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5 Best Bass Strings for Metal

Best Bass Strings for Metal

 


Most recommended
D’Addario EXL160
  • Material – Nickel Steel
  • Gauges – Wound (.050, .070, .085, .105)
  • 5 Strings
A good choice too
Ernie Ball Regular Slinky
  • Material – Nickel Steel
  • Gauges – Regular (.050, .070, .085, .105)
  • 4 Strings
A good choice too
DR Strings Bass Strings
  • Material – Coated
  • Gauges – Medium (0.45, 0.65, 0.85, 0.105)
  • 4 Strings
Ernie Ball Super Slinky
  • Material – Nickel
  • Strings Gauges – (.045, .065, .080, .100)
  • 4 Strings
GHS Strings Bass Boomer
  • Material – Nickel Steel
  • Gauges – Medium Light (.045, 0.065, 0.080, 0.100)
  • 4 Strings

Choose the Best Bass String for Metal

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Bass Strings for Metal

17 users answered this survey. Please help us improve this review!

58.82% of users selected D'Addario EXL160, 17.65% selected Ernie Ball Regular Slinky, 5.88% selected DR Strings Bass Strings, 11.76% selected Ernie Ball Super Slinky and 5.88% selected GHS Strings Bass Boomer. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

The bass string for metal is a steel core, round wound electric bass guitar strings with a dark sound and prominent mid-range. They are the most effective in creating a good tone when playing heavy metal music.

Benefits of bass strings for metal:

  • The right strings can help improve the tone of your bass guitar;
  • Some metal bass strings are specifically designed to produce a higher output, which makes them better for heavy music genres like death metal or thrash metal. These types of string are often called “metal” strings because they’re made with hard tension wire that’s less likely to break and will make palm muting easier;
  • You may also find that bass strings designed for the metal have a thicker core wire than other types of string; 
  • As with most musical instruments, the right accessories can make all the difference when looking to purchase new equipment;

Do you want to start playing bass guitar but not sure which strings are best for metal? If so, metal music experts have the perfect guide for you! In this article, the experts will go over what types of strings work well with metal music. They will also list the top 5 favorite sets and give a few tips on how to keep your gear in good condition. So if you’re ready to rock out with some heavy duty bass strings, read on!

D’Addario EXL160 Nickel Wound Bass Guitar Strings – the Editor’s choice!

The D’Addario EXL160 Nickel Wound Bass Guitar Strings is great for giving your bass that iconic round tone and crisp sound, like the big amps do. It has clear fundamentals and booming, tight low end – you can really feel it!

And that’s not all – thanks to its long-scale design, we’re sure that these strings will work on any basses with up to 36 1/4 inch string scales. String gauge of this set is made heavy so you’ll have the right control over every note.

Pros
  • Best-selling heavy-gauge bass set;
  • Round wound;
  • Nickel-plated steel;
  • Tight low end;
  • It fits the string scale length of up to 36 1/4 inches;
  • The high quality and performance;

Cons
  • Feels tight;
  • Hard to play for a beginner;
  • Twangy;

The D’Addario EXL160 bass guitar strings are one of the most popular sets of nickel-plated, round wound strings. They’re made with the most durable and long-lasting material for a distinctive bright tone with clear fundamentals and booming, tight low end.


Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Bass Set – the best for durability!

Get ready for those deep, low tones. These tend to have a more balanced sound with a solid feel and a guaranteed long life span. This product is made from the most popular bass string alloy on the market – slinky nickel-wound strings.

Need something fast? You can do it with this product because that’s what they’re designed for – simplicity – but don’t let that fool you – they’ll still provide fat tones when necessary!

Well-balanced and good all-around sound will help you play as fast as you want without breaking a string. Add these strings to your next purchase!

Pros
  • Uses the popular bass string alloy;
  • Well balanced;
  • Good sound;
  • Solid strings with a long life span;
  • Great for the fast-playing;

Cons
  • Heavy winding;
  • The winding doesn’t run the entire length;

The Ernie Nickel Wound Bass String Set is the perfect grounding for any bass player looking to alternate their sound as needs. The general well-balanced, sturdy nature of these strings makes it easy to enjoy playing with no upkeep after a new set is put on your guitar.


DR Strings Black Beauties Bass Strings – the best for the coating!

DR Strings Bass Strings are handmade with brutal consistency which means every string is made the same way- maximizing efficiency, eliminating waste. If you want to find out what years of experience really sound like, then these bass strings will do the trick.

The DR sound is known for its crisp tone but also gave lots of clarity and volume to your music-making you very audible on stage no matter how big it is. Black polymer coat not only gives exceptional playing grip to avoid twisting creep problems but it seems firm so you know they’ll last longer than most strings before they need replacing!

