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Nickel vs. Steel

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Brad Barker, May 4, 2001.

  1. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    I am a relative "newbie" at string selecting. I have experienced playing ernie ball hybrid slinkies (well, i think it was a hybrid, neways) and ghs bass boomers. Are these steel or nickel? I like the feel of them, but for my next set, I want to try out Rotosounds, the roundwounds, in either steel or nickel.
    I recall some of you saying that stainless steels feel kind of "sticky," but I suppose that doesn't apply to standard steels. Is it worth getting nickels? I do like playing slap bass (which nickel is commonly used for) but I also am in my school's jazz band, thus needing mellower tones at time (which can be a chore with my Spector's active electronics).
    I want to hear your opinions and/or comments and/or suggestions.
  2. You can download my Musician's Reference Spreadsheet from my site:


    It has a lot of information on strings, eBay trades, speakers, cabinets, basses, etc. A work in progress, that is updated almost daily.

    As for strings, you have nickel, steel, and stainless, as the primary materials. Stainless is the brightest, is the hardest on frets and fingers. Nickel is kind to frets and has a nice feel. Different nickels have varying magnetic properties.


    GHS strings has a nice chart on their site that shows the relative brightness of their various string models. They also have a generic string tension computer that shows the pounds of tension put on the neck by various gauge strings.

    I have not yet been able to find a single document that comprehensively describes all the various parts of string construction.
  3. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    You have a great site, ma' man!

    It'll be very useful when it is finished. Spread the word of your site- it could very well come in handy to many a bass player.
  4. Thanks. I do shameless plugs at every opportunity. Nothing is for sale, just available for the community at large.

    One of the things I've been putting up are demo MP3 files of different bassists and their tones. I bought the Seymour Duncan CD set that demos all their guitar pickups and found it to be very useful. I keep bugging them to do the same for bass, but it hasn't happened. So, I get as many as I can to contribute their "sound" for others to hear.

    As I get more free time, I will put more engineering stuff on the site for those interested in rolling their own cabinets, etc.

    Something else I would like to do sometime is a string tension reference, and pehaps someday a test bed bench to record the sounds of different strings on a common bass. For example what do TI Flats sound like compared to GHS Progressives on the same bass.
  5. Just to add my preference, I have played Rotosound Swing Bass 66's which are Stainless, and now I use D'Addario EXL165's which are Nickel. I like the Nickel sound, and they are cheap as far as strings go. Try them, you'll like them. :D

  6. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    If you need mellower tones at times, might want to go nickel. Since you like slap, maybe the Fat Beams from DR would be worth a look.

    I would post my preferences here, but they are inconsistent with what you want.
  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Steels and stainless are to my ear pretty "clangy". If you slap a lot or rock hard, they're probably the way to go. Nickels are smoother sounding and feeling. I used D'Addario XLs and Vinci RK's before I switched to Elixirs, which I hear are actually XL's with the coating! Pretty expensive but they last FOREVER -- like a year and a half! The Vinci RK's are a GREAT value; you can get 'em at www.wwandbw.com for $9 for a 4-string set and $13 for a 6-string set! Plus nickels seem to take boiling pretty well, WAY better than steels which don't seem to like it at ALL. So a nickel set will serve like 4 times longer than a steel set.
  8. Chris,

    What differences did you notice between the Roto 66LDN which are solid nickel vs the D'A EXL165s which are nickel plated steel?

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