I first heard about Dark Horse strings while in a late night zombie trance searching the internet for new guitar products. After a few emails I found out their headquarters is in Kutztown, PA, a town not far from me, known for w-i-d-e open fields and now Dark Horse Strings!
My biggest surprise was the prompt service and fast shipping from the gang in Dutch Country. Sometimes for a new company it takes them awhile to get on their feet, Dark Horse seems to have hit the ground running. They were very thorough in making sure I got the proper string gauges I wanted to try out.
I scoped out the 45105 4-string set of steel strings. I was all about the .105 gauge for my low E vs. some companies only supplying a .100. That .005 can make a world of difference if you are experiencing slight buzzing or if you tune your bass back and forth from standard E to drop-D like I do.
The strings where well packaged. The gauges were hand written on the package letting me know what was what. I took the opportunity to give my P-bass a full blown setup consisting of a lemon oil treatment to the fretboard and a quick fret polish with toothpaste and light steel wool.
The strings went on without a hitch. I’m using a normal 34″ scale P-bass with a top loading bridge. I had plenty of slack that I trimmed off, so I have no doubt that the strings will work for a string-through body of the same scale. Tapered B-strings and Extra Long strings are also available upon request.
No problems getting them on and tuning them up to pitch. I did my normal tug and bending of the strings to break them in. Tunability was dead on after that.
Initial sound was very bright top end and very deep lows. An all around thunderous bass string. Plugged in with a light distortion I couldn’t help but rip through some John Entwistle lines! Sounded great up and down the neck. I prefer to play bass finger-style about halfway between the pickup and the bridge, but for reference I played up around the neck, slapped and picked my way around for a bit and loved every minute of it.
The Honeymoon and Everything After
When you replace strings 9 times out of 10 they will sound better than your old, dead strings. To get the full idea of a set of strings potential, I will wait a week to review the string to see if it 1) still holds tune well and 2) still sounds good.
A week and a half has passed and the Dark Horse’s still play and sound great. If I were to compare them to another set I would say they feel and sound much like D’addario’s ProSteel. I would say this style of string is very much suited for rock. If you need the highs to cut through a mix, these strings will do it. If you get them on and realize they are too bright for your liking, you can easily roll back your tone knob and enjoy the fat low end.
Dark Horse Strings, well worth trying out. It looks like they’re only available through their website, but the site offers contacts for retailers, so keep an eye out, looks like they’ll be in stores shortly.
Freshly Strung P-bass