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String comparisons - My opinion on 5 different sets

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Dec 18, 2002.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Nothing earth-shattering here - several of my observations reinforce the trend of opinion in some other active threads. I've posted in some of those threads but figured that I'd put in a consolidated report, too, since I recently went on this mini string trial marathon.

    Background: I've used D'Adarrio XL's for years. It's been so long that I don't remember what process of elimination led me to settle on these. I like these strings a lot, but I recently decided that habit alone was insufficient for me to be loyal to these strings - so began my little experiement. Most of these string sets were left on for only a week or two - bad for reporting on their aging properties, but good for keeping a tight frame of reference to compare them. All 'in the field' observations involve playing a variety of rock covers at medium-sized clubs.

    'Adarrio XL - Obviously my benchmark. I like them because of their bright, balanced tone. When I last used Stainless strings years ago (Rotosound mainly), I disliked what they did to my frets, disliked the brash, metallic sound - especially when slapping. The XLs were an improvement on all these fronts. I also like the way they age - they don't last especially long, but the sound remains acceptable if I have to skip a string change. After my experiments, I've decided that my prejudices towards stainless strings were somewhat wrong - but the XLs still rank high for me. I should try the Slow-wound version too, I suppose.

    GHS Boomers My experience was almost to a "T" what appears to be the consensus in the current thread about them. I thought they were decent, but not special, at first. By the second week they sounded absolutely horrible. The worst I can ever remember my bass sounding. 'Nuff said.

    DR Sunbeams My first DR string to try, since I was still sold on nickel wounds. Played them for one gig - I liked them, but wouldn't put them above the D'Adarrio XLs. Perhaps if I'd left them on and they lasted notably longer than the XL's, I'd consider them. Though DR touts their 'sting-to-string consistency' I noticed some variation in the tonal properties between the strings - I thought the E was a bit dead, but nonetheless I noticed excellent, punchy definition of the open E and other lower notes on stage (acoustics of the venue might be a significant factor here). I did really like the flexibility of the round core design.

    DR Lowriders Right off the bat, I decided that my prejudices towards stainless strings were wrong. More live than nickels, but not overly brash and metallic, either. Wonderful slap tone and fantastic at bringing out what I call 'intentional fret noise' for ignorance of the proper terms for such techniques. Although they sounded nicely consistent from string-to-string, I felt that the E string was kind of empty sounding. Bright, but without the punchy low definition of the Sunbeams. Acoustics of the venue could be an important factor here, but at that show I felt like my low notes were lost in the mix. Also, these suckers are quite stiff, and very tough on the fingertips compared to nickelwounds - these things kinda kicked my butt at that gig, since I wasn't used to them. My fingertip callouses turned rock-hard the next day!

    DR Fatbeams I think I've found a string to beat the XLs! They sound surprisingly like the XLs, considering the stainless v. nickel formulation. I was surprised to see member carl-anton compare them to Slowounds, the upscale cousin of the XLs - so maybe I'm not as crazy as I suspected for making the comparison :) These things seem to have tons of tonal character and a better slap sound than the XLs. I'm really liking the round core flexibility of the DRs, too. An outdoor gig this coming Saturday won't offer the best test conditions, but I'm looking forward to giving this set a workout, nonetheless. It may be a bit premature to sing the praises of the Fatbeams, but I think that my opinion is likely to hold up with time...

    As always, just my 2ยข here... :)
  2. Insufficient Data!!!!

    You left out TI Powerbass!
  3. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Well, I can comment on TI PowerBass vs. DR Sunbeams.

    I liked the Sunbeam sound when they were new, but they went dead very quickly - this was a first for me as a long-time user of DR Hi-Beams, which seem to last forever.

    The PowerBass strings sound great, feel great, and last quite a while. Contrary to some people's claims, I find they do go dead eventually, though. About 2 months on my primary bass (gets played about 5-10 hrs/week) and they're toast.

    I'm looking forward to trying the Fatbeams.
  4. well i'd argue that point except I broke my A string after 3 months, so I just put on a whole new set, heh.

    One thing about the TI's i really like, is they dont change sound from being out-of-the box to broke in like some strings. They are very consistent from the get go. I didnt really notice them dying like some other brands ... but 3 months isnt a long time for me.

  5. you should check out lo-rider nickels. tight like the stainless lo-riders but more midrange definition and punch, IMO. less top-end and tactile roughness.
  6. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Interesting. I much prefer Boomers over XL's. They seem to work with my basses, and my body chemistry I guess. I have a set on a franken-P that's been on there for a couple of months, and while they're not as bright as they were (no surprise there), they're still lively and live up to the name "Boomers" with their bass and low-mid emphasis.

    I tried XL's on my Dean sixer before I sold it, and I didn't like them. The G string was way brighter than the D and considerably louder. I've never been very impressed with XL's, but I liked Slowounds the one time I tried them.

    I've also tried Lo-Riders once, and one of the things I really liked about them was the focus and clarity of the E string.

    My absolute favorite roundwound on any bass I've tried them on is Everly B-52 Bass Rockers. For me, they have the perfect combination of brightness, punch and clarity, with reasonably long life.

    So, obviously, YMMV.
  7. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    Thanks for the comparison!!

    My faves are of course the SS Loriders, but you're quite right about them being stiff. I can't imagine what a 35" bass with the heaviest loriders you could buy would be like, but i bet it'd hurt :)
  8. I'll add another review:

    I use to use Dean Markley Blue Steels a few years ago. So when I broke a string a couple of weeks ago, I went out and got a set as we had a gig coming up, and I cant buy TI's locally. Man when I put those things on they seemed really clunky and very, very bright - too bright for my taste. And I remembered how they feel out of the box - kind of rough! Granted, the TI's are much small guage and I guess I've grown accustomed to that, but I sure yanked those Dean's off quick once the new TI's arrived.
  9. Great stuff secretdonkey! :)
    I had similary dislikes against ss, when I first set out on my stringquest. I was really hooked on Slowounds because they really sing, but I started to notice a annoying midrange. Not shure exactly what it was though.
    Decided to try some steel strings and went through George L's (surprised no one talks about them here!?), lo-riders, hi-beams, Fatbeams,Elites and Slinkies (nickle). A first I liked the Fatbeams the best, but now I'm hearing that midrange thing again as i heard with the Slowounds. (Yes, I really do think they have similary characteristics as Slowounds, just better hi-end).
    For the past months I've thought so many times that I found my string, but after playing a particular set for a month or more there's always something. The best for me right now is Hi-beams. I love the roundcore flexibillity (Fatbeams are stiffer) and they seem to have a more even frequency response than Slowounds and Fatbeams (i.e. not boosting the mids too much). But who knows. Mayby there's a new string next month! (TI's mayby - or XL's?!) The only thing I do know is that I gotta get myself a winder!! :rolleyes:
  10. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    the XLs still rank high for me. I should try the Slow-wound version too, I suppose.

    I used the XL's for about 15 years. When I got my first 35" scale bass the only strings I could find locally in the XL Scale were the "Slowounds". I thought I'd go ahead and give them a try. Great sounding strings. They last at least twice as long as the XL's and are very even sounding (string to string). That's been about 3 years and now that's my string of choice.:)
    I also agree with your review of the GHS Boomers. They tend to make my basses sound very thin and they also seem much more rough to the fingers.

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