String Choice

Fitted as standard to my early SWB-1 Basses

Choosing the right strings is CRUCIAL to getting a good result from your short scale bass! The range of dedicated short scale bass strings available is relatively limited, although there are thankfully still enough to suit all of us! 🙂 It is possible to use long scale strings on many short scale basses – more on this later…)

Bass strings on a short-scale are under less tension that on a long scale so if you’re used to using say 40-95 on a long scale, you may need to go up a gauge to 45-100 to get the tension back to where you like it. Some manufacturers seem to simply make their strings shorter or longer depending upon the scale whereas others use a thicker core for their short scale strings.

Below I will talk about the various brands I’ve tried and give you a summary of my experience with them. String choice is of course a very personal thing and these are only my personal opinions…

A quick but important note – some manufacturers produce short-scale bass strings that only work on 30″ scale basses.  If you have a 30.75″ scale bass, or a bass like the Hofner Violin where the tail-piece is some distance from the bridge saddles, you’ll need to use MEDIUM SCALE strings otherwise the wound part of the string won’t reach past the nut.


Here in the UK the most commonly available sets os short scale strings are Rotosound’s RS66s 40-90 stainless steel roundwound & RS77s monel flatwound 40-90. Both these sets have the afore mentioned thicker inner core. Sorry Rotosound but in my opinion these strings are AWFUL!!!!  Whilst I quite love Rotosound’s long scale strings, their short scale offerings suffer with terrible overtones, particularly the low E. It’s so bad that if you fret an A at the 5th fret on the E string, it simply sounds out of tune. They also tend to rise in pitch considerably just after being plucked/slapped, which adds to this out of tune vibe. It’s a real shame because they feel great and playing fast on them is a breeze.

If you like Rotosound strings then my advice would be to try using long scale Rotosounds a gauge higher than you’d use on long scale and cutting them down about an inch from where the silk wrapping starts. On most shorties you’ll have to carefully wrap a little of the wound part of the string round the tuning post. Take your time doing it – there is a risk you could damage the string although I’ve done this countless times with no problem whatsoever. This doesn’t work on Danelectro basses sadly due to their tiny little guitar-style tuners.

I’ve just fitted a set of their PSD BASS 99 (Piano String Design) to one of my SWB-1’s and they sound awesome!  I’m just about to contact Rotosound in the hope they might consider making a dedicated short-scale set of these.

Website –

Rotosound RS77S:

Rotosound RS66S:


D’Addario’s round-wounds are the most consistent and pro-sounding short scale roundwounds on the planet imho! They do both a stainless & nickel range. They sound very pure in tone and have good tension. All that overtone/out-of-tune stuff you get with the Rotosounds is non-existent with D’Addarios. When I got my first short scale, a Danelectro Longhorn, the only short scale strings available locally were Rotosound. I soooo wanted the bass to work for me, and whilst I loved the feel of the bass, and the Rotosound strings, the ‘out-of-tune’/overtone thing was driving me nuts and I was very close to selling the bass on ebay!! I ordered a set of D’Addario Pro Steels online just to see if they made any difference before I sold the bass and well – the difference was night & day!!! When I first plugged the Dano in after fitting the ProSteels I could not believe what I was hearing. Pure, solid lows with beautiful bell-like highs!!! You get a long-scale type tone from a short scale bass with these.  My only gripe with D’Addario is they do their ‘super-light’ gauge in Nickel?!

D’Addario’s flatwound strings are equally fabulous, although for some they sound a little bright and they are slightly higher in tension. For a darker more vintage-sounding flatwound you might be better served with LaBella, Thomastik or Pyramid.

Website –

D’Addario ECB80 XL Chromes:

D’Addario EPS170S XL ProSteels:

D’Addario EXL220S XL Nickel Wound:

D’Addario EXL160S XL Nickel Wound:


The first thing I’d say about GHS is what a fantastic company they are to deal with.  They’re extremely enthusiastic and passionate  about what they do, and they seem to genuinely care about their customers and were so helpful answering any all my questions.  These qualities can be rare today so hats off to GHS!

