No more D'Addario EXP170-5SLs... Next best thing?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Liko, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    I have a TRB-1005 I've owned for over a decade, and in that time I've only ever strung it with D'Addario EXPs in 45-130, super-long scale. They last forever, and I stocked up, so it was news to me when I went shopping for more that D'Addario no longer makes them. They still make the uncoated EXL170-5SL, but I have found over the years that I really need a coated string; even on bass, new uncoated strings are dead or a tetanus hazard in a month no matter what precautions I take.

    Anyway, I play skinny-stringers too, and I have my favorites there. For acoustic, I like Elixir Nanos, and Elixirs are a strong second on electric as well, with my preferred string being DR Silver Stars (or Black Beauties, not so much cause I have to have black strings for aesthetics, but because it's easier to get those in 10s at the local GC). Elixir's bass offerings are close in gauge to the D'Adds, but they do not make a five-string set in extra-long scale, and the 36" ball-to-taper length of their long-scale just isn't long enough for the TRB (I tried D'Add long-scale once, the B taper ends just before the bridge, and those are longer than Elixir according to this).

    So that kinda leaves DR, of the brands I regularly play. Length looks great and there are several coated options including Silver Stars and their new Dragon Skin, however I'm a little concerned about the B string. D'Add's Bs are .130", and that's worked just fine, meanwhile DR goes with .125" for a constant gauge progression in its .045 set, which could rattle in a nut groove that's had .130 in it as long as it's existed. Not a total deal breaker, but I'd prefer not to have to find a luthier in the middle of COVID who can cut me a new nut (or spend months with a slip of paper in the nut slot).

    For anyone else that's had to find a replacement for D'Addario EXPs, especially on a 35"-scale bass (37" from ball end to nut), what did you go with and why?
  2. Have you considered ordering a 4-string set and a single low B?

    When I ordered a set of DR Lo-Riders a couple of months ago, I wanted the light set (40-100) but with a 125B instead of the 120B that comes in the factory 5-string set.
  3. Here's something you might want to check into for coated NPS rounds:

    Cleartone EMP Treated Nickel Plated Steel Electric Bass Stri

    Their "long scale" is 37.5" in winding length (ball end to taper), so they should be long enough to fit on your bass.

    DISCLAIMER: I have no personal experience with them.
  4. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    I had not; in my experience this tends to be the more expensive route, though you do get exactly what you want for your money. DR does not appear to sell any Extra Life strings as singles, though they will sell uncoated singles. Elixir does sell Extra-Long Bs alongside their Extra Long 4-string set in 45-105. However, Elixir extra-long Bs larger than .125" are taperwound at the ball end, which I'm not real big on. It would probably work for me, but it's just such an unconventional look, something you'd expect to see on a whaleback sixer in a jazz combo.

    It's just kind of perplexing that coated strings for a fiver longer than 34" is apparently such a niche market. Sure, 4-string 34" "Fender-scale" is every string maker's bread and butter, but fivers are so commonly extra-long-scale that it makes very little sense to bother with any five-string set that wouldn't fit a 35" at least. On top of that, Elixir makes only coated strings; Nanos and Polys are all they do for electric guitar or bass. So to find out the coated string maker doesn't make any single package for a 35" fiver is kinda mind-boggling.
  5. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    Never heard of em, but happy to give them a try. Looks like exactly what the doctor ordered, I'll just have to see how long such a thin coating preserves the string.
  6. Keep in mind that Elixir's specialty is the coating itself; they don't make their own strings. They're actually made by D'Addario and Elixir does the coating.
  7. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    That's actually even more surprising, because I can still buy EXL170-5SLs from D'Addario, but I can't get Elixir to sell me that same set with a Nanoweb coating on it.
  8. That's because Elixir has their own specs their strings are made to. Just because D'A has a particular set available doesn't mean that same set is automatically available to Elixir for coating.
  9. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Did the OP check to see if they can get their preferred gauges in the new XT coated string that D'Addario came out with? From my understanding, it's supposed to replace the EXP series.
  10. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    Good idea, unfortunately I see no super-long options in the XT line of strings, so unless someone can document that D'Add have lengthened the taper on long-scale sets of this line, it's not going to work.
  11. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    What’s OP’s issue with taper-wound at the ball end? Many B-strings have been this way for years. I can’t detect a sonic difference related solely to that. It does require a saddle adjustment, but so do many other differences among string types. ...just curious, thx.
  12. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    Probably nothing I couldn't get over. I just hear "taperwound" and think ultra-high-end fusion-geek, that would get some snickers from my bandmates. The mental image I get is actually of the more extreme version, exposed-core:


