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Bass Guitar Strings

How to Choose a

Bass Guitar

Bass guitars are fairly straight forward with some small differences from one to the next.

The two main topics we'll go over are:

  • Number of Strings

  • Pickups

Most bass players will not need more than 4 strings on a bass, but we'll go over the benefits of it none the less. 

How to Choose a Bass Guitar
Image by Jr Korpa
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4 String vs. 5 String Bass
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Number of Strings


A pickup is an electronic component placed beneath the strings of the bass that "pickup" the sound and send it to your amplifier.

Without getting into too much detail, the two main types of pickups are Single-Coil and Dual-Coil (also known as Humbucking or Humbucker pickups).

Due to the nature of pickups, Single-Coils can pickup more buzzing and interference. Having two coils in a single pickup causes a "canceling" effect on the humming/buzzing.

Bass guitars with single coil pickups often have two of them seated closely together to act as a dual coil. 



  • Brighter Tone

  • Better Clean Tone*

  • More Hum/Buzz

  • Darker Tone

  • Better Distorted Tone*

  • Less Hum/Buzz

Most people prefer Single-Coil pickups for playing a cleaner style of bass (such as Jazz) and Dual-Coil pickups for heavy music (such as Heavy Metal and Hard Rock). With that being said, playing Jazz with humbuckers or Metal with Single-Coils wouldn't be a problem at all. 

Basses usually come equipped with 2 pickups, sometimes they're the same and sometimes they are a combination of Single and Dual. 

Dual Coil vs. Single Coil Bass Pickups
Single Coil vs. Dual Coil Bass Pickups
  • The most common number of strings on a bass is 4, with the second most common being 5. It is rare to see (or need) more than this.

  • The extra string on a 5 string bass is thicker and tuned lower than the lowest string on a 4 string, which can allow you to play some lower notes. 

  • While some people enjoy this, others find it a needless feature and prefer 4 strings. 

  • If you're a beginner and this is your first bass, I'd recommend sticking with a 4 string bass as you will have a wider selection and you'll get better value out of your bass, as a 5 string could be more expensive.

Click here to see my list of recommended Bass Guitars

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