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Nickel or Stainless???????

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Deano Destructo, Dec 17, 2000.

  1. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo MusicMan & Upton addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA.
    Does anyone know the difference between nickel and stainless steel strings and what are the pro's and con's? I've always used Steel and was wondering what the benefits of Nickel were?
  2. Nickel doesn't wear out your frets as fast. I use it. D'Addario EXL165s's.

  3. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo MusicMan & Upton addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA.
    O.k. but is that the only difference though?
  4. Stainless strings generally speaking are brighter sounding strings. Nickel is often described as sounding warmer.

    I really like and use D'Addario Slowounds SW3000.

    Bassin4God, Al Kraft and HolmeBass like this.
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Stainless steel stings: core and winding wire made of stainless steel

    Nickels: same, but winding wire nickel-coated

    nickels don't sound as bright as stainless steels and are easier on the frets. Can cause allergic reactions.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've found there is a huge difference and only wish I'd discovered the advantages of nickel plated strings earlier.

    In comparison Steel strings feel scratchy, abrasive and give a lot of finger noise, when moving left hand position. I also find that while steel sound brightest (too bright for me) out of the pack, they go off more quickly and that I was changing steel strings every few weeks, but nickel round wounds can last up to six months.

    Nickel round wounds sound perfect to me - not too bright, but they still sound excellent for slap/pop and have very prominent harmonics. They are good for just about every style I want, whereas I found that steel were just too bright/harsh for Jazz things. Plus the nickel are much easier on the fingers!

    JACink and HolmeBass like this.
  7. Is there actually a case wherein a person became allergic to nickel by playing nickel bass strings? AFAIK a nickel allergy commonly starts as a contact allergy from wearing jewelery/watch/rings containing nickel.
    I don't think you can get a nickel allergy by playing nickel bass strings alone.

  8. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    I play as hard as anyone and have used stainless steel for many moon (a little Indian lingo for ya). I really dont think that wearing out the frets is an issue you'll have to deals with unless your frets are made of cheddar cheese. Also, my belief is that you should use whichever type of string SOUNDS the best to you. Try each type and then figure out what fits your style and music the best. I personally LOVE stainless steel. I find it to be bright and full and responsive, with plenty of WARMTH.
    Johnny Vance likes this.
  9. jrock111


    Oct 10, 2000
    I beleive nickel has better magnetic properties for pickups than stainless steel. I really don't know if its noticeable or not.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I would agree that Stainless Steel don't wear out your frets - I used them for ten years on one bass with no noticable degradation. BUT - they do take their toll on your fingers, I now find that apart from Nickel strings sounding better to me, they are much gentler on my fingers and I can play longer with no adverse effects.

    I swore by Stainless Steel for many years and thought you had to put up with the discomfort to get that sound, but having discovered Nickel I would never go back. I did find that Steel were brighter out of the pack, but after a week they are no different to Nickel in this respect.
    rugrat likes this.
  11. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    I agree Bruce. I put up with stainless steel agony on my fingers and bass. Discovered nickelplated steel on a whim because my local store was out of my usual and have found out what you have. Stainless are usually brighter out of the pack but die quicker. Nickelplated steel starts out less bright, IMO more broken in but holds this tone longer. All this is opinion only folks.
  12. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Yeah, SS strings are tough on fingers. I still love them though. As long as my callouses are in form its no problem, but after a couple weeks off I can start to notice it.
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I switched to Nickel years ago, they sound more natural to me (hey, bass are found in nature, right?). They tend to feel smoother and as Bruce mentioned, sound as bright as week old SS.

    As far as callouses go, I'm one of those guys with "stealth" callouses. I appear to have none yet can play for hours on end on either type of string. Probably came from years of shaving my fingertips to avoid identification by Interpol.
    NigelD, +6dB Dan, O_Doolez and 3 others like this.
  14. Neither nickel or stainless steel have much in the way of magnetic properties whatsoever. For stainless steel it varies somewhat depending on the alloy but generally there isn't any. One of the components of some alloys of stainless steel IS nickel since it is one of the least susceptible to oxidation of any of the white metals.

    I don't know for sure but when manufacturers talk about nickel or stainless steel, I think they may be referring to the predominant amount of metal in the alloy.
  15. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Hambone, That alloy thing is interesting. It seems obvious now that you point it out, but I never thought about it before. My SS strings may only be "predominantly" SS. Therefore the difference between Nickel and SS may often be even less than we realize.
  16. I've been thinking about this for a little while now and I think I can shed some further light on it.

    Nickel is a soft metal. It works well when its used in chunks and other applications where it isn't put under tension. It is just too soft to be able to be strung up and stretched like a bass string. Additionally, stainless steel is fairly soft and malleable. So, I think that all of these strings have a steel core. The wrap has no tension on it so that (I think) is where the difference is. Stainless strings have a steel core and a stainless steel wrap. Nickel strings have a steel core and a nickel wrap. I'm just shootin' in the dark here but it sounds like it makes sense. YMMV
  17. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I just bought a set of Peavey Steel strings today. Its the 1st time ive ever used stainless steel strings and I gotta say Im not that crazy about them. They dont sound as warm as the slo wounds and blue steels i usually use. They also feel really different on my fingers. Kinda rough actually. I see the differences between the 2 now that i used both, and im stickin with nickel from here on out...is there a longer life span in either of the 2, that i dont know.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This might help with some more input, for the other more recent thread on this same subject.
  19. you know what is great about peavy strings?

    yea i can't think about anything either.
    i have never had a string go dead faster in my life.
  20. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    I like nickel more, but I don't know why.

    I don't like new strings anyway.
    I don't like old strings.
    Too bad my bass has strings.
    Gvernon and Larry V like this.

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