Of The Finish
Your Bass From Damage
Bass String Life
Of The Finish:
wiping the bass down with a soft dry cloth doesn't remove dried sweat
or shine up a dull finish. You may want to use a guitar polish that
is available at music stores. Use polish sparingly, putting the polish
on the cloth and then apply it to the guitar. Do not use household
products such as furniture polish, which may have chemicals that can
do more harm than good to the finish. I've known some players that
recommend using a slightly damped cloth, followed by another dry one.
This can work fine, except that using tap water might be harmful to
some finishes since tap water may contain chlorine. Chlorine can cause
some guitar finishes to have a soft, gummy and sticky feel. Some products
contain silicone. Silicone can harm the finish of your instrument
as well as make it difficult or impossible to refinish. Sometimes
it takes more than guitar polish to restore the luster to the finish.
You can use pure carnauba wax to wax your bass. For best results,
use 100% cotton detailing or diaper cloths to apply and remove the
Your Bass Guitar From Damage:
you are not playing your bass, you should keep it in it's case or
high quality gig bag to protect it from the elements, sudden changes
in the climate and accidental mishaps. Wipe down the entire instrument
including the strings with a soft dry cloth when you are finished
playing. It is best to use a guitar cloth that you can buy in a music
store, sometimes they come with new guitars or you can buy auto detailing
cloths or diapers cloths that are sold in the auto detailing section
of an auto parts or hardware store. These cloths should be made of
100% cotton and feel soft. Try your best to avoid exposing your bass
to extremes of temperature and humidity. Never leave your bass exposed
to direct sunlight, even in it's case. Never leave it next to any
source of heat, including leaving it in a hot car. Heat warps wood
and softens glue joints, both especially when under tension. If you've
ever seen an older instrument that had many fine cracks or checking
in the finish, this is because the instrument was exposed to rapid
temperature changes. When traveling to a gig or rehearsal on a hot
or cold day, arrive early to give your bass enough time to acclimate
slowly to room temperature while still in it's case. Set up the rest
of your gear first, remove your bass from it's case last. Unpacking
your bass after the rest of your gear is set up is always a good idea
because there is less chance of it getting bumped into when people
are setting up their gear. For the same reason, when you are finished
playing at rehearsal or a gig, pack your bass before anything else.
are a few different types of bass strings available, flatwound,
roundwound and half round.
Flatwound strings have the mellowest tone of all the string types.
They are made with a flat wire wound around a core wire. The core
wire goes from the top end of the string and goes around the ball
end. They have the smoothest feel and are easier on the frets than
the other two types of strings, as well as being a bit easier on
fingerboards of fretless basses. These strings were used on all
bass guitars through the 50's, and 60's. Although round wound strings
started becoming popular in the 70's, new bass guitars came with
factory installed flatwound strings. Flatwound strings lost popularity
as the bass started coming out of the background to the forefront
of music. Flatwound strings remained popular with bassists that
play blues and traditional jazz. In recent years, flatwound strings
have become a bit more popular in all types of music as bassists
look to find different tones for their music.
Round wound strings are brighter than flatwound strings. They are
made with a round wire, wound around a core wire. These strings
make more finger noise and can wear frets faster than flatwound
strings. Roundwound strings have become more popular than flatwound
strings due to their brightness.
There are roundwound strings wound with nickel wire and there and
also roundwound strings wrapped with stainless steel wire. Stainless
steel wound strings are the brightest and loudest of all the strings.
They also make the most noise and are the hardest on frets. Stainless
steel wound strings are popular with many bassists in loud rock
bands, due to the power and brilliance they have. There are also
nickel plated stainless steel wound strings (NPS). The attributes
of NPS strings will fall in between those of stainless steel wound
and nickel wound strings.
Halfwound, groundwound or pressurewound strings start out as roundwound
strings and then are either run through rollers which press the
outer part of the string or ground a bit to make the outside a bit
flatter. This way the string will produce less finger noise, be
easier on the frets and have a good amount of the brightness that
roundwound strings have.
Some of the string manufacturers put silk wrap on the ends of their
bass strings. This is to keep the windings at the ends of the strings
from separating. Bass strings that do not have the silk wrap on
the ends are made using a method of winding the ends so that they
do not separate, therefore the silk wrap is not necessary and helps
keep the cost of the strings lower. Some bassists prefer to use
strings that have silk wrapped ends, because they like the way it
looks and they feel it protects the tuning posts from the strings.
the properties of the different string types can make a difference
in fret wear, finger noise, brightness and power, your playing style
is also a big factor in how much of each is produced. If you and
heavy handed with your fretting hand and picking attack, you can
wear out frets with any type of strings and produce a fair amount
of finger noise. Your choice of string should be based on your playing
style, preference of sound and feel and the style of music you play.
