Fender® Reintroduces Pure Nickel and
Nickel-Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings
Many guitarists are on a never-ending quest for the ultimate tone.
Typically, the first thing that a player will think is that a different
guitar, amp, pickups, or maybe a new stompbox will do the trick.
But it’s often the small things that go overlooked, and sometimes
it’s these small things that can make a huge difference in tone and
performance. One of the most frequently overlooked accessories is
the string! If you think about it, the string is a crucial tool to a guitar
player. The string is the physical connection between the player and
their instrument. Players should take a bit of time to experiment with
different strings and find the set that will deliver the best sound and
feel for their instrument and playing style. Different materials and
gauges will offer different results.
by Lisa Sharken
As a leading manufacturer of strings, for decades Fender® has
strived to deliver a high-quality product. Taking advantage of the
better materials and improvements in engineering available today,
Fender recently made some changes to take its already widely used
line of strings and brought it up to an even higher level of quality.
For 2010, the Fender string package got a facelift. The new pack-
age design looks more modern and is appealing to the eye, as well
as being easy to recognize in a store. Staying “green,” all six strings
are now packaged in a corrosion-proof bag and the complete set
is packaged in a recyclable box printed with soy-based inks. One
cool feature on the new strings is that the ball ends are painted with
classic vintage Fender colors like sea foam green, graffiti yellow, lake
placid blue and candy apple red to identify them individually. Don’t
worry if you can’t determine the gauges by feel, as the color codes
are printed on the inner bag.
I received samples of the new USA-made Fender Pure Nickel 150
and Nickel-Plated Steel 250 sets in light gauge (.009–.042) and regular
gauge (.010–.046). I tested the strings on four pairs of similar guitars
which all resonate well both electrically and when played acoustically.
I chose two Telecaster®, two Stratocaster®, two Les Paul® Standard
guitars and two Floyd Rose®-equipped ’80s San Dimas® Charvel®
guitars. The Telecaster and Les Paul guitars were strung with .010s,
and the Stratocaster and Charvel guitars were strung with .009s. Each
guitar had a pro set-up. I used a late-’70s Fender Twin Reverb® for
clean tones and an early-’70s 100-watt Marshall® half stack for dirty
tones. No pedals, just straight into the amps.
Out of the package, both types of strings feel silky smooth to the
touch and not sticky or greasy, like they have any type of unusual
coating. They’re very comfortable to play on, bend, slide, and they
stay in tune rather well after being stretched for a few minutes.
Tuning becomes more stable the longer the strings are on the guitar.
I started my evaluation by playing clean chords and riffs with the two
Teles, listening to the qualities of the Pure Nickel set first. The Pure
Nickel strings have a warm, even, unadulterated tone that allows the
guitar’s inherent tone to come through. You can add treble on the
amp’s EQ for more edge, or dial in a softer tone with less treble, more