Pros
  • Nice medium gauge;
  • Handmade;
  • Black polymer coating;
  • Unique crisp tone;
  • Prolonged string life;

Cons
  • Dull and flat sounding;
  • The G string is 2 inches short;
  • Bad packaging;

These strings are made by DR with black polymer coatings on both plain strings and wrap wire to extend string life without compromising sound quality.


DR Strings Black Beauties Bass Strings – the best for the coating!

Ernie Ball Super Slinky Nickel Bass strings are made in Southern California with the finest and freshest raw materials. These well-made strings will give you depth, clarity, punchy attack, satisfying sustain, and long life. The different gauges offer something for everybody (unless you prefer jazz), but one thing’s for sure you’ll never need any other bass string!

Featuring high-quality string construction with pure nickel-plated steel for maximum resonance, these are the best sounding bass strings for your instrument. Now available in four different gauges to fit any player’s need.

Pros
  • Round-wound for better clarity and serious punch;
  • Various gauges are available;
  • Manufactured with raw materials;
  • Budget-friendly;
  • The E string plays thick and deep;

Cons
  • Difficult to install;
  • Not quite durable;

This particular Ernie Ball set offers you a pack of strings that provides clarity and serious punch, manufactured in the Coachella Valley, which is perfect for any bassist looking to give their tunes some zest. Available in different gauges and rounds out at a great price point.


GHS Strings Electric Bass Boomer Set – the best for the strengthened core!

The GHS Strings Electric Bass Boomer Set made with round-wound nickel-plated steel on the strengthened core is everything you need to make your bass guitar stand out, whether it’s on stage or in the studio. With these strings installed, you’ll notice an immediate increase in volume and tone.

Make your bass stand out with these top-quality strings. With round-wound nickel-plated steel on a strengthened core, the GHS String Electric Bass Boomer Set features all of the benefits you expect from a POWER Series string. The medium-light gauge design offers great sound and feels at budget-friendly prices!

Pros
  • Strengthened core;
  • Round-wound nickel-plated steel;
  • Good sound and feel;
  • Good price point;
  • Medium-light gauge;
  • Increased sustain and volume;

Cons
  • Bad packaging;
  • The E-string sounds thin;

These round-wound nickel-plated steel strings are stronger than standard ones, for more volume, sustain, and brilliance! The perfect balance of strength and affordability allows you to experience that clear tone that will have your audience enthralled.


The Buyer’s Guide

Main Features:

  1. Strings Gauges of Bass Strings for Metal: 

Light Gauge

Some of the best bass strings for metal are light gauges. This is because the lighter tone of these types of strings allows you to play faster, but they can still maintain a lot of tension when compared with standard guitar string gauges. With heavy-gauge steel strings that have thicker diameters, there’s too much tension and not enough space between fret wires on some guitars that then makes it difficult to execute more intricate parts or technical licks at higher speeds without getting stuck in your frets.

Heavy Gauge

Heavy gauge strings are the standard for basses. If you’ve picked up a bass before, there is no doubt that heavy gauge strings have been an option available to you (at least as far back as the 1970s). The main reason why they became popular was because of metal music and their use by such bands as Metallica and Iron Maiden. Heavy gauge strings are now the mainstream, with many bass string manufacturers producing options for heavy gauges.

Heavy gauge strings are typically associated with thick tone and low-end growl. These qualities can be an advantage for some styles of music, but not all genres favor them as much as metal does.

Medium Gauge

Medium gauge strings are commonly found on the lower end of the string spectrum. They’re common in beginner instruments because they don’t break as often, which is great for beginners who may not be able to afford frequent replacements! But these medium gauges can also work well with more experienced players who want a little extra “oomph” out of their sound or those looking for increased durability.

Because metal bassists tend to play low notes at high speeds and use harsh techniques like slapping, higher tension isn’t needed to get that desirable tone – this leads many metal players away from heavy-duty strings towards lighter varieties.

  1. Size

Length and thickness are important factors in choosing your string. The best way is to test different sizes, go for what feels comfortable on your instrument. 

However, as a rule of thumb:

  • Short-scale (34 inches) – .045; 
  • Medium-scale (35 inches) – .065; 
  • Long-scale (36 inches or more) – .08-.09-.105;

Players with small hands or on fretless basses prefer short-scale strings. It’s easier to play and you don’t have to press the string so hard in order for it vibrates, which can be exhausting when playing live shows. Also, they’re usually lighter than medium or long-scale basses – great if you need your instrument to stay portable (or if you want a really light guitar). 

