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New to the world of strings (aka I need your help!)

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Hugh Jazz, May 2, 2002.

  1. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    Well the strings on my Ibanez BTB 406 are nearing death and I will need to change them in the near future (at least the G and C). To give you an idea of my tone, I like a really heavy grindy sound (prog rock/metal/music). As in heavy, ballsy lows with enough high mid snarl/grind to cut through and get a very aggressive in-your-face sound. Basically it's Tool or Iron Maiden with a much bigger low end.

    To give you a little more info on my rig, I play my BTB (bass and treble flat, low mids boosted just a hair) through a Mesa M-2000 head (with the gain turned up high, the lows flat, the mid mids cut a bit, high mids goosed, and highs flat) into 4x10s and a 1x15. The bass itself lacks high mids, which is where judicious use of the EQ helps me out. The low end on it, however, is really intense. Keeping the frequency knob of the semi-parametric mids on the bass to the low mids, I only boost a hair to get a really ballsy low end. I have to be really careful, or it gets too much. That along with the amp itself makes sure I have PLENTY of raw low end. It's the high mids that I'm missing in the bass itself (I need a maple or ebony fretboard). :(

    I'm happy with the tone I have right now. The only improvement I would like to make is to get my highs/high-mids a little thicker and clearer. When going up to my G and C strings, the sound is really weak unless I'm on the 12th fret or higher. I would like a little more bottom and definitely some more volume/attack on these strings (I guess having thicker guages for them), while improving their clarity.

    Other things I'm looking for are strings that will allow me to play fast and move all over the fretboard. The BTB's 35" scale and the stock strings make this a little tough compared to my old/crappy bass, where the tension was much lighter. I've read rave reviews about the DR Low Riders, but the increased tension might not be so good for me. The Hi-Beams and whatever other flavors they have all sound very interesting, but since I don't know diddly squat about strings (nickel vs. steel vs. horse hair etc. etc.), I don't know where to begin. Plus since 6 string options are much more limited, I wanted to get an idea of what could work for me, then conduct some more research from there.

    So given my situation and needs (aggressive tone), what brand of strings do you guys recommend? Keep in mind that I'm a poor college student, so experimenting with multiple brands right now is almost impossible, but I'm willing to pay a little more for good strings that'll last me.

    Thanks in advance. :)

    Hugh Jazz

    Edit: I play finger style and tend to dig in on "heavier" parts (mainly when accenting notes), but I'm learning to lighten my touch (to build endurance and keep up a consistent speed).
  2. Angelo


    Jan 12, 2002
    If you want an aggressive tone.
    You might want to try steel.
    Nickel would probably be too mellow for you,especially with heavier gauges.Which is what i would also suggest.Check out Dean Markley Blue Steels,there popular and should be easy to find.Or,DR High Beams.I've tried them and they are definetely aggressive sounding.And are very good as far as steels go.
  3. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    Are the Blue Steels and Hi-Beams available in 6 string sets?
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If large gauge DR Hi Beams or Rotosound Swing 66's don't do it for you, nothing will. On a good bass operated by a good player, they can rip a chunk out of asses.

    DR's last longer, IME. Then again, I haven't used Rotosounds since the original punk days. From what I've read, they have improved their life span since those days.

    If the sound is still not happening after using either of those strings, it's time to look at your pickups/ your technique/your amp/your control settings.
  5. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    I've only ever owned Fender basses and here's some of my personal faves for aggresive tone. Keep in mind the following are all stainless steel roundwounds which are the brightest strings of the various types.

    Rotosound Swing Bass 66 - The industry standard for many years. Personally, I quit using these due to a high number of dead strings. I hear that quality control at Rotosound is back up and they've gotten back two very high profile endorsees, Billy Sheehan and John Entwhistle. These strings have a strong bottom and a snarling top end. They have a nice midrange growl...but IME have a very short lifespan.

    Dean Markley SR2000 - Piano string sound on your bass! These strings have what is called a tapered wrap at the bridge. They vibrate better and are brighter because of this type of construction. The problem for me with these strings is that I can't seem to intonate taperwounds like standard strings. Most people get the opposite results with these (just ask John Turner) but to my ears, taperwound strings have strange overtones that even when intonated, sound out of tune to me. Too bad because these strings sound awesome otherwise.

    DR Hi-Beams - Yes, yes, yes!! Stainless Steel strings that IMO are the strings of choice for an aggressive tone. They are a bit more flexible than other strings of similar gauges (due to a round core vs. hex core) but they are super bright, have an awesome feel, and IME last and last. I'm kind of partial to DR strings as you can tell but you should really experiment and find what your EARS tell you is right. Just going by your post, it sounds like at least a medium gauge of Hi-Beams would be a nice start for you, especially on a 35" scale bass. Try 'em!
  6. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    Hmm, well it sounds like the Hi-Beams and SR2000s may just do it for me. (The short life span of the Rotosound worries me because I'm poor.) What guage would you recommend? I don't know the guage on my bass right now as they are the stock Ibanez steel/copper wound strings. I'm assuming they're "medium," whatever that amounts too.

    Also, is there any other advantage to taperwounds? Right now I'm leaning towards the Hi-Beams over the SR2000's, but if the the latter have a significant advantage over the the DR's, then I'll have to look into them.

    Thanks for your help guys! :)
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

  8. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks. I think I'll go with the DR's for now.