GHS Super Steels on Precision Bass

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by trothwell, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Working on a choral arrangement. Almost time to go to sleep. Hey! I still haven't made a demo recording of the GHS Super Steels on the Precision bass. Not really sure what I'm playing, just fiddling, but you can get an idea of the tone:

    After mostly running flatwound strings on the Precision bass, and thoroughly enjoying GHS Balanced Nickels, I thought I would try more extreme roundwounds on the bass and see how that went.

    These are noticeably the roughest-feeling GHS strings I have tried, but still clearly less rough than Rotosound 66. They feel stiffer than the Balanced Nickels that preceded them, but not too stiff for me.

    I rather like the sound on this bass. I had used GHS Super Steels for a while in the past on a Jazz bass, and after an initial period of delight (they weren't mid-scooped like some other stainless steel strings), I noticed a bit of a twang tonality that I just didn't get along with. On the Precision bass, that twang tone seems to balance well with the different pickup.

    The tone is not as deep and fundamental as BNs... more open and airy. But still a good low end. Higher up on the fingerboard, the notes sound solid and clear for melodic soloing.

    Better, worse, than Balanced Nickels? Not sure. But since I very much like BNs on the Jazz bass, which seems more finicky about string matches, I may continue with Super Steels on the Precision bass just for the variety of sound.

    I have here the medium set, the heaviest set.

    [Note that I did put some compression on the bass on this recording. Significance? Fuller, more consistent sound across the spectrum. But in a real-world recording scenario, I would use compression to taste, as needed.]
  2. Leland Sklar, who is one of the busiest touring bassists and the most sought-after session pros, has used the Super Steels L5000 (40-58-80-102) consistently for over 40 years since the mid-70's. Considering how many songs he has recorded (25,000+) and performed live over the years, I'm sure we've all heard these strings in action countless times.

    One interesting thing to note is Lee actually likes his strings "broken-in" so only changes the strings on his main basses twice a year.
    bear, Arthur U. Poon and trothwell like this.
  3. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Indeed! Stumbling upon this video last year had planted the "try Super Steels on the Precision bass" in my mind:

    In fact, I remember now that it was last August I was looking at the GHS web site to consider sets of Super Steels when I saw the Balanced Nickels announcement, and went down that path instead.
    JulienP. and Arthur U. Poon like this.
  4. Nice! You should add this to the string soundclip comparison thread!
    Best wishes,
  5. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I pulled up an old demo project I had made with GHS Balanced Nickels, and recorded a Super Steels track, to A/B compare:

    I mean, sure, granted, probably few people are trying to decide between GHS Balanced Nickels and GHS Super Steels -- kind of like, I'm not sure, do I want a compact convertible or a full-size pickup truck? -- but there you go. Enjoy!

    [Edit: I had also gotten a new computer since initially recording the track, and apparently don't have the same bus compressor plugin installed, so the overall track is a little different, but I think they sound enough in the same ballpark to compare the bass tones.]
    wschenk, crobasster, sonojono and 2 others like this.
  6. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Another rough track with GHS Super Steels:

    I think this bass sound works "in the mix" very well -- that's important. If Lee Sklar has used these strings to record for ~40 years, I imagine that's a quality he appreciates as well!
    nervous and michael_t like this.
  7. True test for any strings is how they sit in the mix. Nicely done! And I must say those snarly slides are very Sklar-ish.
  8. By the way, on a side note...

    Leland was telling us that he used Rotosound Steels in the very early 70's prior to switching to GHS. He would have to go through three sets of Rotos to make up one good set. But after switching to GHS, no such issue for over 40 years.
  9. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    And one reason it can be challenging to find useful demo material online -- I think especially for fretless bass. So many example tracks where the strings are identifiable consist of someone doing Jaco-esque soloing, and not much else. How does it sound in the context of a regular song? No idea. If what you mainly do is take extended bass solos, maybe that's helpful, but I suspect most players don't do that so much.

