The urge to put bass strings on a guitar is something every guitarist must have stumbled upon in their journey. You may have seen bassists ripping out fat tasty licks on their instruments and wondered, what if I could get that sound on my guitar?
It would be great if you could use your guitar to learn bass and record your bass parts. So, what would happen if you took thick bass strings and strung up your acoustic/ electric?
Turns out, you can put bass strings on your guitar (or even your piano), but you should keep in mind that bass strings are under higher tension and can damage the guitar neck permanently.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this, shall we?
Why You Shouldn’t Put Bass Strings On A Guitar?
Electric (and acoustic) guitars are designed to handle the tension caused by electric guitar strings- which is often way less than that produced by bass guitar strings. The truss rod and neck construction might get damaged if you try to put bass strings on a guitar that’s not built to handle the high tension.
Bass guitars have a longer scale length and are designed to bring out the low end of strings. So, even if you deal with the string tension issue, you still won’t get a bassy sound without the accompanying neck length.
This is because bass strings aren’t meant to provide a clear sound on electric guitars – and they’ll sound muddy and terrible if you do use them to record with.
If you don’t mind putting up with how they sound and are willing to risk damage to your guitar, there’s still something you may want to consider – playability!
As many electric guitarists already know, playing on thinner gauge strings is easier, and fretting thick bass strings can be a pain. Not only is it uncomfortable but it’s also not a good choice if you need to play multiple songs for a set.
We do think that bass strings look great, but on a bass! On an electric guitar, you will need to set up the nut and headstock for the strings to properly fit. Doing this on your own is time-consuming, and can lead to intonation issues, and you’re not going to do a great job!
Learning To Play Bass On An Electric?
You can certainly learn to play basslines on an electric or even an acoustic. The thickest four strings on a bass are the same as on a guitar – so you should be able to learn the bass parts note for note and build your dexterity.
There is something that needs to be mentioned here- the difference between bass and guitar doesn’t just lie in the number of strings between the instruments. Basses tend to have a longer scale length, so when you pick up a bass for the first time, you will immediately notice that frets are much farther apart.
Learning to play the bass guitar (or any other instrument for that matter) is also a matter of developing the necessary muscle memory in addition to understanding how the instrument works.
Investing in a used bass is a fantastic idea to get started with a bass guitar. We think you will find it incredibly fun and rewarding!
Can You Put Guitar Strings On A Bass Guitar?
We already know that putting bass strings on a guitar is a bad idea – it can easily damage guitar necks, you need to set up your guitar for the whole thing, and it doesn’t even sound good!
So, how about guitar strings on a bass?
As the strings on most bass guitars are designed to handle a lot of tension, guitar strings may not be up to the task. They might break and while they probably won’t cause damage to the bass neck, you won’t get a very good sound out of them either.
It won’t be great for performance, but it’s certainly a fun thing to do if you’re curious.
Though we are taking a look at electric guitars in this post, it’s the same for acoustic. Acoustic guitar necks can easily get damaged under high tension and if you’ve ever tried using steel strings on a classical, you know that it’s not a good idea.
Experimenting with guitars is always a good thing but if you’re thinking about trying things that might damage your instrument, you might want to use something you don’t mind getting damaged. Don’t try something stupid on your expensive guitars!
That said, there are certainly fantastic use cases for having bass strings on an electric. Some guys make it sound great – but you should always approach caution while experimenting on your precious guitar/ bass instrument.
We recommend just getting a used bass if you want to try learning the bass guitar and not trying to put bass strings on your electric/ acoustic.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put bass strings on an acoustic guitar?
You certainly can put bass strings on an acoustic guitar but it might lead to intonation issues and neck problems, and it’s not going to be comfortable to play either.