As you know, I’ve been working on using only my fingers while playing my electric guitars and the experiment has been both delightful and slightly disappointing.
The sound I am able to create with my fingers is delightfully unique and I can really change the tone and the sound of the string just by the way I choose to strike it with my finger or thumb.
I was experiencing a disappointing problem having the treble strings sound brightly harsh while the bass strings sounded dull and thumpy.
I couldn’t figure out the why of the disparity of sound until it was time to change strings.
I discovered, to my horror, that I was fresh out of DR Pure Blues and I decided to put on a pack of D’Addario EXL115s instead.
As I tuned up the guitar, I began to discover a clarity in the bass strings that I wasn’t getting with my Pure Blues. The EXLs seemed to have a better tonal balance across the bass and treble strings and I couldn’t hear much of a difference between my fleshy thumb striking a bass string and my bony index finger plucking a treble string.
I wondered why.
Then I realized the EXL115s had a nickel plating on the steel bass strings and the Pure Blues used an all nickel wrap on a round core for the bass strings. That was an amazing discovery because I really like how the Pure Blues sound with a pick to create that old school Blues sound, but using my fingers, the sound differential between the strings — while playing the same songs! — was a substantially different experience.
When I used the EXL115s, the bass and treble strings were equalized and sounded just great up and down the fretboard using three fingers and a thumb.
I took the Pure Blues off another guitar and put on DR Tite Fits instead — they are a nickel plated string from DR — and found the experience to be the same as the EXL115s: Unification of plucking sound. Wild!
Strings make a difference. You might not think there’s much wiggle room between pure nickel and nickel plated guitar strings, but the fingers tell the truth of the tone.
Great story, David! Glad that the nickel strings worked out so well for you.
If you want an all around, great-sounding, predictable string for any style of playing guitar — nickel plated is the way to go.