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mcnach

Strings - the difference that they make (and why is my taste expensive?)

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I'm supposed to be working on a grant so that I have a job next year, but I decided to make another coffee and distract myself a little and tell you all a story. Grab a mug, it's still warm.

Last August, I bought my girlfriend a bass. She's a beginner, but very much into bass. She already had a bass, but there were a number of things she didn't like enough about it. She of course has tried all of mine, and she cannot really describe to me what it is she likes... but when she feels it, she knows. I did all I could to that bass to make it play and sound nice, but it was not quite right. 

From time to time she shows me pictures of basses she's seen on shop windows etc. But one day in June she shows me this one. She really liked this one. How do I know she really liked it? Because this time, she went in, and asked to try it, and played with it with other people around! She's extremely shy to play in front of anybody. She first loved the way it looked, but then... it felt great, it was very light and comfy, and she was seriously considering going back to buy it after pay day. 

I didn't show any interest beyond the usual, and didn't ask about the shop but I recognised it. Next opportunity I got, I went to the shop, tried the bass and bought it. Lucky for me, it was not a Wal, but a Squier P/J, Standard range. It was very nice, it just needed to be cleaned up a bit and new strings etc.

She never mentioned the bass again... and I thought I had made a mistake and she really didn't want it that much. Then I smiled "cool, I like this bass, I'll keep it if she doesn't want it!" ;)

Her birthday was in August... and I gave it to her. She cried. I thought I was in trouble... especially when she yelled at me "I hate you!"... but then she laughed. She said she avoided looking into that shop until she got paid, just in case it was gone. After she got paid she went and... no bass. She went inside, looked around... nope, it was sold. She was very disappointed, and kicked herself for having waited... and decided to push it away from her mind because it was upsetting to have found one bass she really liked everything about and she let it pass.

Ok, phew... so she liked the bass.

But she didn't like the strings I put. I put some Rotosounds I had, as she had not tried those, and I figured they would do until she finds the strings she likes... and the search for new strings started seriously. We tried a few on her other bass, but she didn't seem to have much of a preference. However, this bass was different for her.

She has finally decided she knows what strings she wants to try.

Over the past few months I've tried various types on various basses, and she's tested them all, plus I have a few others that I've accumulated in the past couple of years... and she has decided that there was one set of strings that she really really really liked above anything else.

Labella white nylon tapewound strings, which is incidentally my most expensive set. It couldn't be the £11 Warwick red label ones, could it!? ¬¬

 

But it was a good choice. What a difference did they make!!! The bass sounded nice before, but she loves it now, and how it plays... and as a result she's playing the thing constantly now.

Strings... so often overlooked, yet so important. 

 

Now I'll have to buy myself another set. I hope she doesn't think of trying the same strings on her other bass now :D

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I went through a variety of sets before I found out that I really liked the D'Addario EXL170BT sets which now inhabit all of my fretted basses.  I have tried their new NYXL sets but they don't do it for me in quite the same way so I'm hoping that the EXLs don't get taken out of production any time soon.

On the upside pretty inexpensive next to your GF's favourites!

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She is a quality lady, those strings are great.

I have expensive taste too and have a thirst for DR DDTs, to me they are great

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Too marks for getting a bass loving - or even bass-aware GF

my better half is totally convinced that guitar and bass are the same 🤐

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I can't stress enough how important strings are to the overall sound but the feel too! As a beginner I had the cheapest rubbishest steep strings and they just shred your fingers. I'm still experimenting 19years in to bass playing by buying my first tapewounds set last week. 

For me, my jazz bass is best with Ernie Ball slinky's if I want it to zing and they last far longer than I was expecting but it's great with fender flats when you want that kind of tone from the J. My fretless 5 loves Ernie Ball flats but currently has cobalt rounds just for a change and they sound magnificent. My p bass loves Steve Harris signature rotosounds, isn't keen on thomastik flats, sadly though these could go over to.my jazz soon. I used GHS boomers on my hohner headless and it sounded great, got a set for my jazz bass and not so great... 