I currently have four sets of GHS bass strings sent by the company for me to review.  Yesterday I video-reviewed their round-wound Super Steels. I have yet to check out the other three sets, but these Super-Steels have very quickly become my favourite round wound strings!!

GHS’s ‘Super Steels’ I found to be a very powerful, growly round-wound string.  Very strong but not overpowering mids make for very musical and articulate playing, even with the tone rolled right off.  The strings are lovely and bright, but in a balanced way, i.e. just enough ‘grit’ in there when playing finger-style or with a pick, but switch to slapping/tapping techniques and there’s all the sparkle you could wish for.  The strings feel much smoother than other stainless rounds I’ve used and overall are, fr me,  the best roundwound short-scale strings I’ve used to date! 10/10

I’ve also tried their piccolo bass strings on my short scales which are fabulous. The Piccolo strings they make are long scale but cut down just fine for short.

Website –

GHS 3020 Precision Flats:



GHS Super Steels 5500:

GHS Phosphor Bronze 9200:

GHS Piccolo Bass P3045:


LaBella short scale strings are fabulous! Both their flatwound and roundwound strings sound superb. Their stainless steel roundwounds have an incredible growl to them that I’ve not heard in other strings – very aggressive. Their flatwounds have a great vintage tone and a nice feel. Simply put – you won’t go far wrong using LaBella on your short-scale bass! 🙂

Website –


I’ve only personally tried Thomastik JF324 Jazz-flats. They are by far my favourite flatwound short scale strings!!! Really low tension and flexible, but with this super-warm, middly, punchy tone. I used these on a tour I did with Steve Cropper and they sounded just ‘right’. I really can’t recommend these strings enough however if you use a lot of force in your playing and don’t want to adjust, you might be better with LaBella or D’Addario.

Website –

Optima Gold-Plated

I tried a set of these a couple of years ago. Being into flashy-looking stuff I really hoped they’d sound amazing! Well in truth they sounded ok. Nothing special, good-enough, not as bright as others.  BUT they last a LONG time and they are great for people who have allergies to other strings.  And they do look VERY cool!! 😀

Website –


I’ve tried Fender’s acoustic and electric short scale bass strings and like them both. The sets i tried were pretty low-tension and sounded bright & zingy. Not as good as D’Addario and their electric short scale strings are (I think) only available in Nickel. Not a bad choice if nothing else is available – WAAYYYY better than Rotosound’s short scale strings.

Website –


OK – I’ve never tried Pyramid strings, but it’s worth mentioning that guys like Paul McCartney used them which must say something!!! I’ve got a set on order as we speak so will report back when fitted and tried.

Website –

That’s all I’ve tried so far.  I do hope that this gives you some help in choosing your first set of short scale strings, or if you’re looking to change.  Please feel free to email me at on if you have any questions.

Over and out,


59 Responses to “String Choice”

  1. Treflyn Jones 1st October 2021 at 3:39 pm Permalink

    During the Covid19 lockdown I taught my wife to play Bass Guitar. At 75 years old that’s quite an accomplishment. I’m in the throes of building her a Bass Guitar using a standard 25 1/2″ 6 string guitar neck, with modified nut and turret tuners. (no hole for the string to go through). I now need to source appropriate Bass Guitar Strings.
    Look me up on Home Built Guitars on Facebook.

    I realise that buying standard scale Bass Guitar Strings and cutting them short is not the answer.

    Please can you advise?

    Many thanks.

    Treflyn Jones

  2. Barry Miller 16th August 2020 at 4:38 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott I recently purchased a short scale ’76 Rickenbacker 3000 bass, and I’m looking for the best flatwound strings to use? – I can’t find any references as to
    recommendations, hence I’m turning to you for some
    advice! – I’d love to think the Thomastik flats would work, but will they fit? – there’s not many of these basses around, so it’s difficult getting “ANY” info.
    I’d be grateful for your help. Many thanks, Baz Miller

