A Review: D'Addario EXL170BT

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Linnin, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. I find the notion of balanced tension bass strings intriguing, so when I needed a new set of roundwounds for my Fender American Standard Jazz I opted for a set of D'Addario EXL170BT

    They are nickel plated stainless steel roundwounds on a hex core. The winding is uniformly fine and about as smooth as any roundwound gets. This yeilds a reduced amount of string screech.

    Tone: Full & Highly Textured. Nice taut bottom end. No flab here as in many other roundwounds. A tight firm punchy bottom is the hallmark of a good flatwound and unusual to find a nice bottom in a round. Fat meaty midrange with plenty of beef; aggressive low-mid growl with snarling high-mids. A top end that barks and has plenty of bite. No uber-zingy nonsense.

    Overview: Excellent String-To-String Consistency Of: Volume; Tone, And Feel. Balanced Tension has really paid off! They played in quickly and hold their tune well. I've had this set on for a month of daily play and it's still going strong. I positively lothe the sound of a dead round, and ditch the roadkill quickly, so longevity in a roundwound is important.
  2. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I bought a few sets from Bassstringsonline. My son and I have been using them on a few of our basses. I put them on an American Special Precision and on my G&L Tribute JB2 and they really work on those two basses. He uses them on an Ibanez EDB 5 string and they really sound good on that bass. He particularly likes the balanced tension with the B-string. We both noted the strong bottom end compared to the other strings we had used on those basses (mainly DR HiBeams).

    Between these and Dean Markley Helix strings (on my American Std P and my Ibanez 5-string) I am a pretty happy camper string wise.
  3. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    I'm assuming you guys got the 145 B string? My son and I have the balanced tension EXL170 sets with a tapered 145 B arriving today and we can't wait to try them out. His are actually going on his 35" scale Spector so it will be a huge step up from the 135 B he has now.
  4. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    Yes. It was the 145 B string. Sounds great to me.
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  6. I like these well enough to have purchased a new set. The original set will be 90 days old soon. They still sound OK, and are not dead. I loathe the sound of a dead round will not let them go that far. I would still play out with this stringset, but I wouldn't record with it. It's on the cusp.

    Lovely, Lively Strings. Crisp Toneful Soul With A Taut Round Bottom. Beautifully Sexy Strings.
  7. I estimate that I have a good 130 or so playing hours on these strings. The E has had it, the A is on the cusp of death, and both the D & G still have some life left in them. Some bass players will play on dead strings no matter what. I'm not one to do so. Others love only the first 10 hours or so. I like the middle ground after the stringset has played in; holds tune, and the super ringy-zingy; twangy-wangy, clanky-wanky nonsense is gone and the good tone sets in for a spell.
  8. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Just put a set of the mediums [50-67-90-120] on my '66 P. The E is big but so far haven't had an issue w/the nut, which I did not alter. It's a warm sounding instrument on its own, so using these nickels rated bright on the D'Addario spectrum works out nicely. With treble full up, it's not clangy but instead has a nice definition, almost like a good flat-wound. Full bass on the tone knob is big but w/a slight bit of treble it doesn't get muddy. Rich round bass tone across the board and very musical. The 120 is a bit getting used to being a 45-105 player, but time will tell.

    (update after a day of playing) love them! :thumbsup:

    update 2: did a bit of nut filing and bridge adjustment to fine tune set-up after the strings have settled in. Haven't played them in a group setting yet and looking forward to that.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
    Linnin likes this.
  9. joelb79

    joelb79 Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    These are my favorite strings. I keep going back no matter what. i used to use Fender 7250's before they changed the package, but I am smitten by these balanced tension strings. I like the 160BT's and the 170BT's, depends on the bass or the music. Like the OP I get many play hours from them; and they even sound great dead (although I do not generally play dead strings, I "slap the poopie out of them" marloweDK style).
    Linnin likes this.
  10. groovyBoom


    Jan 30, 2014
    Hickory, NC
    I only use the EXL170BT's on my basses-- with and without the tapered .145 (Huge thanks to BassStringsOnline for even stocking this set... so awesome!) for 4/5 strings. Absolutely massive tone with a nice, taut feeling. Without strings like this, I don't think I could get my bass action so low!
  11. Have I really been playing EXL170BT's for over a year an a half?! I've got a month on my most current set, and they are everything I want out of a roundwound. Solid crisp tone with lo-mid growl and hi-mid snarl along with airy highs. No ringy-zingy nonsense.

