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stainless vs nickel

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by mwlaurenson, Feb 24, 2001.

  1. mwlaurenson

    mwlaurenson Guest

    Feb 5, 2001
    I'm sure this has been posted before but anyway!!!

    What material is best for different style of playing?
    i've heard nickel gives a warmer tone and have been considering trying them (DR sunbeams I think). My band plays a mixture of rock songs but I've also been getting into slap style.
    Are nickel strings a good buy for me?
  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Hm, such a short anwer?

    If you want a modern sound and your bass is passive and/or not too bright-sounding, I'd recommend stainless steel.
    Personally, nickels sound too flat for me, but they could do much good to a bass that's too bright/harsh-sounding.

    Important: Nickel alloys can cause allergic reactions!
  4. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    OK, so I'll elaborate, then:

    I say nickel because:

    * They sound warmer and fuller (IMO) - I need that extra warmth for my bright-sounding bass (like JMX said).
    * They don't eat my frets as much - steels causes more fret-wear.
    * They feel better (IMO) - steels are usually rougher on the fingers.
    * I do not have any allergy to take into consideration. :)
  5. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    i prefer nickel mainly because they are much easier on my fingers, and they have a slightly warmer sound to them. I have a set of stainless on my bass right now and i have to admit they are much better for slapping and popping. I was low on cash and the stainless were all i could afford at the time. Try um both out and see which you like best.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I was using nickels for the warmer tone. But then I got a couple sets of DR "Marcus" (a.k.a. "Fat Beams), which are stainless steel, and that changed real quick. They're bright out of the box but mellow quickly, given you play every day. Once the "sparkle" that all good, new, stainless roundwounds have is gone, they have stayed very consistent, (i.e., no further dulling of tone).
  7. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Stainless here - Nickel sounds dead to me, I like a lively singing string.

    The drawbacks to stainless for me are:

    1) some are a little rougher on the fingers(frets?)
    2) the 'zing' sounds up and down the string
    3) the overall (consistent) lifespan is probably shorter than with nickel strings

    Still, I've been using stainless for so long that nickel feels and sounds like a dead string to me when I try a new set.

    I am alternating between two types of stainless on my basses: Rotosound RS66LD's and DR High Beams
  8. thumper

    thumper Guest

    I have three basses and each is strung with a different string. The one with the rosewood fingerboard has Ernie Ball nickel flatwounds because the rosewood gives a warmer sound and feel and so do the nickel strings. I use this rig mostly in the studio. The second bass has a maple fingerboard and a set of GHS Bright Flats. They sound brighter and seem to last longer. They have a different feel than the other flats I use. The third bass also has a maple fingerboard but is strung with Fender stainless steel flatounds. These sound the brightest to me and feel the best and so this is the bass that I use the most. I can get a great finger sound and when I use a pick, I can get a very good Joe Osborn sound. For me, they last forever, well almost.
    After each time I play, I spray Prestone Silicon (big yellow can for about $2) on the bass and wipe the bass and the stings down. I buy it in the Walmart automotive section and have been using it for about 20 years. A friend of mine, with whom I was playing at the time, turned me on to this stuff. It does not get sticky and will stay slick for a 4 hour gig.
    I have heard that the Lakland Joe Osborn flatwounds (made by GHS) are very good. I have not tried them myself, but GHS does make good strings. I used GHS Bright Flats for about 20 - 25 years before I found the Fender Stainless Steel Flatwounds (9050ML). During that time, I used D'Addario's Half Rounds when I couldn't find the GHS Bright Flats.
    Try them all and stay with the ones that you like the best.
    Lots of luck.
  9. "Personally, nickels sound too flat for me, but they could do much good to a bass that's too bright/harsh-sounding."

    Aaah, good! I bought some nickel roundwounds today... Elite Player Series... just to try them out... I have Stingray which is sometimes just a little too bright on the D and G for my liking... I play rock an dliek to have a warm, booming sound under the wall o' guitar, rather than a crispy twang over the top of it.

