My choice of strings has evolved over time. I’ve played with everything from pure nickel to nickel-plated steel to pure steel, to most recently cobalt-wound steel. I loved the warmth of pure nickel for clean to mildly gritty tunes, but they just didn’t seem to cut it when I started getting into more straight-up rock. I wanted more bite and aggressive attack that nickel strings just couldn’t give me.
So within the past year, I moved to Ernie Ball Cobalt and RPS Super Slinky strings. Talk about an awakening! The “pop” and “snap” that I had envisioned in my head was suddenly… there. I’ve been an Ernie Ball convert since!
Recently, Ernie Ball came out with a new line of strings, the “M-Steel” line which they claimed to be their highest-output strings to date. I of course had to try them, so I contacted the company – which is something I don’t do very often – to see if I could get a review set. They sent me set of .11-.48 which is a heavier gauge than the 10’s I normally play. But no matter, I strung up my guitar, made mild adjustments to my neck and intonation, and played for a little while to break them in.
I didn’t actually play with them for very long because I wanted the strings to settle for a day, but I gave them some earnest time this evening. I was a little nervous about the heavier gauge of the strings; they certainly had a heavier feel to them. But as I played, I realized that I wasn’t really pressing any harder than I normally press, and then just went about the business of playing. After about two hours straight of noodling, jamming, and riffing (I’ll have some clips later), I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with these strings! I’m looking forward to using them this weekend!
How they feel…
When I first strung up my guitar, the strings felt coated with some sort of powder, much like Wyres strings have that plastic polymer coating on them. But that feeling goes away after playing for awhile. In any case, once that coating wears into the strings, they’re certainly slinky. Moving around the fretboard with these strings is like butter. Even for 11’s, they bend nicely – really nicely. I could’ve played all night, but I had to be conscientious of my neighbors. 🙂 I love how they feel!
How they sound…
As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and once these strings got broken in a bit, they sounded freakin’ awesome! The higher gauge really brings out the low end, but you don’t lose that top-end sparkle. One thing I immediately noticed with these strings was the SUSTAIN!!! It’s insane. I did the “woman tone” thing on my neck pickup (crank the volume, turn the tone all the way down), and my guitar seemed to howl with this haunting, hollow tone. Quite lovely!
As I mentioned above, I’ll have some clips pretty soon. They’re actually finished, but I was too tired to bounce them.
Anyway, here’s the product description from the Ernie Ball site:
The loudest, most expressive strings ever created. Provides increased output, frequency response, and strength.
M-Steel, short for Maraging Steel, is a superalloy used in high stress applications for the aerospace and defense industries. The wound strings are comprised of a patented Super Cobalt alloy wrapped around a Maraging steel hex core wire, producing a richer and fuller tone with powerful low end response. M-Steel plain strings are comprised of a specially tempered steel for maximum fatigue resistance. A patented winding of steel around the ball end of the plain strings reduces slippage, breakage and stays in tune better than conventional plain strings.
I played my R8 once again this morning before going to work, trying to find a better description of how the strings sound with my guitar. After a bit of playing, I realized that my guitar didn’t sound different, but the tone was markedly more beefy; not to be mistaken with warmer. There just seemed to be MORE of it. My R8 naturally has a deeper, more woody tone than my 59 Replica, so hearing it sing like that in sort of a lower register is pretty awesome. 🙂 And funny thing, I’m going to stick with 11’s on that guitar from now on. I love the feel of ’em.
Based upon my playing this morning, I’m going to get a set of 10’s for my 59 Replica. These are simply awesome strings.