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Thread: Wade's experience with Cobalt strings

  1. #1

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    Post Wade's experience with Cobalt strings

    This is my experience with Cobalt strings.

    First, I'll provide a little background. I have been playing guitar for over 22 years and I am always chasing the tools to help me achieve superior tone. I play blues, rock and metal (not that low, detuned nu-metal stuff). I play clean, with slight breakup, and with higher gain. Just like pickup and amplifier choice is a major part of the overall tone, so are the strings. The strings are where the tone originates and has a major impact of a guitar's overall tone and are likely the most important factor.

    Years ago, I used to play Ernie Ball Slinky's (9s, 10s and Hybrids - I played Hybrids for many years) but I haven't strung up EB's in a long time. I have mostly been playing SIT PowerWound 10s because they give me the tone that's in my head. Every so often (once a year for a month or so) I'll start trying out different brands and types of strings just for experimentation purposes and over the years, I have tried a lot of different strings (but not everyting). Suffice it to say that I do not like most strings that I have tried on the basis of tone - they are too bright, harsh, or too thin-sounding, etc. I never had issues with EB strings. I had just found that over the last 6 years that SIT PW 10s (and also more recently D'Addario EXP110s - but they're a bit brighter) give me the tone that I like the most.

    I noticed the Ernie Ball Cobalt strings marketing campaign (how could anyone miss it?) and again started wondering how these would sound. I had been waiting for my local Guitar Center to stock the new Ernie Ball Cobalt guitar strings and finally the day came when they were listed with a status of "in stock." I stopped by and picked up two sets of Ernie Ball 2721 Cobalt Regular Slinky guitar strings (10s). My main guitar right now is an ESP Eclipse II Standard 22-fret with EMG 81 (bridge) /60 (neck) pickups, bone nut and a Gotoh Tune-O-Matic style bridge. I was using a set of D'Addario EXP110s that were in very good conditions. I changed them out for the Cobalts. I have been using I tuned up, stretched the strings and they stabalized quickly and stayed in tune very well. I performed a quick setup, setting the intonation which only needed very minor saddle adjustments. I took a break and came back about an hour later. I checked the tuning. The guitar was still perfectly in tune. I warmed up the amp and began playing... ...and listening. The feel was really different and very good - silky. The clean tone was great. It was very bold. It was different. When I started playing with some breakup, I immediately noticed that it sounded "off." When I played full-on heavy metal I really noticed how different the overall tone was. I thought to myself that these string could not sound THIS different. Something else had to be wrong, but nothing else changed in my rig. The tone was VERY loud on the low-end; too much bass. The mids seemed to disappear. The highs seemed as though I had rolled my tone knob all the way back. I checked to see if I had indeed rolled my tone knob back, but it was all of the way forward (100% treble). I also checked my wah pedal. I was bypassed. Just to be sure, I removed it from my signal chain by unplugging it and rerouting the cables to bypass it. The same different sounding tone was there. Over the next week, I played for at least 2 hours a day with these new strings. I had some others listen, even non-musicians and I did not tell them that I changed anything but everyone kept saying that it did not sound right. I thought so too. I started re-EQing everything. Maybe I just needed to re-dial in my tone since these new Cobalt strings are "EQed" differently. I wasn't getting satisfaction. I plugged directly into my Stiletto Deuce, no pedals, no effects loop - just a man with a guitar plugged into his amp with a 10' Monster Power Rock cable. I was still not satisfied. Hmm...maybe the battery in the guitar that run the EMGs needs to be changed. I put in a fresh 9v battery. No difference in tone. I played for a few more days. I read more reviews in forums online. Everyone is raving about these strings, about how good the tone is. What were they hearing? I was not hearing it. So finally I changed back to a new set of D'Addario EXP110s. I repeated the same exact string changing and setup process. I corrected my amp and pedal EQ settings. Boom. My tone was restored, if not a little bright (D'Addario EXPs are a bit brighter than the SIT PW 10s I usually use). It's been a few days since I switched back from Cobalts. I love my current tone.

    I don't know what I was hoping to find with the Cobalts, but I did not find what I was looking for. That is not to say that they aren't great strings. I love the feel of the Cobalts. They played great. I thought that I read somewhere or heard in a promotional video something about creating a new tone with these strings. Yes, indeed, these string will give you a new tone. I 100% agree with that. It may be just the tone you're looking for. It was not the tone I was looking for. I am very surprised about how radiacally different the tone of the these strings are. They sound like they're tuned for a low-end (that is, bass tone, not quality - they are high quality strings) sound. For my experience, it may be that I already have my tone diealed in, so obviously changing anything will likely affect my tone, so I am biased in that way.

    I have another set of Cobalts. I will likely use them on another one of my guitars, probably a guitar with passive pickups.

  2. #2

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    Wade welcome You are the first negative review we have read....Sorry they didnt work for you....we cant make them fast enough...
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  3. #3

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    Sorry to say I really didn't care for the strings either , I have been using power slinkys for years on most my guitars I put a set of cobalts on my strat that I use most of the time. My first impression was that at first look they looked dull but I figured that was just the new metal. The strings also had a real metallic smell when I opened up the package. I put them on and to me there felt rougher then regular strings slinkys and harder then normal. After I put them I noticed there was a high pitched metallic overtone that wasn't there before when I string was struck also for whatever see reason I had more fret buzz then with power slinkys. I just didn't like the tone of the cobalts . I don't know if anyone else had this problem but the strings are chewing through my picks faster. I use fender heavy picks and they are getting real rough on the sides pretty quick. I use Ernie ball slinkys prettyall the time except for the the Eric Johnson on a les Paul and the Low tunes on on a strat and David gilmour set on another start just cause I like the gauges and the pure nickel roller round feel. It looks like I will just stay with regular slinkys I like they have alway worked for me.
    The cobalts are definetly are a great concept and it's cool to see something new in strings but they just aren't for me
    Last edited by gforce013; 03-25-2012 at 09:16 AM.
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  4. #4

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    To each their own, not everything works for everyone! Cobalts rule, first I found EB strings, then pure nickel and now Cobalt, all my guitars will soon be Cobalt, they sound better, feel better and play better.

