rich menga books search contact

***Secret FSR Fender guitars? Yes, they exist, and they're right here

Amazon links are affiliated. Learn more.

Yes, guitar string metals really do matter

image

When you start experimenting with strings made of different alloys, weird noises might happen.

I can say with absolute certainty that when a guitar string manufacturer says a certain string is made of something different, it's not just lip service. Different metals do result in a different sound. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not.

An example of this is Ernie Ball Slinky Cobalt. I use the very light 8-38 size, which is model 2725.

I was able to wrangle a fairly decent sound out of these:

...but it comes at a slight cost, and I'm not talking about price.

This is a direct quote from the Ernie Ball page on the Extra Slinky Cobalt strings:

Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky Electric Guitar Strings provide an extended dynamic range, incredible harmonic response, increased low end, and crisp, clear highs. Cobalt provides a stronger magnetic relationship between pickups and strings than any other alloy previously available. Cobalt Slinky guitar strings are also soft and silky to the touch, making string bending a breeze.

Is all this true? Yes. However, a drawback is that the increased harmonic response can in fact be too good.

On my Squier Stratocaster, when I palm mute the A or D strings, really high harmonic "ping" noises can be heard. Problem with the pickups? No. Problem with the guitar? No. What's happening is that since the response of the strings is so prominent, it brings out unwanted harmonics for certain play styles.

Is this a problem with the string? No. The string is actually doing exactly what Ernie Ball said it would... a little too well.

This can also happen with stainless steel strings

The go-to example for this are D'Addario XL ProSteels. On that particular model, the wound strings use a stainless steel wrap instead of nickel plated. This string is not the same as the Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Cobalt, but like the Cobalt strings does change how things sound.

With ProSteels, yes, they are brighter. Are they too bright? That I don't know. I haven't tried them personally but might in the future.

What I do know is that whenever you use a string where the metal material is not the standard nickel-plated stuff, the sound does change. Sometimes the change is good, not-so good, or introduces a particular quirk.

Can changing to a string with a different metal "save" a pickup?

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

Using a string like the Cobalt or the ProSteels can and does result in a better magnetic attraction from string to pickup. However, even though this is true, a string can't magically revive a pickup magnet that's lifeless or close to dead.

If you have a pickup that sounds great but is otherwise low-output (some humbuckers with alnico II magnets are like that) and need something to give it a boost in harmonic range, that's a solid reason to use strings with different metals in them...

...but just be aware that sometimes changing to a string made with different metals may bring about weird/unwanted sounds. If it does, there's nothing wrong with your guitar nor the string.

220802

image
Best ZOOM R8 tutorial book
highly rated, get recording quick!

***Tons of guitars under $500 right here

🔥 Popular Articles 🔥

Casio F-91W Casio F-91W cheat sheet
A quick guide on how to set the time, date and a few other tips and tricks.
   
Squier Contemporary Telecaster RH Why spend Fender Jim Root money when you could go Squier?
A modern style Tele that brings the thunder.
   
Paisley Guitar My favorite China copy relic guitars
These are some relic guitars from China that actually look pretty good, and they're cheap too.
   
Ibanez AR420 List of 24.75" scale length guitars and other shorter models
24.75" scale electric guitars and other models down to the 24.0" scale.
   
Squier Affinity Telecaster 7 reasons why every metal player should own a Telecaster
Smarter metal players use a Telecaster
   
Casio W96H Casio watches for a small wrist
This is a list of Casio watches that are small wrist friendly, and includes a few G-SHOCK models.
   

⭐ Recent Articles ⭐

Squier Contemporary Telecaster RH Why spend Fender Jim Root money when you could go Squier?
A modern style Tele that brings the thunder.
   
$45,500 price tag It's obvious most don't understand the vintage guitar market. At all.
With great video traffic comes great responsibility.
   
Lekato Looper Review Lekato Looper Review with audio import tutorial
Lekato reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review a product of theirs. I said yes, and I'm glad I did.
   
Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings Yes, guitar string metals really do matter
When you start experimenting with strings made of different alloys, weird noises might happen.
   
 How to stop a Stratocaster from making spring noises
Springs in Stratocaster guitars make noise, and this is how to stop that noise.
   
Guild Surfliner T Guild Surfliner - odd decisions were made here
This guitar is cool but some of the design decisions are questionable.