Changed my strings, think I screwed up

Hey guys,
I’m still pretty new, Module 10 to be exact. I have an Ibanez SR300E. I bought it new, it was professionally set up, and it’s sounded great for the few months that I’ve had it. I read somewhere in a thread on here that flat wounds are a little easier to learn on, so I decided to give them a try. After a dozen youtube videos, I figured I could change them myself. They sound really nice, kinda mellow. I’m surprised that I like them, since I don’t listen to jazz or r&b. But there’s something going on with the A string, specifically how it sounds against the E and D strings, if that makes sense. Everything I’ve been playing to this point, any given riff I’ve learned in the first 10 modules, now sounds “off”. I finally figured out that if I play the A string one fret down (1 fret up the neck), it now sounds “right” again. Different than the round wounds sounded, of course, but right in relation to the E and D strings. So, did I screw something up when I changed the strings? Am I just missing something? Any help would be appreciated?

Thanks,
Grant

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welcome to the forum @Grant

Flat wounds have an overall different sound than rounds, but all the strings should sound similar. Does the A string feel a bit spongy (rather than taut) when you press down on it? It’s possible that you have it too loose and it’s playing an octave off. If that’s the case you have to tighten it a full octave until you get back to A again. CAUTION WITH THIS PROCEDURE!! If it’s already tight enough, you risk snapping the string, so be sure before you do it.

Without actually hearing it, this is the only thing that comes to mind.

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Welcome @Grant.
If the note is of by one fret, I’d double check the tuning. I suppose you have, but this sounds like you tuned the string to A flat :thinking:
Happened to me already, not paying attention and missing out on the flat marking :sweat_smile:

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Welcome aboard @Grant,
Enjoy the ride, sounds like your tuning issues have been addressed :+1:
Flats are not specifically for jazz or r&b, they just have a nicer tone than rounds.
I run flats on most of my basses and I don’t play either of those genres of music.
They are warmer and feel nice under your fingers.
Cheers Brian

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Did you check the intonation as well? Put your tuner on, check the open string and then fret it at 12th fret, they should both register an A note. If you are getting a flat or sharper pitch at the 12th fret, then you need to adjust the bridge saddles.

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I’m pretty sure this is just the intonation being off.

When you change strings to a new type of string you generally need to do a full setup. The neck tension of different string sets is different, so the truss rod will likely need adjusting; you may want to raise or lower the action; and the intonation will almost assuredly be off a little.

What it sounds like is happening in your case is the intonation on the A string is off a lot. So even though it is in tune, it rapidly falls out of sync with the other strings as you go up the neck.

I recommend these two videos.

Basic setup:

Intonation:

You need to adjust the truss rod and action before the intonation, so I posted both videos. The latter is likely your problem.

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Welcome to the forum Grant. Great to see you at level 10 and already starting to do your own set ups. That is great, I am of the belief that every bass player should do their own strings and basic string set ups (action, intonation), however I do not look down upon anybody who chooses not to, they are bass players after all, so they have to be good people.
But, yeah, watch the videos, and do simple tweaks and you will be back and grooving, all ready for module 11. :+1: :+1: :+1: :+1:

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Wow, thanks for the quick responses! I just checked, and the A is definitely taut, similar to the rest, so I doubt I could be a full octave off. I’ll definitely watch those videos today. I didn’t address either the truss rod or the intonation (didn’t know I needed to), so that’s likely the problem. I’ll report back–thanks everyone!

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I’ve change strings multiple times (rounds to flats, flats to tapewound, half wounds, back to flats, etc.) and have never touched the truss rod. I don’t know that you have to mess with that just because you changed the type of strings. But it never hurts to check.

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If you can post a video or audio of you playing just your open strings, I can chime in with maybe more helpful and direct advice! Otherwise, everyone here has given excellent pointers! Good luck!

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So, it turns out that I’m an idiot. I had tuned the A string to A#, because I didn’t see the tiny little # on the tuner. I suppose it was sheer luck that I got the other three strings right! Having said that, the video above on intonation was helpful–even though I had just found the problem, I figured I might as well check since I had just learned something new. E and A were both off a bit, and I was able to fix them fast. Even after watching the full setup video, I’m still a little nervous to adjust the truss rod/action, but I don’t think I have to since all seems fine now. Thanks again for all of the help, you guys rock!

Grant

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Great job @Grant,
Now your on your way to bass 2 badass👍
Cheers Brian

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One last tip that I have seen in a few spots (maybe even on here), is when changing strings, only take one off at a time. This will help maintain the tension of the neck/truss rod and should minimize any major adjustments. Of course different strings will have different tensions.

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Another thing to keep in mind is to check the tuning as new strings can take a little time to settle into position and stay in tune,
I’ve had instances where I tune E then go through the other 3 and check E again and find it a little flat, then go through the whole process again.
Cheers Brian

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I actually do the opposite…
I take all strings off, mainly so I can give the bass a good cleaning.
I put on the strings, tune them, then stretch them (like Marcello shows in one video) and then tune them again, then stretch again (just because I do, not from the YouTube video) and then tune again,
Then I check the action and see if I need another trus rod adjustment, if I do, I take care of it, but I have not had to yet.
Last I check intonation.

I post this not to argue, but to say, I am not sure that one way is right vs. the other, and it may be more about personal preference then weather it is correct or not.

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Yeah this is what I do too.

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Hey @T_dub,
I agree it comes down to personal preferences, in that it’s probably a good idea to take all strings off to give the bass a clean, that makes sense, but I do one string at a time also Probably because I find it easier for me to do it that way.
I haven’t watched the video you have suggested, but I will have a look👍
I’ve not had any problems with Tuning on any of my dinosaurs over the years.
Sometimes we can have to much input, I suppose that’s the world we live in now with YouTube, google and all the other platforms trying to confuse the hell out of us​:joy: :rofl:
I’m finding this out trying to learn Mac after always working with PC , I have googled stuff and I’ve found a million different interpretations trying to cover the same thing​:thinking: :thinking:
All this has done is confuse the crap out of me😡

Cheers Brian

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Yeah, the Marcello video “The Bass Wizard” youtube channel. he doesn’t say one way or the other about taking off all strings or one at a time.
What I was posting from it was about stretching your strings right away.
I.e. String - tune - stretch - tune
to stretch he simply, one string at a time, puts his index finger under the string at the Neck / body end and runs his finger under the string up to the nut, as far as you can go without hurting / cutting your finger.
That’s it. It is not much, thats why I give it another go, and then bend them up and down like when you are playing.
I do some string pops like slapping. Mostly stretching D and G that way because its the strings mostly popped.

I also press firmly the string DOWN right where it leaves the bridge, so settle the bend right there, as shown in an SBL video before.

I will say that I have not done all my string changes the same way, I do try new things when I see them or hear about them, and I have forgotten a thing or two a time or two.
It’s not an exact science, or at least I don’t treat or interpret it that way.
Cheers. :wink:

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Yep I agree👍Cheers Brian

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What’s wrong with just running a microfiber cloth under the strings occasionally to clean the board???

I do them one at a time. It’s much more orderly than taking them all off and having a pile of strings on the floor, and then putting the new ones on.

Like others have said, it’s all up to personal preference. I don’t believe there’s a wrong or right way to do it.

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