Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar String Set Review


Ernie Ball has to be one of the biggest guitar and bass string manufacturers in the world (and they still make their strings in California), and their hefty market share is due to products like today’s blog subject – the Slinky electric guitar string set. This is the top-selling set in their line-up, and they are used by pros, including giants like Clapton, Page, Slash, and Vai.

I sometime try other brands, and even try new Ernie Ball products when they are introduced (the M-Steel guitar are really a winner), but I always come back to the Slinkies. You will find fresh sets of these on my Telecaster, Strat and Les Paul. They are indeed the workhorse of the electric guitar string world!

Slinkies were born in 1962, and almost immediately became the pre-eminent rock & roll string for musicians worldwide. The company is now in its third generation of family management, and their strings are still made in Coachella, California by workers who earn a living wage. Having toured their facility I was impressed with the care that goes into making their products, as well as with the amount of testing that is done to ensure that their strings are always of the highest quality.

The Regular Slinky set has normal gauges (.010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046), and wound with nickel plated steel wire around a hex shaped steel core wire. The plain strings are specially-tempered tin-plated high-carbon steel. That is a boatload of hyphens, isn’t it?

This set is fairly neutral sounding, and perhaps a bit on the brighter side of things. They have figured out what they are doing over the past 52 years, and they are very evenly matched, both tonally and volume-wide), so that nothing is out of place when playing chords or finger picking.

Regular Slinkies hold up well for me, and they usually go almost a month before they start to dull. They stay in tune well, and I have only broken a few of them over the years, mostly when doing stupid stuff with a whammy bar. But the best thing for me is that I always know what I am going to get when I open up one of their sealed packs of strings. They will always sound the same, fell the same and last as long sets I have bought previously. When dealing with old guitars, old tube amps and effect pedals, it is nice to have one thing that is going to work the same every time I use it. I hope they don’t change them anytime soon…

And they are a pretty good bargain, too. They have a list price of $8.50, but nobody pays that much as the street price is a tad under $4. If you catch a good sale, you can buy them in bulk and get them for fewer than 3 bucks per pack.


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