    ... while true taperwound is much more subtle and only on the B:

    So, it might be time to explore new horizons in string tech. It's just not something I've ever put on any of my basses before.
  13. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Got it, thx. I think all my B’s are tapered and on Fender-style 5’s so obviously that never occurred to me - let alone my band mates :)!
  14. Taperwound/exposed-core B vs. non-tapered B...

    My experience tells me it all depends on the bass, and the bridge design in particular, as to which would work better.

    The low B on my Yamaha is exposed-core, which has done wonders for added clarity and definition on that particular bass:

    GHS PRG Exposed Core 190729-2.jpg

    Not the same story with a taperwound B on my son's Ibanez. Due to the bridge design, the tapered portion extended too far beyond the saddle, making it sound wonky.

    Sadowsky on 1205 200406.jpg

    A non-tapered B was a better option for this particular bass.

    DR LR on 1205 200601.jpg
  15. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Neat photos - thanks Michael. I'm delighted to hear that you can discern a difference. B strings are all different for sure, and mixing and matching products and gauges is encouraged if one can afford it, but I honestly can't assign any difference based just on the taper over the bridge myself. Of course, I can't tell much of a sonic difference from string-through-body stringing or high-mass bridges either, so consider the source :).
    michael_t likes this.
  16. I was very skeptical about this "exposed-core" thing when I tried the GHS Progressives for the first time. I thought maybe it was just a marketing thing with a placebo effect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The actual difference is a lot more subtle than I sometimes make it out to be. But it's there nonetheless.
  17. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Indeed that tapered portion of the low-B string was too long for the specific bridge on your son's Ibanez. But it doesn't mean the bridge isn't suitable for tapered string.

    AAOF, I have an Ibanez with the same Mono Rail IV bridges which I've put various sorts of strings on. Obviously, Ibanez MR bridges are top loading only (no thru body stringing). I have other variants of their MR bridges: MR II, MR V and MR5s. The MR IV has the shortest distance between string ball end placement and the saddle highest point. Thus when installing a taperwound string on, the taper portion can't be as lengthy as the others.

    I've always prefer taper wound low-B as it rings clearer and I do prefer tapered one on the bass. So, the key is to find the shortest available taper length:


    The picture above shown the taper isn't as lengthy as your son's. The strings were Elixir NPS Nanoweb with 130tw low-B.

    I'm not familiar with your TRB. From online pictures, the stringing method seems to be top bridge loading only. If it is so, probably Elixir 130tw Extra Long is also best to meet your requirements of winding length and coated.
    Liko likes this.
  18. The low B on the Ibanez in my photo is the Sadowsky Blue Label SS round with 2" of taper, which is the same length as the exposed core on the Progressive. Obviously, the Elixir has a shorter taper - maybe around 1.5"?
    Aidil likes this.
  19. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    Yes, around 1.5" if we were to exclude the ball end
    in the measurement or about 1.75" with it included. Elixir taper wound has the shortest taper portion length that I've found so far which best fits some of top loading bridges.

    michael_t likes this.
  20. gigetto


    Sep 25, 2019
    Try RS66 Rotosound 95-40 are good and good tone
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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