Pure Nickel Guitar Strings Review – Better Than the Rest

As a guitar player, one of the things you’ll spend most on over a lifetime (and nearly every month or two) are strings. I’ve known a lot of guitar players, and most have a favorite brand and gauge string – and getting someone to switch is much akin to getting a smoker to switch brands of cigarettes. Most players have found what they like, and they want to stick to it. But given a compelling reason to try something new, many will give another brand a chance. I think for some players the deciding factor is also money. When strapped for cash, if you see a deal on string you think might work – you’ll probably pick ’em up.

I read a few short articles a few years back that talked about nickel strings, and how much better the tone was. At the time I was into finding the right tone, so I set out to find and try some nickel strings. I was using regular Gibson stainless steel strings, and switched to Fender 150’s ball end nickel plated strings. I saw a noticeable difference right away. The strings were easier to bend, the high’s were clearer, the sustain was better, and the overall sound was noticeably better. In my opinion, when you put on a fresh set of nickel plated strings the sound is very, very bright. I’ve been buying the Fender 150’s nickel plated (10’s) for about 2-3 years now. I always bought the original ball end kind. When they were out of stock I switched to the “bullet” style. For my style of playing (classic rock, blues) the bullet ends always ended up breaking 2-3 weeks in. The ball ends seldom did that.

Recently I need to buy some more strings and my local guitar shop and Guitar Center were both out of the ball and bullet ended Fender 150’s. I was just going to buy a dozen sets online from someone, but I needed to have at least one set that day. I had a gig coming up and I knew that they needed to be changed before the others would arrive in the mail. Now, when I first read about nickel strings I could only find nickel plated. I never could find ALL nickel strings. That day I was at Guitar Center and pressed for time, and the guy behind the counter showed me a pack of “DR Strings”, the “Pure Blues” kind. He told me that they were 100% nickel strings (not nickel wound), and that they had a “round” core instead of “hex”. Supposedly the round core strings bend easier and resist breaking better.

I am pretty pessimistic and hesitate to listen to most salemans BS. But I tried this brand nonetheless. I have to say after putting them on and playing them the last several weeks – these strings are brighter, more toneful, bend easier, and for some reason (so far) they don’t get as dirty either (after a gig). I like this brand so much, I went back to GC and bought 4 more sets yesterday.

Now before I let you go listening to only more sole opinion, I’m going to leave you with some factual information about nickel guitar strings. In April 2007, Guitar Player wrote an article about the historical background of nickel plated strings that you should read…here is just a brief excerpt:

By the 1950s, widespread implementation of magnetic pickups in electric guitars had led string manufacturers to experiment with Monel steel, stainless steel 430, chrome, nickel, and other materials with more desirable magnetic properties than previously used materials such as bronze and brass. Nickel was found to not only possess a balanced and pleasing tone, it was also easier on frets, and, perhaps most importantly, it produced less distortion.

You can make up your own mind by buying and trying a set of DR Pure Blues guitar strings right now:

DR Blues string review

Gauges 10-13-17-26-36-46. Pure Blues electric guitar strings from DR Strings are designed with pure nickel wrap wire, roundwound upon round cores. While this is a slow, expensive method of string making, it does produce a guitar string acclaimed for increased sustain, vintage tone, and great low tones for playing music from rhythm to lead. The extra step of winding pure nickel around a round core give Pure Blues strings a punch that players say they are surprised to get in a vintage electric guitar string. Sounds great on any guitar!

Agile Guitar New and Used Review

Agile guitars are a perfect alternative to Gibson Les Paul and Epiphone Les Paul electric guitars. They are much cheaper – and the quality is much better!

**UPDATED* April 2008
I’ve just updated this post and republished it with new info based on the fact that I purchased an Agile 3100 a few months back. The details are at the end of this post…

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Agile Guitars or not, but if you haven’t you’re missing out. I love American made Gibson guitars (don’t we all?), but not everyone can afford the $2-3,000 price tag that comes with it. Everyone wants the features that come along with it…quality, reliability, tone, looks, playability, etc. Of course there’s an entire industry built around copying these famous guitars – the most notable being the Epiphone brand (which Gibson owns). I’ve already written a post about why I hate Epiphone guitars. Mainly it’s because of the shoddy workmanship and quality. I would gladly pay $500-$600 for an Epiphone Les Paul provided it was wired right and I could gig it out without worrying about something going bad on it. Correct me if I’m wrong – but I think Epiphone’s are made in either China or Taiwan.

I’ve read a great deal about import guitars online and hundreds of reviews. The concensus seems to be that in the area of import (non American made) guitars, the highest quality seems to be coming from Korea. This is where I believe the ESP imports are made that seem to be getting rave reviews. Anyway, Agile guitars are an import ‘copy’ brand made in Korea. It seems at the current time the only retailer in the U.S. for them is Rondo Music on the East Coast. If you read some of the Harmony Central Reviews for Agile Guitars, you’ll find that they seem to score unusually high – primarily between 9 and 10 (out of 10). Reading the reviews you’ll see many comments that talk about the AL-2500, AL-2800, AL-3000, and AL-3100 models all being significantly better than Epiphone Les Paul’s in fit, finish, sound, and overall quality.

