Ernie Ball: Bass String Buyer’s Guide

Ernie Ball: Bass String Buyer’s Guide

For over 55 years Ernie Ball has not only been the #1 guitar string brand but also the world’s leader in bass guitar strings. However, take a closer look and you’ll see that there are more types of bass strings than meets the eye. Read on and find out what gear change-ups may be waiting for you.

Slinky Bass Strings:

The definitive bass guitar string, Slinky Bass strings has been depended on for over 50 years by the world’s leading musicians. These nickel-plated steel beauties are the strings that have helped shape the sound of bass guitar and set the benchmark for feel and reliability. Slinky Bass comes in all configurations from 4, 5, and 6-string sets as well as short scale sets.


The Bottom Line: Everything you want in a bass string, nothing you don’t.

Cobalt Slinky Bass Strings:

The world’s first bass strings to incorporate Ernie Ball’s patented cobalt alloy. Cobalt technology provides a stronger magnetic relationship between the strings and pickup magnets due to cobalt’s relatively higher magnetic charge than stainless steel or nickel alloys, this in turn empowers a much wider range of output across all EQ bands. Cobalts can ring out all manner of extra articulation from a vintage passive bass, as well as give greater flexibility to active bass players with preamps. Artists like Mike Dirnt of Green Day use Cobalt Slinky bass strings. Check out his String Theory episode below.


The Bottom Line: Extra output, expanded dynamic range, pleasing string feel.

Slinky Flatwound Strings:

Our flagship line of flatwound strings offer all of the smooth feel of flatwounds, but with the distinction of using a Cobalt wrap wire. As expected of Cobalt these offer expanded output for greater articulation, making these the first flatwound strings to feel flat and sound round.

The Bottom Line: Flatwound strings with Cobalt Alloy technology. All of the power and dynamics of Cobalt Slinky Bass as well as a warm flatwound sound that is still very lively. Excellent finger feel.

Ernie Ball Coated Slinky Bass Strings:

Coated strings insulate the string within a very thin treatment film that protects from moisture, acidic sweat, dirt, or any other atmospheric contaminants. As a result of the treatment process coated strings are often said to have a noticeable impact on feel, however Ernie Ball’s coating technology has been developed to provide superior protection without changing the sound or feel of EB Slinky strings.


The Bottom Line: Protective coating keeps strings pristine, no change to tone or feel.

Slinky Stainless Steel Bass Strings:

Stainless Steel has long been a popular alternative to standard nickel alloy electric strings.  Stainless steel has enjoyed a long reputation of durability for its resilience against corrosion and it is a sensible alternative to the standard. After all, stainless steel has a greater tensile strength as well as proven defense against the elements. In addition to the practical stainless imparts a more treble-focused sound, and is noted as being naturally brighter in comparison to nickel.

The Bottom Line: Stainless Steel has a greater resistance to corrosive agents and also has higher tensile strength than nickel strings, and feature a brighter tone.

Ernie Ball Flatwound Electric Bass Strings:

As discussed with the benefits of the stainless roundwounds, the stainless flatwounds provide a distinct contrast. Obviously feel is the first one to come to mind but the sounds of these flatwounds are more mids-focused and mellow, showing what a difference the shape of strings can make, materials notwithstanding.

The Bottom Line: A flatwound offering with the enhanced strength and resistance of stainless steel. Mellow warm sound, comfortable feel.

But don’t just take my word for it, our friend Ryan “Fluff” Bruce has done an extensive shootout comparison between each of our strings!

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