    And well strings are metal so they should smell like??? Sugar Cookies? Hope you know I am joking and having fun

    Anyways cant wait to buy a case, anyone need to buy some regular super slinkys cheap?

  5. #5

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    Strings, like picks, or guitars for that matter, are something of a personal voyage. We all know what we want to hear, and as Wade said, sometimes that's all we want to hear and any change just might not suit. But that's cool. Personally, I won't get a chance to try the Cobalts for a few months yet but their release did prompt me to give the Coated Slinkys a try. I like 'em! And I'm also realising that I've never tried the rock'n'roll pure nickel set either. Just when I thought I was happy...
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  6. #6

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    Im glad wade gave a a soap box....its all about choices.....
    Two requests, please
    Please contact customer service prior to posting instrument issues
    Please don't PM me
    Thanks

    Please dont add me as a friend on facebook....my life is an open book here as it is.

  7. #7

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    I have not had a chance to try Cobalts yet (have some on order), but I suppose that when you take something like the guitar string and go in a fairly radical direction with it, you're not going to win over the whole crowd. But heck, no string maker has found the magic bullet yet; think of all the winding types, materials and gauges available just for electric guitars.

  8. #8

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    I wasn't an EB man for strings before the Cobalts. I'm a definite MM fan boy for my basses though. I have a set of Super Slinky Bass Cobalts on my Slo Special Ray, and honestly my other instruments sound dull in comparison now.

    Ordering more Cobalts to fix that problem.

  9. #9

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    the Cobalts do have a different sound. Sometimes it takes a little to get used to change, when we make it. Before Cobalts I was using the regular Slinkys on my 25th and the sound was fantastic. I like the Cobalts better but I've been making adjustments for the Cobalts to get my sound rounded out the way I like it. Overall they are an improvement for me and I expect it'll get even better as I get used to playing on them. they sure have more power and the smoothness of the low B is excellent. I have been able to use it in more situations without muddying up the mix, which I like a lot. I've heard of several others that like their previous strings more than the Cobalts but for me they are better. So far I have 2 weekends on them.
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  10. #10

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    I haven't tried the Cobalts yet, but I can't wait. I thought this comment was worth more discussion though-

    Quote Originally Posted by wade View Post
    Maybe I just needed to re-dial in my tone since these new Cobalt strings are "EQed" differently.
    I find we guitarists are often guilty of dialing things in with our eyes, not our ears. I can't count the number of times I'll watch guys grab an amp, turn everything up to noon, and comment negatively on the sound, rather than truly taking the time to dial in the tone stack.

    Every guitar sounds a bit different. Ditto pickups. (Many of us are guilty of swapping through countless sets of pickups, when a bit of EQing with a new set makes all the difference.) And now, ditto strings.

    With a different material, having different magnetic properties, I'm not the least bit surprised that it's going to require re-thinking tone stack settings to get the most out of the Cobalts. It's a lesson that took me a long time to learn, and one I really encourage others to take to heart. Those damn knobs are there for a reason ... turn 'em.

  11. #11

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    I've had mixed results with the guitar strings, too. I play clean, very little gain or overdrive, and the Cobalts added some higher overtones I'm not sure I cared for. Note that I also occasionally play with flatwounds, I'm not sure I'm the target market to begin with. They intonate very well, and I did notice an increase in output, but Regular Slinkies are the better voice for my current project. Nice to have the option for other projects in the future. I still have a couple of sets to try on other guitars, my main Les Paul is next.

    Having said that, I would in no way give the Cobalts a negative review. Everything EBMM has said is true, and they deliver exactly as promised. Kudos to EBMM for the intensive R&D and honest marketing.

    But the bass Cobalts - Mother of God - those are amazing. Hands-down winner in this house.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    I find we guitarists are often guilty of dialing things in with our eyes, not our ears.
    Ain't that the truth! I'm certainly guilty of it. How many times have any of us not been happy with the sound, looked at the dials and said "damn, everything looks like in the right place"? I can't help thinking that sometimes we'd be better off with amp controls that don't have any markings or pointers, just plain round blank dials. In fact, I think I'll try that! It'll certainly force me to use my ears a little more!
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  13. #13

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    I'm definitely going to give the Cobalts a try and see what they sound like. Should be fun.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by edhalen View Post
    I'm definitely going to give the Cobalts a try and see what they sound like. Should be fun.
    Wade approves.


  15. #15

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    I just put a set of cobalt 10's on my silhouette and there is quite a difference between them and the slinky 10's I have been using for the last 5 years. I love regular slinkys, enough that I haven't felt that there was any need change but These new cobalts just seem to have more pop and definition to them. Not harsh and not muddy; crisp defined and punchy with lots of output, put not in an active pickup kind of way. They bend just like regular slinkys resistance wise, but the feel of the metal seems to dig into your fingers a little less. Stays in tune good, intonation is good and I will see about the string life. sustain is noticeably better and if they wear well, I think I will change all my guitars. Hopefully they offer case pricing on them!

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