Bass String Life:
quickly your strings lose the new sound depends on how much you
play your bass, how you maintain it and your personal hand sweat
chemistry. Bassists who gig and or rehearse regularly with a band
will go through strings faster than bassists who play for the fun
of it at home. There are bassists that boil their used bass strings
in a pot of water to renew the bright sound they had when they were
new. There is an article on the internet about building a tube using
PVC pipe and filling it with denatured alcohol to renew the sound
of the strings. Both of these procedures are used to clean the strings
of sweat, dirt and contaminants that get into the windings of the
strings. Each of these methods of cleaning the strings will work
to extend the like of your strings to some extent. You might not
have the original brightness nor have the brightness for as long
as the time it between when you first installed the strings, to
when you to boiled them or soaked them in a tube filled with alcohol.
Here is an alternative that I use, which will work as long as you
don't wait until too much of the brightness has already been lost.
I prefer to just keep the sweat, dirt and other contaminants to
a minimum for as long as I can. When I am finished playing my bass,
I wipe down the strings with a soft, clean and dry cloth. When I
feel the strings are starting to lose some of their brightness (long
before they sound dull), I wipe them down with some alcohol or even
better, naphtha on a small piece of soft cloth. I do this by cutting
up some small pieces of cloth, smaller than 2" x 2". I
prefer to use chamois cloth to do this. I cut open a clean, smooth
plastic bag to put in between the strings and the body and neck
of the bass to keep alcohol and small cloth fibers from the bass.
Next, I detune the string I want to clean, so I can get the whole
string easier. I apply some 90% isopropyl alcohol to the chamois
cloth and with a moderately firm grip, wipe the entire length of
the string several times, using a different part of the piece of
cloth each time. The dirt that comes off is usually visible on the
cloth. When I don't any more see more dirt coming off the string
and onto the chamois cloth, I wipe the length of the string with
a clean, soft and dry cloth or towel. I tune the string to pitch
and go on to do the same to the rest of the strings. You can do
this cleaning to your strings when you feel the need to, with a
minimal amount of time and materials.
If you decide to boil the strings, use a pot that that won't be
used for cooking so your mother or wife doesn't lose it on you.
When you have removed the strings from your bass, coil them up like
when they were new in their package. Place the strings in the water
after it has started to boil. Don't add salt to the water to make
it boil sooner! Boil the strings for about 15 minutes. Pour the
water out of the pot, then carefully remove the hot bass strings
and put them on a towel. Give them a minute or two to cool, then
dry them thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth. Be sure the strings
are completely dry before reinstalling them on your bass. You might
want to put them in an oven at a low heat setting to make sure they
dry well quickly to avoid having them rust.
Unless you have a bridge with a quick hook design on your bass,
uninstalling and reinstalling bass strings can weaken and maybe
break the ends of the strings that wind around the machine head
posts, especially silk end wrapped strings, so you might not want
to boil or soak your strings too many times. No matter how you try
to keep your strings clean, eventually little or none of the original
sound can be restored and it will be time to change them.
There are products available in some music stores that you can apply
to you new bass strings which are made to coat and protect your
new, unused strings, similar to the coatings that D'Addario and
Elixir put on their coated strings. The coating keeps the dirt out
of the winding. I have not yet tried this aftermarket string coating,
so I cannot say how well they work and whether or not it will affect
string performance. There are some sets of strings priced for bassists
on a tight budget. Some bassists prefer the sound of old strings.
heads with open backs are exposed to the elements. Dirt and contaminants
get in the parts and can stop the key from turning smoothly. The
open type can be disassembled by removing the large screw in the
center of the sprocket gear, Remove the screw, washer and gear.
The post of the tuner should come out through the bushing in front
of the headstock. Some machine heads might have a spacer between
the sprocket gear and the plate as seen on the third picture below.
There is usually no need to remove the bushing or main part of the
tuner. Clean all of the parts well with a penetrating oil, including
the inside of the bushing and in the grooves of the worm gear side
of the key shaft, removing dirt, corrosion and old gummed up grease.
Wipe off the excess penetrating oil. The residual coating of oil
will protect the parts from corrosion. As you reassemble the machine
head, you can put a tiny dab of white grease on the metal to metal
moving parts. (the part of the post that contacts the bushing, the
side of the sprocket gear that contacts the plate of the machine
head), to help the smoothness of the operation. You will notice
that the bottom of the post is shaped to fit into only one side
of the sprocket gear.
machine heads as seen in the picture at the lower right side are almost
maintenance free. There is an adjustment screw on the side of the
key to adjust the tightness and feel of the key to your desire. Turn
the screw clockwise to increase resistance and counterclockwise to
is easy when you know how to do it properly. To wire a guitar or
to do soldering on a circuit board, rosin core solder with a 60/40
tin-lead alloy should be used. You should use a 15 to 40 watt soldering
iron. The soldering iron should be in good condition. It's AC wire
should not have any tangles, burns or cuts in it and the tip should
not be crusty, worn or oxidized. Solder in a ventilated room. This
type of solder rarely spits up like types of solder used with liquid
flux can, but don't take a chance, wear goggles to protect your
eyes! The larger, higher wattage, gun shaped soldering irons work
well, but they may be too powerful for sensitive components, especially
if you've had little or no experience soldering. For safety and
convenience, use a soldering iron stand to hold the iron when it's
hot and you are preparing to solder. These help keep you from accidentally
burning something or grabbing the wrong end of the iron, which is
NOT fun and may severely burn your hand, putting your bass playing
amongst other things on hold for a bit. The base of the holder should
have an area to hold a wet sponge that you will use to clean the
tip of the iron that has excess solder or solder has has been hot
too long. The size and shape of the tip should correspond with the
size of the solder joint you will make. The tips are replaceable,
change the tip as necessary. Small solder points will need a pencil
point tip, larger solder points will need a chisel shaped tip. Before
you plug the soldering iron into the AC outlet, take about an inch
or two of solder and tightly wrap it several times around the tip
of the iron. This will "tin" the tip, helping the solder
melt and flow easier. This will also help the tip last longer. When
the solder melts off the tip, you'll know the iron is ready to use.
