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Good strings for a Tool-esque sound?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by StealthBanana, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Hi all, I've always been a big fan of Tool, and being a fan of their sound bass wise, I tried to model my rig after them to a degree to get a similar punchy sound through the mix, something their bassist(s) has always been able to do well compared to a lot of bands I've heard.

    Awhile back when I first got my "knock off" stingray, I ran it through a sans amp into my Peavey keyboard amp and I was using Ernie Ball regular slinky round wounds. Here's a vid of me using them to give you the idea of what they sounded like (and yeah, I'm covering a Tool song in it).

    So yeah, it was a pretty edgy sound and since I broke those strings I tried Elixir Heavy nickel plated/steel coated strings, which honestly sounded very similar to the Ernie Ball slinky's from what I recall but those didn't seem to dull out as quickly (I'm playing with a pick mind you). Unfortunately they break quite easily when you're using a pick constantly, so I had to find something more durable under that amount of tension.

    I read that Justin Chancellor (of Tool) uses Hybrid Slinkies, which I've never used before. So I was thinking of trying those next, right now I'm using D'Addario Brights (I think) which sound okay, and I like the fact that they are the most durable strings I've owned by far, but the tone just isn't quite punchy/bright enough to get that "Tool" sound I'm looking for.

    Also, I know strings are not very important to getting the "Tool" sound, but I have noticed a huge difference from where my sound was at almost 2 years ago and where it is now, and I'm not happy with it. Any input from you experts would be greatly appreciated so I stop spending my money on strings while hoping to get the sound I'm looking for. Of course I could just go back to regular slinky's, but I'm willing to admit there is probably something better for me out there for this kind of thing.
  2. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I would try DR Low Beams (Marcus Millers) or Low Riders. Thats what I use and I can get close to a JC tone. BUT, there are SO MANY other variables when breaking down his tone.
  3. mmbongo

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

    You mean Fat Beams :D

    A Darkglass B3K pedal and Fat Beams would put you 80% of the way there.
  4. Boom762

    Boom762 I AM the one who Booms! Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Lubbock, TX
    Well as you noted he used bybrid sli kies and an unusual gauge set. Grab them first and give us a report. Ive always wondered about them. Most of his sound is his heads and cabinets, the digitech whammy of old, and that envelope pedal.
  5. I am Soma

    I am Soma Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2013
    contrary to believe i find that the lightest gauge strings will get you that kind of sound....and an array of pedals lol
  6. Through hours of experimentation of several different heads and 3 different cab manufactures and recording direct with a Wal, i would say that his head/cab contributes to 15% of his sound/tone.

    There are recordings on YT where you can listen to a Wal playing Tool where no heads or cabs are used (xlr out on Wal to interface)
  7. For the OP...JC uses Hybrid Slinkys for A,D,G strings and a .110" E string from the Power Slinky strings.
  8. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    DR Hi Beams in a lighter gauge actually. I believe Justin uses a GK 2001RB, but like Toolmybass said, the head really isn't as important as the key to getting as close to his tone as possible....the Wal bass.

    The crappy part of it is, the Wal is by far the most expensive part of the equation (sans getting his exact effects layout to the "t")
  9. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Cool! I did not know that. I thought he used DRs for the longest time...I'll have to go out and try this string setup on one of my basses now ;)
  10. tylerwylie


    Jan 5, 2008
    Dunwoody, GA
    How do you break so many bass strings?
  11. brconflict


    Feb 10, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    The Tool bass sound is primarily the Wal, likely with the Volume knob popped out, giving you the Wal "pick" tone. It can be a major boost in the high-frequencies, which he uses. However, bright stainless steel strings and a boost of about 10Khz treble on the amp, and you can get fairly close with a Stingray HH (switch in the middle position and lower the mid-range control).
  12. ocoaibass


    Jan 9, 2010
    I'd very much recommend D'Addario ProSteels. They are high tension, super bright, & will give you a lot of the attack you're looking for when using a pick.
  13. Thats great! Should I get the .45-.100 or .50-.105 gauge of the the D'Addario Pro Steels? Which is better for a crunchier, brighter, less brittle sounding tone, specifically for pick style? Also would be curious to know the advantages of each for finger style and slap since I play those styles too.

    @tylerwylie I dunno man I just play with a pick really aggressively most of the time so that might have something to do with it. For what its worth my current set of D'Addarios are still intact and I've had them for almost a year now (Elixers broke after 6 months, EB Slinkies didn't even last that long lol)

    Thanks for all the help so far you guys! I just have to go with the Pro Steels for now since my local music store only carries D'Addario strings for some reason, so any tips as to which gauge would suit my needs the best would be highly appreciated!
  14. ocoaibass


    Jan 9, 2010
    I don't know that there will be much difference in those two gauges. They are very close together so I'd pick the one that is most similar to Justin's size. The brightness of the strings will definitely add to the tone you're looking for. Playing with a pick on these strings is preferred as they're awfully high tension. Lower tension strings tend to give you bit more mud and a bit more flub.
    I haven't played any string except the ProSteels in several years. If you check out my old band & a band of my friends, you'll hear them in action. They are great for piano string, gritty dirt, aggressive cleans, and so on. Check them out on Spotify:

    Generation of Vipers
  15. Hey man, thanks for the helpful response. I've been reading that heavier gauged strings tend to fair better with aggressive picking and lower tuning, which half the time I play in Drop D, so I'll likely just go with the .50 .65 .85 .105 gauge set. I just wish my local music store carried the EPS165 set, since those are .45 .65 .85 .105 which is the closest you will get to Justin's gauges with only buying one set of strings (which is all I can afford lol). Ahh well, hopefully it won't matter too much. Oh and your band is sweet dude, I listened to"Mother of the Morning Light" and everything sounds solid! Would be interesting to hear what you guys would sound like if you had a vocalist, but I can dig the post-metal vibe for sure. Cheers!
  16. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    Are these the Power Slinky strings he uses for the .110"?

  17. mmbongo

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

    You can get the singles from www.bassstringsonline.com and you won't have to buy a whole pack of strings just to get that one string out of it.
  18. Bassstringsonline do not sell Power Slinkys...or the normal Hybrid Slynkys.
  19. Dug2

    Dug2 Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    that pedal and circle k's would put him closer than that.
    circle k strings are the brightest sounding strings i've used, and
    i used to use fat beams on all my basses.