  3. Wheelybad 12th August 2020 at 4:01 pm Permalink

    This has been a really helpful blog post. Having not brought a set of bass strings for 15 years and not brought any short scale ones for well over 25 years the choice and the range in price has been a little overwhelming. Due to ill health I’d hardly played for a long time. It wasn’t till I’d come to terms with a few things I sold my beloved P bass back to her last owner as she is too lovely to sit in a box, so got her out for a play for old times sake. Despite my limitations I thoroughly enjoyed myself so now she’s gone I have begun a mission to turn my old Musicmaster into a reliable bass that could, in theory, be used to gig. Anyone who has one of these will know the bridge is a nightmare, the basic tuning pegs are very basic and stay in tune for one song if you’re lucky, they used Strat pickups with the 6 magnets. She now wears new hardware (Schaller 3D 4 bridge and some pre loved Schaller tuning pegs). There’s a hot rail pick up and a new wiring loom on order so that just leaves strings. As I was solidly and happily using Roto 105 round wound stainless steel on the P bass and would then use the gigged strings on the Musicmaster as that was my gig spare. Now it’s my primary bass (for now, miss the feeling of a plank of wood in my hand) so gotta show her some love. After reading this I feel I’m making a more informed decision, so gonna start with what I know & like, with 105 Stainless Steel round wound (D’Addarios) and go from there. My gratitude and thanks for a great review. Shall be following from now on.

  4. Jon B 19th July 2020 at 5:48 pm Permalink

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the Rotosounds. I just got a secondhand 32″ scale bass and started looking around for strings. I bought a whole selection but the first ones that arrived were a medium scale Rotosound swing bass set. The tone of the open strings was ping, ping, ping, thud. The E string sounded dead all over the neck, and chords were just horrible. I checked the intonation and it was very slightly out, but not enough to produce such a bad sound. I honestly though the bass must be a dud, with some serious problems I hadn’t spotted when I bought it.

    The second set of strings to arrive were the TI Jazz round wounds. What a difference. Slightly less zingy because they aren’t stainless steel, but a lovely tone and no deadness. Chords sound great, the string are supple and very nice to play. Probably the best strings I’ve ever had.

  5. Andy 5th June 2020 at 2:29 pm Permalink

    Another one to try from GHS is their Balanced Nickels. They’re on the warmer side of nickel strings and are very even string-to-string as the name implies. It took some futzing with to get the E string on my Longhorn though due to the silk wrappings. Ugh, I hate silks. Also put a set on my Supro and sound and feel really great but I might try to find something a little brighter for my current projects.

  6. James Cruz Chua 29th May 2020 at 2:20 pm Permalink

    thanks for this very informative post, i like to do a bead tuning on ahort scale bass. which string set do you recommend? i prefer flatwound, but roundwound will do if it’s what you recommend

    I have also another question, why is it ok not to change flatwound but not for roundwound?


    • Jasper 6th June 2020 at 10:03 pm Permalink

      I too have this question,
      I tune ADGB and CANNOT find short scale strings to support down tuners.
      resultantly my longscale gets played & my short scale doesn’t.
      Weird really as there is a clear market for bassists wanting to play lower notes.

      • Rick 14th July 2021 at 9:05 pm Permalink

        you can simply pull the outer winding off these strings to expose the core and get that into the machine head

  7. Michael Vardopoulos 23rd January 2020 at 4:31 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott, thank you that great review.
    The Thomastik JF324 are for 32″ scale. Do they fit on a 30″ Short scale bass?

    • Scott Whitley 11th April 2020 at 2:27 pm Permalink

      They usually do – just be careful if you need to wrap the thicker part of the string round the post. Baby steps is the way…


  8. Jon Burfitt 7th December 2019 at 3:33 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott, I got one of the last (I think) SWB-1’s that you set up yourself. I’m and old f**k who already had short arms and fingers and had played my priceless old Precision for years.
    Your bass has re-energised my playing, it feels so comfortable. I can’t thank you enough for prolonging my career.
    I’m living in Spain now, but still have a band in Gloucestershire that I pop back to quite frequently.
    I still need to leave a bass in the UK, but I’m missing my SWB. What am I going to do?
    I guess get another short scale bass. How do the Chowny ones stack up against your originals? Are you still doing custom jobs?
    Will I have to get a Mustang? So many questions.