Remember that short scales require smaller frets too, sometimes even custom-made ones! So this may limit your choice of places where you can get them installed professionally. 

Medium-scale is considered standard size for most electric basses out there. Choosing between long and medium depends mainly on personal preference (and whether one has big/small hands). 

Long scales are usually found on string-through or neck-through basses and offer a little more punch and volume to your sound. They’re great for the slapping/popping technique as well! But if you have smaller hands, don’t let the name fool you – they can be hard to play even for seasoned players. So choose carefully!

  1. Length

Longer strings are better because you can play lower notes. The longer the string, the less pressure is required to fret it which means that playing doesn’t get any harder with a long string length.

However, you must consider that a long string might be difficult to hold if your fingers are not strong enough. There is no point in buying extremely cheap bass strings because they will break faster and it’s better just to buy one or two reliable sets which won’t let you down when playing live shows.

It’s also good practice to have an extra set of strings with you so if the main ones snap mid-gig – you don’t have to run behind the amp for replacements!

  1. Materials

The first thing to know about the best bass strings for metal is that there are different types of materials used. 

4 common choices you’ll find on a string set include:

1) Steel

This is the cheapest and most common choice for bass strings. As you’d expect, these are perfect for beginning players on a budget. Steel can feel pretty harsh to some people’s fingers at first, but it really does add power to your low-end sound! You’ll also find that it takes little effort to play fast when using this type of string. The only downside here is that they tend not to last as long as other options due to corrosion from sweat and moisture over time.

2) Nickel-plated steel

As far as “budget” types go (not necessarily in price, but in terms of quality), the next one up would be nickel-plating steel ass strings. These are much smoother to play than steel strings, but they do have a slightly higher price tag. They are also known for being the most durable option of all bass string materials – so if you’re looking for something that’ll last longer without needing to be changed as often, this is it! 

3) Pure nickel

After these two options would come pure nickel bass strings. These are less common in popular bass brands because they tend not to produce sound as quickly or easily (steel and nickel plating allow for better transfer of energy), which means there’s an extra step involved with producing your tone; however, once set up correctly these can create very deep tones indeed! As well as offering more resonance compared to other types of metal strings, they are also the most flexible option which means it’s easier to play for longer periods of time without feeling any discomfort. 

4) Stainless steel

Lastly, one string material that is definitely worth mentioning here would be Stainless Steel Bass Strings! These strings offer somewhere in between pure nickel and steel strings – giving you a little bit more flexibility but still having plenty of power behind them. They are not as “harsh” on your fingers compared with steel bass guitar strings either, so if you’re looking for something that offers great tone quality while still being comfortable enough to use all day long then this may well be the best choice for you!

Each type has distinct features and qualities, but the good news is that each option can be used to produce a great sound for metal bass playing! 

  1. Core

The core of bass strings for metal is made out of steel or nickel. Steel cores are more affordable but they produce less bright tones than the ones with nickel coating. 

Nickel-plated, on the other hand, comes in two variations: pure and half-plated (or hybrid). The latter allows you to get a bit closer to that pure sound at half the price! 

Bass guitarists usually prefer playing with hybrid sets because they deliver ultimate tonal variety while still being pretty durable compared to pure nickel options. If you want your tone to be crispier choose an all-nickel string set instead – it packs more punch than any other type which makes them perfect for heavy music genres like metal, rock, etc. However, if budget is not an issue go for the hybrids – they’re still great even though not as good as pure nickel strings.

Bass String Winding Patterns:

