Dark Horse Strings Nickel Bass 5-string Review…
The fine folks at Dark Horse strings pride themselves in being, “Committed to making their customers a top quality string. Attention to detail when winding each individual string, and state of the art quality control methods”.
I was given two sets of the nickel 5 string set gauged 45-130 and placed them respectively on my fretted Brubaker Brute MJX and my custom Wishbass 5-string fretless bass. I wanted to get a well-rounded overview of what the strings sounded and played like on basses that apart from their string count, were completely and utterly different in every way.
Here is my rundown on what Dark Horse strings had to offer…
Playability: By far the standout feature of the Dark Horse nickel strings was their feel and playability. Nickel strings have a reputation (for the most part) of having an almost “plastic” feel and a cheap sensation to them with a smooth touch but no shelf life.
This was not the case with the DH strings, which had, by far, the nicest tension I have felt on a string in a long, long time. The strings tuned up and adjusted to tension almost instantaneously upon installation, and felt comfortable on both basses. This was apparent right off that bat due to the bridge design of my Wishbass (floating bridge) and the Brute (fixed modern bridge) had no bearing on negatively affecting the strings feel and malleability during play. A plus on both basses was the ability for the string to stay in tune transitioning into the Summer months, which usually spells constant tune ups for most string brands.
Tone: The traditional narrative for nickel strings is that you are sacrificing brightness for comfort. Stainless strings bite harder but are rough on the calluses, and nickel and smoother to the touch but not as bright on the high end. The DH strings are a really, really nice compromise of both worlds. While still having a very snappy and responsive top end, it never sounded harsh or brittle. It never gave the frequencies one associates with the “ice pick” in the ear sentiment. The string, for the most part, was incredibly responsive to your playing dynamics and right/left hand pressure for how much top end it gave out. It was very nice to be able to have a lighter touch and get the Jaco “mwah” on the fretless, and then be able to play slap bass/Prog on the fretted, while technically still utilizing the same exact string gauge and brand.
Durability: For anyone who follows this publication, and sees my weekly lessons or videos, you know I absolutely destroy my strings. I mistreat them, I take my day out on them, I slap the shit out of them lol. I can kill a set of nickel strings in a 45 minute set easily if you really let me go ham. After a month the Fretted bass is about 40% down on brightness and the Fretless is down about 15%. Both of those for a 5 week stint on my instruments, is galactic light year spans of longevity in my dojo.
- 10/10 construction/playability
- 10/10 tone
- 8/10 durability.
The highest rating I have given to uncoated strings.
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