Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings: The Future of Electric Guitar Strings?

Claiming to be 22 percent more magnetization that nickel based electric guitar strings, does the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar string represent the future development of electric guitar strings?

By: Ringo Bones 

Endorsed by both seasoned guitarists Slash and Dream Theater founder John Petrucci, it seems that Ernie Ball is really serious about promoting their new line of electric guitar strings and getting the word out there that it is not only represent the future of electric guitar string development, but also it is able to cater the needs of musicians with very particular needs. Given the nature of contemporary pop music in comparison to late 1980s hair metal and older Blues-based rock, I started to wonder – when I first saw the advert more than a year ago – if the “tone” of the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings maybe just “too radical” for old school guitarist that I grew up with – i.e. Slash and John Petrucci. So, I’ve waited a guitar playing friend of mine to test it out given her old strings are starting to get a bit frayed a few months ago. 

If your weary of electric guitar products produced during the last 20 years that tended to sound “too radical” when you use them for relatively clean toned classic rock and 1950s era Blues. But then again, I’ve kept an open mind when I and my friend auditioned the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings. The “claimed” 22 percent more magnetization means this string will play louder than more conventional counterparts on the same guitar amp gain setting. This also means it will distort sooner than its conventional counterpart at the same gain setting which it did by a few decibels. Sound wise – the Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar strings tend to make your “vintage 1950s or 1960s era” electric guitar and electric guitar amp set-up sound as if it was an early 1980s era MTV direct to the mixing desk rock guitar recording or something in that direction timbre-wise.  

But if your playing style tends toward old school stuff – i.e. early B.B. King and John Lee Hooker – I advise you to carefully audition the Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar string because the inherent tone it produces, while richer than its conventional nickel alloy based counterparts, the rich wideband tone may not be to your liking when playing B.B. King’s Lucille on a NOS Sylvania 6L6 vacuum tube equipped 1965 Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp via a Gibson ES 335. The Ernie Ball Cobalt electric guitar strings, especially when paired with the EMG DG-20 David Gilmour set-up – just sounds too modern when playing vintage tones. But its relatively high output means it is advantageous when playing in an electrically noisy environment without resorting to humbucker pickups like doing hard-disk recording sessions with your electric guitar near old style computer monitors.      


  1. I've read a Guitar World magazine article back in 1992 about how guitar icon Eric Clapton use to obsess over the pole-piece adjustment of the pickups of his trusty Fender Strat because it affects the feel of his style. Does the stronger magnetic nature of the Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings affect the "feel" of the playing of guitarists in comparison to more traditional 1950s era nickel-wound type electric guitar strings?

  2. In my actual use, the Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings are smooth and silky to the touch and bends easily and stays in tune longer than Ernie Ball's "regular" counterparts and they also play louder and have an apparently wider bandwidth than regular Ernie Ball electric guitar strings. Sadly, they rust easily here in tropical Philippines. So if you are using one, be prepared to buy those "NAMM - recommended" "electric guitar oils / lubricants" that doesn't ruin the wood and paint of your electric guitar and apply them regularly to your Ernie Ball Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings.