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My review of different strings I’ve used

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Jonahlane, Nov 30, 2018.


  1. Jonahlane

    Jonahlane

    Mar 29, 2016
    Most of my experience has come after 3-4 week stints on the road with these strings. I travel quite a bit, so having good, versatile strings that cover a lot of ground is important to me. I use medium gauge (45-105/50-105) strings and play about a 70/30 split with pick or fingers. I usually use overdrive and octave effects.



    Rounds:


    D’addario XL Nickel:

    Was formerly my go-to string. Nice balance, good deep lows, warm rich mids and nice bright high end when new. Usually lasted me around 3 weeks, and never really got a faulty set. I’ll still use these sometimes when touring if DSBNs aren’t available. Really good for pick playing, not necessarily the brightest string, so maybe not ideal for slapping. If you’re looking for an all purpose string, this is for you.


    D’addario ProSteels:

    Tried these, never really took for me. The sound was great when practicing alone, but felt that they lacked the lows that I like (80hz). Nice sound, might use them in recording if I need a bit brighter sound, but not great for me. Lots of clank, decent midrange, but dull lows.


    GHS Boomers: *realized I hadn’t posted this one yet*
    These were cool, but not necessarily for me. They had a big bottom end, neutral mids and not a whole ton of bright highs. I can tell that these would have been better on a stingray or active bass with more natural high end. I play p basses and j basses, all passive, so I don’t have those controls on hand. I get the feeling that they would work well for reggae or dub style bass.


    DR Lo-Riders:

    I had a love affair with these strings a while back. The thing that killed them for me was that I had iffy quality control between packs. I bought 5 packs, and had 2 dead strings between those packs. I LOVED the sound of these. Really rich lows, grindy highs, and complex midrange that really responded to overdrive very well. A little rough on the hands, but we all have callouses for a reason right?


    DR Hi-Beams:

    I’d place these right under the D’Addario XLs and right above GHS Boomers in the brightness scale. Really nice strings. Great supple feel (round core) and felt as if they responded well to dynamics. They warmed up nicely right out of the pack, and kept their brightness for what I felt was a bit longer than average. Stopped using these for the same reason as the Lo-Riders, Quality control.


    Ernie Ball Nickels:

    These strings confuse me. I hear them played by players that I really enjoy (Dave Hollingworth and Mike Dirnt) and love their tone, but whenever I try them out, they just sound sterile? The brightness is there, but it’s not particularly ‘Alive’ sounding. Tension seemed a bit high. I haven’t used these in a while, so maybe my inexperience at the time was what killed them for me.


    Dunlop REGULAR Nickels:

    Dead within a week. If you like dull, dead rounds then you’ll love these. I didn’t.


    Dunlop Super Bright Nickels:

    My favorite string. Tonally, very rich and dynamic across all ends of the spectrum. The feel is very unique, low tension and supple. Right out of the package they sound absolutely incredible, and keep 90% of their brightness for around 4 weeks, in which they die right away. 10/10.


    Rotosound 66 Swing Bass:

    I really wanted to like these. On day 1 of these strings, I thought I found a new go-to set. Nice and bright, solid lows and punishing mids. On day 2 I wondered what happened. They died super quickly. If you can afford to change your strings every day, then this would be the best sounding string out there. I am a full time musician/worship leader, so I cannot afford that.


    Rotosound 66 Swing bass Nickel:

    Same as the SS but extended by about an extra day. Not worth it.



    Flatwounds:


    La-Bella DTF 760FL:

    This was my first set of flats, and they opened my eyes to how cool flats can sound. Unfortunately, with my tendinitis, the tension on these was rough for me. Really solid thick lows, robust but polite mids, and reduced highs.


    La-Bella Jamerson set:

    If you have the hands and grip strength of a Wookiee, you might be able to handle these strings. Very high tension, the tone is very motown oriented, which isn’t necessarily my vibe. Very cool strings, and I have a set stashed away for recording, but I never really use them live. Similar tonally as the 760fl, but the higher tension affects the attack of the note.


    La Bella Flexible Flats:

    My go-to flatsound. Instant old school tone, with incredible tension. I would describe these strings as ‘Polite’. I love them for finger style and pick playing alike, and they sit well in a mix. Very dark and woody sounding.


    D’addario Chromes:

    Was my Go-to for a while, until I couldn’t handle the tension. Really bright sounding flat, almost like a round wound, up until the die and fall into a super deep, rich warm sound. If you’re new to flats, I recommend these. The wrapping of these strings is unique, and they have a midrange complexity that compliments rock music very well. They work exceptionally well with effects and drive.


    Rotosound 77:

    Basically high tension, inflexible rounds. Hate these. 1/10.


    Ernie ball Cobalt flats:

    Similar to chromes. Not a whole ton to say about these. They’re nice and cool, but not exceptional.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
    omie, Mvilmany, Sanchan and 2 others like this.
  2. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Nice review! You mentioned GHS Boomers, but you didn't include them. How did they fare?

    I haven't tried quite a few of the sets you reviewed, especially the flatwound sets. One of these days I need to put a set of flats on one of my basses again. I tried D'Addario Chromes, which were pretty good, IMO but they were just a wee bit too bright, and when they finally mellowed, they sounded too dull for my taste. Like zero "middle life" for me.

    I totally agree with your assessment of D'Addario XLs being pretty bright for a nickel plated roundwound, I'd personally put LaBella Nickel roundwounds second, the EB Slinkys third, and GHS Boomers fourth, to my ears anyway.

    I used to prefer fresh, bright sounding roundwounds up until 12 years or so ago. Then, I found the tone of slightly broken-in nickel plated roundwounds sat better in the band mix, and were actually a bit more audible to me. This led me to slightly alter the way I eq'd my amp: I started to emphasize the low mids region a little more, and I backed off my highs and high mids a little. Instant Jack Bruce-meets-John Paul Jones type of tone! Super audible, and less "Turn Down!" remarks from vocalists and guitarists. YMMV.

    Once again, thanks for your reviews, and if you try other sets out, please include them here!!
     
    Jonahlane likes this.
  3. Jonahlane

    Jonahlane

    Mar 29, 2016
    Will do! Any particular I should try out?
     
  4. S.F.Sorrow

    S.F.Sorrow

    Dec 6, 2014
    Every time someone mentions DR strings and QC/dead strings in the same sentence I just gotta ask: Do you know how to install round core strings properly? Did you crimp/bend the strings 90 degrees before cutting? If not, that would explain how you got dead strings.

    My apologies if you already know about this. It's just that it's such a common mistake to make with round cores and it will cause the exact problems you are describing. When installed properly I've NEVER had any issues with DR strings. In fact, with the exception of Thomastik and Pyramid (their rounds last FOREVER) they are some of the longest lasting roundwound strings in my experience. And some of the better sounding ones too IMO.
     
    Root 5 likes this.
  5. klokker

    klokker

    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Nice review and appreciated. The lo riders are SS I assume? Anyway, that's what I use for the reasons that you state anyway. Never had any quality control problems. They also last a while.

    Again, nice reviews.
     
  6. Jonahlane

    Jonahlane

    Mar 29, 2016
    Yep, all installed properly. I bought them in bulk off of amazon, so im curious as to if I just got really unlucky with a bad batch.
     
  7. graphics1988

    graphics1988 Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2014
    Ontario Canada
    Nope. I've had the same luck...albeit I contacted them direct and they shipped me another two sets of whatever string choice I wanted. So good on them for doing that...but 4 pks, and two dead G's.
     

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