D'Addario XL Reds - Copper coated

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Magthegrate, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. Magthegrate

    Magthegrate Way less skilled than my gear suggests.

    Sep 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    My BL had a set of 30 year old D'Addario Xl Reds, Copper coated round wounds sitting around that had never been used. Apparently he bought them way back in the day before decided that he was a better rhythm guitarist than bass player.

    It seems that they were discontinued quite a while ago. I strung them up on my SB-2, and while they are QUITE a bit brighter than the flats and tapes that I'm used to, I'm kinda digging the sound for a change. I think I'll leave them on this bass for a while. They're forcing me to pay more attention to my muting than I have to with my tapes, so maybe they'll help my technique.

    Does anybody have any experience with these from way back? Any idea why they were discontinued?

    Sadly, the only recording device that I have at home is my cell phone, so I won't bother with uploading a sound clip.

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    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  2. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    They were still around until a few years ago. I've had them on a few basses. That set you have is pretty light. All the ones I ever played were something like 45-105 and those were the only gauges I ever saw. I prefer much lower tension these days but I really liked those strings. They had an interesting kind of brightness that's hard to describe.
    Magthegrate likes this.
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Man, I was choked when the discontinued those a few years back. They were, by far, my favourite D'Addario string. No clue why they were discontinued. My guess would be low sales.
    dcbluesbass likes this.
  4. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Yah for a long time Sam Ash had a few really old battered boxes that no one ever bought. I never saw them anywhere else.
  5. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I used the XL Red guitar strings many years ago. I recall liking them when they were new very much. However, I also recall that they died very quickly, and once their tone faded they were pretty much unusable.
  6. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Did they turn your fingers green?
    And make them smell awful?
    Geri O likes this.
  7. Magthegrate

    Magthegrate Way less skilled than my gear suggests.

    Sep 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    Not so far. Maybe I think pennies smell good though. lol
    charlie monroe likes this.
  8. farace


    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    The XL Reds were discontinued quite a few years ago. Then not so long ago they were revived as a coated string, the EXP Reds. Then they were discontinued again. I used the original XL Reds back in the '80s on my '78 Ric 4001. I liked them; they had a bit of a piano timbre to them, though maybe not as much as advertised. But they turned my fingers greenish black and accumulated so much black crud on them that for awhile I thought my then-girlfriend's housemate's boyfriend (who was a mechanic) was playing my bass when I wasn't around. I eventually stopped playing those strings. When the EXP Reds came out several years ago, I tried them and I keep them on my '83 4003. The coating solved the crud problem (I'm sure I also don't have the same body chemistry as when I was in my early 20s, too). They don't have quite the same timbre as the originals, but I like them well enough that I have a small stash of them. (At the rate I change strings, they'll probably last the rest of my life.) I wasn't happy they were again discontinued.
  9. Magthegrate

    Magthegrate Way less skilled than my gear suggests.

    Sep 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    For you that have played these copper strings, what did you end up replacing them with? I've been playing chromes and tapewounds almost exclusively for the last four years, but I'm kinda liking how these are sounding on my SB-2.

    I don't favor the sound solo, but when I play along with my band's practice tracks, I'm really liking how it sounds in the mix and I'll be taking it to practice on Thursday. I'd like to know a good option when they inevitably die.
  10. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I tried them a very long time ago, I think right after they came out. And yes, they did turn my fingered very green and smelled bad. And they didn't last very long at all, 5-6 days?

    I never tried them again after that one set.
  11. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    I tried XL Reds a couple times back in the '80s, when Nathan East endorsed them. They weren't as bright or long-lasting as Rotosound or GHS Super Steel roundwounds. Don't remember any problems with green hands or funky smell, but didn't find them remarkable.
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    I used them quite a bit in the early'80s on my 4005WB. Amazing tone. For, me, anyway. The only real negative was, IIRC, they were a bit rough feeling, like SS rounds can feel.
    The originals were discontinued many years ago, then briefly made a reappearance in a somewhat different guise, only to be discontinued, once again.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    The old set you have (which was one of my all time favs back when they were still making them) had a great tone.

    The new coated reissues don’t bear much relationship to them as many former XL Reds users, myself included, will confirm.

    Never ran into a discoloration or odor issue. Probably something to do with you personal chemistry and pH reacting with them. Can’t say I knew anyone else personally who did either. So I guess it’s another YMMV.

    I found the LaBella Copper White Nylons get you some of those warm complex mids the old Reds had. If you don’t mind tapewounds they may be worth a try. I’m happy with them.
  14. Yes, I ran a couple of sets way back when. Brand new = piano like. As I recall, aged similar to most other strings. No recollection of funny smells or finger tarnish, however my hands aren't of the sweaty type.
  15. Alessandro Cruz

    Alessandro Cruz

    Jul 23, 2018
    I tried them at the end of the 90's and they're STILL one of the best sounding strings i've ever had. They sounded warm, still bright enough for my taste, but the most remarkable thing was the DEEP piano sound, especially on E string when you slapped them. LOVE them, but never figured out why they never made a 5 string version.
  16. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've got a used set of the more recently discontinued EXP Reds coated strings that I had used for a bit on a couple different P basses. I recall them sounding different from nickels and steels, somewhat like the phosphor bronze strings they put on acoustic basses but without the bad characteristics. I may try them again, or I may flip them since I don't have a 4 string to put them on.
  17. The_Bass_Troll


    Oct 6, 2012
    In the 80s I, too, used XL Reds on a '78 4001, for their piano-like resonance. I also had them on a Kramer Flying V bass, a Hondo II Explorer bass, and a pawn shop P-bass. When I built my "Warhorse," I put Rotosounds, and then GHS Bass Boomers on it and my authentic B.C.Rich Warlock, but that was because I was going for a different sound. I still think the Ric 4000 series should sound deep and resonant like a piano, and the copper strings and Ric bridge pickup really helped get that sound.
  18. I used them on my 4001. Liked them a lot. They didn't last long. But they were really cheap as I recall. I still have a set of them, in short scale, in my drawer. I don't have a short scale bass though.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2021