NPS String Experimentation
My Fender jazz bass loves Sunbeams. Done deal. Let the sun shine down.
But when it comes to my Schecter Diamond P, its a bit fussy. Been playing with Sunbeams on it for a while (over 2 years) but they don't sound too good toward the end of their life which for me is around 16 hours. I think it has a lot to do with the character of the pickups. These pickups like brightness of new strings. Also on this bass the Sunbeams seem almost too flexible, if a bit slack.
So I've been experimenting with alternatives...
Dunlop NPS 45-105
Similar feel to the Sunbeams, not quite as smooth a texture but in the same family. They just warm up even quicker. Not so good for the Schecter.
Daddario Balanced Tension 45-107
Comfortable tension but definitely a hex core feel. Warmed too quickly. Snappy if nasally tone. Played them till they went dead which didn't take too long. Maybe 8-10 hours. The Schecter wants more meat.
GHS Boomers 45-100
I hated these strings years back. I still do but thought I'd give them another chance. Way too much tension! Probably could suspend a bridge. The feel is more rough. Less low end than Sunbeams. Mids, mids, mids. Despite my continued dislike of these strings I felt they sounded ok on this bass. Ripped them off before the life ever left them because they are just uncomfortable to play.
Dean Markley Nickel Blue Steel 46-102
Smooth feel. Comfortable tension similar to Dunlops but better. Warm when new with top end less bright than even the Dunlops, but lots of body in the mid range. Nice tone for mid neck region on the precision pickup. Harmonics are really lacking. These are still on the bass. Looks like they'll outlast the Daddarios.
Next in line is a set of DR Low Riders. Thought I'd give them a whirl as well since I like the Sunbeams so much, but thinking about placing an order in the next week for a few other kinds.
What else should I try? Should I try Fodera round core? I'm reading more stiff but how much so? What about alternative alloys? SS really isn't in the equation at this time. I'm not an EB string fan either. I like the feel and tone of NPS over SS but would like a brighter tone longer into the life of the string. I'd rather not sacrifice body or depth. Smooth feel is a big win. Nothing higher than moderate tension and I like harmonics.
I was going to say Fodera before I read your last paragraph! I'm using these on my Lakland. Great strings. Very open sounding, very deep and nice smooth high end. Not stiff at all, feel like round core DR's.
I think GHS Progressives are worth a try, just be aware they are contact core on the E. Not as nasally as D'Addario.
SIT Nickels are cheap, give them a go. I love them on some basses.
My favorite string as of late is DR Dragon Skins, they have 'rescued' 3 of my basses that I had become fed up with trying to get a sound I like.
LaBella is worth a shot. This is one string I have never used, though.
Listen to what I say, because after reading through your reviews I agree with everything you said 100%! I hear those strings exactly the way you do.
You getting these from Bass Strings Online? That place is ADDICTING!
Should I start with the similar gauge of Foderas as I am using now with Sunbeams?
I thought the GHS Progressives sounded interesting. Was just scared because of how much I dislike the tension of Boomers. Which set of SITs? Rock Brights or Power Wound?
I have tried DR Dragon Skins but I didn't care for the texture... slides are like rubbing your fingers on denim. Overall tension and give was very good though. Unfortunately these drew out the honk of my Schecter bridge pickup which I despise. Seemed to have a slight 'fog' over the overall sound as well.
Last order was from Bass Strings Online. I like their string selection. Also like dealing with Strings and Beyond, although their selection is a bit more limited. Since I mostly buy just Sunbeams I usually order from whoever I can get the best deal on a large batch of them.
Yeah you can interchange Foderas and Sunbeams, I've gone back and fourth with no problem.
Progressives...yeah tension might be an issue for you if you don't like Boomers.
SIT...I've only used the Power Wounds, nice strings for the price.
String prices...BSO can't be beat. If you want a batch, email Jason and he'll hook you up with a price :)
Bought a set of the Fodera Diamond nickels, SIT Power Wound nickels and Dunlop SS. Picked them up from BSO over the weekend on the 10% off special.
Going to try SS again with a set of Dunlop SS. Used to use them on my jazz and like them a lot. Can't remember if I tried them on the Schecter before. Figured if I start exploring SS I'm going to start cheaper. What really interest me are the LaBella quarter rounds but that is an investment. Better find out if I even like the SS tone on that bass first. Otherwise my next round of strings will be alloy 52 strings.
The Dean Markley Blue Steel nickels are starting to venture towards death. Seem to last almost as long as Sunbeams, though I don't like them nearly as much. I will say they are interesting and something I'd explore again on another bass.
My Rickenbacker 4002 is equally fussy. All the strings you mention do, or did when I experiemented with them 20 years ago, the same things. I have used nothing but Progressives in custom gauges, 45-60-80-105, for at least 20 years. Just recently I also took the old set off, because they had finally rusted to the point they looked bad after at least 5 years on the bass, although the tone was fine. I experimented with a few different sets I had bought for other basses, and the same kind of deal.
For me, the same kind of deal:
D'Addario XL's - thin tone, died quickly
Boomers - big tone, like the OP, lots of mids (Gee -- why do you think they are called "Boomers"?), E string didn't make it through the gig.
Dean Markley - harsh
Roto Swingbass - a little to much top end for what I play on this particular bass
GHS flats - too dark, brittle
Fender flats - mid characteristics did not coordinate with the pickups
D'Addario tapes - emphasized the odd overtones, not the even ones, so sounded "honky"
Not going for steels generally at this point in order to preserve frets, although GHS Super Steels did have a tamed top end and did sound alright.
