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Rotosound Swing Bass 66 & Fender - perfect match!

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Pier_, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    I've always loved the Fender+Rotosound match, talking about Swing66. to my ear is the "rock" sound for excellence, a sound heard on countless records, from countless bassists.

    the thing I really love from these strings is their longevity, referring to how they sound after the few hours of playing "brand new".
    that mid-range grit that cut through the mix, the metallic steel bite, the nice clear sound...

    I had this thing verified a couple of days ago:

    well, a month ago I bought a Fender Precision Classic '50, and it came with a set of used Rotosound 45-105. they were really used, with signs of the frets under the strings, and the unraveled silk end on the headstock. I didn't even tuned them, because I had a fresh set of La Bella Jamerson waiting to be strunged on that bass!
    after a month, I finally decided that the P50s was going to be strunged with rounds, and being short on money, I took the old set of Rotosound from the drawer...

    that's how they sound:

    I asked the old owner of this bass, and he answerd me that this set was heavily used, for months and various gigs, dismissed to put a flatwound set, and used again when he sent me the bass.

    to my ear they sound great. I really love the Rotosound-Fender match.

    I've tried lots of brands, but the way Rotos sound on Fenders is inimitable.

    PS: personally I don't believe in the fret-eating legend... I've used countless sets of Rotos (from the "lion" package to the new package) since 2008, and any of my basses had any issue.
    one had Rotos on for almost 4 years of constant and intensive use, and every fret were "ok".
    this Precision has been used for 2 years with Rotos, and despite the "vintage" frets, it's still perfect, with shiny frets...
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
    Goy77 likes this.
  2. I certainly understand about the sound.
    I've used quite a few sets on my P and loved 'em.
    After a few years, I did begin to see the beginnings of fret wear.
    There is, unfortunately, some truth to the tales of RS66s being hard on frets.

    How that effects you depends on how hard you play and how you feel about fret wear.
  3. I've only been using them for about three years, so I can't say anything about fret wear, but I definitely agree with you about the sound. I've tried many strings on my P, and always go back to Swing Bass.
  4. I have one unopened set of Swing 66s waiting to be used when I gig again.

    How is their lifespan? You said you took out an old set of the Rotos and put them on Classic 50s and the sound clip you posted is the sound of those old strings? They sound nice, considering they were old.

    Maybe I shouldn't have thrown out the used Rotos I had on my jazz bass...uh oh...
    Goy77 likes this.
  5. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    steels or nickels?
  6. I've got chills......
  7. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 1, 2014
    I fit all my Jazz Basses with Rotosound Swing Bass. I've noticed a set of 95-40 has a more punchier sound than their standard gauge. Though I Iike the 45-105.
    I personally think being labeled as fret eaters is 1. they were the first round wound string. And 2. people were putting them on Rickenbackers to get that Chris Squire sound and the early Ricks used a softer wire for frets. Chris Squire said in Bass Player, the first time he visited the Rickenbacker plant, he was going to be welcomed with open arms until the CEO took him to the repair room and Chris said there were at least a hundred basses that needed fret repairs. Then they come out with the 4003.
    To me, Fender Jazz with Rotosounds and soloing the bridge pickup is the poopie.
    Goy77 likes this.
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    How interesting. When I first began using them - around 1977-1978 - "longevity" is just about the last word anyone would ever associate with Rotosounds. The constant complaint was that they get "the rock sound" like nothing else - but they usually die within 2-3 weeks.

    If you've been playing Rotosounds for only the past six years, then I suppose it's understandable that you wouldn't believe their reputation for eating frets. It's my understanding that Rotosound has altered both their alloy and their winding process in more recent times, such that contemporary Rotosounds are considerably less abrasive than they used to be. That, combined with the fact that hardened stainless steel frets have since become far more common - yet at one time were almost unheard of - would likely explain it as well. What I recall about Rotosounds was that they they were by far the most abrasive string I had ever played. They got "the rock sound". They also got the calluses. :atoz:

    Having a bit of the historical perspective here would likely have proven instructive to you...

