The Ernie Ball Paradigm strings were launched earlier this year to much hype and anticipation – I got hold of a couple of trial sets in May but have waited until now to review them so I could comment on the “unbreakable” claim made all over the marketing.
Readers of my blog will know that I am a massive fan of the Ernie Ball M Steel strings and so I will use that as my comparison point since they are both premium level strings – that is to say, not cheap! You would therefore expect something more for your money and I’ll give you my opinion on whether this is the case or not.
Guitar string manufacturers put a great deal of emphasis on the engineering processes that go into their strings and talk at length about the materials used and the treatments applied to those materials.
“So what”, I say – how do they sound, do they stay in tune, how long do they last and are they worth the money – that’s what I, and you, want to know.
And that will be the focus of this Ernie Ball Paradigm strings review because, in my opinion, that is what’s important when deciding which strings to buy and how much to spend on them – I think you will agree?
So, I’ll comment on:
- Sound and feel;
- Tuning stability;
But They Are More Expensive!
Let me address this point right now because it’s true – they are indeed when compared to standard Ernie Ball, Fender and D’Addario strings (to name a few).
I wrote in my Ernie Ball M Steel strings review about the relative costs of strings when compared to the cost of your guitar and how important strings are in the transmission of your playing from your fingers and pick to the guitar itself – they form the only transmission link in that chain.
Think of it this way…
If you owned a high performance sport vehicle, would you put the cheapest possible tires on it and use the cheapest engine oil? Bit of a false economy, wouldn’t you say?
Buying strings at this price-point will likely be 1-2% or less of the cost of your guitar – and you want the best out of your guitar don’t you?
Only you can decide whether the higher performance on these types of strings is worth the money – But you’ll never know unless you try.
I have used the Ernie Ball Paradigm strings for around 3 months now on my Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci JPXI as well as on my Fender American Stratocaster.
This has allowed me to hear their performance on humbuckers, strat single coils and a piezo pickup plus all sorts of switching combinations.
I have used clean sounds and distorted sounds playing classic rock, blues, jazz/funk and metal!
So, you may ask, what do you think?
They seem to produce more output from the pickups, probably due to the materials used and I’d say it is very similar to the M Steel strings in terms of output and dynamics.
They respond really well to picking intensity and attack and feel “alive” in a similar way as well.
And here is the controversial bit…!
I think they sound more similar to the D’Addario NYXL in that they have (to my ears) a thinner and more “sparkly/shimmery” sound to them.
The paradigm strings are not quite as “shimmery” as the NYXLs perhaps, but have a very similar overall effect.
I personally don’t like this sound and much prefer the full, rounded sound of the M-steel strings.
- Played light – jazz comping for example, they sound a tiny bit thin;
- Played hard – funk chopping for example, they sound snappy and clean – they are good at this;
- Played with feel – blues, they are expressive and honest but still have a slight tinny sound;
- Played shred – they cut and bite and react to every nuance – I found myself edging the presence back for these strings.
Much like the M steel strings, they are solid as a rock.
Most tuning stability issues with strings comes from the string ball attachment (the lump at the end that stops the string sliding through the bridge!) or from poor stretching out when first fitted.
The Paradigm strings seem to require very little stretching out when new and I have had absolutely no issues with the ball attachment moving.
In this respect, they are very similar indeed to the performance of the M steel strings.
They last for ages!
By which I mean:
- Unlike cheaper strings, they don’t seem to go rusty or show any kind of corrosion. Everyone has different body chemistry of course, so I can’t say 100% that this will be the case for everybody but for me there is no sign of corrosion at all;
- Like the M steel strings, the Paradigm keep their tone for ever and don’t go dull and lifeless which the cheaper strings do quite quickly. Not only is that good for us tone freaks, but it means that you don’t need to change strings anything like as often;
- Unbreakable? I’m not sure why this was chosen as the main “tag line” for these strings. Ok, so it’s cool to have Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci saying so, but surely the tone is important as well? Do they break – not for me. I’ve given them very hard use and they haven’t broken so they score highly on this aspect.
I’ve been using the Paradigm strings on my Ernie Ball Music Man JPXI for around 3 months now and they certainly haven’t dulled down or broken – they certainly last the course and offset the additional initial cost.
String Gauges and Sets
If you would like to know about string gauges, what that is, what’s available and what happens if you change, check out my article –
guitar string gauges explained.
Who Endorses Ernie Ball Strings?
I’ve a big list in my Ernie Ball M Steel strings review, but to name a very few select players that endorse Ernie Ball strings:
- Joe Bonamassa;
- Keith Richards;
- John Petrucci;
- Steve Morse;
- Angus Young;
- John Mayer;
- Albert Lee;
- Brad Paisley;
- Paul Gilbert.
Some top notch players there, wouldn’t you say?
Summary and What Next?
The Ernie Ball Paradigm strings are excellent quality in terms of durability and tuning stability, but lack a tiny bit in full, rounded tone when compared to the M steel strings – all just my opinion – you may very well prefer them.
The only way to find out is to try them for yourself isn’t it?
It won’t be money wasted, they are excellent strings, I just happen to prefer the sound of my beloved Ernie Ball M Steel strings!
Your guitar deserves quality strings, so you owe it to your axe and to yourself to see if you get a better result when using these strings.
Seriously, try them, you will notice a big difference and it’s only a few dollars for one set so what have you got to lose?
You will hear a whole new tone from your guitar, you’ll hear dynamics that you’ve never noticed before and you won’t have to change strings every week because they’ve gone dull too quickly or break.
Go on, give them a go, you will be amazed, I promise.
You could also do a comparison with the Ernie Ball M Steel strings and let me know whether you agree with my assessment of the tone.
The Amazon price is really competitive and I haven’t been able to find a better deal at the time of writing.
Get your Ernie Ball Paradigm strings here and let me know what you think.
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I always welcome comments on my articles, so if you have any questions or comments on my Ernie Ball Paradigm strings review or Ernie Ball guitar strings in general (or, other makes, of course), then please post here.
All the best and keep on rockin’