So you’re out hunting for strings. Rather than go with some fly-by-night brand that’s been in the string business for only 100 years, let’s take a look at La Bella. They’ve been making violin strings since the 1640s!
The company could just sit around at its headquarters in Newburgh, New York, where it makes its strings, but it keeps churning out new ideas. Recently I got the chance to test drive the company's new White Nylon Tapewound bass strings.
Let’s take a step back. Your common bass strings are most likely nickel wound. If you want a brighter tone, you can jump up to steel strings. If you want something a bit warmer and easier on your frets and fingertips, you have the option of flatwound or tapewound strings. These are also popular picks among fretless players since the material is smooth and won’t chew up a nice rosewood fretboard. Most of your common tapewound strings are black nylon, so the white, which is actually clear, gives your bass the tapewound feel with the classic string look.
La Bella sent me a 6-string set. Since I didn’t have a 6-string bass handy, I flip-flopped back and forth between a BEADG setup and an EADGC setup on my 5-string. "Perfectly balanced" isn’t just a phrase printed on the packaging. I didn’t have to adjust my neck once. It was very even across the board. The B-string was tight and musical.
Note that when you are using a heavier gauge like the .134 B-string, you might need to file your nut a little deeper. With the right tools (a file), it is a quick and easy job if you know what you’re doing.
The nylon coating is a pleasure to work with. Sliding is smooth, and when I experimented with EADGC tuning, I didn’t run into any extreme high-tension issues. Nylon may be the ticket if you suffer from other string allergies or from pain after long periods of playing.
La Bella offers the White Nylon Tapewounds in 4-, 5- and 6-string sets. The company makes them in a short, medium and extra long scale in light or regular gauges. I was sent an extra-long scale and had a generous amount of wrap for both my Sterling and Fender Precision Bass with a string-through bridge.
How do they sound? Fat and warm, but still enough brightness to cut through a mix. Here’s a clip of my P Bass with the tone knob cranked all the way up.
Street price: $45 to $75
You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.