Why Are Bass Guitar Strings So Far Apart: Get Ready to Be Shocked

Have you ever wondered why bass guitar strings seem to be more spaced out than their counterparts on an electric or acoustic guitar? The strategic design of string spacing on a bass plays a crucial role in the instrument’s playability, sound quality, and versatility.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons behind the wider distance between strings, as well as how it affects playing techniques and enhances your musical creativity.

Understanding Bass Guitar String Spacing

Bass guitar string spacing refers to the distance between strings, which impacts playing technique and style, as well as the relationship to neck width and string thickness.

The Distance Between Strings And Its Significance

One of the defining aspects that sets bass guitars apart from their counterparts is the wider spacing between strings, which plays a crucial role in shaping how bassists play and produce sound.

The significance of this extra space lies in providing more freedom for players to articulate each note clearly without interference from adjacent strings. For example, having ample room for maneuver allows bassists to perform intricate finger-picking patterns with greater ease or dive into complex slap techniques that give distinction to their individual playing style.

Additionally, it aids in avoiding unwanted buzzing noises caused by touching other strings unintentionally during performance – a common problem faced by guitarists who switch to playing bass.

The Impact On Playing Technique And Style

Bass guitar string spacing has a significant impact on playing technique and style. The distance between the strings affects how easily players can move their fingers, pluck the strings, and create notes.

Wide string spacing allows for more room to maneuver when using fingerstyle techniques or when playing with large hands.

On the other hand, narrow spacing is ideal for players who prefer slapping and popping techniques since it requires less motion from the player’s hands. Furthermore, different neck widths and thicknesses affect how easy it is to fret notes accurately.

The Relationship To String Thickness And Neck Width

The distance between bass guitar strings is not arbitrary, but rather determined by the thickness of each string and the width of the neck. Thicker strings require more space to vibrate freely and produce a clear tone, while a wider neck allows for greater spacing between strings without compromising playability.

For instance, four-string basses typically have narrower string spacing than five or six-string instruments due to their thinner neck profiles.

The right balance between string thickness and neck width can make all the difference in sound quality and playing comfort.

Different Types Of String Spacing

There are several types of string spacing, including the standard 4-string basses, 5 and 6-string basses with extra string spacing, and the choice between wide or narrow spacing depending on the player’s preference.

Standard 4-string Basses

Standard 4-string basses typically have a string spacing of around 19mm, with the distance between strings being equal. This type of spacing is ideal for players who prefer to play with their fingers, as it provides enough space for plucking each string separately without accidentally touching other strings.

However, some players may find this spacing too narrow, especially if they have larger hands or prefer more fingerstyle techniques that require wider spaces between each string.

In such cases, they may opt for basses with wide or extra-wide string spacing that offer more comfort and flexibility in playing style.

5 And 6-string Basses

Bass guitars come in different configurations, such as 4-string, 5-string, and even 6-string variants. The additional strings on a bass guitar increase the tonal range and allows for more creative playing techniques.

However, extra strings require changes to string spacing to ensure comfortable playability.

5 and 6-string basses typically have wider string spacing than their 4-string counterparts to accommodate for the additional strings. This can enable players to execute fingerstyle techniques with greater precision while reducing accidental muting of adjacent strings.

Some models offer narrow string spacing for faster playing styles or individual preferences. Measuring string spacing is an important aspect of bass guitar setup that affects intonation, pitch accuracy, and overall sound quality.

Wide Spacing Vs. Narrow Spacing

The spacing between bass guitar strings varies depending on the number of strings and personal preferences. While some bassists prefer a narrow string spacing for its familiarity, others opt for a wider gap between strings to accommodate their playing styles.

Wide string spacing is especially useful for those who use fingerstyle techniques or slap and pop styles that require more room to maneuver. Additionally, wider spacing can help reduce accidental muting of adjacent strings, allowing each note to ring out clearly.

On the other hand, narrow string spacing may be preferable for those with smaller hands or who play faster passages that require quick left-hand movements across the fretboard.

Anatomy Of A Bass Guitar

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The anatomy of a bass guitar includes the layout and design of the instrument, which is directly correlated to string spacing, scale length, and tension/gauge.

The Design And Layout Of A Bass Guitar

The design and layout of a bass guitar play a crucial role in determining the string spacing. Essentially, bass guitars come in different shapes and sizes, which affects how the strings are spaced.

