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Choice of new strings - complete novice advice please :)

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by iCONICA, May 28, 2012.

  1. iCONICA


    May 14, 2012

    I bought a Tobias Toby Pro 4 bass, in natural wood grain (satin lacquer) finish, it's just lovely. I previously had a rubbish p-bass copy, but it really was rubbish.

    The new bass was the display model in the shop, so the strings aren't new. I don't know what they are.

    I bought some new D'Addario strings, Nickel round wound XL ones. When I strung it, I was really unchuffed with the new strings. They were very very quiet and dull sounding in comparison to the "old" ones I'd just taken off. So I put the old ones back on.

    I mentioned that on here, and afterwards, a nice chap from D'Addario messaged me explaining it could be that the new strings are nickel, and maybe my old strings were steel. He offered to send me a new set, but I've got no idea which to go for, I want to get it right this time if it was my error getting wrong strings the first time.

    Can anyone offer some pointers about gauge and different metals? I know the differences between flat, round, etc.

    Am I right in thinking the bigger the number, the thicker the string? Not the other way round like with AWG measurements?

    Are thinner strings easier to play? I like playing scales and learning slap/pop technique style. When I'm better, I'd play jazz/funk/groove stuff, rather than rock/metal, etc. I assume thicker strings sound "weightier", if thinner strings are easier to play, can't you just turn the bass up to compensate?

    Could it be that the current strings I have are steel? Is there any way to know, I really love the sound of the old strings, I want new strings that sound like those.

    Also, the old strings have red cotton winding around both ends, what's this for?

    Thanks for any advice offered.
  2. droppedurpocket


    Nov 11, 2011
    Plano, TX
    I'm a novice too, and the other guys here will help you more, but from what I know steel will have a brighter sound than nickel. There are also cores in each string that are round or hexagonal shape, though in not sure what that does for the sound. Thinner strings are easier to play, but from what I understand they also have a little less tone quality than the thicker gauge strings. You are also correct in that the thicker the string, the higher the #. I personally play DR lowballers which are uncoated steel w/ a hex core. I hope that helps :)
  3. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011
    I love stainless steel strings (dean markeley sr 2000's). I use med or med-light guage strings in whatever I buy (around .45 to .105 or so). I found medium guage is a good blend of punchy bottom and nice crisp highs.
  4. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I've still got the stock D'Addario XL nickel wounds on my MTD Kingston (so we share a Tobias connection!). I've never found the at all dull, neither did I find the new set I put on my old Yamaha at all dull. Either it's a bad set (and I've not often heard of a whole set being bad) or you were, as suggested, using stainless steel before which are brighter. I'd try standard gauge to start with (.45 - .105) and see whether these feel okay to you. If they're too thick then you could try lighter sets (with an E string of .100 or .95).

    And the silk windings are, I believe, just to help with winding the string onto the peg. Not all strings have them.
  5. iCONICA


    May 14, 2012
    Thanks for the responses.

    I'll ask for steel medium gauge, to see if they're more the sound I'm used to from my old strings, whatever they are...

    I'll post back with my findings. :)
  6. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    You can kind of tell.

    Steels will be dull grey in color and have a rougher feel.
    Nickels will be shiny and have a smoother feel.
  7. iCONICA


    May 14, 2012
    Yeah, the new ones (the nickel) are shiny and smoother, the old ones I put back on were duller grey (I assumed just faded) and rougher.
  8. sidez81


    Mar 16, 2011
    QLD, Australia
    DR.............. DR.............. DR
  9. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    I tried D'Addario Chromes for the first time this week - loving them, really good feel, low finger noise. They're flats though, so sparkle isn't their main property.
    Surprisingly bright for flats though!

    I've used Rotosound 66 nickels and steels, they both sound great but the steels keep the high 'clank' longer.
    They eat frets though (I played very heavy on them:bassist:)
  10. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    If your strings are flat, your frets won't be.
  11. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    ..but your tone WILL be :smug:
  12. iCONICA


    May 14, 2012
    Hi, Guys.

    A nice chap at D'Addario sent me a new set of strings. These ones are steel rather than nickel. It turns out that was completely the issue with the other new D'Addario strings, my "weak" pre-amp in my Toby coupled with the nickel strings made it very quiet and dead sounding. The new steel strings are excellent, lots of tone. They're very rough on the fingers, but they'll toughen up. They have lots of finger noise now and are very twangy and clangy, but that'll die down a little as I wear them in with some finger grease, I think...

    So a big thumbs up to D'Addario customer support for sending me new strings when my ill informed choice of strings was the cause of the issue...


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