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I love the La Bella nylon flat range.  Good choice.

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There's nothing like the feeling of getting the instrument of a loved one's dreams and presenting it to them.  Congrats!

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I'm a fan of TI flats on my P bass and while I do sometimes put different sets of rounds on the Jazz (the last was Dunlop Super Brights), I always come back to DR strings. Lo-Riders at the moment, but I also use Hi-Beams.

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At least nylon tapewounds will last for a long time - a small consolation with expensive strings.  And hey, it's still a cheaper pursuit than finding the right double bass strings.  I think my last set were £160, though I should be good for several years with those. 

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Yup, after years and years and £'s and £'s trying numerous flatwound strings I FINALLY settled on a set (well at least a brand).  Now all my P basses get Elites Flatwounds and my Jazz and Epi JC bass get Elites groundwounds.  Problem is now I think of all the basses I sold because I couldn't get the sound and wonder if id found these strings sooner how many of those basses id still have :(

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I really wanted to replace the strings on my Lakland DJ5 with the same Lakland stainless set it came with, however they have no distributor over here, so the only option was to import them.

Given the shipping cost was going to be the same price as a set, I decided to wait until I'd been paid for NYE and then order two sets, to amortise the shipping across two sets instead of one.

New Year's Day, I sit down to order my new strings (the ones on the bass now being deader than a Norweigan Blue) and found a bug in their website that wouldn't let me progress the order past the delivery address page.

So I gave up and ordered a similar set of D'addarios through my local guitar shop, they've got my bass now to fit the strings and I should get it back next weekend; hopefully I'll like them as much as the Laklands.

To the OP though, just be glad your girlfriend doesn't play a 5 string, with a 35" scale and through body stringing 😁

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Posted (edited)

I, too, have tried lots of different makes and finaly found my prefered set of strings. I allways loves D'Addario and due to the very compreensive offer they have, it was easy to get a set for my 35" TRB, i was using the EXL170-5SL (super long scale). But they were still lacking some zing, i was replacing sets in two month periods or less to have the tone i wanted. Then they came out with the Prosteels and i found what was missing in my tone, i now use the EPS170-5SL on my bass (.045/.065/.080/.100/.135 .130) the best tone/feel/tension i can have for that particular bass but at a cost (31€/set)
I have more basses and found that some will not sound as sweet with the very bright Prosteels and will sound better with the nickelwoud EXL's so i do believe that some strings complement some basses better than others. Only constant in all my basses is the gauge of the sets, i almost never touch the truss-rods after the first all round setup to each new bass.

 

EDIT: correct string gauge added

Edited by Ghost_Bass
wrong gauge

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All of my gigging Basses have Dunlop Super Bright Nickels 45-105.  Love em.  Low tension, quite bright at first but soon settle in, and for me the tone seems to stay the same for ages after that.

Can be got for around £20 delivered and the last set on my main bass lasted for about 4 months before I felt the need to change them.  Marvellous!

Got a set of TI Flats on my RW Precision but I'm waiting for those to settle before deciding whether I like them.

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7 minutes ago, Ghost_Bass said:

I, too, have tried lots of different makes and finaly found my prefered set of strings. I allways loves D'Addario and due to the very compreensive offer they have, it was easy to get a set for my 35" TRB, i was using the EXL170-5SL (super long scale). But they were still lacking some zing, i was replacing sets in two month periods or less to have the tone i wanted. Then they came out with the Prosteels and i found what was missing in my tone, i now use the EPS170-5SL on my bass (.045/.065/.080/.100/.135) the best tone/feel/tension i can have for that particular bass but at a cost (31€/set)
I have more basses and found that some will not sound as sweet with the very bright Prosteels and will sound better with the nickelwoud EXL's so i do believe that some strings complement some basses better than others. Only constant in all my basses is the gauge of the sets, i almost never touch the truss-rods after the first all round setup to each new bass.

