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Vintage Rotosound Steel Swing 66 Tone

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by activa44, Apr 27, 2019.


  1. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Hello people!

    So, I've been doing a few threads about strings, lately.
    I googled for this, but I didn't find anything... I just found people that use ''old'' to say ''dead''. I prefer dead strings as well, but I think that my doubt would be interesting to share and hear what old time users have to say about it (and hopefully we can start an interesting and informative thread).

    It seems like a lot of people loved Roto66 in the 60s and 70s, but then started noticing a downfall in quality, consistency and an overall change in the strings' tone.
    I've read of someone saying that it might have been because they used scrap war material (post-WWII) to build the strings, because after the end of the war they had a lot of scrap metal left from it... it'd be pretty absurd, but SO absurd that it might have been real. But it's nothing more than a rumor, because the commenter didn't post a source of that information.

    What I'm asking to old time users of Roto66, then, is: what strings do you think that better recreate that sound that you loved so much of the 60s and 70s Rotos?

    I also just noticed that Rotosound currently makes a ''vintage swing 66'' strings set, that is probably marketed as a return to that sound, but of course everyone would be skeptical... if you changed a successful formula with the main series, why making a separate ''vintage'' one for that, given that you're able to do it again, indeed?

    Last but not least: Roto66 are still well-known for their beefy low-end and mostly for MID GROWL and brightness. Did the tone actually change over the years or is it just mostly a matter of a lacking consistency about the quality/freshness of the strings?
     
  2. Petethebassman

    Petethebassman

    Mar 7, 2008
    Finland
    I remember the Swing Bass sets being much brighter in the 80's, switched to other brands in the early 90's when Rotosound were having quality control issues. Haven't tried the vintage sets.
     
    activa44 likes this.
  3. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Damn! Brighter?
    I thought they were a bit warmer, if anything.
    I've been probably tricked into thinking that because we all tend to associate ''vintage'' with ''warmer'', these days...

    They must've been ear-piercing then!
     
  4. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Some of their endorsers switched to DR in the 90s.
     
    BrentSimons and activa44 like this.
  5. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Is any particular set reminiscent of the early 66s?
     
  6. Pier_

    Pier_

    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    I've bee using Rotosound a lot, and had many "old" sets found in Rome's shops: there is actually a difference between old Rotos and new Rotos, in particular:

    the old sets were ROUGH, but so rough that the first time I tried them I couldn't handle that feeling.

    the newer sets are not that rough, and they are less bright and less middy, more like a generic steel string like a Lo Rider (which for me is the last example of a good steel string).

    IMHO D'Addario Prosteel are the closest to old Rotosound's vibe: they feel rough as a steel string should be, they are so bright and middy with that vintage growl... I prefer them in the 45-100 gauge, which matches better the Rotosound classic gauge with the 80 A string.

    I discovered them only a few months ago, actually, but I fell in love and now they are on all my "roundwounded basses".

    I'm also using the 6 string set, EPS170-6, and the 130 Low B is thunderous as it should, with lot of clarity and sustain. the same bass with a 135 Elixir sounded dead...
     
    babaseen, Arthur U. Poon and activa44 like this.
  7. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Are new Rotos middy and growly too, anyway? I don't care much about brightness, but I do about mids and growl.

    Also, I didn't know that you could still find some old Rotos around... particularly in physical shops... and in italy (I'm italian too and I've never found vintage strings in shops)!
    That's cool!
     
  8. Petethebassman

    Petethebassman

    Mar 7, 2008
    Finland
    Or could be my hearing isn't what it was 30 years ago.. actually, I know it isn't- I have tests from the 80's and present and there's a big dip in the 2.5-3.5 kHz area.
     
    activa44 and lowplaces like this.
  9. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Well, it's always been a pretty bright string, anyway.
    And yes, losing hearing and/or getting tinnitus sucks.

    I wish I'd have discovered the damages of high volumes/noises earlier than I did...
     
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    High beams and lo riders both have routosoundish aspecs, but also differences. I’d choose just based on how much tension you like.
     
    activa44 likes this.
  11. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Appleton
    I’ve seen Roto66 Steels & Roto66 Nickels, but never the Roto66 Vintage. Are they new?
     
    activa44 likes this.
  12. Pier_

    Pier_

    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    well, it has been more than 10 years ago, for a while in some small shops in Roma, those that didn't sell a bass since the 80's :D

    one, before closing, still had an American Vintage '57 Precision from the 80's, still unsold... guess where it came when they closed.

    however, recent Rotos are not growly like the old ones, that's the problem! I used to keep Rotos on my basse for many months since they started losing the brightness, but now there ain't no mid growl, only a weak "cheap steel string sound".
    just get some Prosteel to find the growl.
     
    activa44 likes this.
  13. trothwell

    trothwell

    Apr 9, 2008
    How recent? I last bought a new set of Rotosounds last year, and still sounded good to me then. Better than ProSteels for my taste, anyway. Have they changed since then?
     
    jmhaslip and activa44 like this.
  14. Michael4bass

    Michael4bass

    Aug 20, 2011
    Florence, MS
    For one, the gauges were different in the 60-70s. They were originally .046, .063, .080, .102. Rotosound changed them in 1980 to the now standard gauge .045, .065, .080, .105. There was a lot of complaining when it happened, but we all got over it.

    Sometime in the early 80s, I ordered a case of 66LDs and every E string was bad. They were all twisted, but Rotosound replaced them all. After that, I always kept a few singles as spares.

    Bassically, Michael
     
    activa44 likes this.
  15. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    No idea.

    https://www.thomann.de/it/rotosound_rn66ld_vintage_bass_strings.htm

    The nickel seems like it is a pure nickel one. This must be a cross between the steel and the pure nickel, it's nickel on steel (like my Ernie Ball strings).
     
  16. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Thank you, I'll see.
     
  17. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Damn. I guess it really depends on lack.
    Some people still say the growl.

    The thing is that we all have a different perception/concept of ''growl''.
    What you mean as growl might not be what I mean for it.

    To me, a growling sound hasn't got to mandatorily be bright.
    Also, I hate new strings, so anyway I'd get to like them when they're dead.
     
  18. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    Oh, I think I added you on facebook not long ago.
    I made a post about rotosound on a bass players' group and you appeared giving some interesting infos.

    And I didn't know that about the string gauge... that original one seems pretty unusual and strange (but I guess it was one of their trademarks, back then).
     
    Michael4bass likes this.
  19. Michael4bass

    Michael4bass

    Aug 20, 2011
    Florence, MS
    Cool, I didn't realize that was you. Yeah, according to the official story, John Entwistle went to the factory, where they wound up different gauges of strings until he was happy, so the gauges he liked became the RS66LD sets.

    Bassically, Michael
     
    activa44 likes this.
  20. activa44

    activa44

    Dec 17, 2018
    I knew about the type of string but not the string gauge.
    That's really interesting.
     
    Michael4bass likes 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.

     
    Jan 19, 2021

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