Guitar strings are not a type of product that is known to have manufacturers coming up with new innovations that can truly change the game. Ernie Ball may have just stepped up to the plate this year with the release of the new Cobalt electric guitar and bass strings. Manufactured with a proprietary combination of iron and cobalt, it is said these new strings create a stronger magnetic pull than regular steel/nickel based strings. This should provide two major benefits, greater volume, and more definition and clarity. I wanted to see how different these strings felt and sound compared to traditional electric guitar strings, so I contacted Ernie Ball, and they got CMC music, the Australian distributor for Ernie Ball, to send me a set of Super Slink Cobalts to review.
I strung up my Ibanez RG 450DX with the Ernie Ball Cobalts, and found the stretching period to be excellent. I probably made about three passes on each string with my String Stretcha, and every string was pretty much holding tune. This is about as good as I’ve found from a few different makes of strings, so the next thing to test is the tone, and the longevity of the string.
The big thing I immediately noticed with the Ernie Ball Cobalts is the volume. Ernie Ball weren’t joking when they said the Cobalts would have a greater volume. Acoustically you can really tell the difference between regular nickel/steel sets, and the Cobalts. When amplified my guitar seemed to have a bit more grunt too, chords snarled a little more than usual, and the extra sustain was welcomed too.
Ernie Ball also talk about the Cobalt’s additional definition and clarity over regular strings. I noticed quite a difference myself while testing. My guitar sounded more alive, with a more three dimensional tone. Each string can be clearly heard when strumming chords, and single note work really sings in a way that you don’t get from regular strings. Some may not dig of the Cobalt’s brightness of tone, but I am a big fan.
Another benefit of the Ernie Ball Cobalt formula is the smooth feel of the strings. The winds on the wound strings are barely noticeable, and everything is silky smooth under the fingers. Bends and vibrato feel a little easier on the fingers, and sliding all over the fretboard is effortless.
I’ve been playing my Ernie Ball Cobalt loaded guitar quite extensively for around two weeks now, and have not really noticed and degradation in tone. The strings still look quite bright and vibrant too, so it looks as though the Cobalt/Iron formula holds up quite well too.
Overall the Ernie Ball Super Slinky Cobalt strings are fantastic for players looking for a big, brash string with lots of clarity. Ernie Ball look to have created a new string that lives up to the hype, with its extra volume and definition making a bigger difference to the tone of an instrument than many could have thought. If you are looking for a string that really makes an impact, with its added volume and dimension you should definitely check these out.
Thanks to Ernie Ball and CMC Music Australia for providing the Super Slinky Cobalts for me to review.