Tag Ernie Ball

Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings Review: Dream Come True or Pipe Dream?

When Ernie Ball announced their new “unbreakable” Paradigm line of strings, I was skeptical; I’ve been playing guitar for over 30 years and seen scores of exaggerated promises from gear manufacturers (and I’ve tried most of them):  amps that sound like *every* tube amp ever made, guitars that can sound like everything from a Telecaster to a 12 string, modeled effects that allegedly sound like vintage pedals etc.  Often these products would work to a certain extent, but with compromises that left me unsatisfied.  I’ve tried nearly every guitar string type and brand ever made and never noticed a truly major difference between any of them.  Elixir strings were a nice breakthrough and lived up to the promise of keeping their tone 3 to 5 times longer than normal guitar strings, but they had a weird “plastic-y” feel, felt a bit stiffer than most brands, had a higher cost, and you couldn’t get a good Eddie Van Halen-approved pick scrape with them.  Additionally, the long lasting tone was nice, but pointless if you break the strings first and they tended to get very stiff the longer you left them on your guitar.
Enter Ernie Ball Paradigm strings.  They offer a 90 day guarantee against breakage (a bold enough claim on its own), but what about the other factors:  tone, feel, and how long they keep their tone?  To test Ernie Ball’s claim, I decided to try out a set of the Paradigm Electric 10-46 in a real world environment:  a series of 4 hour long sweaty, dirty outdoor Summer shows.  So how has it gone?  I’ve successfully played 7 four-hour shows in dirty outdoor summer conditions without string breakage.  That alone should be worth the price of admission, but not if they cause me to compromise on tone and feel.  As far as feel goes, I noticed instantly that they reminded me of Ernie Ball Regular Slinkys; easy to bend and easy on the fingers.  Easy to get a killer EVH pick slide.  They feel like typical electric guitar strings.  No compromises in the feel department, and after 7 shows, they bend just as easy as the first.  But what about tone?  Again, right out of the box, I could discern no major difference between the Paradigm strings and Slinkys.  But, after 7 gigs in non-ideal conditions, what truly amazed me and sold me on these strings was that my tone was intact; nearly the same as when I first put them on.  This is a big deal for me as I’ve always been very picky about having reasonably fresh strings on my guitars; I generally change my strings every show or every other show to avoid breakage and keep my tone fresh.
So, I’m sold!  It’s true that the Paradigm strings cost more than typical strings at $14.99 a set, but this cost will be offset by the fact that they last longer…I will probably come out “money ahead”.  Additionally, as an owner of several guitars that need routine string changes, the amount of time I will save in changing strings is well worth it.  In fact, I’ve probably saved enough time in string changing to write 10 reviews about guitar strings!  🙂
-Jon Clarkson

Paul Gilbert runs Ernie Ball Paradigm strings through their paces:


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