The length of the scale also impacts string spacing; longer scales generally have wider string spacings than shorter ones. Additionally, some manufacturers offer bass guitars with angled frets to provide additional space for finger placement when playing complex chords or intricate solos.

The Relationship Between String Spacing, Scale Length, And Tension/gauge

The spacing between bass guitar strings is not arbitrary; it’s closely tied to the length of the bass’ neck and the gauge of its strings. The distance between strings on a bass must be large enough to accommodate thicker, lower-pitched strings without causing them to clash with adjacent ones.

Scale length also plays a significant role in determining string spacing since different-length scales result in different tension levels when using particular gauges of strings.

Short-scale basses typically feature narrower string spacing than long-scale models because shorter scale lengths require less tension from thinner-gauge strings while still maintaining pitch accuracy and tone quality.

Benefits Of Wide String Spacing

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Wide string spacing on bass guitars has numerous benefits such as easier finger placement, reduced accidental muting of adjacent strings, unique playing styles, improved comfort and reduced strain.

Easier Finger Placement And Movement

One of the most significant benefits of wider string spacing on a bass guitar is that it makes finger placement and movement much more comfortable. When playing with standard spacing or narrow spacing, it can be challenging to avoid accidentally hitting an adjacent string while trying to fret another.

Wider string spacing reduces this risk by giving your fingers more room to maneuver around the strings without accidentally touching anything they shouldn’t. This allows you to play more complex chord progressions with less effort, making everything from simple grooves to intricate solos easier and smoother sounding.

Reduced Accidental Muting Of Adjacent Strings

With bass guitar string spacing, comes the problem of unwanted muting of the adjacent strings. Imagine you are playing a note on one string and with your finger accidentally touch another string, causing it to vibrate and create unnecessary noise.

Wider bass guitar string spacing helps reduce this issue by providing more room for your fingers to navigate between strings without accidentally touching them. This is particularly useful when using different right-hand techniques such as slapping or popping.

It also enables faster and smoother transitions between notes, allowing for more complex melodies to be played with greater accuracy.

Enables Unique Playing Styles

Wider string spacing on bass guitars can enable players to develop their unique playing styles. With more room between each string, players can incorporate intricate fingerpicking techniques that may be difficult or impossible to execute on a narrower spaced guitar.

Some well-known bassists prefer wider string spacing because it gives them more space to move around the strings with ease. Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, and Marcus Miller are just a few examples of players who utilize this technique in their performances.

Improved Comfort And Reduced Strain

One of the major benefits of wider string spacing on a bass guitar is improved comfort and reduced strain on the player’s fingers. With more space between the strings, it’s easier to place and move your fingers without accidentally touching adjacent strings.

This means less frustration when playing complex chords or intricate basslines. Additionally, wider string spacing enables players to experiment with unique playing styles such as slap bass or tapping techniques that may not be possible with narrower spacing.


In conclusion, the distance between bass guitar strings is crucial to a player’s technique and style. While standard spacing may suffice for some, wider string spacing offers numerous benefits including easier finger placement, reduced accidental muting of adjacent strings, and improved playing comfort.

Understanding the anatomy of a bass guitar, measuring string spacing, and selecting appropriate gauge can all impact sound quality and tone.


1. Why are bass guitar strings spaced farther apart than other instruments’ strings?

Bass guitar strings are spaced further apart to allow for easier finger placement and more accurate playing of individual notes compared to instruments with narrower string spacing like guitars or ukuleles.

2. How does the wider string spacing affect playing techniques on a bass guitar?

A wider string spacing allows players to use their fingers independently, making it easier to play complex patterns and arpeggios without accidentally muting adjacent strings. It also enables players to use slapping and popping techniques with greater accuracy.

3. Are there any downsides to having wider-spaced bass guitar strings?

One downside some players find is that the greater distance between strings can make it harder to mute unwanted noise from adjacent strings while playing. Additionally, those transitioning from narrower-spaced instruments may need time getting used to the new layout.

4. Can I modify my bass guitar’s string spacing if I prefer a different measurement?

While not ideal, in certain cases it is possible alter the string spacing by adjusting the nut width or bridge position of your instrument, but this should only be done carefully by an experienced technician as changes here could adversely affect intonation, tone quality or cause physical damageif done incorrectly . Alternatively you could look at purchasing multi-scale designs which incorporate variable spacing across individual fret areas depending upon desired tuning ranges – though these tend not be availableat lower price points.

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