How to Put Tenor Guitar Strings on a Bass Guitar

Written by carl o'donnell
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How to Put Tenor Guitar Strings on a Bass Guitar
With a quick switch of strings, you can turn a bass guitar into a tenor guitar. (Bass Guitar image by JMS from

A tenor guitar has the same body as a four-string bass guitar but is tuned to the mid-pitched A-D-G-C instead of the typical, low-pitched bass's E-A-D-G. Tenor guitars achieve this by using thinner, higher pitched strings than a bass guitar. Whereas the typical four-string bass' strings are the same as the four lowest pitched strings on a six-string base, tenor guitar's strings are the same as the four highest pitched strings on a six-string base. Converting a bass guitar to a tenor guitar is just a matter of swapping out the four lowest pitched strings for the four highest pitched strings on a bass guitar.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Electric tuner
  • Wire cutter

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  1. 1

    Purchase a set of six-string bass strings or tenor guitar strings either online or at a music retailer. (See Resources)

  2. 2

    Twist your tuning keys both clockwise and counterclockwise while gently strumming your bass. When the bass' sound gets higher, you know you are tightening the keys. Twist your keys in the direction that makes the bass' sound get lower to loosen your bass' strings. The direction that loosens a bass' strings is different on each bass, depending on how it was originally tuned.

  3. 3

    Attach a base guitar string winder to one of your strings. Turn in the loosening direction until your string is loose enough to be easily slid out of the tuning peg's central hole and set aside. Repeat this process for all you bass' strings.

  4. 4

    Open the pack of tenor strings. If you purchased a six-string bass set, remove the four thinnest strings, the A, D, G and C strings.

  5. 5

    Attach the A string first. As the lowest string, it should be attached to the most leftward peg you see when facing the front of the bass. Push the tip of the string through the central hole in the peg. If any excess string is protruding out of the other end of the peg's hole, cut it with a wire cutter.

  6. 6

    Slide the other end of the string into the most leftward bridge hole near the bottom of the base. If the string doesn't fit tightly, the bridge hole can be tightened by gently turning a peg that protrudes from the bottom of the bridge and corresponds with the string's bridge hole.

  7. 7

    Connect the other three strings, D, G and C, in the same fashion. D should be the next farthest to the left after A, G should come next and C should be farthest to the right.

  8. 8

    Use an electric tuner to make sure that you have strung your tenor strings properly and with the right tightness. The tuner will display the letter of the note it is hearing. When you play the A string, the letter the tuner displays should be A major, playing D should elicit D major, and so on. Tighten and loosen the pegs until all strings correspond with their proper major key note.

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