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What difference does it make whether the strings are made of Steel or Nickel?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Blackbird, Jun 28, 2000.


  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    Is there a big difference in sound or feel? Longevity? Would one be preferable over the other on a fretless bass? I can't believe I didn't post this earlier...

    Will C. [​IMG]

    ------------------
    You can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket!


     
  2. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Dayton, Ohio, USA
    In my experience, nickel strings are not quite as bright as steel. I've heard some people use them because they are not as hard as steel, and won't wear frets out as fast. I couldn't say about the fretless issue, even though that is all I play, because I always use flats or tapes on mine.
     
    Bunan likes this.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    To me, the typical steel string is very bright, metallic harsh edge, but the ultimate in clarity - I think John Patitucci's solos on 6-String bass.

    I think Nickel are not so bright and emphasise the middle range more and don't pick up so much finger noise, but still have very pronounced harmonics and can get a great slap tone - which is impossible on Flats etc. IMO I find them better at getting that Jaco- type fingerstyle sound - steels are too abrasive for that, flats too dull.
     
    madjazzbass likes this.
  4. I've found a big difference in feel between nickel and steel. I use nickel strings, but one time I decided to try stainless steel, and they chewed up my fingers. I mean, I get blisters from nickel strings, but the stainless steel strings turned my fingers into ground chuck.

    [This message has been edited by Dave Siff (edited June 28, 2000).]
     
  5. ONYX

    ONYX

    Apr 14, 2000
    Michigan
    Nickel strings sound mellower, I think.
    I prefer nickel over stainless for this fact.
    Also, ( and I've been told that I'm dreaming on this one) nickel strings just feel " softer" to me. Stainless has a harsh, cutting quality to it, especially on the roundwounds. My fingers tend to drag on stainless--I don't have this problem with nickel.


    ------------------
    Far out,man.
     
    madjazzbass likes this.
  6. rcrimm

    rcrimm Commercial User

    Jun 20, 2000
    Meridian, MS USA
    Customer Service, Peavey Electronics
    Ditto what everyone else said. I have also found that Stainless strings (especially Roto's) have a little more tension, so they feel a little tighter. They also shred my bass and my fingers. [​IMG] They sound brighter, but they tend to go dead a little faster to me.
    Nickle strings are a little "looser" and mellower sounding, but they seem to be more consistent and last a little longer.

    ------------------
    RAC
     
  7. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rcrimm:
    Ditto what everyone else said. I have also found that Stainless strings (especially Roto's) have a little more tension, so they feel a little tighter. They also shred my bass and my fingers. [​IMG] They sound brighter, but they tend to go dead a little faster to me.
    Nickle strings are a little "looser" and mellower sounding, but they seem to be more consistent and last a little longer.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    It may just be the Roto's. I've used Ken Smith and a number of other steel strings for years and never had any major problems.

    But the Rotosounds are chewing up my fingers. I can't even imagine what they are doing to my bass!
     
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I use Nickel roundwounds exclusively. Zero damage to my hands and my basses. Smoother feel than the SS strings I was using. Not as harsh sounding. Seem to last longer than SS which die quickly. Great sound on my Zon fretless. Slaps very well on fretless, too. YMMV
     
  9. Gear_Junky

    Gear_Junky

    Jul 11, 2000
    I don't know what it's worth, but somebody told me that steel strings with nickel wounding have a "chorus" feel - because of the two different metals. Is that bogus?
     
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    Sounds like a load of hooey to me.

    Will C. [​IMG]

    ------------------
    You can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket!


     
  11. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Gloucester County, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    Steel strings also have a higher magnetic content, which generally results in higher output. This may account partially for the difference in sound that everyone is speaking about.

    I used nickel strings for a long time, but when I got my six-string headless, my string choices got really limited really quickly. I now use Ken Smith steel strings (double ball end) on that bass exclusively. I like them a lot.

    As for wear on one's fingers - the more you play, the less you notice. [​IMG] As to wear on the bass - I haven't noticed any difference in the impact from Nickel to Steel.


    ------------------
    Mark Gollihur
    Bassist, Second Story
    http://www.second-story.net
    http://www.mp3.com/secondstory
     
  12. DeepPunch

    DeepPunch

    Jul 7, 2000
    A friend warned me about fret wear with using Steel. I had to try one set any way. Very good, very bright, But after a couple months I noticed some gouging on the frets.

    As far as losing their brightness quickly, when I first put the nickels back on they were definitely brighter than the outgoing steels.
     
  13. swolves

    swolves

    Jan 23, 2000
    ok here it is again,
    stainless are brighter and last longer than nickel.
    and pure stainless and pure nickel are completly nonferrous(that means there not magnetic at all)
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would dispute that Stainless Steel last longer than Nickel strings. In my experience, they sound very bright initially but go "off" much quicker than nickel, which are "useable" a lot longer overall, but never sound quite as bright as stainless steel - which to me, is a good thing!

     
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I agree completely Bruce.
     
  16. CamMcIntyre

    CamMcIntyre

    Jun 6, 2000
    USA
    I agree with the other people on the most part......the steel ones tend to tear up my fingers fairly quick compared to the nickel ones i have on my Jazz right now......oh yeah usually my fingers won't get tore up that quick since I've been playing cello going on 3yrs & bass for about 4 years.....that's all
     
  17. swolves

    swolves

    Jan 23, 2000
    well i could be wrong about this,but the reason i made this statment was based on info a labella string rep told me.
    so sue him if its wrong.
     
  18. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    SW. maybe you should quote your source before you say things with any degree of authority, especially if you're going to blame third parties when people disagree with you. It's great that people want to participate, but this kind of contribution doesn't help anybody.

    Will C. [​IMG]

    ------------------
    I'm not a genius. I'm just a hard working guy.
    -BW

     
  19. swolves

    swolves

    Jan 23, 2000
    big wheel,my blaiming a third party was in jest(i know its hard to convey these things)
    and i did not get facts in order.
    but we are not trying to solve the worlds problems.in the future i will take the disscusion board much more seiously.lol
    come on i know you want to do your job well
    but cant we be a little relaxed?
     
  20. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    SW, actually, we can be very very relaxed. It is true that this is a very flat medium, but you should take into account that your choice of words will determine the tone of your post. Your "Jest" didn't sound like one. Maybe I was a tad overzealous.

    Smileys help, of course, but I think people shouldn't have to use them if they don't want to.

    Will C. [​IMG]

    ------------------
    I'm not a genius. I'm just a hard working guy.
    -BW