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Stainless steel strings feel like scratching a sand paper

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Sparkl, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Well the title says it all. I prefer stainless sound on my Jazz bass elite5 and I currently use rotos swing bass 5string.

    The sound is really nice, I especially love the feel of the 5th string, but see the title problem.

    Is there a way to overcome this? Fast fret doesn't help (well it does for a tune or two, then same story), elixir stainless also don't work because the 5th string sounds pretty bad compared to rotos.

    I tried other strings (stainless dean markleys, drs, daddario etc) and it's pretty much the same story. I could say that rotos are the harshest to my fingers of them all (they all feel like scraping the concrete floor). Ironically I like the sound they give. Even after cca 60hrs of playing them they still feel like sand paper.

    Is there a way around it or should I accept the fact that stainless are too harsh for my hand and return back to nickels?

    Thanks for any input guys (and girls), I appreciate it.

    Edit: I could easily overcome the strings harshness. The problem is that my fingers get stuck while playing it which annoys the crap out of me. Really hard to play those smooth funky lines when you get stuck on a 16th note groove.
  2. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    My experience, too, with SS roundwounds. The only SS strings I can tolerate are D'Addario Chromes and Half Rounds . And, not only flesh, imagine what they do to your frets, and fingerboard (if you are the type that presses down really hard on your strings).
    Sparkl likes this.
  3. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    I use Dunlops and DRs, I don't find them to be anywhere near as rough as Rotos. But, I would never sacrifice a sound I like for feeling.
    eriky4003 and Sparkl like this.
  4. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    I would if it were chewing up my bass or fingertips.
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Rotos are the worst for this There are SS strings that feel softer on the fingers. Ernie Ball comes to mind.
    It is one of the reasons I prefer nickel. With modern EQ and amps you don't need clickety strings anymore to get a good bright tone.
  6. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I would try GHS Progressives, or maybe GHS Super Steels. Neither sound exactly like Rotosounds, but, in my experience, get into the same sonic area without feeling as rough. I've heard people recommend DR Lo Riders as a Rotosound alternative, but I thought the Lo Riders, while a good string, sounded too mellow in comparison.
    BrentSimons likes this.
  7. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    This 5th string, you were referring the low B string?

    So the rest 4 strings of the Elixir Stainless are okay in terms of harshness to your fingers? Have you tried Elixir Stainless .135 gauge?
  8. I played them for years. At first they hurt, but after building callouses they were fine. I use the SS Prosteels by DiAddario, and they are fine for me. Maybe spend more time developing your callouses? not trying to be a smartie, just offering advise. I dont think you are going to find SS roundwound strings a lot smoother, maybe a little but not much. Practice a little bit every day and slowly build up those callouses.
    fretlessguy, okcrum and Gearhead17 like this.
  9. Some people prefer certain tones. for certain soundscapes a SS roundwound with a close action where the strings are hitting the frets is the only way to get that sound. Its about the only way Ive found to get the Geddy tone, or others in that vein.
    BrentSimons likes this.
  10. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    I am a professional bass player and practice bass in general for 5+ hours a day. It is not about the hand hurting (it doesn't hurt), the problem is that I fet stuck in the string when I play, which is soo annoying. Especially when you dig in.
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  11. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    The elixirs were great, nanoweb really worked great, I had no harsh feeling whatsoever. It's just that the low b string was lacking in sustain A LOT (and this is my general experience with low b elixirs and I've been using them for years) compared to other brands. Also, elixir low b feels thicker than the rest (roto for ex.) and also sounds pretty much louder than the rest so it's hard to balance the output unless you fiddle with pup height.
  12. Aidil


    Dec 4, 2014
    Jkt, IDN
    so which gauge did you use for the low B? Elixir makes stainless steel low B in .125, .130, and .135. You could down the gauge if you felt too thick.
  13. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I experience the same thing from stainless steel roundwounds, they feel rough, sticky, and I switched to nickel plated roundwounds as a result many years ago. Unfortunately, their tone is generally warmer than stainless steel IMO, and some players who want a bright tone find the best way for them to get it is with stainless steel rounds.

    I'm sure as this thread continues, you'll get some good suggestions for different brands of stainless steel roundwounds that don't have as much of a grippy feel.
    Sparkl likes this.
  14. I've used a couple of different brands of stainless over the years and have found the problem seems to be worst when they are fresh and gradually gets a little better after your fingertips burnish the surface a bit. But, I also always took a little piece of 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper (used dry) and wrapped it around the strings and went up and down for a couple of minutes to burnish the outer windings :thumbsup:.
    Arthur U. Poon and Sparkl like this.
  15. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Or, the strings burnish your fingertips. :laugh:
    Arthur U. Poon likes this.
  16. TerriblePeril


    Nov 26, 2014
    Maybe check out Kalium (formerly Circle K) strings? I've had SS and hybrid sets from them and they sounded and felt pretty amazing.
  17. Gideon352


    Oct 17, 2003
    Gainesville, FL
    If you're a pick player, you could try nickel strings with a metal pick. Might be cool. :thumbsup::bassist:
  18. Bassnomer

    Bassnomer Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2013
    Lakewood, CA
    Dunlop SS Super Brights are great. Crazy good tone and I don't recall them being excessively rough!
    BrentSimons likes this.
  19. Morrighan

    Morrighan La Contessa Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    Isle of Everywhere
    Emphasis mine. For the "glass half full" set, Rotos are a great aid to building finger calluses.
    JGbassman and Ewo like this.
  20. You can try SS DR Lo Riders. They feel like SS, but have a smaller out wrap wire so there's a bit less friction taking place.
    fretlessguy, TrentB and Sparkl like this.
  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.

    Mar 4, 2021

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