Coated strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JimmyM, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thinking about giving coated strings a try again. A couple years ago, Elixir gave people sets of strings to try, and I got one and they weren't bad. They weren't in the gauges I like so I didn't use them much, but I did 3 gigs on them before I had to send them back, and I didn't mind them nearly as much as the Elixirs with the earlier coating.

    So after getting annoyed with swapping out strings every 2 or 3 gigs, I'm considering trying another set, but I don't want to screw around and spend hundreds trying everything out, so here's a couple questions:

    1. Which ones have a coating that will best stand up to picks? The Elixirs would get marks in the coating from playing with a pick but they didn't fray in that month I had them. Will they eventually fray?

    2. Which ones last the longest without going dead in your experiences, and about how long did they last you?

    3. Which ones sound the most like D'addario XL nickels? Elixirs sounded like they were in that ballpark.

    Would appreciate any recommendations, but they must be available in a 40-95 or 40-100 4-string set, and they must come in clear and not only be available in goofy hippie colors. And please don't recommend any strings that don't sound like XL's just because you use them. This is about me ;)
    davel66 likes this.
  2. Krugen


    Feb 25, 2014
    Ploiesti, Romania
    Hey Jimmy. I'm not that much into Elixirs because :
    1) Picks destroyed mine. I had "pixie dust" between my PUs from all the coating that was coming off.
    2) Although mine did last for almost a year, they went iffy after the first 3 months while only being played inside the house.
    As far as recommending some, I would go for EMPs from Warwick. I didn't own any, but a friend did and they managed to keep up the zing for 6 months including a few gigs.

    PS : I'm not exactly sure what you identify as the D'Addario XL nickel sound, but to my ear the EMPs come closer to them while the Elixirs go more towards roundwounds.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    XL nickels ARE roundwounds ;) But the Warwicks don't look like bad strings at all. The stainless steel thing isn't my bag, but maybe with a coating they would sound more like nickels, eh?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  4. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I can't tell you which coated strings are good (I wish I knew) but I can suggest you avoid the DR Dragon Skins.

    They always felt new to me even after a year, but apparently they sounded like garbage almost straight out of the box.
  5. Krugen


    Feb 25, 2014
    Ploiesti, Romania
    Oh, my bad :oops: It's morning here and that was pre-coffee.
    As far as sound goes, the Elixirs will be closer, but not worth the extra money, and the Warwicks are way too bright for what I presume is your taste.
  6. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    i don't play picks, so i can only relate to this with second hand information,
    but a friend who's around 70% pick and 30% finger style plays the elixirs and claims they last twice as long as normal strings.

    I play finger only and my hands tend to get quite sweaty. Luckily for me, i like a string best once the zing of a freshly applied string is gone and the elixirs, while not sounding so zingy from the start, keep that state forever. They last me about 3,5 times longer than normal D'addarios and that's well worth the extra money.
  7. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
  8. Dredmahawkus


    Nov 4, 2012
    Jimmy.....get the elixer stainless....they sound better brighter and the coating for some reason is much better and doesnt come off.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  9. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    DR Dragon Skins are my favorite, but the ones that will sound most like D'Addario XL's will be D'Addario EXP.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  10. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    Jimmy, check with bass strings on line. I believe the Elixer Nano string coating was completely revised a year or two ago. If you had an older set it would have broken down much sooner than the current coating. I use the nanos on my Spector Euro to tame the ultra top end zingyness (is that a word) and they work great. I only play finger style and occasionally use a felt pic but mine have been on for about a year now and still sound and look new.
  11. artechoke


    Nov 9, 2012
    Rhode Island
    Okay, not recommending these (I'm unfamiliar with D'addario XL nickels), but just putting it down for experience's sake.

    I put DR Black Beauties on two basses just to try them out. My understanding is that these are black coated DR Highbeams, which are steel wound strings. When you put them on, they have that annoying new steel string metal BOING sound, but after some playing and stretching out they get a sort of nice warm/dark (maybe "woody") sound (the metallic aspect vanishes completely). They work well with a nice non-overdrive growl (Peavey T-40 in fake Rickenbacker mode).

    I do some picking, and when I do, its pretty aggressive, and the coating has held up. I think I bought the strings last summer—and they're in good shape.

    The real notable thing when I first tried out coated strings is, when playing finger style, the new strings have a sort of woody tack. They weren't sticky exactly, but my right-hand fingers wouldn't slide off them like I was used to, and I screwed up quite a bit as a result. Its like a second attribute that has to be broken in.

    Anyway, they seem to hold up.
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Actually I got one of the new sets. They were beta testing the new coating.