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014
  9. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    yes, they were old, with the sings of the frets under them. I had to change them around 15 of june because the D string was damaged at the headstock (they were dismounted more than one time). I then get back to flats until 7 of july, when I put a new set of Rotosound. since then I had two "long" weeks with three reharsal a week (so six reharsal) of three hours each, and a gig near the river last friday.

    they still sound "bright", metallic and clear (even unplugged, so it's not because of the bass).

    well, I guess is always a matter of body chemistry. on June 29 I used a BRAND NEW set of DR Hi Beam for a gig (I mounted them the night before, and didn't played them until the gig sound-check) that was dead the day after... dead, not "settled in", but dead... terrible...
    I've tried various sets of DRs in the las years (5 Lo Rider steel, 4 Hi Beam and 1 Lo Rider nickel) and any of them lasted me more than two weeks. I keep reading stories about their longevity, but the last me nothing.

    Rotos always lasted me for months, with their metallic bite and midrange punch. even the 30-90 set kept rocking: https://www.dropbox.com/s/37gh28wsg...osound Funkmaster - tutte le combinazioni.zip

    those are samples of my Kramer Disciple with two months old Funkmaster strings. the pickup is an EMG MMCS, with EMG BTS electronic (the "flat" sample is the one with both treble and bass "flat").

    let me ask you: back then there were other stainless steel roundwound strings?

    steel. RS66LD set. the 45-65-80-105 one. I've never tried the nickel Swing66
    Goy77 likes this.
  10. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    It seems they are more highly polished now than they were only few years ago. My fingertips always felt dead when playing Rotos and now they feel the same as when playing any other steel rounds.

    I do like the dead sound a lot but a fresh set is glorious on a P. I agree they are a perfect match - after all Entwistle spent a day at the factory with a P sampling different alloys and diameters of wraps, etc, to find the perfect string, which of course became the 66 Swingbass set. Nothing sounds as good to my ears, either.
    Goy77 likes this.
  11. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    I've noticed that the old "lion" package had rougher strings, but the quality control was awful... I used to find dead strings, faulty strings impossible to intonate, "darker" strings and other issues in various sets.
    when they changed to the new package, strings became to be a bit smoother (they are still the rougher steel strings on the market, for my taste) and I haven't found any issued string anymore.

    the silk at both ends with the "lion" package used to have casual lenghts, like in this case: https://plus.google.com/photos/1038...5770987713690439906&oid=103855957966086773281

    with the new package they are always similar in lenght: https://plus.google.com/photos/1038...5970990109251588178&oid=103855957966086773281

    Goy77 likes this.
  12. Working Bass

    Working Bass Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    London, ENGLAND
    I've got steel Roto 66's on a 50's P and I couldn't be happier
    Goy77 likes this.
  13. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    I used Roto Swing Bass 66's on my 66 P Bass for more than 30 years. Worked great.
    Goy77 likes this.
  14. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID

    As far as roundwounds go, I've been using RS66 medium gauge exclusively for nearly 20 years now. :thumbsup:
    Goy77 likes this.
  15. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    I'm really a nut about wiping down my strings after I play, and use Fast Fret as well, so I can usually get about 3 weeks out of a set of RS66's, but I usually leave them on much longer then that.
  16. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Well it depends partly on which time span to which you refer. I don't recall there being any alternatives from the late 60s to early 70s. By the mid-to-late 70s there may have been just a few - though I really can't recall what they might have been. The only stainless steel roundwounds with which I was familiar were Rotosounds.

  17. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    thanks, this is an interesting point, because if they were "virtually" the only stainless steel strings, or the most used, is normal that they are "blamed" to eat frets, not being a comparison.

    that's the point I wanted to highlight.

    they were the "standard" for many decades, and they came out when there were only flatwound strings.

    but I can't imagine them eating the frets so badly that in one or two years the bass will need a fretwork or new frets.
    Goy77 likes this.
  18. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    "thanks, this is an interesting point, because if they were "virtually" the only stainless steel strings, or the most used, is normal that they are "blamed" to eat frets, not being a comparison."

    This sounds very likely to be true, with RS being compared at the time with other existing string choices.
    Goy77 likes this.

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