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Review

Ernie Ball Burly and Ultra Slinkys

Issue #64

if you’re normally a 10s player who’s looking to tune down a tone, the balance is just right.
Nick Jennison

Ernie Ball Ultra and Burly Slinky's 

Guitar Interactive star rating: 5

MSRP (UK) £6.99 (US) $10.81

 

PROS

Greatly improved balance from a hybrid string set.

Familiar slinky tone and quality.

 

CONS

Not much.

 

 

SPECS

Ultra set gauges: .010, .013, .017, .028, .038, .048

Burly set gauges of .011, .014, .018, .030, .042, .052

 

 

 

 


Ernie Ball Ultra and Burly Slinky's 

Ultra and Burly Slinky’s are the newest additions to the Ernie Ball 'Slinky' guitar family. These new hybrid gauges combine popular slinky string sets offering additional options in terms of tone and feel. Ultra set combines EB's traditional Regular and Power Slinky sets, with the Burly set combining Power and Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky sets. Nick Jennison takes both new sets for a test drive.

 

 

Ernie Ball is one of the best-loved string brands in the world. Cast an eye across the back of a set of slinkys and you’ll see a list of endorsees as long as your arm, and their booth at the annual NAMM show is the place to be for superstar guitar players. It’s not uncommon to see Steve Lukather and John Petrucci hanging out with Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. So if you'll pardon the pun, it takes “balls” to change the recipe.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinky sets represent the first new gauges offered by Ernie Ball in over a decade, but unlike the excellent Paradigm strings released in 2017, these new sets are Slinkys through and through. The only change is the gauges on offer. Both the Ultras and Burlys are light top/heavy bottom variants (10s and 11s respectively), but with a much less severe jump than typical hybrid sets. Allow me to explain.

 

 

The first hybrid string set most people come across is the venerable 9-46 set. They’re even called Hybrid Slinkys. Featuring the treble strings from a set of 9s and the bass strings from a set of 10s, they offer the bending ease and spanky tone of a lighter set on top with the added resistance and tuning stability of heavier strings on the bottom three without a jarring leap tension across the set. But what about 10s and 11s? Well, most manufacturers offer 10-52 and 11-54 sets, but these sets have a much more severe gradation of tension. 10-52 sets feature the top strings from a 10 set with the bottom string from a 12 set, while 11-54 are 11s on top and 13s (!) on the bottom. As well as the unbalanced play feel and tone, these sets can present issues for intonation and even tuning stability if your nut isn’t wide enough to take the bigger bass strings.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinkys, by contrast, are 10s top/11s bottom and 11s top/12s bottom respectively. Because of this, the playability, feel and string-to-string tone and volume is much more balanced, with a gentle progression from high to low. The difference in feel from a straight 10s set to the Ultras is very manageable and should feel right at home for 10s players, but with the added benefit of greater stability and thickness on the low strings. Likewise with the Burlys - if you’re currently using 11s, or if you’re normally a 10s player who’s looking to tune down a tone, the balance is just right.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinky sets are a simple tweak to typical hybrid string sets that drastically improves the comfort and tonal balance across the set. Add to that Ernie Ball’s bright tone and quick break-in time and you’ve got a winning proposition for anyone who wants a little more tightness in their low end (ooh-er!).

 

 

Ultra and Burly Slinky’s are the newest additions to the Ernie Ball 'Slinky' guitar family. These new hybrid gauges combine popular slinky string sets offering additional options in terms of tone and feel. Ultra set combines EB's traditional Regular and Power Slinky sets, with the Burly set combining Power and Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky sets. Nick Jennison takes both new sets for a test drive.

 

 

Ernie Ball is one of the best-loved string brands in the world. Cast an eye across the back of a set of slinkys and you’ll see a list of endorsees as long as your arm, and their booth at the annual NAMM show is the place to be for superstar guitar players. It’s not uncommon to see Steve Lukather and John Petrucci hanging out with Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. So if you'll pardon the pun, it takes “balls” to change the recipe.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinky sets represent the first new gauges offered by Ernie Ball in over a decade, but unlike the excellent Paradigm strings released in 2017, these new sets are Slinkys through and through. The only change is the gauges on offer. Both the Ultras and Burlys are light top/heavy bottom variants (10s and 11s respectively), but with a much less severe jump than typical hybrid sets. Allow me to explain.

 

The first hybrid string set most people come across is the venerable 9-46 set. They’re even called Hybrid Slinkys. Featuring the treble strings from a set of 9s and the bass strings from a set of 10s, they offer the bending ease and spanky tone of a lighter set on top with the added resistance and tuning stability of heavier strings on the bottom three without a jarring leap tension across the set. But what about 10s and 11s? Well, most manufacturers offer 10-52 and 11-54 sets, but these sets have a much more severe gradation of tension. 10-52 sets feature the top strings from a 10 set with the bottom string from a 12 set, while 11-54 are 11s on top and 13s (!) on the bottom. As well as the unbalanced play feel and tone, these sets can present issues for intonation and even tuning stability if your nut isn’t wide enough to take the bigger bass strings.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinkys, by contrast, are 10s top/11s bottom and 11s top/12s bottom respectively. Because of this, the playability, feel and string-to-string tone and volume is much more balanced, with a gentle progression from high to low. The difference in feel from a straight 10s set to the Ultras is very manageable and should feel right at home for 10s players, but with the added benefit of greater stability and thickness on the low strings. Likewise with the Burlys - if you’re currently using 11s, or if you’re normally a 10s player who’s looking to tune down a tone, the balance is just right.

 

The Ultra and Burly Slinky sets are a simple tweak to typical hybrid string sets that drastically improves the comfort and tonal balance across the set. Add to that Ernie Ball’s bright tone and quick break-in time and you’ve got a winning proposition for anyone who wants a little more tightness in their low end (ooh-er!).

 

 

 

For more information, please visit:

ernieball.com

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