    Thank you all for the advice. Sounds like either Elixirs or D'addario's are the way to go for me.
  13. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    I got a free set a couple years ago, put them on and hated everything about them.

    No sir, I dont like 'em
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  14. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    My 2¢: D'Addario EXP reds are awesome. Very warm and somewhat "acousticey" with very little zing. Great strings.

    Edit: nevermind, just saw your light gauge caveat and dislike for goofy colors. They're copper coated.

    Still awesome though.
  15. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    I am using the Roto Nexus and they have a nickel round sound. I love them on my fretless. They are black and the silks are a bit bright, but they are a very good string.
  16. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    He also said he wants them to sound like rounds too. lol
  17. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I've been using the EXPs for a while now on my L2500. They're exactly the same as the XLs, but the outer winding gets coated before being wound into the string. Since you already like XLs, they're probably a good bet.

    As has been said before, they're pretty much like XLs, but with a bit less zing out of the box. The cool bit is that the sound pretty much stays like that for months. When using normal XLs I'm usually slightly annoyed until the initial new-string zing dies down a bit.

    And unlike most coated strings, EXPs are still electrically conductive through the coating - many other are not, and cause noise problems due to the strings no longer being grounded through contact with the bridge. I've actually tested this myself with my multi-meter - I still get a good solid ground connection with the strings when using EXPs.
  18. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I've avoided Elixirs solely on the fact that underneath they use SIT strings, and SITs never sat well with me. At least that's what the boys at Bass Emporium told me.
    I think the D'Addario's are the way to go, but I did have good experience with DR Black Beauties, but they definitely sound like a steel string.
  19. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    I don't use a pick, so I cannot comment on the durability, in that regard.

    In my opinion, Elixir's nickels are one of the best sounding and longest lasting coated string. They have a super sweet, almost saturated high end. Gives a really nice sparkly growel. they also last a long time (we are talking a few months of solid tone time, if you don't fuss with them too much (see: move them from bass to bass, etc), which I think is due to the fact that the coating goes on after the wrap wire is wrapped onto the core. So there are no gaps for crud to dampen the metal. I think this really becomes apparent both in long term or for really sweating situations. Such as gigging. The coating also is very smooth and IMO gets even easier to play, the sweatier things get. Which is often the opposite, with standard strings. Elixirs can be custom ordered, for better balance. If you desire.

    The stainless Elixirs, in my opinion, need a redesign for tone. They have all of the benefits of the nickel elixirs, but the tone was not good, as someone who loves and mostly uses stainless strings. They had a really big, unpleasant peak in the high mids that I could not EQ out and persisted on another bass.

    I just put a set of Daddario EXP on last week. The coating feels VERY similar to elixirs. I wouldn't be surprised if they are based on similar formulas. However, the coating is applied to the wrap wire BEFORE it is wrapped. Which means there is crud trapping potential. But I haven't had them long enough to confirm that. The E string was noticeably muted sounding and the A string was slightly muted. The strings aren't dead. I think the coating just got in the way of the tone. First set though. unsure if it is to be expected. Never had that problem with Nanoweb elixirs (I did with the old polywebs). They can also be custom ordered for guages/balance. Less expensive than elixirs.

    Roto's nexus bass strings sound really good. As usual, Roto has engineered for a rich midrange/upper midrange tone. Big lows. Overall tone is more focused, less open than some regular strings or elixirs. I also think they look super cool. The coating feels pretty good, somewhat slick. However, they didn't seem to last a lot longer than normal strings, in total life. But I think they would work well for short term, gig to gig use. They have a bit of a rubbery tone when they die.

    Of DR's coated strings, I have only tried the Dragon's Skins, of which I have had 3 sets. So I can only give a tone report for those. However, the coating is the same "K3" coating, for all of their coated strings.
    The coating feels a bit rough for awhile. It's not bad, but doesn't really seem to capitalize on the possible benefits of "feel" that a coating can give. The coating feels the most "rubbery" of all the coated strings I have tried. Initially, they sound pretty good. Better lows than regular DR strings. And a nice, darker, yet articulate stainless sound. The coating also seems to kill overtones and transients. So you get more of a 'dry' tone out of them. It's a curious effect, but it does sound good and affords a unique 'grind' to the growl. Harmonics are still totally useable.
    But, the coating is applied before the wrap wire is wrapped and did not significantly increase longevity for me. I got a solid 3 months out of them. Whereas I usually get 2 - 2.5 months from an good uncoated string. when these die, they kick the bucket and sound like rubber. It might actually be cool for a pseudo upright sound on a fretless ; )
  20. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    They do sound like rounds, just warmer.