There was a time, early on in my bass playing years, that the only strings I would use where Rotosounds. To be honest, I don’t remember which exact strings they were, all I recall is that they came in an orange package, that the E string was .105 gauge and that they tore the crap out my fingers and frets. At the time I really had no inkling of what the differences in strings were. Steel, nickel, roundwound, flatwound, I just played whatever was on my bass and when I needed a new set I’d buy a set of Rotosounds. Looking back, I’d have to guess I was using Stainless Steels, which accounts for the loss of finger skin and fret metal.
At the time I was big into metal and I knew Steve Harris used Rotosounds and that was good enough for me! As I evolved as a bass player, I eventually moved away from Rotosound. Initially, as I was a starving college student at the time, I believe it was based more on cost than preference. I have since learned a lot about playing bass and have discovered how much difference a set of strings can make. In the last few years I have experimented with all manners of roundwound, flatwound, stainless steel, nickel, half round, tape wound, coated, cryogenically sealed, you name it I’ve tried it, but it has been until now that I have come back to give Rotosound another look.
My Zon 5 String seems to have taken on a dark, wooly tone in the past few months, and I just wasn’t digging it. I started thinking back to the days when I used Rotosounds and thought maybe it was time to give them another shot. Not being a big fan of stainless steel strings, I decided to give the Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Nickels a try.
First off, the presentation. Gone is the clear plastic sleeve with orange insert of yesteryear. The new packaging is biodegradable, recyclable cardboard, and the Nickel set comes in a lovely deep blue with the British flag poking through. The strings themselves sport a lovely light blue silk wrap that looks fantastic on my bass.
Installed, the Nickels have a nice smooth feel and lower tension to them that is very comfortable to play. These puppies definitely aren’t eating up my fingers, or my frets! Sound wise, the Rotosound Nickels have a nice, piano-like, clarity to them. Overall, they are a very even sounding set, with the B string taking on a nice smooth tone. One of the things I dislike about new strings is that they can tend to sound clanky until you break them in, this is not the case with the Rotosounds, they sound just like I want them too, with none of the new string squeaks or annoyances.
Living with these strings for the past two weeks I have found that they hold their tune well, in fact I’ve hardly had to adjust them at all after the first day or so. They’ve settled in to have a nice vintage vibe with sustain for days. This is not to say that they are a one trick pony; with a few tweaks of the EQ I can go from old school thump to a sparkling slap tone. I must say that I do prefer the Rotosounds over the previous strings I had as they have brought my Zon back to life. I don’t know why it took me so long to come back to Rotosound strings, but now that I have I may end up putting them on more of my basses.
Rotosound Swing Bass Nickel 66 RS 665LDN 45-65-85-105-130