Nylon strings do not rust, but over time they can lose their tone due to
slow oxidation or exposure to strong sunlight. After 3 or 4 years of playing,
you may wish to change your strings. Start by loosening the old strings and
then cut them in half. This allows you to remove a section without putting a
lot of tension on the nut or saddle. A pair of needle nose pliers is a good tool for removing strings from the pickup end of the bass. As you remove each string,
notice how it is held in place. The G string is crimped once, the B string is crimped twice, and the D string is knotted.
Keeping it clean
If you play a lot at events where they feed the musicians, you may notice that grime builds up on the back of the neck. Lightly rub down the back of the neck with some '0000' size steel wool, and then apply a light coating of good quality carnauba wax, and you will be good to go.
Protecting the pickup while traveling
When I travel, or ship a bass, I slip the saddle off the pickup and rest it on a business card to eliminate the chance of damaging the pickup. The card will protect the wood.
To really protect the instrument, I make a shipping tube from 52 inches of thin wall 3" irrigation (PVC) pipe and two endcaps. I glue one end on, and stuff a small ball of newspaper into the bottom of the tube when I ship the bass. This protects the end pin jack. The bass and gig bag will fit snugly into this tube and protect the instrument from damage.
Does your guitar cord's jack rattle?
I always try to purchase guitar cords that have rubber ends rather than metal ends. (Fender, for example makes a good quality cord with black rubber covering on the ends.) Metal covers work themselves loose and cause noise which can find its way to the pickup when you play.
Feedback when playing on a wooden stage
Occasionally, I find myself on a thin wooden stage with a loud monitor in front of me. The monitor vibrates the stage, the stage vibrates the bass, and low frequency feedback occurs. I keep a mouse pad or folded towel handy, and simply rest the bass foot on this soft surface. The feedback is busted!
Adjusting the saddle
The saddle, which rests in the center of the pickup, is not glued in place. There are two reasons for this: when you travel or ship your bass, you may wish to move the saddle off of the pickup (see above), and, by moving the saddle slightly to the right or left, it will give more emphasis to either the high or low string, as in the diagram to the right.
Info about nylon strings
Like the strings on a 'ukulele, new strings may take a few days to settle down and stay in tune. Once in tune, they are stabilized. It is best not to try to raise the G-B-D strings to A-D-G. You might get away with it, but the high string will be very tight. The strings will be stretched, and will no longer work well in the slack key tuning of G-B-D. String sets for standard tuning are available.
I was plugging my bass into the amplifier this morning, and the volume was turned up enough that I heard the 60 Hz AC buzzing noise just before the jack snapped into place. I accidentally hit the middle string (B) and it was the same tone. B on the musical scale is 61.74 Hz ("close enough for classical!"). Now I have a way to tune my bass even when I forget to bring my tuner!
A Grand Stand
Based on my own experience, there is nothing like watching your bass sliding down the wall and crashing to the floor. Thus:
|Inexpensive microphone stand from Radio Shack||$20|
|Rubber coated hanger thing from hardware store:||$2|
|Chunk of wood with holes* drilled and a slot cut in it|| $0|
|Rubber band or hair tie thingy|| $0|
|Be able to walk away from your bass in a public place:|| Priceless!
* 1. Make a wood block: 4.25" by 1.5" (preferably oak, koa, or some hardwood)
2. Drill hole for mic stand. (match your drill bit to the mic stand you are using)
3. Cut a slot using a table saw; mine is almost 1/8" wide.
4. Drill a hole slightly thinner than the screw end of the rubber coated hanger thing.
5. Widen the hole half way through, so that it is slightly wider than the screw.
When tightened, the screw will pull the sloted wood together, clamping the mic stand. Use washers to make final adjustments. Ta da!