Those (EPDS170-5SL) are the ones I went for, though with a .130 B

I like a bright and clear tone, so it sounds like these should fit the bill

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, ead said:

I went through a variety of sets before I found out that I really liked the D'Addario EXL170BT sets which now inhabit all of my fretted basses.  I have tried their new NYXL sets but they don't do it for me in quite the same way so I'm hoping that the EXLs don't get taken out of production any time soon.

 

Same here. I love these strings and im so used to them that when i play a bass without the balanced set on them it feels strange. Also didnt get on with the NYXL's, and was quite disappointed in how quickly they lost their tone.

At the moment im going through a flats phase, im on TI's at the moment (P bass ), but i have a new set of XL's waiting to go back on soon.

Edited by dave_bass5

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I've just been asked if TI flats can be strung through the body?

Does anyone know?

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48 minutes ago, chris_b said:

I've just been asked if TI flats can be strung through the body?

Does anyone know?

I cant see why not, assuming the length is long enough.

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6 hours ago, ead said:

I went through a variety of sets before I found out that I really liked the D'Addario EXL170BT sets which now inhabit all of my fretted basses.  I have tried their new NYXL sets but they don't do it for me in quite the same way so I'm hoping that the EXLs don't get taken out of production any time soon.

On the upside pretty inexpensive next to your GF's favourites!

 

But hopefully the Labellas will last years! (fingers crossed)

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6 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

She is a quality lady, those strings are great.

I have expensive taste too and have a thirst for DR DDTs, to me they are great

 

she has great taste in men too, apparently ;)

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4 hours ago, Geek99 said:

Too marks for getting a bass loving - or even bass-aware GF

my better half is totally convinced that guitar and bass are the same 🤐

 

:D my ex was the same... we shared the musical taste, but she was clueless about instruments.

My girlfriend... we actually met through bass! She was a local fan of my main band. I had seen her coming to our gigs in town for nearly a year, so I recognised her in the crowd and we'd say hello, but nothing much beyond that. One night, between sets, she comes to me and tells me she plays guitar a little and has recently started playing bass... and was learning my basslines from the only CD we had out at the time. 

That was pretty shocking. Even more shocking was that she was nervous to talk to me because... I was the bass player in this band she really liked "omg" O.o But she needed to talk to me because live I play a few things quite differently and she was trying to figure out what I do in one particular song... That song was the opener for the second set so I made sure to make it obvious to her what I was doing, and she was there watching me for the rest of the gig (I was embarrased by then... look, I play bass because I like the power... and hiding in the back! :D)

Anyway... after that we started chatting... that led to going for a beer or 16... for walks... lunch... and we've been together for a bit over two years. :)

Bass is awesome. ;)

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4 hours ago, Yank said:

There's nothing like the feeling of getting the instrument of a loved one's dreams and presenting it to them.  Congrats!

 

I'm just worried that this time was a Squier... a couple of years down the line it may be something much more substantial in the dent it'll cause to my bank balance. She has a talent for picking out the most expensive item out of a list, before she knows the price.

Yeah... I guess I'll have to break up with her... :P or start saving!

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4 hours ago, Beer of the Bass said:

At least nylon tapewounds will last for a long time - a small consolation with expensive strings.  And hey, it's still a cheaper pursuit than finding the right double bass strings.  I think my last set were £160, though I should be good for several years with those. 

 

Ouch! I guess... not a lot of "I feel like trying a different set of strings just to see what they're like" on the double bass world!

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IME unless all the bases you play are fundamentally the same, you need to find the right string to match not only your preferences but also what suits the individual bass as well.

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2 hours ago, Graham said:

Those (EPDS170-5SL) are the ones I went for, though with a .130 B

I like a bright and clear tone, so it sounds like these should fit the bill

Ups, got it wrong, mine are  .130 also.

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