* Prices may differ from that shown
Ernie Ball, one of the best known and most trusted names when it comes to all things guitar. These are the Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings for electric guitars and are one of, if not THE most popular brand of strings available today. These are the .008 - .0038 gauge set, I have previously reviewed the "standard gauge" .009 - .042, while these are a slightly thinner gauge of strings hence the "Extra" in their title.
Theses are a softer, thinner version of their more robust elder brother. These bend and fret easier than a thicker string this makes this particular set quite a suitable choose for someone that's just getting used to playing the electric guitar or anyone that wants an easier ride.
As with all thinner strings, tuning problems can arise. The thinner the string the harder it can be to tune and keep in tune especially if the construction of the instrument is anything but perfect. I find a thinner string can result in overly sharp sounding notes if too much pressure is applied when fretting.
However this style / thickness of string is very useful if you want to tune your guitar to a higher pitch. As you'll already know over stretching a "standard string" in order to hit that higher note, can, and in most cases does result in the dreaded snap.
Unfortunately I have found that this gauge of string has a little less punch, volume wise and doesn't suite the more heavier sound that I sometimes require for certain tracks. The sound difference isn't hugely noticeable it just lacks that punch that the thicker gauge delivers. That is really the only down side I can find in this otherwise very user-friendly string.
These normally cost around £5 for a full set from literally every musical instrument shop nationwide.
Thanks for reading :0) 2night
At the age of sixteen I decided it was time to do something different. I have never been much good at sticking with new things, I would usually get bored within a few weeks of trying to learn something new. But this time I decided I was going to learn the guitar and this time I was going to stick with it and not give up so easily. So I took myself off down to the local music shop and bought a cheap electric guitar. Looking back now I realise how bad a decision that was, that first guitar was awful and I never seemed to get a decent note out of it. However, I did manage to learn the basics on there at it did help me to progress and get better. I now play acoustic guitar to a decent level.
All those years ago when I used to play my electric guitar I really had no idea what I was doing. After a few months of playing I was told that my strings needed changing, so again I went to the music shop with no real idea of what I was doing. I bought a pack of Ernie Ball Extra Slinky strings. The main reason for this was that they were cheap and a liked the sound of 'extra slinky'. These are ideally for electric guitars and they are said to be more bendable that most strings giving them a rather unique sound.
As with the vast majority of guitar strings you get six in a pack. Each string is a different thickness and this corresponds to where they go on your guitar. I remember that the ends were also colour coded which made it even easier to work out which string was which, something that I would have no problem with now but back then I was never quite so sure. The strings come in there own little paper packets are coiled up in a circle. When you take them out they spring open and then you can put then onto the guitar.
These are quite a low guage which means they are quite slim strings. This does indeed make them better for bending and you do find they move around quite well when you are playing them. They are made from a mix of nickel and steel and they have a nice sharp sound to them when brand new.
One of the downsides about these strings is that they don't seem to last very long. That clear crisp note you get when you first play them soon turns in to something of a dull ring. Out of all the strings I have tried over the years I would say these probably wear out faster than most. One thing though I never had any of these snap on me which is a good thing as some strings seem to snap more than others.
The price of these is very cheap. You can pick up a pack online for less than £5 with no real issue. Despite the low price though they do not last all that long so you may be better spending a little more and investing in strings that will stay fresh for longer. I have not used these strings for a long while, they are certainly not any where near my favourites as the sound they make is not really to my taste. For people who play electric guitar and are maybe just starting out then these would be a decent enough purchase. But the fact is that there are far better strings out there on the market if you know where to look.
In my opinion, Ernie Ball Guitar strings are some of the best in the business - today i'm looking at the 'Extra Slinky' variety which can currently be picked up from Amazon for £4.99. Although I normally opt for the thicker 'Regular' and 'Super Slinky' variety, i've used Extra Slinky on a number of occasions and have found that they offer good value for money and are fun to use.
Specification and manufacture
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Extra Slinky are Ernie Ball's thinnest guitar string, and come in the following gauges: .9, .11, .14, .22, .30 and .38mm. According to the packet, the strings are made "using only the finest materials around", and they have been used in the past by some of the finest guitarists on the planet.
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As their gauge is extremely thin, Extra Slinky strings are extremely easy to bend, and therefore conducive to a jazzy / bluesy style of play. They're also good for novice guitarist who haven't yet achieved optimum finger strength. The downsides include the fact that the strings can break fairly quickly (especially the top E) with overly aggressive play. That said, compared to some of the cheaper branded strings of the same gauge that i've used in the past, Extra Slinky are positively immortal! I recently bought some thin strings on eBay - two of which snapped before I had even finished tuning. In terms of their use, I find the strings to be too light for strumming, so they're best suited for lead guitar work. Their sound is nicely balanced and bright - but because of their thinness, the output can lack a little punch and seem tinnier than Regular and Super Slinky strings.
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Overall, Extra Slinky strings are reasonably priced and will last a decent amount of time if you're not overly aggressive. Ultimately however, the enjoyment you get from these strings will depend on the style of music that you play - Thrash Metal guitarists will perhaps want to look elsewhere.
If you want a set of average gauge strings you won't want to go for the extra slinky ernie ball string pack. For one thing the top e string is gonna be so skinny it might cut your finger like cheese wire if you are not used to handling strings of this gauge.
There is no way these strings will suit a beginner as a full set. I made the mistake of picking a set of these up and my top e string was broken within a couple of hours of playing. I am an experienced player and I find these skinny ernie ball top e strings impossible to get a pinched harmonic out of.
I think that for drop tuning the top e and the rest of the strings is way too light. No way are these gonna be suited to a heavy handed guitarist. Anyone not used to restringing a guitar will find these hard to fit and will risk snapping or breaking the 8 gauge when fitting it.
You could get the rest of the strings fitted and swap the 8 gauge for something thicker but ultimately this is a bit pointless. By doing that you have wasted money on another string to make the set work for you.
Heavy handed guitarists will need a larger gauge string set and beginners will not like these at all. Don't pay more than £5 if you can help it for a set of 6 strings.
I wouldn't recommend these to you. They don't work for me and I think they are more suited to an experienced but light handed guitarist. For general use go for the ernie ball regular slinky set instead. A much better all round string set.
My Review Of Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings
Introduction (or bar 1 as it's better known :-)
Ernie Ball electric guitar strings are quite possibly the most popular brand of guitar strings in the world. I won't reiterate what I've already said about Ernie Ball strings in general, as I've previously covered that ground in my other recent Ernie Ball strings review...
Instead I'd like to set out what I consider to be the some useful information concerning exactly why and where I use this particular 8 to 38 gauge. So if you've ever wondered what these strings are like, or when you might want to use a really light gauge of Ernie Ball strings, or even why Elephants can't jump; then proceed on gentle reader...
Although if I'm honest you won't find out any useful information about Elephants, but perhaps finding out a little about guitar strings will take your mind of your pachyderm problem ;-)
And The God Of Guitars Said 'Let there be Light...Gauges'
So you may already know (especially if you read my last review ;-) most electric guitars ship from the manufacturers fitted with and set up for .009 to .042 gauge strings (the measurements indicate thousandths of an inch - thankfully the metric system has had little impact on good old traditional British measurements here -lol!).
Sometimes however you may need a thinner gauge of strings. Now changing string gauges isn't an entirely wise thing to do unless you have a pretty good reason for doing so, and a little experience with setting up the instrument as in many cases a number of adjustments will need to be made to your guitar. The truss rod, the saddle height and the intonation may all need a tweak...
Why Get Thinner? Is It A Guitar Diet?
So why change down from the .009 to .042 gauge that the guitar was probably factory set up for to a slightly thinner (lighter) .008 to 0.38 gauge of Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings?
Well the advantages of 8's are;
Bend Me Shake Me...
1) Bends. Yes, if you thought you could bend strings easily on a set of 9's (9's is the shorthand name for .009 to .042 gauge strings) you just wait till you do those same bends with 8's (the shorthand name for .008 to .038 gauge).
You can bend faster and further with a lot less effort using
Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings 8's than you can with 9's. There is far less resistance as you push the strings up across the fret towards you. If you struggle with bending in tune because you find it hard to bend notes all the way up to the correct pitch then you'll be a very happy bunny when you try those same bends on 8's
Obviously 8's have certain advantages for those just learning to play lead guitar, but very serious players who use two and very occasionally even three strings while performing bends find 8's a very useful gauge.
Drop The Coal And Raise The Pitch!
2) Higher than normal tuning. Some player (including me!) use open and non standard tunings. Some tunings involve taking the pitch even higher than normal. This rather unsurprisingly tends to lead to strings breaking a lot more often. For instance one common variation on open E tuning requires the strings be tuned from normal (E,A,D,G,B,E -low to high) to E,B,E,G#,B,E (low to high)...
...So the 5th A string has to go up a tone (2 semi-tones) to B, the 4th string D also has to be raised in pitch a tone to E (1 octave above the 6th string E) and the 3rd G string (ooh er misses as Sid James would probably have said in a Carry On film!) needs to come up a semitone to G# (Ab).
