And a year of string testing led me too...D'Addario Nickels!?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by sigmafloyd, Dec 1, 2012.


  1. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    In 15 years of playing bass I somehow never played a basic set of D'Addario Nickels. Since getting a P about a year ago (mainly to play with flats) I have been on a string quest ever since. I tried:

    Flats:
    Chromes (multiple gauges)
    Fender Flats
    TIs
    GHS Precision Flats
    Roto77s

    Rounds:
    Sunbeams
    Boomers
    TI Super Alloy

    Other:
    D'Addario Tapes
    GHS Pressurewounds

    For the amount I spent on strings I could have easily bought a Squier CV P Bass. I would put a set on and would be hyper critical of the sounds I was getting. There were some I loved, some I didn't, but I was always thinking way too much about the strings.

    On a total whim to end my string obsessing I picked up what I thought to be the most boring strings I could think of, plain old D'Addario XLs...at Best Buy of all places, for $13.

    The result? I love them! It might just be because I had lower expectation, but I've had them for about a month now and they sound great. I've swapped others in and out in that time but I keep going back to them. Do they have the great thump of GHS precision flats? Obviously not. Do they feel as nice as tapewounds? No. Is there more string noise than I was used to with flats? yes. But I find myself not caring as much and just focusing on playing.

    I'm still a string junkie and I frequent the string threads daily here on talkbass, but these simple strings may have been the escape hatch from my string gas.

    As as footnote, I should add that if I could mentally settle on a single sound, GHS Precision Flats were my favorite set of flats for the classic flatwound sound. If I had to pick a 'do it all' set of flats, it would be the Fender 9050Ls. Also, the TIs are on my Jazz bass and staying there.
  2. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    NE CT
    Yah, I settled on those 30 years ago. Recently I've been using GHS Bass Boomers because D'Addario stopped selling short scale singles :( . I think the Boomers sound very similar. I recently had a custom built and it is strung with GHS Pressurewounds - sounds fantastic! But since I didn't try XL's on it first I don't know how much of the sound is the strings vs the pickups :( . What didn't you like about the Boomers and Pressurewounds?
  3. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    I tried pressurewounds when I was in a much more flatwound-oriented mindset. At the time I didn't see much reason not to just go full-flats. I'd like to try them again now that I'm more comfortable with rounds.

    The next set I'll probably try is the Ken Smith compressors, but for for now I'm pretty happy rockin the XLs.
  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Location:
    NE CT
    What about the Boomers? They sound the same as XL's to me although I haven't directly A/B'd them.
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  6. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    The XLs seemed a bit crisper to me with a little more openness. I didn't do a direct comparison either.
  7. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Location:
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    I have been on an eternal string quest myself with my P5. EXP's (coated XL's) are as good as anything I have tried in the past three years as a good all around string.
  8. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Cool. 'good all around string' has become my goal.
  9. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Location:
    London, Ontario, Canada
    I used to play Charlie Stringer's Snarling Dogs till D'Addario bought them and stopped making them. I moved on to the Amalgamated Metals (by the same company and have recently settled on the DR Neons (I like the colours) and the tone is pretty descent too for $30.
  10. lmfreeman9

    lmfreeman9 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    Location:
    Arizona
    Often, the Buddha is right-take the middle path.

    Stop chasing the perfect tone. If it sounds good, play it.
    -A former string junkie.
  11. Root 5

    Root 5

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2001
    Location:
    Earth
    D'Addario XL NPS strings are very nice! I can see why you like them. I have some heavy gauge sets on a pair of instruments. I also like the GHS Boomers.

    As I often say: It's tough to get a bad set of strings from any of the biggies in the biz.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    My string quest pretty much ended in 84 when I finally decided to try D'addario XL nickels as well. Then it started back up again a few years ago when I decided to give flats a go, and I eventually settled on Chromes. Now I'm back on the XL's. They just work for me, that's all there is to it.
  13. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    How often you usually keep a set on JimmyM?
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    5-6 gigs. Then I either wipe them with Bass Brites or I stick them in denatured alcohol for a week.
  15. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Location:
    Durham NC
    They are the ultimate middle of the road string. Completely inoffensive in every way, and are often available for less that $15/set.
  16. Lemon Of Troy

    Lemon Of Troy

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Location:
    Palmetto State
    I'm kind of in the same boat! I've really stepped up my playing over the last few years and have been obsessing over strings. I've tried some great strings...Pressurewounds, Progressives, Sunbeams (well, anything from DR is great), Circle K, but never stuck with them much for various reasons. I always figured all the basic nickel strings sounded pretty much the same, but I was quite wrong. D'Addario XL's and SIT Power Wounds are the only nickels I've tried that have that lively snap that I'm looking for.

    Great thing about D'Addario is that you can build custom sets at Bass Strings Online. I've been converting over to custom balanced sets of XL's on a few of my basses with great results. It's neat to see how different gauges work better on certain basses, and I love having endless options from Jason at BSO.
  17. billgwx

    billgwx Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Location:
    Centereach NY
    Had heavy gauge D'Addario XL rounds on my P earlier this fall, and they were great. I liked them better than light gauge, because the extra tension kept me out of fret clank territory.
  18. Diesel Kilgore

    Diesel Kilgore

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    Location:
    Modesto, CA
    XLs are great. I think they get over looked because they are so ''blah'' and cheap. Maybe alot of people think they are just a last resort econo string? Idk, I think of them as one of the best all arounds and great on the wallet.
  19. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern California
    Yep. After trying all the strings on your list and then some, D'Addario XL nickel rounds are my string of choice. They just feel and sound right to me.
  20. KingRazor

    KingRazor

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon USA
    XL's will be included in my string testing. As well as GHS boomers, LaBella nickels and Circle Ks (which is what I'm using now).

    The thing these 4 sets have in common is I can buy them in singles to build custom sets, they're also the ONLY 4 nickel string sets I was able to find that had a wide enough variety of gauges for me.
  21. sigmafloyd

    sigmafloyd

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    I'm thinking of going up to the 165 set, on 170 now

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