There was a time, early on in my bass playing years, that the only strings I would use where Rotosounds. Â To be honest, I donâ€™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. Â At the time I really had no inkling of what the differences in strings were. Â Steel, nickel, roundwound, flatwound, I just played whatever was on my bass and when I needed a new set Iâ€™d buy a set of Rotosounds. Looking back, Iâ€™d have to guess I was using Stainless Steels, which accounts for the loss of finger skin and fret metal. Â
At the time I was big into metal and I knew Steve Harris used Rotosounds and that was good enough for me! Â As I evolved as a bass player, I eventually moved away from Rotosound. Â Initially, as I was a starving college student at the time, I believe it was based more on cost than preference. Â I have since learned a lot about playing bass and have discovered how much difference a set of strings can make. Â 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 Iâ€™ve tried it, but it has been until now that I have come back to give Rotosound another look. Â
My Zon 5 String seems to have taken on a dark, wooly tone in the past few months, and I just wasnâ€™t digging it. Â I started thinking back to the days when I used Rotosounds and thought maybe it was time to give them another shot. Â Not being a big fan of stainless steel strings, I decided to give the Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Nickels a try. Â
First off, the presentation. Â Gone is the clear plastic sleeve with orange insert of yesteryear. Â The new packaging is biodegradable, recyclable cardboard, and the NickelÂ set comes in a lovely deep blue with the British flag poking through. Â The strings themselves sport a lovely light blue silk wrap that looks fantastic on my bass. Â
Installed, the Nickels have a nice smooth feel and lower tension to them that is very comfortable to play. These puppies definitely arenâ€™t eating up my fingers, or my frets! Sound wise, the Rotosound Nickels have a nice, piano-like, clarity to them. Â Overall, they are a very even sounding set, with the B string taking on a nice smooth tone. Â 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. Â
Living with these strings for the past two weeks I have found that they hold their tune well, in fact Iâ€™ve hardly had to adjust them at all after the first day or so. Â Theyâ€™ve settled in to have a nice vintage vibe with sustain for days. Â 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. Â I must say that I do prefer the Rotosounds over the previous strings I had as they have brought my Zon back to life. Â I donâ€™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