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Nickle verses DR Stainless Steel Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by JOME77, Sep 23, 2004.


  1. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    I've used nickle round wounds on my basses since 1976. Prior to that, I used Roto-Sound Swing bass steel strings. They did so much damage to my frets that I switched to nickle coated steel. Recently I couldn't find any super long nickle plated steel round wounds locally and purchased a set of DR HI Beam stainless steel strings. I really love the sound of those strings but I'm very concerned about the potential for greater fret wear. I noticed on the string package that they quote Marcus Miller as saying "They do not eat my frets". If you've used the DR Stainless Steel for a while, would you say this is true or are all SS strings the same as far as fret wear goes?
    Thanks!
     
  2. I've always preferred SS; never noticed crazy fret wear. I don't play as often as I'd like, though, if that matters. I've used DR, Ken Smith, Dean Markley & Roto's: all stainless, similar wear factor,IME.
     
  3. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    When I first started playing bass in '89 I used Rotosound Swing Bass Stainless Steel. Then I switched to Rotosound Spacer (Black Anodised) Stainless Steel. I noticed a fair amount of fretwear with both of these Rotosounds but the stainless tone is what I craved. I then fell out of love with Rotosound around '93 or so (QA issues) and switched to Dean Markley Blue Steel Stainless and Dean markley SR2000 Stainless. Both of these types gave me about the same amount of fretwear as the Rotosounds. In 1998, I switched to DR Hi-Beams and have noticed that the fretwear has been reduced slightly. Keep in mind that stainless steel strings versus nickel frets = fretwear. I do believe, however that not all stainless steel roundwounds are the same when it comes to fretwear, especially the DR types. Comparing a DR stainless steel roundwound to most other stainless steel roundwounds, you will see that the diameter of the wrap wire is actually smaller. IME, this helps minimize fretwear as much as possible. DR also claims that their roundcore strings (Hi-Beams and Fat-Beams) are less harsh on the frets because the round core allows the wrap wire to roll versus a hex core design which grabs the wrap wire tightly. With this being said, I prefer DR Lo-Riders nowadays (stainless steel hex core) and they still seem to be less abrasive than most other stainless steel roundwounds on the market. I've tried several brands of nickelplated strings, thinking that I would eventually find one that would give me the punch and snap of stainless steel and I've yet to find one. To me, tone comes first....frets be damned!!! But I do believe the DR types to be smoother than other brands, without sacrificing tone.
     
  4. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    I also noticed that on the DR's. It makes sense that the smaller diameter wire reduces the gap between windings which equates to a smoother surface contacting the frets and your fingers.
    I guess that I just need to monitor the fret wear with the Stainless Steel DR's. I special ordered a few sets of the Low Rider Nickel strings just in case. I haven't heard or played them yet so I thought that I'd give them a try. DR's are one of the few strings that consistantly fit on my 35" scale basses (it's hard to find "Super Long" D'Addario nickel strings locally). It's a shame that they quit making the D'Addario Slowound strings. :crying: IMO they were the best sounding nickel string.

    Thanks for the comments! :)
     
  5. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    JOME77, if you liked D'Addario Slowounds, have you ever tried TI Powerbass? IMO, these strings were very similar in sound and feel. Very warm and balanced sounding for a roundwound. I like a little more grind and sparkle, that's why I love the stainless DR Lo-Riders. Bottom end punch with a stainless steel top end.
     
  6. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    The only TI string that I've tried are the Jazz Flats for my fretless. Are the powerbass nickel? I also have a problem getting TI's long enough to fit my 35" scale basses. The YI Jazz Flats just barely cleared the nut ("long series";couldn't find any "super long").
     
  7. (Yes, Powerbass is nickel)

    Just wanted to chime in on the Slowounds replacement debate. It's all subjective of course so no offense intended. But in my opinion TI Powerbass strings doesn't sound like Slowounds. They're thinner sounding, doesn't have as a detailed high end and they don't respond to dynamic playing that well (not as growly as SW's). I find that Ernie Ball Slinkies sound a lot more like SW's, and Fat-Beams actually seems to have some of the same midrange characteristics as SW's too. D'addario XL's isn't far off SW's either, but far enough some would say. As for fret wear I haven't noticed more wear using DR ss than with the nickel strings I played (d'addarios, EB's and sunbeams). I'm with rsautrey on the "go for the best sound" approach.

    I haven't tried nickel Lo-Riders, so please tell us what you think.
     
  8. TLP64

    TLP64

    Jun 14, 2003
    WEST HAVEN .CT.
    :bassist: I HAVE USED DR STAINLESS HI-BEAMS FOR 2 YEARS NOW WITH NO FRET WEAR
     
  9. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    Thanks for the comments.
    I ordered a few sets of 5 and 6 string Lo-Rider Nickel strings so I'll let you know how they stack up after they arrive and I play them for a while. I think I'm somewhat biased on Stainless steel strings after my negative experience with Roto-Sound and a set of Smith SS RW. They really grooved my old Pedulla bass frets bad (and quickly). I'm going to leave them on one of my basses and monitor the fret wear over time. As for going with the "best sound" approach, I think fresh out of the box the nickel sound very similar to the SS. A week or so later is when I notice the most difference in the sound.
     
  10. Well, I use DR meds. light, last quite awhile, and have pretty good tone. Not too soft on your fingures though, have to have pretty big callusess for them... as for scratching the fret board, i haven't noticed it. I think i'll stick with DR for awhile.
     
  11. kp_funk

    kp_funk

    Jun 9, 2003
    I'm Just wondering if any one has or can compare D'addario Slowwound (nickel) strings and DR Low-Rider (stainless steel) with respect to preference, tone, feel sound, etc. I like a clean sound with lot's of dynamics. I found the DR Hi-beams an excellent string, but just a little too bright coming right out of the box. Can anyone give me some feed back?
     
  12. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    I used the Slowound for several years and recently tried the DR Hi Beam SS on my basses. The DR's are indeed much brighter. I did like the sound though, although they seem to lack the mids of the Slowound strings. My main objection is in the area of SS and premature fret wear. I finally found some DR Lo Rider Nickel last week and IMO they sound much closer to the Slowound strings. They have more mids than the Hi Beam SS and aren't nearly as bright. Another plus is that they are long enough for my 35" scale basses without special ordering a Super long sets. Now if I can find a more affordable source to purchase them from in quantities. :meh:
     
  13. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    I also used Slowounds for several years. I would try others and always found myself getting back to them. IMO the XL's are NOT the same, regardless of D'Addario's spin. Anyway, I'm stocking up with whatever's left at MF ($20/ 4string set). They are/were my favorite all around string for most of my basses.

    In the meantime I have found the DR Nickel LoRiders an excellent substitute. I have used these since last year on a couple of me basses and I think they compare very favorably with the SW's for sound and tension. They're also pretty durable as far as longevity. When SW's finally disappear this is what I'll use.

    Some basses demand a SS string and I like DR HiBeams as my #1 pick. Honorable mention are Markley Blue Steels and SR2000. TI makes excellent strings but I find they don't have enough tension for me. As far as fret wear, well, it's a fact of life - frets are made from brass/nickel alloy and are not as hard as SS. Period. It takes a lot of playing over a good period of time to wear 'em down, and when that happens you get them dressed or replaced. The new SS frets will last much longer but they aren't standard on most basses.

    Just get what feels good and sounds good to you - and go ahead and play your a$$ off. ;)