I first mentioned the new cobalt strings from Ernie Ball a couple of months back in my Best of NAMM 2012 post. Later it came out that Slash, Steve Morse and John Petrucci are now using them as well.
Curiosity got the best of me and I was excited to try them. I finally got my hands on a several sets of the Cobalt Super Slinky 9-42s. After paying roughly double for the Cobalts then the regular Ernie Ball strings, I was a bit skeptical of the hype that I had read but what the hell. I thought I would give them a shot.
This is what Ernie Ball describes them as-
Engineered to maximize output and clarity, Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky Guitar Strings are the latest innovation in string technology. Seeking to provide guitarists and bassists with a new voice, Cobalt strings provide an extended dynamic range, incredible harmonic response, increased low end, and crisp, clear highs.
Cobalt provides a stronger magnetic relationship between pickups and strings than any other alloy previously available. Cobalt Slinkys are also soft and silky to the touch, making string bending a breeze.
The Cobalt series is clearly an improvement on its classic nickel-wound counterpart giving the player increased sustain, clarity and output. In addition, they resist sweat and moisture better and have unmatched flexibility when compared to other nickel wound strings.
I spent some time over the weekend playing through a Les Paul in to my Marshall Class 5, then switching to my HSS equipped strat, really trying to pay attention to the tone and feel of the regular Ernie Ball strings that I have used for years. I then restrung both guitars with the Cobalts and jammed with those. I was very skeptical of all the marketing hype but thought, “Here we go…”
All thoughts of skepticism were gone. There is a clarity to the Cobalts that really make the notes come out more. More definition in what I was playing whether it was clean chord work or distorted palm muted riffs. I really noticed a difference in sustain as well. Come to the end of a solo, hit that final bend and the Cobalts really allowed the note to hold. I love messing around with both natural harmonics and pinch harmonics when I play and I was finding harmonics I’ve never heard before and they were jumping right out. The feel of these is great as well. It’s like the difference between a well broken in pair of jeans vs brand new ones you just got from the store. The Cobalts feel good to play.
Overall impression of the cobalt strings is pure amazement. The whole spectrum of sound is much more full and more defined. Believe the hype. These strings are the real deal. Price is the only negative with these. They are twice what a regular set of Ernie Ball’s cost. I cant comment on longivity yet, but it will be interesting to see if they hold all of this definition, sustain and clarity over the long haul. If they do, I would easily switch over to them completely. For now, they will be a way to treat myself once in while.
If you are looking to try these out, Amazon has a good deal on them-