  1. Round-wound is the most common type of bass string. They have a circular shape, which means they can be wound into that shape easily. These types of metal guitar strings produce sound through contact with other wire particles inside them when plucked or strummed while being held in place by their outer edges on either side over the neck and bridge saddles. The roundness makes these best bass strings for metal easy to grip between your fingers while playing so you can better control how hard you press down while fretting notes;
  2. Half-round. Their overall profile has ridges rather than fully rounded grooves like those made by round-wounds but there’s still enough smoothness to make them easy for your fingers to glide over. They’re a good alternative if the sound of round-wounds is too bright and metallic-sounding for your tastes because they have less attack than their more popular cousins, plus they don’t wear away as quickly so they’ll keep their tone longer;
  3. Flat-wound strings are essentially a cross between a half-round bass string profile and a completely flat one with no grooves at all in it except for where it meets its plain steel core wire. Like any other type of metal guitar string, these best bass strings can be wound or unwound into either shape depending on how much tension you want from them. However, when new off an instrument’s packaging straight out of the box, they tend to be flat. They’re also not as prevalent among metal bassists because the lack of grooves and ridges in their surface means they don’t grip between your fingers well enough when played, which can make it harder to control how hard you press down while fretting notes;
  4. Ground-wound is a term used for strings that are like round-wounds except with squared-off edges rather than circular ones all around them making them resemble ground beef patties more so than anything else. Even though the four sides on these types of best bass guitar strings have sharp angles instead of curves, there’s still plenty of room for other particles inside them to move about freely. Since they’re wound into a similar to what a round or half-round would be shaped like so their sound is still metallic and bright, just not as much. The edges of these types of bass guitar strings can take a little while to wear down but when they do – which isn’t very long at all in comparison with round-wound alternatives – the tone will mellow out more than it does on flat or ground-wounds;
  5. Ground-flat was developed by D’Addario specifically for metal music since its introduction decades ago (they’ve become commonplace among other styles too). They have two completely flat sides similar to what you’d find if someone took a standard round bass string’s profile and turned it sideways before laying them side-by-side next to each instead of winding them into a circular shape. They’re wound in a way that makes it easy for you to play them without having to use the same amount of pressure as with other types of best bass guitar strings which can make things easier when playing. But they sound almost exactly like round-wounds thanks to their winding pattern, making them feel more familiar under your fingers if this is what you’re used to using already;
  6. Ground-round is another D’Addario creation designed specifically for metal music and has two flat ends similar to ground-flats only there’s still enough material between these points where normal round-wound ones would be located so not all four sides on these best bass string options look identical while one has its corners cut off instead. Their overall profile looks much like a standard round-wound bass string but with the ends being flat instead of rounded, making them feel even less foreign to metal players who are used to using round-wounds;
  7. Hybrid-round is another category that’s become more popular over time thanks in part to products like D’Addario’s NYXL strings becoming so widely available. They have 4 sides on their profile just like any other type of guitar string would while two of these edges can be either ground-flat or half-round depending on which ones you choose and how much tension they’re under while tuning your instrument. This makes it easy for someone who plays both types because most players don’t need separate sets;
  8. Hexagonal is another type that’s been around for a while but has never quite reached the same levels of popularity as other options despite being very similar to round-wounds in their construction and performance abilities. They’re made by winding the metal wire into an octagon shape (6 sides) instead of something circular like what everyone else does with their best bass guitar string products. This means they feel completely different under your fingers when playing due to how little or much grip you want between them at any given moment;
  9. Fusion-round is another hybrid string that has been around for quite some time now that is yet another D’Addario creation, this one with two ground-flats and four rounds in between each of them. This gives it the appearance of being flat across its entire surface while still having most/all of its usual grips thanks to there being enough material left over from taking away what you don’t need from standard round-wounds. So they’re not as slippery when trying to stop notes short at higher fret positions like where your pinky finger would be located – especially if you play metal bass guitar using 5-6 strings instead of just 4! That said, even though these types of bass guitar strings have their grip levels set to a point where they’ll suit the needs of most metal bass players, it’s still best to contact their customer service department first before buying if you want assurance that these are what you’re looking for;
  10. Ground-round-light is another D’Addario creation designed specifically for use with 5 or 6-stringed instruments since they come in sets that start at .045 gauge and go all the way up to about .130. This means there’s enough variety here so people who use lower tunings can get one type while those who prefer higher ones will be covered too. Even though no matter how much tension any other types of best bass strings might experience under standard tuning conditions. Having them this light should prove to be too easy because the first (and only) set of strings I ever owned that was this light was a pair of “Jaco” bass guitar strings which didn’t last me very long at all;
  11. Ground-round-medium-light is D’Addario creation designed specifically for use with 5 or 6-stringed instruments since they come in sets that start at .045 gauge and go all the way up to about .130 just as their ground-round-light does. However, these ones feel noticeably different under your fingers when you play them thanks primarily to how much more tension gets put on each one as compared to those. This makes it so notes can stop noticeably shorter than usual if you’re trying hard enough and/or using higher fret positions. But, in turn, makes them feel notably stiffer to play which can be a problem if you have any issues with stiffness or inflammation in your hands/fingers, so it’s best not to use these when playing guitar parts for metal songs if that applies to you;
  12. “Jaco” is the final type of bass string and they’re yet another D’Addario creation. These ones were specifically designed by Jaco Pastorius back before he passed away thanks largely due to his unique style requiring him to constantly bend notes at high fret positions all over the neck while barely ever using anything lower than where your ring finger would rest (and even then only sometimes). The strings patterns get their name from his last name because there’s no other type of best bass strings that feel like these do under your fingers and because he played them exclusively until his passing;

Bass Guitar Strings Care and Maintenance

In general, it is a good idea to wipe down your strings after each time you play. This will help prevent dirt and grime from accumulating on the string surface that can affect tone and intonation. 