    All the best to you Scott. You really helped me out

    • Scott Whitley 11th April 2020 at 2:26 pm Permalink

      Hi Jon!!

      Sorry for the stupidly slow reply! 🙁 Finally I have some time to catch up on here.

      Thanks SOOO much for those kind words – absolutely inspiring to hear how my small effort has helped so much.

      Hope you’re holding up ok under current conditions.

      All the best to you and yours, Jon,

  9. rohit aggarwal 25th November 2019 at 9:47 am Permalink

    thanks for the information

  10. Nigel Morgan 7th November 2019 at 6:05 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott
    Any recommendations on the best flats to go on a Gretsch Junior Jet? I like a string with a bit of tension, not too floppy.
    many thanks

  11. overmatik 15th May 2019 at 4:38 pm Permalink

    I’ve always had a set of 50-105 D’addario on my short scale basses, and even Eb tuning would sound great. But since GHS came up with their balanced set of 44-106 I’ve been using them exclusively. The gauge is very important with short scales, as to my ears anything under .105 for the E string gives it a floppy feeling.

    I believe most of the prejudice towards short scale basses comes from the 40-90 sets they usually come with.

  12. Ian 2nd April 2019 at 11:19 am Permalink

    I’ve ordered a couple of sets of GHS strings since they made thier winding length longer. Both sets that turned up ended up too short for my SWB 1 so I presume they have sent me old stock.
    I’ve now resorted to asking the supplier what the winding length of thier short scale GHS strings is and whether they are old strings stock or not.
    They haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about and the usual answer is, ” we will enquire with GHS and get back to you”.
    They never do.

  13. Rene 11th March 2019 at 9:19 pm Permalink


    What would be your choice of Flatwound strings for a Gibson eb3
    The real shortscale one with original Gibson three studs bridge.
    It needs thick strings and enough tension otherwise it keeps on buzzing on the frets or you have to raise the action so high that its really no fun to play it at all.
    especially the e string needs the tension to sound well.
    Thanx. René.

    • Scott Whitley 22nd May 2019 at 4:51 pm Permalink

      I’d go with GHS Precision Flats, personally. I love the Thomastiks but the ones I have are VERY low tension.

  14. Kiv 24th November 2018 at 11:05 pm Permalink

    Thanks Scott, very useful site for newcomers in the world of shorties as I am 🙂 I appreciate! I am a long time guitarist but a few days ago I had an opportunity to play 95′ korean Fenix SH, 30,5 scale. I was so bewitched by this guitar that I spent my last money on it. Looking for informations about short and medium scale basses I found this page and Your SWB model, which seems to be very interesting too.

    Have You ever experienced with detuning? I see You recommend GHS 44-106 for standard E tunning I guess.

    If I play in D standard how to recompense strings tensions? Which gauge could You recommand for playing with a pick?

    P.S. Thanks for advice about not nuclear picking on shorties anyway, I often do it on guitar and long scale bass 😉

  15. michael lindner 19th February 2018 at 4:01 am Permalink

    i am having a difficult time finding string for my supro pocket bass. short short scale.
    having problems with intonation with any string i try.
    any suggestions?

    • Steven 16th May 2018 at 8:04 am Permalink

      I second that! Just purchased a new pocket bass from eastwood, but i prefer tape wounds. The scale on thier version is 26.5. Any suggestions?

    • Peter 7th August 2018 at 3:50 pm Permalink

      Hi Michael,
      I also own a Supro bass Huntington II. Had the same problem with the E sting on that. The problem was that the nut was to high. I had that fixed and are very satisfied with the bass.
      Maybe you have the same problem?
      I have GHS Bassboomers on it.

  16. Andrew 12th February 2018 at 12:49 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott,
    what would you recommend for SQ Jaguar Special?
    I want to try it in drop C tuning

  17. Juan 30th October 2017 at 4:23 pm Permalink

    Im looking strings for a five-strings short scale bass of 30′, any idea? or recommendation? I would like the most bass sound possible.

  18. Jon 3rd October 2017 at 12:25 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott, I recently bought a passive bass and got some D’Addario EXL160S Short Scale Bass (50-105) – they are too short by about 2cm the taper comes to halfway to the first fret!