They have so many models you have lots of choices, and the upper end models even have Grover Tunes, solid mahogany bodies, and alnico pickups. I have talked to several people in other bands who own an Agile LP and they wouldn’t give it up for the world. Some say that the AL LP copy series are even better than the real thing. These guitars go for $300-$400 (which is a steal for their quality), and Rondo Music sells them on their web site, but also on eBay as well. So when you look on eBay you find both new ones through Rondo, as well as used ones sold by individuals. I should mention that they also sell many other copy models, like telecasters, stats, brian may copies, PRS copies, and more! I missed an auction of an AL-2800 with aluminum flight case AND a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah that went for only $300 with FREE shipping!! I could have kicked myself (in fact – I still am!). I will be getting one before the end of this year for sure – and I’ll post some pics and review it (again) here when I do. In the meantime – here’s some eBay auctions for agile guitars ending soon, see if you can find yourself a new axe!

agile 3100 **UPDATE**
April 2008: The picture on the left is of me and my white Agile 3100 with creme binding, solid mahogany body, grover 16×1 tuners and solid mahogany body! It has incredible sound and sustain. I paid $369 for it and I believe shipping was only $15. I’ve been very, very happy with this guitar so far! Comparable Epiphone’s are $750+ and it’s not only 10 times better, it’s every bit as good as an authentic Gibson Les Paul retailing for $3,000+! I had no problem getting this axe to scream metal, sing classic rock, or squeal the blues! You will nt be disappointed with this guitar.

Agile Guitar 3000 DiMarzio Super Distortion and Super 2 pickups spalted maple

USD 295.00 (1 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 01:20:47

Agile Guitar 3000 Seymour Duncan Invader 490R pickups Cherry Sunburst

USD 245.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 01:19:53

Agile Septor 827 Pro 8 String Guitar. EMG, Ebony

USD 425.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-24 01:39:43

Gold top Agile 2500 electric guitar P 90 pickups original lawsuit headstock

USD 210.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 01:20:25

Agile 2000 Electric Guitar Less Paul Sunburst, verry well made beautiful red

USD 190.00 (1 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 21:10:55

Agile Septor 7 Seven String Guitar Sparkle Blue Maple Neck Ebony 25.5 Scale

USD / 185.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-20 07:13:09

8 String Electrical Guitar

USD 250.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-19 03:56:29

Agile Guitar 3000 Gibson Classic '57 490R Pickups Original Headstock Bone Nut

USD 295.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 18:58:57

Gold top Agile 2500 electric guitar P 90 pickups original lawsuit headstock

USD 210.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-18 18:58:13

Agile AD-2500 Double Cut Cherry Sunburst Flame Set Neck Electric Guitar w/ Case

USD / 650.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-11-24 00:38:01

The Musicians Joke Book – Handy for the Stage

You may or may not have seen this one before, but if you perform on the stage I think it’s a very handy thing to have. I’m the lead guitar player for my cover band and even though I’m technically not the main lead vocal – I do stand in the middle of the stage. That kind of makes me the center of attention, and I tend to try and introduce the show and say a little something before we break. I’m not that good at it – but I’m getting better. What you need are some ice breakers, some jokes, stories, funny sayings, and this book will help you with just that! It’s for musicians, and it could help you the next time the bass player has to tune up!

Here’s the description:

This book is the perfect resource for program notes, concert spiels, to kill time while the bass player tunes up, or just for fun! This most complete collection of humor about and for musicians includes one-liners and jokes ranging from Chopin to Lennon, Gillespie to Presley. A must-have for every band director, music teacher, classical musician, jazz performer, cover band leader, accordion player, and person who knows an accordion player but doesn’t like to admit it.

I hope you like the book – it’s well worth $10!

The tuner every guitar player should have

I’ve owned many tuners, but this is the best. With a standalone tuner you have to plug your axe into that, and once you’re tuned up then you have to unplug and plug back into your amp or rig. Rack mounted tuners are nice, but not everyone has a guitar rig that is rack mounted. And even if ya do – you may not use it at home or band practice. The Boss TU-2 is a pedal that’s sole purpose is to be a tuner. Stomp on it, and all output to your amp or rig ceases while you tune. Stomp again and you’re playing like nothing ever happened. The LED’s to tell you if you’re in tune or not are big and bright – easy to use on any dark stage. This is the last tuner you will ever buy, and it’s WELL WORTH the money. The only regret I have about buying one is that I didn’t but it sooner!

Boss TU-2 Chromatic Stompbox Tuner

Boss TU-2 Chromatic Stompbox Tuner

The TU-2 Chromatic Stompbox Tuner can power up to 8 other pedals when it is used with the optional PCS-20A power cord and optional PSA-120 AC power adapter. The Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner lets you shift to bypass mode for silent tuning with a single stomp. An eleven-point LED stream meter makes it easy to see when you’re in tune (the movement of the meter slows the closer you get to pitch). Seven different modes provide options for both bass and guitar and a seven-segment display makes string and note names readily visible on dark stages. Footswitchable Tuner Off mode preserves battery.