How to Change the Strings on a Double Bass


Geoff: Hi its Geff Chalmers here from discoverdoublebass.com.
If you haven’t already seen the website please go and check it out after this video and you
will find a ton of free bass lessons. Okay, today I’m going to be showing you the quickest,
the easiest most painless way to change the strings on your double bass. To get started, I recommend laying the bass
flat on its back and a great place to do this is just to lay the bass on a bed. Now with
the edge of the bed around here, you’ve got space to the side that you can easily access
the peg box and you can tighten and loosen the strings as needed. And you will also find
that the body of the bass is really well supported. You can do this by laying the bass on the
floor again flat on its back but be very careful that the weight of the instrument isn’t being
supported by the scroll. With mine, my scroll comes back so far it could actually take up
all the weight of the instrument so I would need to put a pillow or something slightly
under the side of the instrument to raise it up a little. Well, it’s also possible to
lay the bass down on its side and change the strings in that position as well. Again I’m
not a fan for a couple of reasons. One because its quite hard to get down on your knees and
access the peg box completely. But also, I prefer to have the instrument flat on its
back so the sound post is facing upwards all the time. The sound post is a wooden rod which is in
between – placed in between the back and the front of the double bass on the inside. So,
the tension of the strings goes down and keeps the sound post in position. What we don’t
want to do is release all the tension and then find that the sound post falls down and
you’ll have a bit of a pain digging around in the bass trying to reset that. Another
thing to look out for is that – especially if you are starting out doing this for the
first time, you may accidentally knock the bridge out of position. A little tip I have
for you is to use a soft pencil and just gently outline on the top, don’t mark your bass in
terms of the varnish. Just put a very soft like gentle layer of pencil, around the bridge
beat and that will help you re-position them in the event of accidentally knocking it slightly
out of alignment. Another thing that will help keep your bass
in good shape is to think about the input jack on the pickup if you have one and I recommend
using an old towel or something and just unhooking this before you get started and laying that
on top. I’d recommend that if this is the first time of that you’ve changed the string
on your bass. Just take a quick photo maybe with your phone or something of the way the
strings are laid out in the peg box just in case you have any problems later. But let’s
have a quick look at this now. What we are trying to do is end up so the strings aren’t
rubbing against the side of the peg box. You can see there’s a bit of room here. This one
is pretty tight there, perhaps a little tighter than I’d like but as you can see, this string
has to cross this one at this point and ideally we don’t want the strings crossing and rubbing
against each other but with my old bass, it’s always going to be a little bit of a compromise.
Another thing I’d recommend is to buy a string winder. They’re are not expensive. They’re
only a few pounds and will make the whole process a lot easier. So, what we are going to do is we are going
to start on the G-string side now you could start on the E and work across that way. I
actually personally don’t think it really matters. I’ve heard people, you know, make
different suggestions, different orders but frankly as long as we try to keep the tension
on the bridge by not removing all of the strings we will probably be okay particularly with
the bass flat on its back. So that’s the first point, never remove all the strings from the
bass. We are going to try and do it one by one. However, with some smaller peg boxes,
like mine, you’ll actually have to loosen off a second string as well. So let’s have
a look how that’s going to work. So, I’m starting with the G and I’m just going
to loosen that off. So the string is quite loose now, but as we can see I can’t access
this very easily because of the position of the D-string. So what I’m going to do is I’m
going to loosen it off a touch. There we are. It will enable me just to pull the string,
there we are, a little bit more. Pull the string across just to give me a little bit
of access to the G. Now, ideally if you can access the peg box without, you know, loosening
the D, I would recommend doing that. But as I say, if you have to slightly slacken it
off like I’ve done here, I don’t see that’s much of a big deal. So I’ve just loosened
off the string in the peg box and I managed to thread it through the peg and what I recommend
is accessing pulling the string out from this side of the tail piece rather than feeding
it through underneath which you can damage the string and its a lot harder to do. Now
just before we put the new string on I actually wanted to recommend that you give your finger
board a bit of a wipe down just to get ride of any gunk that’s accumulated since you changed
the strings last time. Now the other thing that’s really worth doing as well, is using
pencil lead to lubricate the bridge and the nuts and this is the point that the string,
travels across and it just makes the whole thing a bit smoother for the string, so let’s
have a look here. I will just add a little bit of pencil in the slot there and I will
do it in the D as well since I’ve got that to one side. Now I’ve got the string, I’m going to put
a new set of D’Addario Zyex on my bass and give those a try. And if we just take this
out of the packet here, it comes with a little felt washer and they were also on my old strings
as well. I recommend using those if you have them provided, but if not it will be fine
without one. So I usually just thread that down from the top and it should end up down
at the other end of the string. And I also recommend putting the string on again through
the top of the tail piece if possible, rather than stringing it from underneath. Okay, so
now we have the string in the peg box and now we are going to pop it through the hole
there, wrap it around itself, probably about 1/3 of the colored wrap that’s at the end
of the string. Let’s have a loot at that. Now what I’m going to do is wrap that around,
put it out of the way, hold on to it at the end and I’m just going to tie it in the string
with my string winder. Now what I’m trying to do is to make sure
that I direct the string, in this case, to my right and in that way it won’t be bundling
up on the wrong side and it won’t be coming into contact with any of the strings. Okay,
at this point of the process you can see I’m halfway through. I’ve done the G and the D
and I’m going to have to do the same thing with the E and the A because as you can see
I can’t access my E-string without releasing the A and pulling it to one side. So that’s
exactly what I’m going to do. Release the A string and then change the E. So, let’s have a quick look in the peg box
and you can see that I’ve switched over the strings here and I’ve managed to get them
fairly neat. There’s a bit of touching there between these strings and there’s this – there
is a little bit of room between the side of that string and the side of the peg box. As
I say, my bass is a little bit tricky and you might not be able to get it perfect but
try and avoid crossing them over and keep it as neat as you can. I have got a couple of quick tips just to
finish off. As you are winding the string, you may find that the bridge is pulled in
this direction so you may have to pull it back ever so slightly. Especially if the strings
are looser, just to make sure that you are not pulling it out of alignment. Lastly, make
sure that you never use wire cutters to trim the ends of the strings. Persevere with this
method, I know its fiddly, but of lining the up strings correctly in the peg box and your
strings will last a lot longer. Well I hope you’ve enjoyed the lesson today.
It’s been a bit of different for me, wrestling with the the bass on this work bench and of
course there hasn’t been any playing. If it has helped you please let me know by clicking
that like button on Youtube and it will help me reach new people, and of course you know
where to go if you want more free video double bass lessons please visit discoverdoublebass.com.

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