Can You Put Guitar Strings on a Bass?

Creating music is fantastic because one always finds an opportunity to break the rules. 

In other words, experimenting with different sounds, instruments, and effects leads to wonderful results. 

Sometimes those results define the characteristic sound of a band or artist. Some other times, it even changes the world of music forever. 

But not everything that glitters is gold

More often than not, changing too many rules ends up being unpleasantly strange. 

And this applies not only to the audience and music consumers but to the musicians themselves. 

Put simply, there are things that just don’t work

One of them is the topic of this article: guitar strings on a bass guitar. 

Is it that much of a bad idea?

You can put guitar strings on a bass, but it is not recommended at all. You need to adjust the bass so the strings work, including the neck and truss rod. Also, you run the risk of breaking strings because of the excessive tension you apply to them.  

As always, there is more than just the easy answer. 

Stick with us! Find out the reason behind this crazy idea, and why it’s not wise to try it. 

Will guitar strings work on bass?

Technically, you can put guitar strings on a bass guitar and they will work. 

Most likely, however, they won’t work efficiently, and that is a very important thing to consider. 

After all, we mentioned that they could work, but we never said that they could work for long periods of time

Also, they will not work on standard tuning. 

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. When trying to use guitar strings on a bass, one is bound to face plenty of issues. 

Which are they? We’ll mention them below.  

Could using guitar strings damage your bass? 

So, you still want to define logic and try out this atrocity? Cool, I like your attitude. 

You might be wondering, though, if doing it will damage your bass guitar. 

It’s a good question, and I’m glad to answer that using guitar strings on a bass guitar won’t damage the instrument

It would be dangerous if it was the other way around. Bass strings have much more tension than guitar strings, which ultimately, can damage the neck. 

Logically, it’s impossible for guitar strings to break a bass, since guitar strings have less tension. 

The only thing that can break in this experiment is the guitar string itself. 

Consider that you need to tighten the strings a lot if you are planning to reach a certain pitch. 

The stretching will cause the string to break. 

My advice, then, is to use old strings (in case you want to try this out). 

Old strings are not very strong, but if they break, they will not be a significant loss

What are some issues you might face when using guitar strings on a bass? 

Let’s mention the most common problems you will encounter in this scenario. 

First of all, size. Bass guitars’ necks are longer, which means that the strings could not be long enough to fit in. 

Even if they do fit, you run the risk of breaking them when tuning them because of the extra tension implemented. 

Additionally, you have to adjust the truss rod as well to counteract the tension of the strings. The truss rod either increases or decreases the string length. 

What’s more, you need to change the nut. You have to fit the string in the right size, so it doesn’t move loosely (bass strings are thicker). 

Lastly, we can mention that guitar strings cannot impact the pickups as a bass string would normally do. Once again, this is a matter of thickness. 

As you have seen, you have to consider lots of things before being able to play guitar strings on a bass guitar. Are you willing to struggle that much? 

How would guitar strings sound on a bass?

Playing bass guitar with guitar strings doesn’t exactly sound bad. 

Actually, it creates a peculiar sound. Needless to say, the feel of the playing changes too. 

All in all, it is safe to claim that it creates a brighter but softer sound. 

The register is a bit lower than a bass guitar with bass strings, which makes it more dazzling. 

If you want to experience this phenomenon and get your own conclusions, we encourage you to check this video out. 

Are there any good reasons for using guitar strings on a bass?

We’ll try to be as honest and straightforward as we can: there are not many good reasons to try this out. 

Truth is, most musicians will claim the same. 

Just think about it. It is a total mess, and at the end of the day, it won’t be worth the struggle. 

You run the risk of breaking strings, but that’s just the least of the problems. 

Re-adjusting the neck and truss rod is too much of an effort. 

Sure enough, you could argue that using guitar strings on a bass is a great form of experimenting with music and instruments. 

There’s a bit of truth in there. As we usually say, there are few rigid rules in the world of music. 

Doing something new can bring incredible results, but also, catastrophic ones. 

Plus, some musicians have already tried that in the past (take the example in the video above). In reality, it didn’t turn out to be something memorable. 

So, I encourage you not to do it. But of course, I’m nobody to tell you what to do and what not to do. 

If you are still urged to do it despite all odds, then definitely, do it. 

Just remember all the issues you will face, and be prepared to break a string or two in the process.  

Why are bass strings thicker than guitar strings?

What’s the main function of a bass guitar? Aside from functioning as a bridge between the guitar and drums, and providing harmony? 

Well, it is to provide depth to the songs thanks to their lower pitch. 

Low pitch is the key concept here. Thick strings are meant to create a lower pitch. 

Now, forget you are at a music gear website. Imagine you switch to a physics class. 

Yes, I’m sorry for that. But trust me, it will be really quick! 

So, the deal is simple: Bass guitar strings are dense, and dense molecules vibrate at a lower velocity. 

This means that the denser the string, the slower it vibrates, leading to a lower frequency. 

See? It wasn’t that bad of a lesson! 

Hope you have found this information useful!