How Many Strings Does A Bass Guitar Have? (Explained For Beginners)

Bass guitars are some of the most versatile instruments in the world. There are a number of different varieties and styles that can be used for any genre of music.

One question that anyone who is considering buying or playing the bass guitar may have is how many strings does a bass guitar have? 

There are four strings on a standard, modern bass guitar. Two low-pitched strings tuned to E and A, and two high-pitched strings tuned one octave higher than their lower counterparts.

There are also 5 strings, 6 strings and even 8 strings bass nowadays, which have an additional string in the lower pitch.

Now, let’s try to answer some frequently asked questions about the Bass Strings.

How Many Strings Does A Bass Guitar Have?

Is a 4 or 5-string bass better? 

The answer is neither. It all depends on the personal preference of the player. How high or low you like to tune your bass can be a deciding factor in which stringed instrument is best for you.

A 4-string bass will typically sound better at lower tuning, while a 5 bass sound better tuned higher. The extra string on a 5 bass is usually tuned to G.

The biggest difference between a 4 and a 5 bass lies in how they are played. A 5/6-string bass has more range because of the extra low string, but it will likely require different fingering than your typical 4-string bass.  

Fretting the lower E or A string is harder, so if you’re just starting out (or don’t have very large hands), you may want to start with something smaller–but there’s nothing wrong with moving up to bigger and better things later on!  

Just make sure that what you buy fits well physically; having big hands can be troublesome when trying to play a small instrument.

When is a 5 Strings Bass Necessary? How About A 6 Strings Bass?

A 5-strings or 6 strings bass may be necessary for a number of reasons, but most of these are related to playing particular genres of music.

If you are playing in a band that is doing mostly up-tempo songs, it may be necessary for the bassist to switch to a 5 or 6 strings bass. The extra low string will allow him or her to add a bit of low end to their riffs without having to frequently change strings.

A five or six-string bass can also come in handy if the bass player needs the ability to play open notes on certain chords.

This particularly applies when the chord is in the third position on the E-A strings and he/she wants an open G underneath those two chords. It is much easier (and faster) to reach over with your index finger and play an open G than it is to stop at the third fret and then go back to the open string.

If you are playing in an ensemble that plays a lot of modal music, then it is possible that you may need to play a five or six-string bass.  

This is because modes require at least one note on the A string (which will be two octaves above the E string).  

In order to achieve this, most musicians prefer to use a five or six-string bass with a low B string tuned down one-half step.

 This can create quite a bit of tension on your neck and fingerboard, so some people prefer an eight-string bass which is basically just another four strings as mentioned above.

How do I tune a 4-string bass?

As we said earlier, the four strings of a 4-string bass are tuned in fourths. 

For tuning your E and A string: Tune your low E (the thickest string) to an open E on stand-up or full scale if it is not there already.

The highest string will be called your G-string and the lowest string should be labelled B. The most common tuning for these two strings is D-G-D-A.

This means that you play the same note as you would from the 5th fret on each of the frets below it on your guitar until you get to the 12th fret.

How Do I Tune My 5-string bass guitar?

Since a five-string bass has an additional lower-pitched B string, it is commonly tuned to the same pitches as a four-string bass. 

The only difference between the two instruments on which each player can make personal adjustments when tuning.  It all depends on the preference of the player and his or her ability to play in tune.  

For example: If you already know how to fret basic chords on your four-stringed instrument, then you shouldn’t have any problems playing around with the fifth string tuning. You may just need some time getting used to using them!

How do I tune my 6-string bass guitar?

A six-string bass typically has these 6 strings tuned in fifths: C (the thickest string), G (second thickest) C, F, Bb, Eb and A. 

The most common tuning for this unique instrument can be found to be a re-entrant tuning (tuning G different from the other strings).  This means that the 6th string is tuned down one half of a step–from E to Eb.  This can be difficult for guitarists who are used to playing bass, especially if they have small hands!

The tuning is as follows: C-G-C-F-Bb-Eb-A (For example: If your bass has a nut width of 1 11/16″ and scale length 32″ (long scale), then you will tune the thickest string to C and the thinnest string to A on your bass).

Is a 6-string bass worth it?

It can be very difficult to play 6 string basses for beginners, especially if they are used to playing smaller size instruments.  

The strings are quite far apart from each other, and you have a lot of room for error when making chord changes on this type of instrument.  

However, it is well worth the effort as you will soon learn to play more complicated songs.  

If you don’t already know how to play the bass, it would be better for you to first learn on a 4-stringed instrument before attempting this feat! It will save your fingers from unnecessary strain. After that, you can eventually upgrade to the six-string version when you are ready (which is what I did).

Why Are Bass Strings So Thick?

Since the bass guitar is larger than a guitar, it has to be made with stronger materials. The four strings of the bass are thicker, and they have heavier gauge tuning so that they can withstand the tension created from being played in various musical styles.

As we mentioned before, even though all 4 strings of the bass are tuned in fourths, the strings are made with different materials and usually of different thicknesses. The string on top is called the high E (thinnest) string; the next thickest string from bottom to top is called your G-string; your second-thinnest string from bottom to top is known as your D string; then comes your A string, and finally your low E string—the thickest one on the bass.

Conclusion: How Many Strings Does A Bass Guitar Have?

The number of strings on a bass guitar can vary, but the most common is 4, 5 and 6.  You’ll just have to figure out how many strings you would like your bass guitar to have before you buy one now!  

Remember that it’s not only fun to play songs on the bass guitar, but it’s also a great way to get in shape and train your mind and body!

Jacob Miller

Hi, I'm Jacob Miller, and welcome to AudioOver, a platform designed to help aspiring music producers create music from home. With a musical background inspired by my award-winning father, I've been passionate about music since I was young.

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