View Full Version : Ernie Ball Cobalt Strings

03-02-2013, 10:23 AM
I have had a problem with guitar strings for twenty years. I have hyper-corrosive sweat and I tend to sweat when I play guitar. I've simply accepted the fact that a new set of strings will only sound pristine for maybe an hour. By the end of a two set show, my strings are completely trashed, often to the point of affecting intonation/tuning/harmonics/overtones. I had just taken this as a fact of life for me. Gotten used to changing my guitar strings before every show, before every rehearsal. Basically daily.

I tried the various coated strings offered by Elixir, Ernie Ball, DR, and others. They all felt too damn weird, and none really sounded right.

I stopped by my local guitar store last week to pick up a box of acoustic strings that I'd ordered, and whilst speaking with the fella behind the counter, the topic of my burning through strings in no time flat came up. He asked if I'd heard of the Ernie Ball Cobalt strings. They aren't a coated or treated string, but they use cobalt instead of nickel. Cobalt is a more durable, robust metal, and it also has a higher frequency response/output.

I can honestly say I have NEVER been so impressed by a set of strings. They lasted in good order for 3 days of heavy playing and stayed decent enough to practice on for another couple days. But more-so than their longevity, they really do sound off the charts amazing. Clarity and even response across the board.

I would recommend these strings to anyone who wants a bit of extra clarity and oomph. The fact that they last three times as long as normal strings (for me) is just gravy.

Has anyone else played these yet? I'm given to understand its a relatively new product... if you've had a chance to play them, were you dually impressed? Or am I overly excited?

03-02-2013, 11:31 AM
ernie ball cobalts definitely give "clarity and oomph" like you said. i bought 3 or 4 sets and was a bit impressed.

there are two things i do not like about them.

1- when they die, they are done for. most string seem to take a gradual turn for the worst. cobalts seem to sound good for awhile and then immediately keel over.

2- i leveled my frets and got them all pretty and even and all, and then put on a set of cobalts. when i changed my strings i noticed the fret wear was unlike anything i have seen before. rather than the gradual dip in the fret you see from normal fret wear, it was as if the individual windings had cut into my frets. there are these long cuts in my frets, almost from top to bottom.

i suppose if you have stainless steel frets, this wouldnt be much of a problem. i went back to my GHS boomers and burnished nickel rockers because the extra output isnt a desirable enough trait to warrant the fret wear. for me, that is.

if they work for you rock on man!

03-02-2013, 11:34 AM
I've converted, I love 'em. They keep tune incredibly well, too.

03-02-2013, 11:50 AM
Yeah I bought a set just out of curiosity , and I couldn't believe the improvement in sound and feel that I got with these cobalt strings. Definitely going to keep buying these

03-02-2013, 04:23 PM
Well, I will certainly pay attention to the condition of my frets when I change the strings later... that would be a drastic downside...

I agree that they do "die suddenly" but by the time that happens, they've already lasted longer than my usual electric strings by 600% so I can deal with that aspect.

03-02-2013, 04:33 PM

03-03-2013, 05:23 PM
Changed the strings on my strat this afternoon... either there was some light fret ware already present that I simply wasn't aware of, or one week with the Cobalts really did do some damage.

Whatever it was, it buffed right out with steel wool.... next time I change my strings, I will know what the baseline is and have a better idea of how much, if any, damage the cobalts inflict...

03-03-2013, 06:13 PM
I use cobalts too. Im on the fence about the tone and the increased output, its the feel of them that won me over. I have only used them for about 8 months, dont notice any wear on frets. There was a couple of packs from a bad batch where my left fingers got a little green but thats gone now...

03-03-2013, 06:22 PM
I agree completely with you about the feel. If the string doesn't feel right, I'm not even gonna stick with it long enough to care about how it sounds (hence my problem with coated strings: even if they sounded good-- which to my ear, they do not-- they feel so horrible that I can't get past it)

03-03-2013, 07:20 PM
I don't like the sound of brand new strings in general, and I've found the cobalts take longer to mellow out (an hour or two of playing versus 15-20 minutes). And I agree with what others said, they seem to just "clunk" into death instead of slowly dying.
All that said, I recently put some on a junk guitar with weak pickups, and they did help beef up the sound.

03-03-2013, 07:31 PM
I love the cobalts. They definitely do feel different, but worth it for me. The increased sustain on the wound strings did it for me, love these strings.