Caught Between Nickel and Steel...Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by WillCO, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. WillCO

    WillCO An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure.

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I'm a funk-ish guy who plays a lot of slap, but also a lot of fingerstyle funk, with some ghost notes, accents, etc. I like the zingy sound of stainless steel strings, but sometimes my fingers get caught up on them and the rough feel limits my finesse. For instance, last night I tried a set of Rotosounds for the first time in 10 years. They sounded nice for the slap stuff, but they were way too rough for everything else.

    On the other hand, I love the smooth ride that nickel strings offer - I can really gain a lot of control with nickels that I can't get with steel. But most of them are just a little too mellow for my taste.

    SO...I'm looking for suggestions on either an uncommonly bright nickel string or an uncommonly smooth playing steel string.

    Can anyone help?
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    If you get a steel string that gets old quickly then you can probably get the sound you're looking for. I'm not sure which steels strings are best at "dying" fast, but I have Dean Markley Blue Steels on my P bass and they're soon to reach the less zingy sound I wanted from them. Try those.
  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Roger Sadowsky can probably help you with that either way you want to go.

    His stainless are pretty darn smooth and the nickels are pretty darn zingy
  4. Saetia


    Mar 27, 2003
    I once had a set of Fenders that were a steel core wrapped with Nickel. It was a bit brighter, but not to bright, and smooth.

    I also had a set of fenders that were the opposite, nickel core wrapped in steel with similar results.

    I tend to like pure round wound nickels the most though. That's just my opinion though.

  5. Nickelplated steel might be the answer? A lot of the zing of steel, however, seems to come from the exterior wrapping itself. It may be hard to find a good compromise. Still, nickelplated steel is probably a good start.
  6. Hey! You could use steel with a string lubricant. My friend came up... brushed it on the strings of the P-bass i was playing. Funky and easy on the hands. not sure what the lube is called others may know.
  7. Larzon


    Jan 15, 2005
    D'Addario XL (Nickel) - Best Nickels I've played, decent brightness
    SIT Power Steel (SS) - Very growly bottom and mids, nice!
    Rotosound Swing Bass 66 (SS) - You can't go wrong with these, bright and growly.
  8. WillCO

    WillCO An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure.

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    These do sound great, but they really tear up my fingers and they go dead very quickly.
  9. 59jazz

    59jazz Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma Supporting Member

    Ken Smith Burners are very smooth and very bright! I found a used set stashed in my "junk" box last weekend and put them on my P bass............They have been on 3 different basses, and soaked in alcohol. Bought these strings 3 yrs ago, & They still ring loud and clear!:hyper: I just ordered another set for my 5'r.
  10. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    I've used the string lubricant Fast Fret with great results. Fast Fret can really help the feel on rough strings.

    No to mention tearing up your frets...
  11. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Smith taper-core Bass Burners or Labella Slappers (radical taper-core). Both nickel-plated for the final wrap.
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I've been using Ken Smith compressors on my fretless. Very smooth but mostly roundwound sounding. They are steel.
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Thanks for the 'plug' but the Compressors are actually a Nickle/Iron alloy known in the industry as 'Niron'. This is the alloy that most companies use for Ground and Pressed type strings. It's in between Nickle Plated Steel and Stainless Steel.
  14. woody357

    woody357 Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    Your style of playing is very simular to mine. I know a lot of ppl don't like them, but I have found that Elixirs are great for what I do, and they are very easy on the fingers. The sound is a bit different IMHO kind of like having a combo of nic, and steel. To me I get the brightness and clearness I want from steel with the smooth feel and punch of Nickel. I will say they take some getting use to, at first they felt wet to me, but after a few days of using them I got use to the feel.
  15. Anyone have any experiance with Titanium
    alloy strings?

    They have been around for acoustics guitars and

    I saw a titanium alloy set of bass strings on Ebay.
  16. WillCO

    WillCO An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure.

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Thanks. Those are definitely on the "try" list. Do you find that the coating extends the "live" life of the strings much?
  17. woody357

    woody357 Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    Hey Will, yes i think they last longer than other strings. I've tried DR High Beams, but they didn't last that long, in fact i put the old Elixirs back on and they sound better than the High beams that I replaced them with. They cost a bit more than other strings, but for me they are worth it. I like the feel of them, and I love the sound. I play a lot of funk, which means a lot of both finger style, and slap. IMHO these strings are funky.
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    My experience with Elixirs was that they sounded like crud from the beginning, but the good news is that that same crud stayed around for as long as I could stand them on my bass, a few months at least. So, if they work for you on your bass, you should get a lot of life out of them. Although, they better last at least twice as long as most other strings, as they are nearly twice as expensive.

    I love their guitar strings on my acoustic. They last forever and sound really great.

    Bass, not so much. :(
  19. WillCO

    WillCO An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure.

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I'll give 'em a try. Thanks.