Innovation by GHS

Rockabilly REDS - 90140RR Med Tension Red Strings

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  • Rockabilly REDS - 90140RR Med Tension Red Strings
  • Rockabilly REDS - 90140RR Med Tension Red Strings, on bass
  • Rockabilly REDS - 90140RR Med Tension Red Strings, ball end
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Innovation Double Bass Strings have a unique, non-metallic core which provide a gut-like tone without the cost or maintenance of gut upright bass strings. They hold their pitch well in climate and temperature changes, and most of their strings are equally suited for pizzicato (plucking) and arco (bowing).

Includes our exclusive Gollihur Music tipsheet to get the most out of your purchaseInnovation Rockabilly Strings were the first offering in their "Slap" line of strings and have a distinctive black outer winding over a synthetic core. These new strings have a brash RED outer winding - and their tension and tone is designed specifically for the needs of rockabilly bassists. They provide warm, dark-ish tone with decent volume, making them a great string for players who play predominantly slap-style. They're similar, but slightly different from the black rockabilly set.

As with the other Innovation strings, their decidedly gut-like tone - and softness - makes them a great alternative to the expense and maintenance requirements of real gut strings.

Players report that the Rockabilly strings are a good synthetic slap-style string - and they have the side benefit that they actually sound quite good for straight pizz playing as well (our own Christopher particularly likes the G-string's pizz tone).

Note: All of the Innovation strings do not contain any ferrous materials; they are not suitable for use with a magnetic pickup, like the Schaller we carry. They will work with all typical piezo-based pickups (like the Realist, Full Circle, and all the K&K pickups and systems).

Innovation designs these 3/4 size bass strings to fit on a standard 3/4 size bass. They may very well fit your bass if it is larger than 3/4. For your reference, the lengths of the string, as measured against the bass tailpiece to the nut is 51.5 inches, plus an additional 17 inches to handle stringing in the headstock.

String Lengths

  • Ball end to nut (Afterlength + Playing Length): 51.5 inches/136cm
  • Afterlength (Ball end to bridge): 5.5 inches/14cm
  • Wound top of string (pegbox): 17 inches/43cm

String Gauges:

  • G - .074
  • D - .085
  • A - .100
  • E - .121

Important note about the gauges listed above: the measurements were done here at the shop with a (cheap) digital caliper, so they may not be spot on – they’re not intended to be critically accurate, as they are here for basic guidance to give you a rough idea of what to expect. Additionally, variances in raw material supplies (at the manufacturer) can result in strings that may be slightly different from batch to batch. GHS makes the strings to meet a certain tension spec and mass, but (for instance) if there are variances in the gauge of the nylon wire or nylon tape used for the outer winding, it can make for a difference in the strings' overall diameter. All that to say, don't get too caught up in the numbers! Where the rubber hits the road is how the strings feel under the fingers.

Christopher playing with Bill Haley, Jr. and the Comets


Christopher's Take:

2014 is the year of the color red, or so I've been told. In commemoration of such a monumental event, Innovation has released a new set of strings: The Rockabilly Reds. All kidding aside, I had the pleasure of trying out a set of these new strings on both my '54 Kay and a month long tour with a carved German shop bass, so we have become mighty fine friends over the past few months, to say the least. My usual set up is Innovation SuperSilvers on the E & A and GoldenSlaps for the G & D, for comparison.

The Rockabilly Reds, much like Innovation's standard Rockabilly strings, lean towards a medium tension string thanks to the nylon "tape" windings, which make the string stiffer than a "wire" winding. Despite that stiffness, they are still quite easy on the fingers (I did thirteen 2 hour gigs back to back and didn't even come close to developing a blister). The pizz sound, especially on the carved bass, is huge, with a great mix of articulation and that gut-like thud that roots players are accustomed to. The E has a good amount of growl and sustain to it, which -- although not my cup of tea -- could be just what some people are looking for. Playing pizz, you really need to "lay into" these strings to get the most out of them... and when you do, they sure do have a lot to give. The carved bass had Spiros on it when it was put in my hands, and the Reds gave them a run for their money as far as overall output.

Playing Slap, I find the tension a little high (maybe I'm a sissy [...I am]) but the sound, especially on the G and D, is very gut-like and organic, with a nice click. The G, especially, which has a slightly different wrap than the other strings, is very close in tone to a gut string, with nice organic-sounding articulation to the front of the note.

The Rockabilly Reds, while not a far departure from Innovation's other offerings, are a great choice for someone who is doing an equal amount of Pizzicato and slap play (they don't bow too badly either, although the arco sound is certainly not going to fit well in an orchestral context... nor would the red color!) But - speaking of which - that red does look mighty fine next to a blonde bass, if I do say so myself.

Innovation Comparison

Differences and comparisons between the Innovation Strings we carry are as follows:

Set Tension Outer Winding Tonal Character
Ultra Black Set Medium/High Black Nylon Tape Clearly-defined attack with more sustain.
Honey (Solid Core) Set Medium/High Chrome Tape Most "gut-like" of their offerings, tonally.
Braided (Stranded Core) Set Medium/High Chrome Tape Dark for pizz, short sustain. Rich tone under the bow.
Polychrome Set Medium Chromesteel Tape Good hybrid string, a modern take on gut-like sound.
Super Silver Set Medium Clear Nylon Wire Pretty close to Traditional gut-like sound and feel.
Rock-a-Billy Set Medium/Low Black Nylon Tape Mix of articulation and gut-like sustain good slap/click
Rock-a-Billy Reds Set Medium/Low Red Nylon Tape Mix of articulation and gut-like sustain, good slap/click
Golden Slap Set Low Clear Nylon Wire
(inner winding has gold color)
Similar to the Super Silver, with less tension. Very slappable, but great for pizz, too.
Silver Slap Set Low Clear Nylon Wire
(inner winding has silver color)
Similar to the Super Silver, with less tension. Very slappable, but great for pizz, too.
Psycho-Billy Set Low with
thicker gauge
Clear Nylon Wire Similar to the Silver Slaps, but thicker diameter for slap (similar tension).
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