Hands-On Review:Dean Markley Signature Series Nickel Steel Electric Strings

spacerspacerspacerDean Markley:

Signature Series Nickel Steel Electric Strings


Guitar strings are a pretty personal matter for many players. Besides, tone - as they say - is in the hands, and the hands connect directly with the strings. You can't get much more personal than that now, can you?


So how does one make the very personal decision of which strings to put on their guitar? Most of us come by our favorite wires by chance, or word of mouth. A little research into the fine art of guitar string manufacturing, however, reveals much that we can take back to our own rigs and use to our advantage. After all, achieving killer tone is a never-ending quest.


What a Difference a Nickel Makes

Manufacturers use a variety of materials to make guitar strings, primarily because guitarists use their instruments to play a variety of musical styles in a variety of musical settings. Acoustic players often lean toward bronze and phosphor bronze alloys, both of which create distinct, bright tones, perfect for the clarity a non-amplified instrument requires. Electric players have long favored stainless steel, which has good magnetic properties and a clear, bright sound; or even chrome, which is flatter sounding and is commonly found in flat-wound sets.


But in the early days of rock, nickel strings ruled. Nickel guitar strings produce a warm tone and have excellent magnetic properties. Unfortunately, nickel is a soft metal and wears away easily, and nickel strings do go dead faster than stainless or chrome.


NickelSteel to the Rescue

That's why Dean Markley makes nickel-plated steel string sets such as the company's very popular NickelSteel Electric guitar strings. The combination of the sweet tonal properties of nickel with the durability of steel makes a perfect pairing. Dean Markley NickelSteel Electrics offer some of the best tone an electric guitar can achieve, in a string that has exceptional strength and lifespan.


Gauge Your Strings This Way

Dean Markley makes their NickelSteel Electrics in gauges to fit just about every player's taste and playing style. It's common knowledge that the thicker the string gauge, the more full the tone of a guitar string, and NickelSteel Electrics don't fall short here. For those looking for the most full-bodied sound they can get, Dean Markley offers the 2500B set, with a high E string that measures a whopping .013 (that's 13/1000ths of an inch, the size preferred by Stevie Ray Vaughan, among other tone masters) and a low E string way down there in rumble territory at .056. For shredders who live between 32nd notes and the higher ranges of an overworked metronome, lighter gauges, like those found in the 2501B set (.008 to .038), might better fill the bill. Of course there are a number of sets in between, with every combination of high to low gauging - and even NickelSteel Electric sets for seven string guitars as well. At around $5 a set, Dean Markley NickelSteel Electrics aren't the most- or the least-expensive strings you can purchase, but they may just be the sweetest at any price. www.deanmarkley.com


- Austin Moca