Tuning the strings up above normal pitch to give us our open E tuning is all very well and good but there is a tendency for the strings moved to higher pitches to break (sometimes during the act of tuning them higher before you even get to your new tuning -lol!).
There is another problem that can arise with higher than normal tunings; what about all that extra tension on the neck now you've tightened the strings up to raise the pitch? You may find the truss rod (the metal rod that runs the length of the fretboard and is concealed underneath it) bends too straight or even concave under the new string tension. The result of this flexing of the truss rod could be buzzing or even dead notes. You can adjust the truss rod if you know how (I don't advise doing it without getting advice or reading up on it first or else you can do some serious damage to your guitar's neck)... but when you take your guitar back to normal tuning you'll need to re adjust the truss rod again!! Not an ideal solution I'm sure you'll agree.
Pickle Jar Power!
3) Weak hands. I have been told be a few guitarists who have had arthritis that thinner strings are much easier for them to use. I don't have arthritis myself so I can't vouch for this personally. But it makes a lot of sense; Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings 8's require less effort to fret and bend than the standard .009 to .042 gauge. I've also seen 8's employed successfully by younger electric guitar players and by those who lack a lot of muscle strength (like my girlfriend who passes me all the pickle jars to open -but is a fine player non the less -lol!).
Like The Blues Brothers Said; 'I Have Seen The Light!!'
So what's the solution to beat regular string breakages and to soften the effects on the truss rod when raising the pitch for our open E tuning ... .008 to .038 gauge Extra Slinky strings of course :-) Thinner (lighter) strings are far better suited to tuning to higher pitches and because they are thinner they don't create as much tension so the truss rod is usually moved less.
As I see it , those 3 reasons set out above are the main advantages of using Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings. (My reason is for the higher than normal pitch alternate tunings).
The Flip Side; AKA String Theory!
Of course there are also disadvantages to weigh against the positive reasons of moving to thinner (lighter) gauge strings (indeed 008 to 038 are the lightest set of guitar strings commonly sold -there are rare even thinner ones but I wouldn't recommend them for reasons of intonation -see below).
Thinner electric guitar strings, even these really well made Ernie Ball Extra Slinky ones, produce a weaker quieter sound that requires more amplifier volume (or you can raise the pick ups to compensate but this can cause other problems that are a little beyond the scope of this review for me to go into here -maybe if I do a pick-up review sometime? -lol!)
The problem is that because the strings are so thin there is less steel to react with the pick-up magnets hence the sound is a little weaker and thinner... Not terribly so, but the lack of punch is still sometimes noticeable.
You Mean My Guitar's Still Out Of Tune?
The second problem is intonation. Thinner strings are harder to keep in tune. No normal guitar is perfectly in tune across the fretboard, it can't be... Even the simple act of fretting a note stretches the string down on the fretboard and pulls it sharp (as does finger vibrato -lol!)... the way the frets are set out is also a compromise (it's a tempered scale), so although I consider the guitar the most expressive (although I'll accept that the human voice and possibly also the sax are equally expressive -lol!) and versatile instrument, it leaves a lot to be desired in the tuning department.
To counter these tuning (intonation) problems on the electric guitar there is the clever use of moving saddles which can be set to shorten or lengthen the scale length of a string fractionally and counteract the slight tuning problems. A well set up guitar is so close to being in tune across the whole fretboard as makes no difference. It is a joy to play and hear.
Unfortunately the thinner the string the harder it is to counteract the inherent tuning problems in a guitar. Even a chord or note fretted with too much pressure on a really light set of strings can pull the chord or note unpleasantly sharp. You have to pay attention to your fretting pressure quite closely when using Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings to negate the intonation problem.
I'm Lighter Cuz I Already 8!!
Ernie Ball Extra Slinky Strings are very good strings (currently on sale for around £5 a set unless you bulk buy them) and I find them very useful for when I use above normal pitch tunings. I tend to buy more sets of these Ernie Ball 8's (Extra Slinky) than I do the Ernie Ball 9's (Super Slinky) because I can usually buy very good quality 9's alternate brands much cheaper...
Cheap 8's however are not usually so freely available in my local music stores so I tend to opt for the Ernie Ball Extra Slinky ones most of the time. If you're on a budget, I'm sure you can find cheap alternate brand 8's for sale on the internet if you're on a budget -but I'm usually in a hurry to get my strings bought and fitted quickly so I tend to zoom straight to the shops -lol!)
Thank you so much for reading my review and I hope you found it interesting!!!