Guitar String Shootout Series: Review - Dunlop Nickel Steel Guitar Strings

It's finally here folks!

We're still testing strings, but I've decided to release several reviews at a time so that you can benefit from the research we've been doing. First up are the Dunlop Nickel Steel guitar strings.

Before we dig into our review, let's go over the criteria that was used to test each set of strings. Each set of strings was kept on the guitar (a Gibson Les Paul Studio) for two weeks, and was properly stretched using the string Stretcha to ensure accurate tuning stability. If you want to read more about our criteria and the process we used to test the strings, check out the link to the article here.

Tone: We categorized each string as one of Bright, Warm, or Twangy. Not super-scientific, I know, but it works.

Tuning Stability: How well do the strings stay in tune? (5 being perfectly, 1 being very difficult to stay in tune from song to song)

Playability and Feel: How well do they feel in your hands? Are they easy to play or do your bends all of a sudden seem more difficult? (5 means they feel exceptionally well and not noisy, 1 means they feel awful and may even hurt your fingers)

Response to Pick attack and Balance from string to string: How hard do you have to pick the string in order to achieve the tone noted above, and how consistent is the tone from string to string? (Exceptional, Good, Adequate, Terrible)

Depth of sound/Sustain: How well do the strings sustain? (5 exceptional, 1 awful)

Durability: How long do the strings last in terms of the above criteria? Do they feel “old” within a week or can you have them on your guitar for a month and not notice much difference?

How did the Dunlop Nickel Steel strings fare? Let's have a look.

Tone: Bright and “punchy”. They have a distinct "new guitar strings" sound without being overly bright. 

Tuning Stability: 3 out of 5

These strings fell out of tune a lot considering the stretching process that they were put through, and offered some “dead” tones after the first week, which was disappointing.

Playability and Feel: 3 out of 5 

The lower strings felt alright, but the G, B, and high E felt like they cut into your fingers more than I would like, and it’s especially noticeable the higher up the neck you go.

Response to pick attach and balance: 3.5 out of 5

The response wasn’t bad at all, at first, but after 2 weeks there are noticeable “dead” strings and the balance from one string to the next when they were first put on wasn’t that great at all, especially between the low E and the G in the pack I tested. I would have given the Dunlops a high rating here had the balance been more even for the duration of the two week test period.

Depth of sound/sustain: 3 out of 5

The sustain was not that great with these strings, even at high gain. I was somewhat disappointed especially since right out of the pack, it wasn’t bad. After a week, it was noticeably less deep in sustain.

Overall, the Dunlop strings aren't a bad choice, but the playability and lack of tuning stability were what would turn me off. That being said, other people I've consulted found the playability not to be as big of an issue. It should be noted that we tested the .10-.46 gauge strings. 

Want to try a pack of Dunlop's on us?

We are happy to announce that this is going to be the first giveaway here at Playing With Chaos! We are becoming bigger and better, so we decided to celebrate by giving our readers a chance to win a free pack of strings. It's not much - yet! - I know, but free is free right?

So how do you win? Simple. Sign up for our e-mail list (we only send out one e-mail a month), follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and you're automatically entered! Winners will be announced May 23, 2014.

Go. Do it. There are prizes involved!