MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings may be the newest bass strings on the market, but that only comes after years and years of research by founder Michael J Connolly during his many years at Dean Markley. There are no tricks here, just years of knowledge and testing to find the right combination to give bass players what they need in a set of strings. Michael has worked with many artists over the years, listening to their feedback and building off of that to develop what is a top-notch product in the world of bass strings. Before we get much deeper into the review, let’s touch on the coolest packaging, with good reason, that I have ever seen. I could say it’s in the tin, and it is, literally. MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings come packaged in a real cool tin, that is reusable for whatever needs you have at the current moment. I’ll get into that a little later. I’ve never been much of a stickler for strings, thinking, strings were just strings, some costing more, and the different windings, and everything else that goes along with them. Then there are artist endorsements. That seems to have a pull on what strings we may want or not want to go for. As we get older, we realize it’s not the name; it’s how we like the texture, tone, and most importantly the feel of the strings. I have to admit, I have never been a fan of the stainless strings, and they always seemed to have a gritty feel, until now. The MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings in the stainless flavor don’t have that gritty, feel, in fact, I thought maybe something got packaged wrong and I was playing nickel strings. I have to hand it to Michael, stainless strings were never possible in my future until now. I encourage everyone to give the MJC Ironworks Premium Strings a try, you will not be disappointed!
I actually had the opportunity to sit down a talk with Michael about the strings in detail!
Why the tin?
Well for one, it’s cool and I think if you are going to have a premium product, you need premium packaging. When you are dealing with some of the issues that come up with corrosion, one good way to get around it is to put it in what I call a “potato chip” bag, which seems to be what everyone is doing. They serve their purpose and it’s a lot cheaper to put the strings in the bags. Then there is the RNPROTECTS, which is a big part of what my strings are about, which is a foam strip inside the tin. The tin is cool, because it’s also a place to put stuff, things musicians need, whatever they may be. It stands out, is definitely different, and we aren’t charging any more for the tin. Our strings are competitively priced with strings that are in the bag.
What does the foam strip in the tin do for the strings, and I’m also aware that you have a separate foam strip for the strings?
That’s exactly right. Both of them are called RNPROTECTS. The RN is the initials for a friend of mine that had passed away. What the RNPROTECTS does is that it emits a natural occurring anti-corrosion inhibitor. It sticks to everything metal and permeates the core wire. When the RNPROTECTS is in the tin, the strings are so well protected and there is not going to be any corrosion that occurs at all while it is in the tin. As soon as any metal gets exposed to oxygen, which is the enemy of metals, that’s when everything starts corroding. When you take the foam strip, (which I have a bigger one that you can buy, and place it in your case). Every time you open and close your case, there is a static charge that happens and it sticks to everything metal, even permeating the pots. The RNPROTECTS won’t stop corrosion, but it will inhibit corrosion and it will protect for up to two years. RNPROTECTS is a revolutionary product that really offers something. They use these products in computers for the space shuttle, AWAC planes, and even use it to treat rebar in concrete so that the rebar in concrete won’t rust. Everything I have, the tin, the quality of the product, it all ties in to a perception. The perception is that, in a tin, this is a great product. It adds value to it and it is a premium string having a lot of aspects to it that other strings don’t like the anti-corrosion inhibitor that you can use and reuse for up to two years.
Your stainless steel strings seem a lot different than the rest. For one thing, they don’t have that “gritty” effect on your fingers, can you tell us what contributes to that?
There are a couple of manufacturers that make most of the wire, and there are a couple companies that make their own wire. You are basically buying wire from the same companies. You buy that wire, bring it in, and put it on your machines, wind them, and you get your finished product. When they make the wire, they run it through dyes, and when the dye starts to wear out, it can cause some grittiness. On stainless steel in general, when you are pulling it down, it gets that gritty feel. I use a lighter outer wrap on my strings with the idea to try to mimic nickel-plated steel. This goes way back when I was working at Dean Markley strings. We came out with the SR2000, which was a tapered core string, and every string in the set was tapered except the G string. So for me to get that vibe, Dean, who didn’t want another stainless steel string as most players were buying nickel strings, I had to try to mimic the nickel strings. I went to smaller outer wraps, took the strings to Dean. He felt the first one and said that was stainless and the second which was nickel, and he was right. Then I handed him the one with the smaller stainless outer wrap and he thought it was nickel. That’s how we got it through because it was a stainless string. So, smaller outer wraps is a big part of that, in addition to the quality of the metals.
What would you say that makes your strings stand out from the others?
I wish I had the answer to brand loyalty. I think the real answer is how the string makes you feel when you play it. If you get a set of strings and they don’t feel or sound good, you don’t play good. You don’t like them and you can’t wait to get rid of them. Manufacturers have their own flavor on how they make strings, their tensions are different, it’s a stiffer string, and you are only going to like what you like by trying stuff. I could go on and on about string manufacturing and what makes one better than the other, but what it really gets down to is how does it make you feel. There are a lot of finite reasons why strings are inherently different over other strings. Some have to do with pull down pressure and your core tension. Our firm belief is that you don’t wind a string tighter than it would be when it is tuned to pitch. Then you have low B issues. I am a big proponent of B strings. It’s a whole other engineering scale length problem that, in my opinion hasn’t been addressed. There are some companies that make some really good low B’s, but at the end of the day, what I have found with our artists is that people love the strings for three reasons. One, they love the tension, two, the love the feel, and three, they love sound. It makes them feel good, and they have a place to put their” stuff”. With that, you have RNPROTECTS and we are going to be expanding the RNPROTECTS into a whole bunch of other lines. We are just getting ready to launch acoustic and electric strings for guitars as well. The response that we have gotten from bass players is nothing less than overwhelming. It’s really extraordinary that you made the observation on stainless because I do hear that a lot. All of these companies make great products. I’m not in this business to rag on other companies. We all have a different approach, feel, and texture.
You owe it to yourself and your bass to take the time and check out the MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings. Strings are available for 4,5,6, and 7 string basses in both nickel and stainless. Gauges available are light (40-60-80-100) Medium light (45-65-85-105) and Medium (50-70-90-110). The low B in the 5 string sets is125 for light and medium light, and 130 for medium. Some of the finest artist use the MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings including Rocco Prestia!
Check out the MJC Ironworks Premium Bass Strings website, and feel free to contact Michael J Connolly and talk with him about his strings, he would love to hear from you
140 Mountain Spring Drive
San Jose California 95136
408 300 0889 Office
408-483-5547 Cell (Michael says… feel free to call me and let’s talk about strings!)
Visit online at mjcironworks.com