    I forget who mentioned in another thread that they thought D'Addarios were very "generic" sounding. I actually tend to agree. I don't think they have any kind of standout signature tone such as Rotosound 66's do. To me this is a good thing.
    RyFi and michael_t like this.
  12. The D'Addario XL Nickels were what I started out with when I was brand new to bass. I do tend to agree they're "generic", meaning "middle-of-the-road". Though I don't use them any more for myself, I have no problem recommending the EXL170BT set to anyone who's just starting out.
  13. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    I had to make my own set out of singles, (95 70 55 40) and thusly overpaid, but am really enjoying not having a D or G that's much stiffer than the E and A. I am going to try this route for my ABG as well, though I may have to use nickel or halfrounds for that, as bronze is not available in the variety of gauges needed AFAIK.

    I agree the tone of the D'Addario nickel wound is "down the middle", however since I've switched from medium to XL gauge, done a new setup, and learned to slap, I am getting a MUCH greater versailitiy of tone out of my bass than I did for 20 years - hardly ever touched the volume and tone knobs before, and now it all seems intuitive.
    A Fender bridge pickup is next...
  14. Those are the exact gauges for their EXL220BT set. See here.

    Or, did you have to use singles because your bass is something other than the standard long scale?
    Linnin likes this.
  15. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    None of the above, I just really wanted the strings that day, and none of my local shops had that set, except in singles, so it cost around $8 extra.
    From here on out, I'll either order online, or ask my favorite shop ahead of time.
  16. Alrighty then. Thanks for the clarification.

    D'Addario XL NICKEL ROUND WOUND - 4-String Balanced Tension Set
  17. Just put a set of these on my Ibanez GSR250.......

    So far so good, nice tone....a little brighter than the ones that came off but that's to be expected......will wait for awhile until they start to mellow.

    No pick.Just fingers on these for me.

    E and A are pretty solid, D and G are good.......better E than what came off. Overall I'm happy so far.
    Linnin likes this.
  18. I now recant my testimony on the EXL170Bt's.......

    The E and A strings are fine.......but the G is pretty thin sounding and kind of dead compared to the other strings. The D is now also tonally unbalanced.

    I'm going to use the D and G from the set I just took off and see if that helps.

    I am now not impressed.
  19. Out of four sets, I've never had that happen. Have you called D'Addario?
  20. I ended up taking the entire set off and putting my old strings back on.

    I know I said the E and A strings were good.....but after playing for awhile I think they're too punchy. My old strings had a much nicer lush deep tone.


    Another set of rounds destined for use as picture frame hanging wire....:rollno:

    Best sounding rounds I got from D'addario was when I hand picked XL singles:- 45/65/85/105.
  21. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Finally had my '93 AS J out last night for a Crazy Horse flavored trio jam. A couple things were not as usual w/my set-up/rig etc but the du jour combination with these strings was really good. They expressed well under my fingers and the tone was perfect in that setting - deep fat lows with focused definition on top, even with the bridge pu rolled off and tone down. And full-on (all knobs up full) it had sharper J focus but w/o excess clang. [Mesa M-2000 set on 12:00 tube/ss mix through a 15" cab of unknown origin - volume at 1/4%] My Boss CS-2 and MXR d.i.+ w/'color' button engaged also favorably added to the tonal mix. I like these strings and would definitely consider another set in the future. Now to see how they hold up over time.

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