What Ernie Ball Strings Should I Get?
Ernie Ball is without a doubt one of the most well known and iconic guitar string manufacturers to date. While the company makes amazing guitars, basses, and other accessories as well, their string lines are what most people know and love them for.
With the Slinky series being as popular as it is, plenty of guitar players have used this brand from day one. However, because EB has quite a few series of strings under their Slinky moniker, not everyone is sure what string set is right for them. Furthermore, there was recently the addition of several in-between sizes to accommodate more players' preferences. With these factors at play, it can feel like a little too much work to sift through everything just for a set of strings. Yet, Ernie Ball makes some really cool stuff outside of the standard Slinkys you’re familiar with. Below I will attempt to break down most of the sizes and strings series that are offered. And hopefully, you can sift through this and find the perfect set for your fingers.
Set Sizes -
For many of us, having the perfect string gauge set is a very important part of how we play our instrument. Ernie Ball makes it pretty easy to find a size that works for you by having multiple gauges for every size category. Also, this is just the size of their standard Nickel Slinky range of guitar strings. However, most of the other string series are based on these sizes.
6-String Sets in Nickel Wound:
- .008 Sets
- Extra Slinky (.008–.011–.014–.022–.030–.038)
- Mighty Slinky (.085–.011–.015–.022–.030–.040)
- .009 Sets
- Super Slinky (.009–.011–.016–.024–.032–.042)
- Hybrid Slinky (.009–.011–.016–.026–.036–.046)
- Primo Slinky (.0095–.012–.016–.024–.034–.044)
- Turbo Slinky (.0095–.012–.016–.026–.036–.046)
- .010 Sets
- Regular Slinky (.010–.013–.017–.026–.036–.046)
- Ultra Slinky (.010–.013–.017–.028–.038–.048)
- Skinny Top Heavy Bottom (.010–.013–.017–.030–.042–.052)
- Skinny Top Beefy Bottom (.010–.013–.017–.032–.044–.054)
- Mega Slinky (.0105–.0135–.0175–.028–.038–.048)
- Mondo Slinky (.0105–.0135–.0175–.030–.042–.052)
- .011 Sets
- Power Slinky (.011–.014–.018p–.028–.038–.048)
- Burly Slinky (.011–.014–.018p–.030–.042–.052)
- Beefy Slinky (.011–.015–.022p–.030–.042–.054)
- .012 Sets
- Not Even Slinky (.012–.016–.024p–.032–.044–.056)
- Mammoth Slinky (.012–.016–.024w–.034–.048–.062)
EBs String Series -
Let’s now take a look at the different series of strings that Ernie Ball offers. While you might be aware of a couple of these, most people don’t realize just how many string types this company offers.
Slinky Nickel Wound: These are the standard strings for EB and pretty much for all brands in general. They are made with nickel-plated steel and have a hex core at the center. Nearly everyone has played or does play these strings. Additionally, their signature vibrant packaging makes them instantly recognizable. And these are the cornerstone for all of the other series listed below.
Slinky Cobalt: The Cobalt series is one that seems to fly under a lot of players' radars. The main characteristic you will notice right of the bat with these is their increased output. Due to the nature of Cobalt, these strings are significantly more magnetic than stainless steel or nickel, hence making them louder. And they also open up better harmonics along with providing a more defined midrange. On top of all this, the Slinky Cobalts feel great.
Slinky M-Steel: The M-Steel or Maraging Steel strings are also a little underrated for how cool they are. These are specifically great for players looking to get the best low end possible out of their guitar. This unique steel alloy yields a really tight yet full sounding low-end. Furthermore, M-Steels are also very strong and will likely last you a good while compared to regular Slinkys.
Slinky Paradigm: The Paradigm strings series from EB is their most recent addition to the family. The main marketing behind these is that they are the world's most break-resistant string ever made. While they are definitely not going to last you forever, the Ball team is definitely not making false claims. These things can last for a VERY long time and even retain much of their clarity while doing so. These are also some of the company’s best feeling strings to date (IMO).
Slinky Classic Rock N’ Roll: Just like the regular Slinkys the Classic Rock N’ Roll series are made with a hex core. However, unlike the regular, they utilize a pure nickel wrap instead of a steel nickel alloy. Ultimately these do remain pretty close to what any slinky user would know and love, the main difference being some added warmth.
Slinky RPS Coated Titanium: If you like the benefits of coated strings but hate the feel, these are worth trying. While this set feels and plays like normal strings they are indeed coated for long-lasting clarity. Ernie Ball has done a great job of making these similar to play as all of the other Slinkys. Additionally, this set has reinforced plain strings (RPS) which are great for preventing breaking and tuning issues.
Slinky RPS Nickel Wound: Just like the RPS Coated, the RPS Nickel Wound series is great for tuning stability and preventing any kind breaking on the top three strings. The real magic behind this RPS system is at the lock twist of the ball end where a brass wire is used to strengthen the weaker stings. In addition to this, you get a wonderful feeling set of Slinkys.Slinky Stainless Steel: This is Ernie Ball’s only stainless-steel set in their lineup. While they do still have that Slinky quality and consistency we all love, these are also definitely what you would expect from a stainless-steel string set. This means these are a bit brighter than you would expect from a nickel string. And you will also receive some added lasting clarity too.