  19. Mark 12th December 2016 at 12:01 pm Permalink


    Just discovered this site and your facebook page, well played, very good.
    I’ve just taken delivery of two Fender Mustang Offset P/J Basses, new 2016 models. I love em, always liked short scale for my wee hands. I love the fender growl, and I can get that from these Basses, but I find the tone/sound across all the strings a bit variable, can get punchy low, and nice treble, but the whole bass can sound a little inconsistent. Now both these are from Factory with strings bridge etc, haven’t been to my tech to set them up for me yet. But was looking advice on strings, some places say bridge replacement can help too, although the size of the body might not take a badass for example, or fender hi-mass. I play Rock. classic & heavy, also middle of the road on occasion, but always want that growl and bite. Also, the second bass is to be tuned down to low B, I got rid of my 5 string and now intend to run two mustangs, one standard one tuned down. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, Thanks, Mark

  20. Mel 22nd May 2016 at 10:10 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott! When you set up the SWB-1 basses, what strings do you put on? Brand, gauge, length, material… thanks!

  21. Alan 16th May 2016 at 4:32 pm Permalink

    Hi Scott
    Another string manufacturer to try could be Newtone as I hear they they can make specific lengths and gauges, British to!


  22. Walter M Cranston 26th April 2016 at 7:27 pm Permalink


    Like to hear how you feel about DR short scale strings. I been using them and have been happy.
    Also, I’m interested in buying your custom short scale. I tried contacting Brian about a year ago. Are they available to be built and ship to the USA? Also is shipping affordable?

  23. Liz 17th April 2016 at 7:10 pm Permalink

    That’s a really useful review! I am trying to make my mind up about flat wound strings for a Tanglewood TW15 Baby Bass 26.75″ scale, came across these new Short Bass One strings made by Aquila and wondered if you had tried them?

    I am attracted by the description that they have a double bass sound but wonder if they would be as silky as flat-wounds:

    • Michael 24th April 2016 at 12:00 am Permalink

      Hi Liz – I, too, have a TW15 and would like to try flat-wounds (see below). If you try any, please let me know how they sound. Thanks.


  24. Simon 11th April 2016 at 8:26 am Permalink

    Hi Scott,

    Would you have any string recommendations for a Gibson SG short-scale (30″) bass? I find the E string to be particularly dead-sounding. Thanks.

    • Richie Seven 14th April 2016 at 7:11 pm Permalink

      Hi Simon,

      I don’t know why Scott picks and chooses but doesn’t answer all these questions, but that’s not important. I own 3 Gibson SG basses and have tried many different string configurations, so hopefully this will help you. I agree with Scott says here – especially regarding the SS Roto’s – but I do use their long-scale 88’s on my Fender P and love them. For the SG’s I’ve found the Labella Deep Talkin’ 760FHBB (Beatle Bass) to be the best choice if flatwound is your preference. They’re a bit longer than most SS strings, since the “Beatle” Hofner (and the many knockoffs) are usually a 32″ scale, but I’ve had no problems with the fit (although I’ve replaced the stock 3-point bridge with a Hipshot Supertone). The next best string IMO for the SG are the SS D’Addario Chromes in 45-100 or the medium-scale Nylon Tapewounds in 50-105, provided you don’t mind the black strings. Hope this is helpful and good luck.

      • Joseph 7th April 2021 at 12:23 pm Permalink

        I believe most of the questions are subjective and don’t have a definite answer. The recommendations are in the review itself. I’d suggest to try a couple that fall in the ballpark of ones taste and physical/mechanical needs. It’s in some ways a personal journey. I play the cheapo but amazing Squier Jaguar that I got the year it came out; I tried d’Addarios, Ernie B’s, Fenders, Rotos and even some Dean Markleys; all rounds Stn Steels also some flats at one point. Some were better some less good; with that experience and the knowledge I find here and over the internet I know which strings to pick next, and they most certainly won’t be the last strings I’ll ever need to try. All this bla-bla just to say that one takes the risk of suggesting something that may not meet the expectations of another.