Not going for flats at this point because I want to retain some of the signature Rick growl.
So...I put on a new set of Progressives, and all the tone and feel were back again.
Yes. Try Progressives. Being a P-style bass, try the standard 45-105 set first before going to custom gauges. The reason I use the gauges I do is that they are closer to RIC OEM gauges, and the bass does sound better for them: more clarity on the middle strings.
How is the tension on the progressives with reference to boomers? Boomers alone scare me from trying anything else GHS. Although I will say their basics weren't too bad on a Walmart clearance of $4 a set. The tension on their basics seems more inline with everything else out there.
Progressives are indeed higher tension. Their tension tends to feel about half to a whole guage higher than other strings of comparable guage.
They sound really good, though. and aside from Daddario XLs, they are the smoothest/slickest feeling rounds I've ever felt. and I have a feeling they might be close to what you are looking for. they have a unique core wire, which in my opinion, seems to be part of their special tone. But the outer wrap is also alloy 52, which is also part of their tone. Maybe try an alloy 52 from someone else, if you want tone in a similar ballpark.
I also recommend rotos nickel swing bass 66 or the rotobass (seem to be same strings, minus the beer can blue silks) if you are unsatisfied with the usual suspects. They have more bark than other nickel strings I've tried and keep a good character through most of their life.
Labella is worth a look, even though their price is a little higher. Their balanced tension is definitely a big positive. That alone fixed setup issues on a tunomatic bridge bass that I have, which does not have individual saddle height. I find their stainless tone to be unremarkable. But their nickel tone has a nice full sweetness to it.
If you need strings that sound new all the time, Elixirs are it. Their new coating is less slick (the old coating was said to be too slick, by many) but is still smoother/slicker than anything else I have ever tried. The new coating is more durable, no more "hairy" strings. The tone of the nickel strings has been good--great, depending on the bass. They tend to lack a bit of low-mid, but they make up for it with some seriously sweet high mids and highs. (the stainless elixirs don't sound so great, however). Personally, my only issue with Elixirs is that the E strings are not well balanced in any give set. They are notably of less tension. Thankfully, you can order custom sets of nickel Elixirs and basically create your own balanced tension set, based on their tension chart.
Circle K strings are the brightest and longest lasting nickel plated strings I've used. GHS Progressives aren't that bright to begin with IMO, they're a very tame string.
If all of those strings sound bad on your Schecter after just a few hours of playtime, I'd just get a new bass.
I appreciate all of the feedback. The issue with fast nickel string death is my ph. The bass just sounds best with a newer set. Stainless steel would be the way to go but my preference is definitely nickel so I'm exhausting my options.
Have you tried Bass-Brites? They're definitely worth trying IMO.
I haven't tried those yet but do use GHS fast fret which seems to help some.
In light of your PH issues, I'd really recommend ordering a custom Elixir set.
Coated strings may be your best option.
I'm trying to avoid it but it may be a reality. I've only tried DR Dragon Skins and Black Beauties. I disliked both. My only experience with Elixir strings is on an acoustic. Great sound but the tension was a little high for me.
For the time being I'll go through this stack of strings...
Tried the SIT Power Wound the other day and ripped them off after 15 minutes of toying around with them. They are GHS Boomers cousin. Very similar but brighter, a hair more lows and just every so slightly less tension.
Then I threw on the Fodera's and I only have some initial thoughts at this time. Ideal tension, just slightly more than Sunbeams. A little rough to the touch, feels closer to SS. Very evenly balanced tone. E string has less oomph than Sunbeams. Definitely brighter. Crazy overtones and harmonics galore.
Curt Mangan makes coated bass strings. I have never used them, but I do use his nickel rounds, and I love them. You can order sets from his website, or he will even make up custom sets for you at your request. He has discounts for 3 or more sets, and another discount for purchases over $100. They are about twice the price of his standard rounds, but if they last longer for you, may well be worth it. Check with your local music store to see if they sell them. At my local store, they guarantee you like them or they will take them back. According to them, they have only taken back one set.
You might want to go ahead and try coated strings. I tried a set of Elixirs back when they were sending out free sets and they were definitely different. They seemed to age in reverse, getting brighter as they aged for the three months I tested them. To me they seemed like plain old nickel hex cores but were .045-.105 which is way above what I like gauge wise. I've heard they are D'Addario nickels before the coating is applied. I believe they make a steel version now as well. Of course, you could always try EXP's or Ernie Ball's coated strings, I've heard good things about both those. Good Luck!
I really like DR NPS Lo-Riders on my 5-string Yamaha. Great tone that lasts. I also have come to adore DR Neons on my Fender Jazz. Quite simply fabulous tone that lasts a good four months of daily play. It's my understanding they are NPS wrap under the coating.
After playing a bit longer on the Foderas I'm very impressed. Great quality strings. Not exactly the sound I'm looking for on my Schecter P but I'm going to move those over to my jazz where I think they will sound stellar.
So far the NPS strings I like the best on the Schecter are the DM Nickel Blue Steels. Nice warm mid range that voice well with this bass.
I was finally going to slap the DR Low Riders on but decided to deviate at the last minute to the Dunlop SS...
As far as coated strings go, anyone using Cleartone?
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