bass strings do not share the same sounds as a normal guitar string. Even though bass strings share EADG strings, they are tuned to be an octave lower. This means they hit much lower sounds than a conventional guitar string would. You need to be wary of this when comparing the two string types.

Are bass strings made from the same material as guitar strings?

No – you will find that guitar strings and bass strings are made from different materials. Whereas normal strings are made from nylon or steel, most bass strings are made from nickel. Nickel strings give deeper tones than steel strings which are known for brighter sounds. However, both materials are known for supporting large vibrations and generating good natural tones.

Are bass strings longer than guitar strings?

Yes – bass strings are generally longer than guitar strings. Bass strings often come in lengths between 30in-34 which is much longer than the 20in-24in range of standard electric strings. This longer length means putting bass strings on your electric can be tricky.

Can you put bass strings on a guitar?

At the end of the day, it is theoretically possible to put bass strings on a guitar. The strings will fit on a normal electric despite the disparities in density, length and sounds. To fit the bass strings, you will need to make serious adjustments on the neck and bridge to be able to string your guitar successfully.

However, the effort may not be worthwhile. This comes down to the unnatural sounds made when playing and the difficulty of keeping strings in tune. Furthermore, a long-term setup risks damaging the structural integrity of the guitar. This is thanks to unnecessary torsion loads on the neck and bridge which could cause the parts to either warp or break entirely. That is why a lot of deep consideration is needed when thinking about whether you really should put bass strings on a guitar.

Similar Posts