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D'Addario EXL220BT Balanced Tension strings

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[color=#351C75]As a long term user of D'Addario strings - I was interested in trying out the new range of Balanced Tension sets. This review should allow me to compare them to their own range, and avoid any hype of a new brand.[/color]

[color=#351C75]The EXL220BT (40-95) strings are well packaged in a sealed plastic bag inside your typical cardboard sleeve. As with all D'Addario strings, the ballends are colour coded for ease of identification (E = Brass, A = Red, D = Black, G = Green). This also looks rather snazzy if you have a bridge design that allows them to visible.[/color]

[color=#351C75]The test bed for these strings was my 2010 G&L L-2000 Tribute Carved Top, a bass i've had for 2 years and that came with D'Addario EXL's to start with, and since they were so good - i've only ever replaced them with such (45-100). [/color]

[color=#351C75]My usual choice of gauge is 45-105, however I fancied a change and went for the 40-95 set of the balanced tensions. Fitting was straight forward and all strings had plenty of length for the string post with a fair bit being snipped off. Once stretched and tuned to standard, there was a fair amount of string buzz. this was clearly due to the lower tension of the strings compared to the previous set and was easily remedied with a truss rod adjustment and retune.[/color]

[color=#351C75]The bass was setup medium height which allows a little buzz when really digging in, as I dislike to low an action and buzzing on nearly every note played. Acoustically thes strings are very bright and snappy, but it's been a while since my last string change and this difference is always hard to believe when fitting a new set. How did I live that long with so little top end ?! Plugged in the difference was obviously night and day with the old strings, but no different to any other set of XLs.[/color]

[color=#351C75]There's only so much one can detail about a set of strings whose sale point is that they have the same tension as each other, but these strings sound great, they have a detailed top end without being too thin at the bottom (one reason I avoid stainless steel). Regarding the balanced tension - they do what they claim to. I put the old strings onto my old Encore P bass purely to feel the differences in tension. It was clear that on the 'unbalanced' set, that differening tensions were able to be felt across the strings, where the new set felt a lot more balanced. [/color]

[color=#351C75]The D'Addario website says "D'Addario EXL220BT Balanced Tension electric guitar sets are comprised of mathematically optimized string gauge combinations, resulting in greater control and playing comfort."Does this make a difference though ? That's only for the individual player to decide. String tension inequality is never a problem I feel i've encountered and thus i'm indifferent to the balanced set compared to a normal one, if the price is the same as a normal set i'd probably opt for these, but it's not a deal breaker if I can only get the 'unbalanced' set. In the timescale of the review I can't detail how long they will last, but i've had a few hours at home and a 3 hour rehearsal with them and they still sound as they were fitted... *interlude*[/color]

[color=#351C75]...and a month later they're still doing the business, mucho impressed.[/color]

Edited by Machines

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Reposted as requested by Dan

Short review of the 50-120 set:

I usually play 5 string, but often I teach 4 string bass too so I thought I'd post this quick review. Being wary about the thicker gauges, I chose a cheap passive Crafter bass I have lying about to be the guinea pig. The bass was strung with 'factory' strings, and sounded just fine for a bass that would more often than not, just be lent out to students or serve as a teaching instrument if needed. I recorded (very quickly and shoddily) a short bass riff before these strings were removed, and then re-recorded a similar line with the new strings on (MP3 attached). Apart from having to file the nut to get the E and A strings to fit, I only have praise for these strings. The environmentally friendly packaging, the colour coded ball-ends and the tight E-string are all great. The sound is bright, but time will tell how quickly this brightness and attack will decay. The balance and tightness is even across the strings. The slap sound has lots of attach, and a pleasing sound is achievable with a plectrum too. Ideally, I would like to try out a five string set to see how they fair against the Ernie Ball Regular Slinky's (45-130) I usually use.

For reference, the short recording was conducted with everything flat on the bass (Crafter Congress 4 Passive) and amp (Genz Benz GBE600 with Neox 212)

Hope this helps


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