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All strung out...and lovin' it!


Groove Mama

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Slapped on my new DR Marcus Miller Fat Beams the other night and am loving 'em! Very fat and low, which is how I like my bass sound. They also seem to eliminate a lot of the string noise my fumbling fingers generate...all of which got me to wondering: What kind of strings do you use? Coated? Uncoated? Which string types and/or brands do you use for which kinds of sounds/music? And have you ever boiled your strings? Inquiring minds want to know!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Strings are perhaps the most subjective element of playing bass guitar. Rootsy folks who play 1-5 patterns and old-schoolers will swear by flatwounds; rock folk will tout the merits of steel rounds, and those of us who inhabit multiple styles have all sorts of preferences. Boiling the strings is something that I have never done, but I have read about many players who have, particularly in the former East bloc nations, where strings were hard to obtain before the fall of communism.

 

Back in the 80's, I loved D'Addario XL reds, which are no-longer made, thanks to what has happened to the copper market. Warwick Black Labels (stainless steel) give a lot of sizzling highs, and a raw, burning midrange, with a smooth bottom. Regular nickel-wound XLs are what I am playing mostly these days (my 'wick limited edition still sports Blacks), and these are commonly found stock on a good number of basses, G&L included. I have tried GHS Boomers in the past and was not impressed, and have used half-rounds on a fretless for more "mwah" without killing the fingerboard.

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Back in the 80's, I loved D'Addario XL reds, which are no-longer made, thanks to what has happened to the copper market. Warwick Black Labels (stainless steel) give a lot of sizzling highs, and a raw, burning midrange, with a smooth bottom. Regular nickel-wound XLs are what I am playing mostly these days (my 'wick limited edition still sports Blacks), and these are commonly found stock on a good number of basses, G&L included. I have tried GHS Boomers in the past and was not impressed, and have used half-rounds on a fretless for more "mwah" without killing the fingerboard.

 

Uh, I think I need to do some reading up on bass string technology...

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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D'addario XL roundwounds on my five-string. It's an active bass and I'm looking for a more modern aggressive sound.

 

D'addario XL Chromes flats on my J-bass. It's a passive four, and I want that classic old-school thump.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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I was a big DR guy on fretless for many years - Hi Beams or Lo Riders (105-45). Then I realised I preferred the sound of really old roundwounds (they don't age as much on fretless due to the absence of fret wear so they don't lose their intonation). After a short while of only using old and used strings I figured why not try flats.

 

I tried TI Jazz Flatwounds and I haven't looked back. Lovely, lovely sound - defined but warm - Mutsumi, our violinist described it as a cuddly sound. I had to do quite a bit of work on the bass to accommodate the strings: nut, saddles and neck relief: but it was worth it.

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D'adario XL flats on my fretless,

 

Tapewounds on my ABG

 

Fender Roundwounds on the J

Whatever Stock strings my G & L came with.

 

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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I think the more interesting question is how often do you change your strings? Jamerson kept the same ones on his Fender for years. The dirtier and grungier they got the better, according to him, "because that's where the funk is." I've had the same set on my Jazz since I bought it over two years ago, and have no intention of changing them, unless one of them breaks.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Jamerson kept the same ones on his Fender for years. The dirtier and grungier they got the better, according to him, "because that's where the funk is."

 

Oh, I love that! Great description of "funk."

 

As for me, it wasn't sound degradation that drove me to it. I changed mine because the coating on my Elixirs was starting to let go. I had a lot of fiber thingies sticking out where I do the most plucking and fretting.

 

Of course, after I put on my DR MM's, a whole new world of sound opened up!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Before getting my current Dingwall I was trying a lot of round core strings on my MIM J5. Round core is the future. My favorites so far are DR Sunbeams. Nickel wrapping on a round core. It's hard to beat.

 

Currently I have a set of Dingwall Voodoo's on my ABI and once they start going I have a set of newly developed LaBella nickel strings for fanned frets. Only problem is that Voodoo's seem to last forever.

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Love th DR Hi Beams. Gonna try Low Beams next.

"Low-Riders" are just an average string IMO. It's just a SS round wound string with a hexagonal core. They're somewhat similar to Hi-Beams but stiffer, not as easy to bend and not as responsive (in my hands). They're good for what they are but (again, IMO) DR really shines in their round core strings. If you like Hi-Beams and want to try something different, I'd say check out Sunbeams.

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I have TI Jazz Flats on my PJ, MM Fat Beams on my Yamaha BB, and Infeld Superalloy on my Yamaha TRB5. I like the sound of all of these for different reasons. D'Addario and Ernie Ball are two of the lower priced strings that I like the sound of as well. Sometimes the same string in a heavier or lighter gauge will give a different tone too.

 

I like Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys. I also like flatwounds. I still want to try ground wounds or half wounds but I don't know who makes them and quite frankly I haven't looked into it.

D'Addario makes Half Rounds, which are sort of in between flats and rounds. I had a set on my 5'er and really like them. They're $35 for a 5 string set. They have some thud like flats, but a bit brighter. They still sounded good after two years but got a little stiff feeling for the 5'er so I changed them. I plan to keep them for one of the 4 strings someday.

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I like Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys. I also like flatwounds. I still want to try ground wounds or half wounds but I don't know who makes them and quite frankly I haven't looked into it.

 

I've used both D'addario Half-Rounds and GHS Brite Flats (which are also half-rounds) -- preferred the GHS, IIRC, but that was a long time ago.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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I like Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys. I also like flatwounds. I still want to try ground wounds or half wounds but I don't know who makes them and quite frankly I haven't looked into it.

 

I've used both D'addario Half-Rounds and GHS Brite Flats (which are also half-rounds) -- preferred the GHS, IIRC, but that was a long time ago.

Hey, thanks for the tip. I didn't know the GHS were half round as well. :wave:

Visit my band's new web site.

 

www.themojoroots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every time I've tried stainless strings, I've taken them off after a few weeks.

 

Davio's right about the magic of round cores and nickle wraps. I really like DR Sunbeams on my 6-string. They seem to fit it well, "break-in" quickly and last a good while. Tried EB Slinkys...they didn't last very long. Tried XLs...didn't like the feel. Bought a set of Carvin (LaBella?), but haven't tried them yet...great price, though.

 

I tried 1/2 rounds (don't remember the brand) for a while on my P-style project bass. Too much mid/honk for my tastes. They'll have to go if I start using it again.

 

When I change strings on the 6, I put the old ones on my OLP project bass, tuned BEAD. That bass seems to like well-seasoned strings.

 

My Ibanex 5-string came with D'Addario strings. I use that bass mostly for rock and the combination works well. So I've stayed with it.

 

I'm one of those old guys, but I prefer rounds to flats. I might try TI flats someday. Just to see if they sound brighter than typical flats.

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I like Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys. I also like flatwounds. I still want to try ground wounds or half wounds but I don't know who makes them and quite frankly I haven't looked into it.

 

I've used both D'addario Half-Rounds and GHS Brite Flats (which are also half-rounds) -- preferred the GHS, IIRC, but that was a long time ago.

Hey, thanks for the tip. I didn't know the GHS were half round as well. :wave:

 

Thanks gents.

 

I think I have tried string sets from D'addario and GHS and wasn't a huge fan of either. Really didn't like the GHS Bass Boomers that I had. I will give the half rounds a shot with the both brands eventually. I will probably start with the D'addario's.

 

 

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