SOMEONE RECENTLY ASKED ME HOW often I change my strings. Change my strings? Never! Well, almost never … While I love the warmth and round, punchy tone of nickel-wrapped strings (see Tech Bench, page 58), a recent foray into down-tuned heavy music has spurred swapping my trusty medium-gauge nickel roundwounds to a set better suited to drop tuning. Enter DDT—Drop Down Tuning—from DR Strings (4-string: $25, 5-string: $34).
DR Strings DDTs feature a hexagonal high-carbon steel core wrapped in 430- grade stainless steel, and are available in a variety of gauges for 4- and 5-string basses. For testing, I opted for a Heavy set (.055, .075, .095, .115) to suit DGCF tuning on a Fender Jazz Bass.
The strings locked into pitch quickly— barring minor adjustments as the strings initially settled into place—and rang clear and bright. As a fan of nickel strings, I was braced for a brighter tone than I normally like, but found the DDTs’ sound to fall somewhere between DR Strings’ mellower nickel Lo-Riders and in-your-face steel Hi-Beams.
The tone was even across all strings, and the tension felt balanced and consistent, with no noticeable dead spots. Even fiddling with the tuning—adjusting back up to EADG, then to drop-D, CFBbEb, and DGCF—the DDTs remained stable. After a month or so of heavy use, there seemed not to be any degradation of tone or loss of tension. The initial brightness of the strings had mellowed slightly, but remained clear, with a warm punch not far from what I’m accustomed to from nickel strings. With their DDTs, DR Strings has managed to create a drop-tuning string set that doesn’t require an extremely thick gauge to maintain killer tone at low tunings.