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The Low Down // Reviewed – D'Addario Half Round Bass Strings

Reviewed: D'Addario ENR Half Round Bass Strings_Header Image

As bass players, we’re most certainly all familiar with the standard roundwound string, some of us may even be flatwound advocates, however, did you know that there is a ‘third string’ out there!

Sitting right in the middle of roundwound and flatwound, half round strings offer the best of both worlds and could be the best string you’re yet to have heard of.

My name is Ben Hearn and the good folks at Strings Direct have asked me to put a few bass sets through their paces so that I can offer you guys, their customers, a real world review of these strings.

After all, bass strings can be expensive, so it helps to have somebody who’s been there, done that and can help to give you an honest opinion before you part with your pounds.

This past month, I’ve been testing out D’Addario’s EHR Half Round Bass Strings.

These are not your every day set of strings so certainly worth taking a closer look at...

Roundwound strings are what we are all accustomed to and the vast majority of sets on the market today will be roundwound.  Roundwound strings are great… they offer a great balance between brightness and output and this is usually enough to satisfy most players' needs regardless of the type of music you play.  

At the other end of the spectrum, flatwound strings give a much warmer, mellow tone.  The way flatwound strings are constructed means that they are super smooth to the touch.  They’re often favoured by jazz musicians and tonally can have an ‘acquired taste’.  They certainly aren’t for everybody, particularly if you are looking for something with a bit more oomph and bite!

Looking for something that is a bit of both?.. enter, Half Rounds! Sometimes referred to as groundwound strings, half rounds are an interesting halfway house between roundwound and flatwound strings.

The idea with these is that manufacturers take a roundwound string and grind the windings down so that they are ‘half smooth’.  If you take a look at the image below, you can see how the flattened outer surface has been created as a result of the grinding process.

D'Addario Half Round String - Illustrative Representation
Image Courtesy of D'Addario - A visual representation of the 'grinding' process and the effect it has on the outer winding

Whilst many string brands have a roundwound and flatwound offering, there are only a handful of manufacturers out there that manufacture a half round string and D’Addario’s half round set is quite unique as it features a pure nickel wrap wire.

I’d say they almost have a vintage tone to them, but with a touch of bite which is probably aided by the wrap wire being wound over a hex core… something pioneered by D’Addario back in the 1930’s… these guys have always been way ahead of the game.

Nowadays, many manufacturers use Nickel Plated Steel for their outer wrap wire, but D’Addario have opted for pure nickel here.  Pure Nickel inherently has a warmer tone and by adding the ‘grinding’ process to an already warm wrap wire, it certainly helps to rein in any toppyness you often get from a roundwound string.

D'Addario ENR Half Round Bass String Pure Nickel Winding

A further benefit to these strings is that you don't get as much finger noise (you know, the swooshing/scratching of metal as you move about on the string).  If you record quite a bit, these strings will be much more forgiving and help to prevent any of that annoying string noise from rearing its head.

I know some players that use flatwounds for this very reason, so half rounds retain the brightness that would otherwise be sacrificed when selecting flatwound strings.

D'Addario ENR Half Round Bass String Review

As with most uncoated bass strings, the half rounds can lose a bit of sparkle over time.  For me, I’d say this happens around the 2 month mark and I play them fairly regularly, so I’d say this is pretty good.

In fact, I’ve previously used these strings and had them on a bass for over a year.  After all that time, they still performed well, perhaps just a bit duller.  That being said, if you’re playing Motown/Soul/Funk, that slightly muddier tone may not be such a big deal as a bassy thud can be desirable, so it very much depends on the application.

In my opinion they work well with a fretted P-Bass.  D’Addario themselves claim that these are suitable for all genres and I’d say that this is a pretty accurate statement.  If you really want something super bright and ultra punchy, perhaps it’s worth sticking to round wound strings, but for a string that can cover most playing situations admirably, these are definitely worth trying, if nothing other than to satisfy one's curiosity about 'the third type of string'.

D'Addario ENR Half Round Bass Strings_Review

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