When Roland "Ernie" Ball first unveiled his custom-gauge Slinky strings in 1962—so named because their light gauge made the strings feel a whole lot easier on the fingers—he revolutionized an industry. The company’s Slinky bass strings have certainly attracted their share of low-end devotees, from slappers like Dave LaRue to shredders like Juan Alderete. Now the company has expanded the brand to include a line of coated strings, designed to combine the strings’ trademark pliability with the extended life afforded by a thin polymer coating, which keeps dirt and grease from deadening strings over time.
To test the Coated Slinkys, I strung up a Fender Jazz Bass 5-string. The wrap length was perfectly adequate when strung through-body on the 34"-scale Jazz, and would be unlikely to pose any problems on a 35"-scale bass. While other coated strings can feel slick to the touch—almost slimy—the Slinkys felt not unlike a standard, non-coated roundwound. Most striking, however, was the way the strings felt when I dug in. The relatively light gauge (.045–.065–.080–.100–.130) had a great deal of give, but sounded full. The Coated Slinkys are a slapper’s delight—I could slap away without fear of the fatigue that can set in after a few minutes funking around with heavier strings. The B string felt and sounded as tight as any other I’ve played, and the set sounded blissfully bright, yet without the high-end harshness that can sometimes come from “freshies.” Whether you’re a slap fanatic, a sweat hog, or just a normal player looking to stretch your dollar with extra durable strings, Ernie Ball’s Coated Slinkys are cause for celebration.