  25. Michael 26th March 2016 at 11:55 am Permalink

    Very helpful information – thanks. I have a Tanglewood TW15CE BabyBass (acoustic). Can I use flat wound strings (it has an under saddle pickup)?

  26. Jay Cresswell 22nd January 2016 at 10:17 pm Permalink


    Recently discovered your basses via Ebay and was intrigued

    I prefer the short scale, I play a mid scale 32″ at the moment.

    Do you have plans for a 5 string version at all?


    • Scott Whitley 23rd January 2016 at 11:09 am Permalink

      Hi Jay – thanks for you comment! 🙂

      I do indeed have plans for a 5 string, in fact the plans will be going off to the factory to have the first sample built within a day or two.

      Keep your eye on the blog, or maybe ‘like’ the facebook page at to keep up to speed with it’s progress.

      Thanks again Jay,

  27. Roland 8th January 2016 at 9:54 pm Permalink

    Greetings from Germany.
    You may try the “Höfner Contempary Bass Strings roundwound HCT1133R”. They come .040, .060, .075 and .095. I think they sound close to the Fender electric strings and they are really good. Mine last at least 2 years and the complete set is only about 13,– € in Germany.
    I use them on three short scale basses. A Hondo Alien from the mid ’80s (this is a headless “paddle” bass with aluminum neck – a copy of the Kramer Duke) superb sustain, but it doesn’t give you a really deep sound; a Jack & Danny bass, a model made as a sample for the Musikmesse Frankfurt which is not officially sold in Germany (yes, this is my main instrument), and a Career bass I bought used as a backup for only 30,– €, this one sounds good but is not as good to play as the others.

  28. Jonathan Moody 16th October 2015 at 12:54 am Permalink

    Scott, I jumped on here based on seeing your link on another forum. I work for GHS, and would be happy to get you some of our “proper” short scale strings for you to review and comment on.

    • scottwhitley 16th October 2015 at 8:47 am Permalink

      Hi Jonathan! By all means fire some across – I’d be very happy to check them out!! 🙂

    • Franklin Bryant 2nd February 2016 at 7:50 pm Permalink

      Need flatwound & Brite flats for a Jaguar VM short scale bass.Suggestions please

  29. Paul 18th September 2015 at 12:13 pm Permalink

    Am I the only person here?!
    Anyroadup looking for a replacement fot the Rotosound disaster, which Labella set are the “growlers”, I’m a bit confused by the range……but I do like a growler!


  30. Paul 16th September 2015 at 9:15 pm Permalink

    Totally agree with your description of the Rotosound Shortscale Bass strings……Unfortunately I ordered a set the day before I found this site…….oh well, hey ho!

    The E string sounds a bit dead compared to the others, has strange indertones and was a disaster to intonate, pluck the string at the twelfth and its starts off about a quater tone sharp then settles down to pitch, which makes intonating fun!….This was the case with all the strings, however I like the tension of them, but they will have to go as I just can’t cope when at certain frets they sound out of tune, a real shame… the grand scheme of things they are cheap, but its still a waste of good beer tokens!

    • scottwhitley 7th January 2016 at 10:26 am Permalink

      Glad it’s not just me then 😉

  31. Paul 12th September 2015 at 8:15 pm Permalink

    Damn, sorry forgot to say…great, honest advice regarding string selection…..thank you!


    • scottwhitley 5th October 2015 at 8:37 am Permalink

      Thanks Paul! 🙂

  32. Paul 12th September 2015 at 8:13 pm Permalink


    I have recently discovered your YouTube channel and am gradually working through the videos……all good so far! I like your style!…..

    Any chace of a video discussing chords shapes especially in relation to Piccolo Bass? I cant find anything on the subject!

    I have (very) cheap Harley Benson Short scale P bass in the mail, which I intend to modify and string up as a piccolo……….should be fun!

    Crack on with the SW1 Bass! I’m tempted!

    Best wishes


    • scottwhitley 5th October 2015 at 8:36 am Permalink

      Hi again Paul!

      I’ll put the Piccolo Chord Shape lesson on my to-do list mate!!! 🙂

Leave a Reply