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Throwing Money Away

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Bassist4Eris, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I've heard a joke that suggests that a pedalboard is a hole in the floor into which you pour money. But I'm starting to think that my real problem is strings. For any bass that I own, there is the quest to match it with the perfect strings. Right now, I have five axes in rotation, and I believe I have found the perfect strings for three of them. For now, anyway. Two of them I'm still up in the air about. One of those basses is especially frustrating, because I've owned it for over 20 years. I speak here of my Rickenbacker 4003.

    Now, there was a time when I was a simple man, with simple tastes. If I needed strings, I went into the local store. The fella behind the counter would ask me difficult questions, like "what gauge do you want?" and I'd answer with equally probing queries, such as "uhhh, what are the cheapest?" And in this incredibly scientific way, I soon found out that my favorite strings were D'addario XLs. And I used them happily, for years.

    But, alas, I eventually was seized with a perverse desire to explore my options, an expensive little habit that would sometimes find me throwing almost-new strings in the garbage, and would eventually end up with me stringing my Carvin LB76W with DR Sunbeams, my Schecter Stiletto Studio 8 with S.I.T. Powerwounds, and my Fender Precision with good old La Bella Deep Talkin' Flats.

    And it would also leave me pondering two questions. One, what am going to settle on for my Carvin BK40A? And two, for the love of God, after 20 plus years, what am I going to settle on for my Ric already?!

    The last time I thought I was happy with the Ric, I had Rotosound 77 Jazz Flats on her. The tone, without actually "nailing it", was notably McCartneyesque. And I really thought that was cool. And then I got seized once again with that old perverse urge to throw money away. I got it into my head that I wanted roundwounds on that bass again, and strung her with my favorites, DR Sunbeams. And of course, being the genius that I obviously am, I took that perfectly good and nicely broken in set of Rotos and tossed them in the garbage. And then I put the bass in the closet and didn't play her anymore. It just wasn't as magical as it was with the flats.

    So there I was sometime last week, messing around on my Ric, a bass that was strung with Sunbeams with maybe 5 hours of playing time on them, and thinking, "man, I want to go back to flats". Now remember, I really loved the 77 Jazz Flats. But I had never tried DR Legends, and how could I let that go unaddressed? So instead of getting another set of Rotos, what did I do? You guessed it. And now I have a barely-used set of Sunbeams sitting on my floor, and a set of flats on my Ric that, frankly, leave me feeling uninspired. They are WAY thumpier than what I expected, something more like what I'd want on a P-bass. So of course what I ought to do is get another set of Rotos. But I'm already thinking "gee, I've never tried TI's, and everybody raves about them, and they're supposedly bright for a flat, and I like the lighter tension of the DR's compared to the Rotos..." And I'm probably going to do it to myself again. :rolleyes:

    I have no idea what I'm going to do with the Legends, but this time I won't throw them out. As for the Sunbeams sitting on the floor, I think they're destined to be tried out on my Carvin BK40A, which is currently sporting DR Fat Beams. I think I may be finally ready to admit to myself that I just don't like stainless steel roundwounds. But wait, you say? There's a brand I haven't tried? Oh boy, here we go again. :help:

    So, who else wants to share a shory about their expensive quest for the ultimate string?
    Mystic Michael likes this.
  2. I couldn't afford to do all that so I keep a set on for about 14 months or so now. I used to change strings every 6 months.

    I've only tried D'Addario ProSteels, Elixir nanos and Circle Ks. I'd be happy just keeping on with Circle Ks but like you I want to experiment.

    Luckily college expenses will prevent me from dropping 100s of dollars on strings any time soon.
  3. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I think that most new strings sound pretty good, provided you like a bright-ish tone (roundwounds).

    I too, find that each bass has a set I like on them and that is not always necessarily the same set or brand from one to the other. I don't try too many out as I don't sweat when I play or have acidity in my fingers, so my strings tend to last a long time.

    My problem is that I'll often find a set I like, then have a set or two waiting in reserve. Then at some point, I might change my mind and move to something else and then I have a couple of sets of the ones I am replacing sitting there.
  4. i'm happy with SIT stainless for all of my basses, except my beatle bass, has beatle bass rounds.

    never cared much for any other string. ernie ball or d'addario just dont last as long, but sound and feel fine. elexir's are obnoxious and get hairy when they wear out... idk. thats all i know.

  5. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Oh yeah, i've tried a lot of strings. Hated a few, sort of liked many, loved a few.

    My most recent *** are DR Fat Beams. they are absolutely anemic. heavily scooped mids, no warmth, and very shy in the lows, as well. That last bit goes against their reputation and marketing, as they are supposed to be fuller in the low mids than other DRs, due to being "slow" wound. The highs are nice and airy, but that's about all I can say for positives. I tried them first, on an Ibanez SRT800DX (maple/bubinga neck-thru, with body wings that are mahogany on the back half and beautifully flamed maple for the entire front half) with SGD Sidewinders instead of the stock EMG DC40s. Before, I had DR Dragon skins which I like fairly well. I found them to have a colored, but balanced tone. and the bass strings up with inherently little flexibiility, so the DRs make it feel more comfortable.

    But the Fat Beams just left a ton to be desired. As described above. Anemic. I swapped to Fodera roundcore steels and they are overall much better, but still not as responsive as most hex core strings.