    What are the like tension wise?... i dont like strings that put too much tension on the neck, i use medium gaude 100, 80, 60, 40, so the less tense the string, the better.
  10. dwynsen

    dwynsen Guest

    Aug 31, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    Have been trying all manner of strings from GHS rounds, to Fender flats, to DR rounds, D'A rounds etc...and now Fodora stainless rounds. So far, I have to say the new Fodora's are my favorite for several reasons: First, they growl like no other string I've tried; second, the B string is nice and tight -- no floppiness at all (which was a problem with some tapered strings). On the downside, the Fodora's are a bit rough to the touch, and they are bright. The brightness I can tone down with, well, my tone controls. For slappin' these things are great. For more mellow thumping, a little tweaking of the tone controls and I can dial it right in with an amazing growl. These strings are (for me) too bright using only my piezos, so I have to tone 'em down, or blend in more J and P pup. What little fret noise I have on my very-low-action set-up is bright and ringing -- it's not much of a bother once I got used to it. These strings are still new (yesterday), so it'll take a while to see how they age. In summary, the things I like most are their range from really bright to serious thump, the stiffness of the B string, and the amazing growl. Oh, I should add, these strings ain't cheap; they list at something like $58.50. Sam Ash is selling them for $35.
  11. KB

    KB Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    DR Sunbeams are great. I use them on my bright Carvin LB70 and they give a deep fullness to the sound with clear highs. They do have slightly scooped mids (but if you want slap tone that is the way to go). My fingers (and ears) don't like the harshness of full stainless strings. The sunbeams are very smooth and very flexible (round core).

  12. I have to pipe up and second what KB posted. I play DR Sunbeams also. I love them. They are the most "stainless steel sounding" nickels I have played.
    I use these because I really like the stainless sound, but not the sticky feel.
  13. this is damned cool thread...

    the nickels i bought RULE!!!! - they're pretty bright, but not crispy, know what i mean... I can still get ooodles of nigh end out of 'em but it's not twangy and ear-piercing like it was using steels...

    The best thing though is that they feel like worn in steels when they're brand new... like the aboeb post says; they're not sticky like brand new steels ... my fingers can slide off them easier which mas it easier to play subtley....

    A result... I'm converted....
  14. dwynsen

    dwynsen Guest

    Aug 31, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    I posted above about my new Fodora stainless strings. I LOVE the sound of 'em. But I don't so much like the feel of 'em, as others have complained too. Has anyone on this board ever tried 'treating' the strings with something, maybe a paste wax? I've tried "Fret Ease" and it doesn't do much for these honking-big bass strings.

    My band recorded a few nights ago. My band-mates, who are usually oblivious to string changes (but who DO notice the yucky blurred sound of my back-up Yamaha axe when I use it), noticed the difference in these Fodora stainless when we were playing live. A comment was made, too, when we were listening to the recording. They liked what they heard. These strings have more definition and growl than any others I've used. I'm gonna have to learn to live with the sticky feel of 'em, though.

    I mentioned before that the B string was nice and stiff, no floppiness whatsoever. On the recording, this came through as amazingly low and well-defined gut-rumble from my B string (played a bit on 1st thru 5th frets in the recording). This 'depth' is new. Do you suppose it has to do with the extreme lack of 'floppiness' in these strings????

    One last question: What kind of changes can I expect from stainless strings as they age a bit?

    Thanks all.
  15. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You'll loose some brightness and they gonna feel smoother.
    BTW: Don't put wax on anything like that on your strings.
    You can try GHS(?) Fast Fret, it provides a nice feel and doesn't hurt strings/tone that much.
  16. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
    I usually use nickel wrapped stainless cored strings
  17. rsautrey

    rsautrey Banned

    Jul 27, 2000
    I prefer the sound of stainless steel roundwounds. DR Hi-Beams are very flexible and soft for stainless IMO and they take quite a beating. I've tried nickelplated strings but always come back to stainless steel.
  18. cltb


    Jan 29, 2006
    another thing that may (in my case it is) be relevant,is that in my own experience,nickel strings are louder.
  19. SGT. Pepper

    SGT. Pepper Banned

    Nov 20, 2005
    Nickel plated steel strings like D'Addario XL's, GHS Boomers, or Ernie Ball Slinky's are probably the best {all purpose} strings made. They can be bright, dull, or in between and you can use them for all applications. Nice on the fingers and they don't kill your frets.
  20. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I use DR lo riders because i like the extra tension, and the tone.

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