Nickel to steel: What a difference!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by rickreyn, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I finally found some strings to fit my Mod Q5 with a 2 Tek bridge. Ken Smiths with a tapered B. These are steel strings over the nickel I had on before. While the nickel were much easier on the fingers, the snap and presence of these strings by far exceeds the normal lift you get from new strings. I am real happy to find something I can stick with. I did have to buy a B plus a four string set.;) :)
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It depends what you want - I used to buy steel strings in the 1980s as this was all I could get, but found that nickels were much more useful when I started buying them.

    Steels start off very bright - too bright for me - and then deteriorate very quickly.

    This is OK if you are a big star like John Entwhistle and have roadies to change your strings every night. But I used to find it a big problem, changing steels every few weeks.

    Whereas I buy the highest quality nickels I can get now and they don't go off for months - usually more than 6 months at a time.
  3. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I like the way steels settle out after a few weeks. You really need to try to keep them clean. I also detune when I'm not playing for a few days.

    I also use Smith Medium Rock Masters for my 5 and 6 string basses exclusively.

    I only used nickels on my fretless.

    It all depends on the sound/style your going after. Looks like you found what you need.
  4. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I am just happy that the strings fit. The tapered B can be too tapered and the string doesn't cover the bridge pickup. I will report back if the steels start to fade too fast.
  5. Aren't the Ken Smith strings merely GHS super steels repackaged? I can't use nickel strings, I have very acidic sweat that reacts with nickel and they die super quick. So I stick with steel.
  6. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I care only about the final result. Best steel strings I played. So there.

  7. Hey Ken Smith guy... I like the strings. I was only asking a question. I do want to know who makes what. If I can get exactly the same product at a lower price I'm going to do it. I really don't care what brand name is on a product. After being ripped on by yourself though I can assure you I'm never buying one of your products again. Have a nice day.
  8. slugworth

    slugworth Inactive

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    GHS makes strings for several different companies.
    Ken Smith and Alembic come quickly to mind. They
    will make strings to a certain company's specifications with a lot of their own engineering input. Type of core, type and metallurgical make-up of the outer wire, taper core, contact core,etc, color of the silking, ball end type, etc, etc, etc. As far as being hand made, nobody sits down with a bunch of spools of wire and twists them together to make a bass string. The strings that claim to be hand made are to a large degree, made by machines; the Vinci string winding machine being the most universally used, with one exception being Rotosound, who use machines of their own proprietary design. The Ken Smith bass string made by GHS is a good string
    at a competitive price, as is the Alembic string.
    It seems like you'll never get the same opinion twice about a particular brand of string; there are so many variables that will determine a strings performance and longevity, and therefore,
    a player's satisfaction with and loyalty to a particular string. Where a string is manufactured has little or no bearing on quality; quality has more to do with component input and manufacturing processes. The best advice I have heard
    is to try as many brands and types of strings
    as you can and let your fingers, ears, and wallets
    be the judge!
  9. Toneman


    Jun 6, 2001
    Long Island
    Lakland strings also are made by GHS. My Lakland came stock with steels I took them off & put on nickel its just personal taste I dont think one is better than the other. I find nickel to be a little warmer sounding also easier on the fretts & fingers. fwiw I find DR sunbeams to be a good nickel string. I also look for a tapered B.