    So then I moved the fat beams to my Thundercat (A Fender Jaguar modded with Lollar Thunderbird pickups. one piece maple bolt-on with alder body). The Thundercat normally is extremely high output, with thick, textured, warm, meaty sound. Yet still with solid definition.----The fat beams had even less low end than when on the Ibanez, still no mids, even more air in the highs. and my input gain wasn't teasing the red zone, like they were with previous strings and the same amp settings. On the plus side, a fret position on my Thundercat that is normally a dead spot, was no longer a dead spot with the fat beams. It sang out as well as any other position, in all its airy anemia.
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Interesting observations. As stated in my OP, I've got Fat Beams on my Carvin BK40A, an axe which is supposed to be my "slapper". So of course the strings with the picture of Marcus Miller are the best ones, right? :rolleyes: Anyhow, I gleefully slugged down the Kool-Aid and bought a set. I think they sound pretty good just playing by myself, but when I brought the bass to a jam session recently, it sounded exactly the way you just described: anemic.

    But see, I've never tried the Hi-Beams, just the Fat Beams. And here I go yet again. ;)
  7. Interesting, have you tried Hi Beams?

    I'm curious to see if anyone considers them "anemic" as you say. I haven't used them so I wouldn't know.
  8. inthebassclef

    inthebassclef Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    Here is what I can say to this topic. I have a 4003 with TI powerbass strings on it. It is an expensive roundwound but man oh man it is my main player and it is simply fantastic. It gets that really mid punchy sound that is unique to Ricks when you have the bridge pickup higher than the neck pick up. And the TI's are really full sounding for rounds. I know this probably doesn't help your curiosity but it may very well help solve your RIC string situation.
  9. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
    I can not relate.

    I've been running DR hi beams for a decade now. Lol. Almost four of those years were the same set of strings on the same bass. I'd just wipe it down with an alcohol dampened cloth now and again. Loved it.

    I still get hi beams for that dean, and I got them for my Warwick Corvette, and they're MUCH brighter on it. Not sure how I feel about it honestly, may have to go through one more set and see. May take the ones off my dean and put them on the wick and see if half dead strings will help.
    IME hi beams age nicely. I change them about once a year now.
  10. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
    Have you ever considered pressure-wounds?
    Some thump, some (insert sound element of roundwounds here).
    I've used two sets and been happy with the results.
  11. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    Flats. They last for decades. Or at least a couple of years of heavy gigging.
  12. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    OK, I just put the Sunbeams on the Carvin. This combo may be a keeper! Not hugely surprising, since I love the Sunbeams on my other Carvin, but this is a very different bass.

    Pressure-wounds are one rabbit hole I haven't gone down yet. But they sound like they may be just the trick for the Ric. I'm not sure yet, though. The Roto 77s were great on that bass. A part of me thinks I should just go back to that. It just kills me that I've thrown out two perfectly good sets of those in the past couple of years (one previously on the Ric, and one previously on my P-bass). Note to self: stop throwing out good strings!

    So now I've got a set of Fat Beams with maybe five hours on them lying on the floor, and a set of brand new Legends that will probably be coming off soon too. Maybe I can find a friend who wants to try these brands. Knowing me though, I should probably just hold on to them.
  13. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I've never heard that cliche about pedal boards. But I have about boats being a hole in the water that you throw money into. Lately it seems to apply to a project studio above my garage.
  14. Scottkarch


    Sep 11, 2012
    OK I used to use Rotosound Swings when I could afford them.. Boomers when I couldnt. Now I really like Highbeams.

    I have 14 basses, 2 amps, some pedals. The last thing I need to realize is that I now have GAS for different strings. What's next. Duplicates of the same bass for the nights I want to play a jazz bass with flats vs a jazz bass with rounds??!! LOL

    OP I love your writing style. made me laugh.. all made sense. Now I'm going to forget I ever read this thread and hope I don't start gassing for different strings. :) Thanks
  15. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    This is exactly what I'm talking about! String GAS. For every bass I buy, I've got to try 29 different string sets before I can be satisfied. I ought to factor that into the cost of the bass next time. "Let's see, the bass is only $400, plus $18,000 trying out every string known to humankind." :D

    Thanks! :)
  16. Rich McCoy

    Rich McCoy

    Apr 8, 2013
    I do not have the time to relate my experience trying different string types, but I can assure you I have been there.
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    There's a good saying - "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

    Searching for perfect is expensive, takes a lot of time, and perfect may only be 5% better than very good.

    My vote - find a type of strings you like (maybe one kind of rounds, a different kind of flats), install them on basses, then play the bass. Don't obsess over perfection. It's a waste of time and money. Very good is good enough...and no matter what strings are on the instrument, you will still sound like you.
  18. donn


    Mar 28, 2011
    But that saying typically applies to situations where having set the goal too high, you're unable to achieve a lower but really satisfactory result. In the present case, though, the enemy of bassist4eris' good seems to be that he threw out strings he wasn't using. As long as he learns from that and keeps everything, it's all good. Rotosound 77, Thomastic-Infeld Jazz flats, ... The only way to know is to try.
  19. I think players rush through strings too fast. The strings have to be broken in, and technique and equipment have to be adjusted to properly evaluate a string. Take TI jazz flats, for example. They have a fairly long break-in period during which they change both sound and feel. Also the tensions don't match, and they're overall less tense than most strings. So to get two broken-in sets and have everything including technique dialed in for them is going to take a few months. This kind of investment means passing up the chance to play every new miracle string.
  20. atracksler


    Oct 30, 2007
    My 4001 absolutely LOVES Pyramid Golds...