Dan Veall deals deep into the latest revolution in bass guitar technology from extraordinary minds at Rotosound, with his review of the Rotosound ULTRAMAG bass strings.
Rotosound’s history starts long before the brand name was registered in around 1969 and the company have one of the most famous names in bass guitar strings. You only have to look at the long, long list of artists, endorsers and players from across the world to see that these strings are reliable from show to show, gig to gig, night after night.
Zooming up to the present day, the company, based in Sevenoaks, Kent, England employ a dedicated staff manufacturing a huge turn-out of strings every week.
One of my favourite points of note is that Jason How, son of James, the brand founder is every bit hands-on in the running of the company, right down to designing and building the high tolerance precision machines that wind each of the different types of string and their specific gauges. That really is impressive.
- And when he’s not looking after machines, or running the company, you’ll definitely find him on the stands at the many trade shows connecting with artists and casual players alike.
It’s the feedback that he receives from the many players from around the world and keeping an eye on a shift in musician demand that allows for new products to be tested and brought to market - we have said bass goodies in today to look at and try out!
Rotosound’s Ultramag strings: Advertised in two different gauges of the four-string set and one set for a five-string bass, they come in airtight sealed bags ready to be installed fresh and corrosion-free.
For my review today, I thought, what better way to try out some brand new strings, but to show you one method to install your strings correctly and for them to maintain tuning ready for performance. Watch the video review to see the string install in detail and finish up with listening to the Ultramag Standard Gauge four-string set.
One of the things I wanted to mention in my video is that it is also wise to lay the bass down and apply downward pressure to the strings over the saddles and also either side of the nut too. This can help the strings bend nicely at the correct angle over the hardware. Then, last little string stretches to ensure everything is settled ready for that final tune-up.
Interestingly, long after recording the video, I picked up my ’76 Precision featured in the review, and it was still bang on in tune. Thumbs up!
So, what do I think of the Ultramag strings now that I’ve had a good time to play them?
The strings definitely do sound different to the type I had on the bass before restring. That’s understandable as the strings that came off were a different brand and made from different materials. What I can tell you though, is that in comparison, I noticed some extra midrange detail in the sound (as well as that ‘new string zing’ that I love) - and in some ways the instrument even seemed to be more responsive - which is usually the case when mid-range frequencies are accentuated. The feel of the strings is really nice too. If you can imagine the difference between Stainless Steel strings and their textured finish verses Nickel coated strings that seem smoother - well, you like these for the latter with less friction on softer fingers.
I like what they do for the tone of my bass - well, it is a precision bass after all and the detail is in the mid-range in my opinion - so anything that helps to lift the richness of that tonal area is of interest to me. The low end is nice and beefy without being woolly- which in tandem with the midrange could feel a little like the top end was less bright than say “ultra bright” style strings on the market. The top end is there though and a tweak of your tone control will give you what you need.
The Rotosound Ultramag strings feature ‘Type 52 Alloy’ that I understand refers to a 52% Nickel mix in the string wire. Either way, numbers aside, the result is a pleasing warmth in the sound.
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