Also, dust can accumulate around the nut slot where there’s a chance of damaging or scratching other instruments while playing so it also pays to keep that area clean as well. To do this simply use a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water (no soap). 

Dry off any excess moisture before putting your guitar away for storage

Again, avoid using dish soap since most metal guitars are painted in some fashion; dish detergent contains harsh chemicals like ammonia that may strip the paint right off!

FAQ

What strings do metal guitarists use?

Some might say that fourteen gauge strings are the most popular choice among heavy metal players, but others would argue that they’re too thick and therefore not as versatile or easy to play as lighter gauges such as ten-gauge sets (it depends on your preference). There’s no magic formula for choosing the right string set; it all comes down to personal preference. However, many musicians recommend starting out with a 10-string set because of its versatility.

How often should you change bass guitar strings?

String manufacturers recommend changing the bass strings every month or two. This will depend on many factors, such as how often you play and the type of strings you’re using (nickel-plated steel for example). 

When your bass guitar strings begin to sound dull and lose brightness it’s time to change them as well. If they break before that happens then it should be safe enough to leave them in a little longer.

What happens if you don’t change bass strings?

If you don’t change your bass strings when they need to be changed, then the sound that comes from each note will not have a rich tone. Over time, this can actually cause damage to your instrument and render it almost useless until you get them repaired. 

If left too long without changing strings, even if you’ve been playing regularly in order to keep up with any tension on the metal wire itself, eventually the string will snap or fray so much that it no longer has an accurate pitch when played against other notes. There are some cases where certain players play their guitar every day for hours at a time but still neglect to change out bass strings as soon as they’re needed because of another routine maintenance task being more important first. 

For example: if you have more than one instrument and only have a single tuner at your disposal, you will likely use it on the bass guitar if that’s the one that is most out of tune. In this case, you’ll just keep putting off changing strings until there’s a problem with another kind of string on an acoustic or electric guitar. 

Eventually though, unless you’re playing daily to keep up with tension on any metal wire for all types of instruments (which some people do), eventually those bass guitar strings will need replacing as well because they’ve been left too long without being changed when necessary.

Do bass strings go bad if you don’t play them?

One of the most common questions about bass strings is if they will go bad from not being played. The answer to this question depends on what type of string you have and how long it has been sitting in your case. Strings that are coated with certain chemicals, such as nickel-plated steel, can corrode when they’re left for a long time unplayed. 

Other types, like stainless steel or hi-beam strings, use special alloy blends that won’t rust or corrode over time unless directly exposed to heat. Fortunately, these two types don’t need any maintenance after installation so you never have to worry about them going dead just because you haven’t touched them recently. 

How long should bass strings last?

When it comes to the best bass strings, how long they should last depends on your playing style. If you are a full-time musician or play at least four hours every day, then expect an average life span of up to 2 months. 

For more casual players who only use their instruments occasionally, please consider changing your strings after three months. Bass string manufacturers usually give one year warranty for metalcore sets so make sure you check if this is applicable in case there are any problems with them right away!  

How do you know if your bass strings are bad?

There are a few simple rules:

  • The strings sound dead;
  • They don’t have any tension in them and when you pluck the string, it doesn’t make a noise at all;
  • The strings feel very loose like they’re too long;
  • You look at the string and it is visibly broken in half or several pieces;

If your bass guitar has any of these problems, you need to change the strings.

Is it okay to use old bass strings?

No, you shouldn’t use old strings. Old bass strings can become brittle and worn down so they will not produce enough sound or tone for your needs. Bass string manufacturers recommend changing them every 3-5 months depending on how frequently you play. If you practice more than once a day it is recommended that you change the strings at least four times per year in order to maintain a good quality of sound and tuneability throughout their lifespan which could be up to 6 years if taken care of well!

Why are bass strings more expensive?

Bass strings are made from a special alloy so they can have the right tension and durability for metal bass. Many people think that since there is less material used in these types of strings, they should be cheaper to make than guitar or other string sets. This lack of demand has led manufacturers to charge more money as well as offer only one set at a time instead of bundles like those that you often find with guitars.

Useful Video: Everything You Need To Know About Bass Strings

Final thoughts 

Metal music experts have the perfect guide for you! In this article, the experts will go over what types of bass strings work well with metal music. They will also list their top 5 favorite bass strings and give a few tips on how to keep your gear in good condition.