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In praise of Warwick Red Label NICKELS

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by andruca, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Hey everybody. I'm opening this thread to share my experience (and discuss yours) with the best bang for the buck nickel string sets I've tried (and been consistently using for the past 5-6 years). I know we're all used to the WAY MORE COMMON stainless still Warwick Reds (in fact only place in the world that sell these nickel ones is thomann). I think because of those steels' bad reputation (justified, they feel horrible and die fast) not many people dare try these nickel Reds which, IME, are absolutely rocking.

    Just a little background. At a time where I'd gig with some high profile acts I've had a couple strings' endorsement deals. First had a Slinkys' endorsement for a year, some 12-13 years ago. I used to liked them, for the first week, then they entered a prolongued "not dead but not that pleasant either" zone I didn't like that much. Then had a Magma endorsement for 4 years. It's an Argenitean brand from a 3 generation family business (Medina Artigas). Simply the best bass strings I've used, the core is sort of overly flexible (nothing bad, something you don't notice when playing). Had a supply of these for years after the endorsement deal ended, still keep one set intact. Never broke one of these strings (and I did break strings of every other string brand I've used).

    Before those endorsements the only other brand I had used for a long time was Ken Smith, light steel sets (quite expensive). Also the only steel strings I have used for a long period, been a 100% nickel guy for years, there's a feel to them I prefer, but also, even tho' they're initially less zingy, in general, they take noticeably longer to die. I must clarify killing strings too fast is not that critical a factor in my case, my hands don't sweat at all, I'm fortunate, almost any nickel strings last a lot anyway (also far from obsessive with hand hygiene, hardly ever wash my hands before playing, only when obviously necessary because of previous contact with hazardous substances such as oil, grease, candy, diapers :roflmao:).

    Now, as the endorsement era supplies depleted I started considering nickel options just to "check what I like" again. Tried 4 or 5 different sets for some time and I remember REALLY liking DR Nickel Lo-Riders. But those are 48€ per 5 string set as of today. Me coming from zero expense on strings to ~50€/set was shocking. I still went with it, got a couple more nickel Lo-Rider sets and not long after that I accidentally ran into these nickel Red Labels (12.20€ per 5 string set these days, I remember them costing 11.60€/set for years). Decided to try a couple sets (got .040 and .045) and have been constantly surprised ever since. I know, they don't silk wrap the ends, they're saving too much on winding at strings' ends too, but they sound as good as any strings 3-4 times the price (not boomy, not thin, balanced, just right), they last a lot (WAY MORE than the steel Reds -which I've managed to kill surprisingly fast the few times I used them-) and they even fit my 35" scale Schecter CV-5 (less than 1cm outside the nut end). I in fact much prefer these strings to Slinkys, by a long shot. I've had a chance to re-evaluate this with the aforementioned Schecter, which came with extra long Slinkys earlier this year, liked them for a week (and really hoped they'd improved, they still feel great), they're far from dead right now, but they're not in a pleasant sonic place either, been like that for almost 2 months :rollno:

    Anything cheaper than these nickel Reds is crap zone (mind Stagg or any random AliExpress brand -Orphee, Alice, etc.-). Some of those go for as cheap as 5€/set, but I can confidently advice everybody not to waste their dough on those, after throwing some 20€ in sampling some sets. The common trait is they're bright (and it lasts), but they severely screwed up the tone on any bass I've strung with them: thin sounding, no mids, instrument losses character (I mean, I use ceramic Stingray5s for 90% of what I play and they can even make those sound generic, a no-no).

    I've seen very few mention of nickel Reds here in TB, but there's dozens of rave reviews on the thomann website for anybody to check. Thought they deserved some discussion, these are very underrated strings that probably suffer from their steel counterparts' terrible rep. Funny thing is I've seen some Warwick catalogs in stores and these don't even show there (only the crappy steels), and a particular store owner told me they don't get offered nor can order them. Could Warwick have some commercial "exclusivity" deal with thomann?

    I couldn't care less about the bells&whistles, it's OK if Warwick's saving on silk ends, tuner end winding. What I find outrageous is they (and many other brands) ARE USING WAY TOO MUCH DAMM PACKAGING (individual paper envelopes for each string, wrapped in vacuum sealed plastic, in turn inside a cardboard envelope -was a paper sleeve + plastic envelope before-). Not a Greenpeace nazi or anything, but can still find truth in trying to be as less predatory to the environment as possible, I'd definitely be happy if they reduced packaging, wouldn't care if they still charged me the same despite their cost reduction, just find it harder and harder to justify excess packaging on anything I buy. Feels like those 4x, 6x, 8x yoghurt packs, I mean, they hold together perfectly fine (most in fact are HARD to separate), yet they'll still wrap the whole pack around with some totally overkill cardboard. Makes me recurrently scratch my head.

    As a last disclaimer, I'm not affiliated by any means, not even a Warwick fanboy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I plain dislike how Warwick basses sound, feel and look, save for the various Star Bass iterations (in fact a RB Star Bass 5 is the only thing missing in my -modest- fleet). Just spreading the words, as I usually do with any stuff that's proven great value and, in this case, insanely cost effective to me.


    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
    tindrum likes this.
  2. Brilliant review - I've had my eye on these for ages, mostly due to their price point and because Warwick surely can't put their name on something that is a dud.... I will be trying ASAP :)
    andruca likes this.

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