Rotosound RB40 Review - Bass Strings (Light)
It's common knowledge that bass strings are replaced less often than guitar strings, mostly because of the extra cost. But there are bassists, myself included, who prefer the feel and warmth of old strings.
As such, I'm not too keen on fresh trebly tone, what's more important to me is long-term playability and how the tone warms up as the strings age. So far, the Rotosound RB40 have been meeting these considerations really well, with good tone, playability and longevity.
The Rotosound RB40 is a 40 to 100 gauge bass string set meant for long scale basses like the ever popular Precision bass. When freshly installed, it has a bright tonality that makes upper fret playing sound more articulate. This early stage of the string's life will definitely appeal to those who are into trebly bass tones. Just remember to roll back the tone knob from time to time because it can be too trebly for some songs. Also be wary of your string attack, especially when using picks, because they tend to sound "scratchy" when the treble frequencies are emphasized.
As it gets more play time, it loses some of the zing. This is when I enjoy it more, sounding warmer and fuller, while retaining good articulation. This is the type of tone that's easy to incorporate into band settings because it doesn't get in the way of the vocals and other instruments. When supervising rehearsals, a big chunk of my task is to keep musicians and instruments from overstepping their bounds. This often includes keeping the bass from flooding the mids and high frequencies with trebly tone. Thankfully, the "aged" Rotosound RB40 set keeps our decades old Yamaha Pulser PB-400 bass sounding deep and in-line with the band.
This is where the RB40 wins over other sets that I've used. Right at the start, all the four strings have a smooth feel to them, which results in easier and more comfortable playing. The gauge is also light enough for my fingers, without sacrificing tone and tactile feel. Being easy on the fingers is important for me because I mainly play guitars, so my callouses are not used to bigger and tougher bass strings. Sliding in particular is more forgiving, especially when the set is still fresh. Understandably, it gradually loses its smoothness over time, but it is still quite easy on the hands after weeks or even months of use, as long as the strings are cared for properly - so don't forget to wipe regularly, and store the bass in a case when not in use.
Longevity is another aspect of that surpassed my expectation. For a non-coated set, the RB40 lasts for a long time, and have done so consistently. Even after 6 months, the strings still have good intonation and do not feel too worn out. More importantly, it still sounds reasonably good to my ears - warmer and deeper, but with less treble and articulation. For this reason, I strongly feel that this set gives me more value for my money. Note that there are many factors that affect how quickly strings age - sweat, environment, maintenance, playtime, care and more - so your results may be different.
The RB40 comes in a simple single foil packaging similar to other Rotosound strings. The packaging is light yet sturdy, and unlike paper packages, it's not prone to wear and tear. So far, I haven't had any issues with Rotosound packaging, for both electric and bass guitars. It does a good job of keeping the strings freshly sealed and protected from the elements. Unfortunately, the RB40 set does not come with a free string like what they offer for electric guitars.
Rotosound is a well known British string manufacturer with a long list of artists under their belt, including bass greats like Jaco Pastorius, Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), Geddy Lee (Rush) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and more. I'm also using Rotosound strings on some of my guitars, you can read more about that here. While this is labeled by Rotosund as a "Medium" gauge set, it falls under Gearank's "Light" gauge grouping. We've decided on our own standards of gauge grouping to better organize bass string sets from different manufacturers.
- Gauges: .040 .060 .080 .100
- Material: Nickel Plated Steel
- Coated: No
Aside from initially sounding too bright, I really can't find other faults. Highly recommended for those with long scale basses.
- Can be too bright sounding at first
- Bright and articulate initial tone
- Deeper and warmer tone as it ages
- Smooth and comfortable playing feel
- Lasts long