I have loved the sound of Rob Allen instruments since I tried my first one at Ruby’s Music (Times Square) back in 2003. I wanted to get that sound and started playing tape nylon strings on another fretless bass since I wasn’t able to buy a Rob Allen instrument at the time.
The La Bella Black Nylon Wound strings are a big part of that lovely sound and Rob Allen ships all his fretless basses with the LaBella Black Nylon Tape Wound strings. More than a year ago I found out about new strings by La Bella called White Nylon Tape Wound. I was lucky and got great help from Greg Gohde in San Diego. I bought a set of these new strings through his shop classicbows.com Thanks Greg!
I sent an email to Rob Allen and asked him what he thought about these new strings and what gauges he would suggest. He answered that he had not tried the strings (maybe he has now since this was a while back) and he suggested I’d go for the regular set not the light one. He also told me I had to make sure I got the extra long scale. The MB-2 has a string through body design so the string has to be long enough to reach all the way from the bridge to the tuning pegs.
So here, about a year later, comes my little test. The video below features two short musical examples with drums, guitar and piano added. I wanted to let you hear the different string sets in context. I also performed some more examples with open strings, position playing and harmonics. I recorded these tests on two tracks. Both direct (lined through my RMI Basswitch IQ/DI) and miked (through the Aguilar Tonehammer 500 into a Aguilar SL-112 cab) miked with a AKG C414. Sometimes I mixed the two tracks and sometimes they can be heard separately.
So what do I think? I was very curious of how I would like the new set…
First of all. The black nylon strings in this test are the same set that came with the bass when I bought it in 2011 at Corner Music in Nashville, TN, USA. These strings were in other words not fresh and new for this test. However since they aren’t regular round wound strings they do sound fresh for a considerable longer time! This is because sweat and dirt can’t get inside the string like on a regular round wound string. The fact that they sat on the bass for about 2,5 years prior to he test can still of course make a little difference in sound compared to if I was to record with a brand new set of the black nylon strings.
The white nylon set is not really white. They are better described as being transparent as you can see the steel string inside the nylon wrapping. They feel very smooth and soft and are super easy on the fingers. This combined with the superb and easy to play neck and fretboard on the MB-2 is a perfect combination. I can really focus on playing my best since the instrument is so well built.
The La Bella set of black nylon tape strings that I have played since 2011 have been very good with a great deep smooth bottom end but still with enough mids and highs to sound good played in every register of the bass, low to high. I have been super happy with these!
The white ones feel and sound a bit different. I guess you can say that they are a bit brighter but still with a nice low end. This together with the silky smooth feel makes them a great alternative to the black ones.
I hope this will give you a little taste of how these strings are. As I have written above I do like both sets. Depending on the situation and what type of sound I’m looking for I now have two great options to choose from and they both match my Rob Allen MB-2 so well!
All the best,