Friday, June 12, 2015

Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky Bass Strings .045 to .105 Review


I recently picked up an ESP Phoenix 4-string bass that was stone-cold gorgeous, but sounded deader than Sherriff Block despite its stout active EMG setup. I fussed with the control on the bass and the EQ on my amp, but nothing was making it sound like I knew it could. Though the strings on it looked shiny and good, they were an unknown factor and I hoped they might be the cause. So, I swapped on a new set of my go-to strings and voilá! It was as right as rain! These strings are the Ernie Ball Power Slinky bass string set, model number 2833.

If you have not been living in a cave for the past 50 years, you have heard of Ernie Ball strings. Mr. Ball was an innovator that came up with the idea of mass-marketing custom gauge strings and he built the business into one of the biggest string manufacturers in the word. That is what happens when you listen to your customers and give them what they need. His son and grandsons now run the company, and the strings are made right here in the US by people that earn a living wage. A few years ago I had the opportunity to tour the factory (near Palm Springs) and it is an impressive organization.

These long-scale Hybrid Slinky strings are right about the same as their regular Slinky set with the top two string just a bee’s dick smaller, measuring 0.045, 0.065, 0.085 and 0.105. Woot! They are roundwound with nickel-plated steel wrap around a tin-plated hex profile steel core. There is no coating or cobalt going on here, just straight-up strings. Ernie Ball strings still come in individual paper envelopes, but now they are sealed in airtight foil packets. I much prefer this packaging so I know I am going to get fresh strings. You never know how long strings have been sitting around at the store...

Anyway, for the ESP bass I eagerly tore open my new foil pack of Hybrid Slinkys, trimmed them to length and used my Ernie Ball Powerpeg string winder to cinch them up. They filled the nut slots perfectly, and after a bit of fussing with the truss rod I got the action to a reasonable height. After a bit of playing it was apparent that this was a good move as it played just fine with plenty of bite, and the lighter top strings gave me a bit more mobility while the larger bottom strings gave me all the thump I could ever need.

Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky bass strings are very good, and they have always held up just fine for me – at least a month or two and sometimes more. It will not break the bank to see if you like them, as they are pretty reasonably priced. They have a list price of $35 and an Amazon price of $16.99, and if you catch a lucky break with a sale or coupon you can get them even cheaper at Guitar Center. How can you go wrong?

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