Choosing the right bass strings for playing heavy metal can be a very personal decision, based on your playing style and the type of bass that is being used. With so many brands and series available to bass players, it can be difficult to know where to begin. A good starting point can be to look at what some of the masters of the metal genre are using.
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D'Addario Round Wound EXL 170-6
D'Addario's EXL 170-6 bass strings are known for their bright tone and versatility across genres. They are a favourite of Dream Theater's John Myung, whose progressive metal bass lines are clear and punchy with a delicious, deep growl. The strings themselves are precision-wound with nickel-plated steel wire using D'Addario's proprietary computer-run machines and are guaranteed to have clear, consistent intonation. Myung plays a six-string bass, and his preferred gauges are .032, .045, .065, .085, .105 and .130.
Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky
Hybrid Slinky bass strings from Ernie Ball are a combination of Super Slinky and Regular Slinky nickel-wound gauges, making them the best of both worlds for metal bass players who enjoy a more customised feel to their strings. They are the preferred strings of Justin Chancellor of Tool, a band that is known for its deep, intricate bass lines that often take centre stage in many of their songs. His gauges are .045, .065, .085 and .110.
Dunlop's Robert Trujillo Icon Series (RT)
Robert Trujillo has had quite the career in heavy metal. From Infectious Grooves to Ozzy Osbourne to Metallica, his deep, commanding bass lines have always kept fans thrashing along with the band. Dunlop developed the Robert Trujillo Icon Series with Robert himself to maximise the strings' strength and versatility. The strings feature clear highs, solid midrange and sharp, determined lows to blow the audience away. They are made of taper core stainless steel with a fifth string made of nontapered, nickel-plated steel for added warmth and weight. The gauges of these signature strings are .045, .063, .080, .102 and .130.
RotoSound's Steve Harris Signature (SH77)
RotoSound developed the Steve Harris Signature Series to complement the Iron Maiden bass player's string preferences and playing style, and he has been quoted as saying that these strings are all he has ever wanted to use. They come in gauges .050, .075, .095 and .110. Harris is rumoured to change his strings daily to keep his sound fresh and bright, but they work into a nice, warm punch for those metalheads who like to spend a little more time with their strings.
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- D'Addario: EXL170 Long Scale 45-100