    Kind words indeed! Thank you.
  10. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    You bring up a bigger point, in that the bulk of most demos are just solos or displays of chops. Very few are players (even by themselves) playing a couple simple, accessible lines that show the product over the player.
    Root 5, sonojono, BrentSimons and 2 others like this.
  11. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Very true! I started recording bass string demos largely for myself, so that I could help keep track of what I personally liked and didn't like. I intentionally play more technique-y (even if not always well-performed and polished) to get an idea of what various techniques sound like with those strings. But admittedly that tends to offer only a glimpse into what the strings would sound like in a more probable real-world scenario.

    This very thread is a good example. My first post is a random, ill-conceived hodge-podge that I somewhat regret even posting... but it serves my personal purpose of exemplifying tonal ideas, even if the performance is lackluster. The other two clips, while still not final, publishable recordings, are much closer two what I would actually play for real.
  12. Agreed. The Bass Hang guy on YT for example plays too many notes. I want to hear whole and half notes to clearly hear the tone of whatever's being demonstrated. I feel like too many guys see it equally as an opportunity to demonstrate chops.
  13. I love Super Steels, however on this track, the Balanced Nickels sound much better to my delicate ears...
    AstralBirth and trothwell like this.
  14. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    The more I listen, I think I agree. (Remember, I make these string demos for myself as much as, if not more than, for others!)

    Interestingly, I think the tone of the Super Steels deteriorated over the few days between the various recordings posted. By the time I did the "On My Way Home" demo, there seems to be less clarity (not just less "zing"), especially on the lower strings. I'm not sure how significant this is in a typical mix, but I hear it.
    Root 5 likes this.
  15. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    I don't like straight stainless steel strings (except flats). I agree the Balanced Nickels sound better. It is very possible that everything under the pure nickel cover wrap is stainless steel. Or not.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
    Root 5 likes this.
  16. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Hi Trothwell. What's your opinion of the more "broken-in" sound of the Super Steels? I'm on my 'Droid so I typically don't even attempt to listen to sound clips on my cellphone.

    Do you feel they still have a useable tone?

    I'm contemplating putting Super Steels on one of my most aggressive sounding basses, most likely my Spector, once my band starts recording.

    Thanks in advance.
  17. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Played on these for a while tonight. Absolutely still usable. Maybe all that it is, is I don't favor stainless steel strings on this bass. They remind me of what I remember D'Addario Pro Steels sounding like (on another bass, years ago)... kind of starting to sound hollow a bit. I will probably go back to nickel-plated, seems to work better, for me, on this bass.

    Nothing wrong with them though; I think still sounds good, just not my preference.
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  18. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Thanks for the reply!

    Have you tried Rotosound Swing Bass 66's? If so, how do Super Steels compare?

    I haven't had a bass strung with stainless steel strings in a lot of years. I've never tried Super Steels, but I have tried D'Addario Prosteels, and I was a Rotosound Swing Bass 66 fanatic for close to 10 years.

    As a matter of fact, a set of Prosteels is the last set of SS rounds that I've tried. Like I said, it was ages ago, but I recall they sounded a bit mid scooped, -which was really weird, because I had them on my passive Fender American Standard P-Bass.

    The thing I loved about RS66's was they had plenty of mids, and a gritty tone. Damn! I loved those strings in my youth!

    My other complaint with stainless steel rounds are they have kind of a "tacky" feel to them. I can't remember if RS66's had that feeling, but I definitely remember Prosteels did, and I tried a set of Dean Markley SS rounds that felt tacky too.
    trothwell likes this.
  19. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I have used Rotosound stainless steel 66 numerous times on Jazz basses; I think they sound great there. I once took an old set of Rotosound 66 off a Jazz bass and tried it on the Precision bass; while I expected the strings to sound, well, old, they also sounded a bit weak and thin, which surprised me. Even as old strings, they still sounded full on the Jazz bass. I have never tried a new set of Rotosound 66 on the Precision bass.

    Conversely, while I do not think I will stick with GHS Super Steels on the Precision bass, I think they sound better there than on my Jazz bass.

    So for whatever that opinion is worth! :)
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  20. Interesting to read your comment about old Roto Steels sounding better on a J than on a P.

    One of my favorite J bass tones is David LaBruyere on John Mayer's Live in LA DVD. He played his vintage J with Roto Steels, but I read somewhere he actually likes them old, as in "years old".
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
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