Solder flows and hardens to where the heat is transferred. You always
want the tip to look shiny and wet when you are using the iron.
If the surface that the solder needs to be on has not been heated
well, the solder will only stay on the iron tip and / or you might
make a cold solder joint, which may work intermittently or not at
all. For best results, first wipe the tip of the iron on the wet
sponge. Touch the iron tip to the area where the solder is needed,
then touch the solder to the tip and solder joint. Let the solder
flow on to the solder joint, then pull the iron away. Do not use
an excessive amount of solder, just enough to make the parts hold.
When you are finished soldering the connection, wipe the tip of
the iron on the wet sponge to clean it. Sometimes getting the existing
solder on a potentiometer to melt is difficult. To make it much
easier, melt a little new solder onto the old solder, that will
get the existing solder to melt. When you are finished using the
soldering iron, unplug it and wipe the tip on the sponge while it
is still hot. Never leave a hot iron unattended.
note about those COLD HEAT soldering irons. They are convenient
tools, but only meant to handle small, quick solder applications.
They are not meant to solder ground wires onto the backs of potentiometers
or other solder points that will take longer than a momentary touch
to form. They work well on small wire connections and most standard
circuit boards. There is also a difference to the technique of soldering
with them due to their design and function.
Tension: You may be advised by
airline personnel to be sure to detune your bass before air travel.
Do not take this advice, leave your bass in tune. Your bass was
designed to handle string tension at all times. Guitar manufacturers
ship their guitars fully tuned to music stores and they arrive just
fine. Airline companies fly airplanes, they don't build guitars.
If an airline worker at the airport asks you if you've already detuned
your guitar, just say yes to avoid the ridiculous lecture. If
you intend to do any air travel with your bass, be sure to buy it
a flight case. The chances of carrying your bass onboard an airplane
are extremely small unless you have purchased an extra seat for
it. Even if you were allowed to take it onboard as personal luggage
one time, you might not be able to take it onboard the next time,
even if it is the same airline. The case for air travel should be
an ATA approved fight case. Baggage handlers are moving baggage
in and out of planes quickly, so they are unlikely to always be
gentle with your case. The right case will hold up to rough handling
and other cargo that it rides with.
Your Bass On An Airplane: It is very uncommon for a bassist
to be allowed to bring his or her bass guitar into the cabin of
an airplane. The people at the airport will tell you that it is
too big. The only way to ensure that you will be able to bring it
on board, is to buy a seat for it. I've found that the best thing
to do, is try your best to get a direct flight. Bring your bass
guitar to the airport in an ATA approved flight case. Then walk
it all the way to the airplane. That way you will be with it at
all times, at any possible security checkpoint. Be as nice and polite
as you can be to airport personnel that may question you about what
you have in the case, those who want to inspect the case and to
the ones who can assist you. It is important that you are nice and
polite and smile, even to airport security people who might not
be nice and polite to you. Anyone can have a bad day and some travelers
before you could have been a headache to the security person. Nicely
ask airport personnel if they can do anything to help you and that
it would be greatly appreciated. Tell them your instrument is a
your baby, like a sweet car is to an automobile enthusiast. You
can also tell them that your bass is your livelihood (whether it
is or is not) and that you cannot afford to have it become missing
or damaged. Tell them you would like to handle your bass all the
way to the plane if possible. The person at the gate will arrange
to have someone meet you just as you board the plane to take your
guitar and they will put it in with the baggage. By that point you
can lock the case. Make sure you see the I.D. badge of the person
who takes your bass from you. It should be plainly visible. If his
or her I.D. badge is not visible, ask them to please show it to
you. That person will give you a special claim ticket for when you
get off the airplane. The scenario that I've just described will
only work out well if you have to change airplanes during your trip.
If you have to change planes to get to your destination, you will
have to check your bass just like you would check your luggage.
Sometimes you get lucky and they will let you take a guitar on the
plane. I wouldn't take such a chance with a gig bag. If you were
very lucky enough to have been able to bring your bass on board
on one flight, it doesn't mean you will be as lucky on your return
trip, even it is the same airline. Very important...do not make
a joke about having something dangerous in the case. Especially
in this day and age, the security people will not appreciate it,
nor your fellow travelers and you might find yourself in trouble
or at least very delayed for making such a statement.
An alternative, would be to ship your bass ahead to someone you
trust very much and have them ship it back to you when you return