Breaking strings is the worst. It’s the guitar equivalent of blowing a tyre, dropping your ice-cream on the ground or having your parents walk in on you and your Tinder date. Ernie Ball is justifiably proud of their world-class strings, and they don’t want you to break ‘em. They want you to change them only after the eventual tone loss that affects all strings, not after one overly-ambitious bend in the heat of the moment. With that in mind, meet Paradigm Strings.
Ernie Ball’s state-of-the-art wire drawing process coupled with patented RPS (Reinforced Plain String) technology dramatically increases tensile strength by up to 35 percent and provides up to 70 percent more fatigue strength than traditional strings. RPS is a different way of securing the string to the ball end, which removes the issue of undue stress on different sections of the wire, including the crucial point right at the beginning of the lock twist where most strings break. This wire process means both the plain strings and the wound string core wires are made up of ultra-fine-grain high-strength steel.
Australian Ernie Ball distributor CMC Music provided two sets of Paradigms, an electric set gauged 9-42 and an acoustic set, 12-54. I installed the electric set on my Ibanez RG550 Roadflare Red, and the acoustic set on my Ibanez Charleston, and basically tried to thrash the hell out of ‘em. And wouldn’t you know it – I couldn’t break ‘em. On the acoustic, I was able to strum to the point where the guitar just wouldn’t get any louder, with no noticeable stress on the strings at all. Not even the high strings, which I tend to break a bit on acoustic.
The reason I chose this particular electric for testing these strings was because its fully-floating Edge tremolo is the smoothest and most sensitive of all my whammy-loaded guitars. It’s great for all sorts of whammy tricks, particularly up-bends, flutters, squealing harmonics and fretted-out dolphin noises. I pulled the whammy bar out of the guitar a couple of times, but I couldn’t make the strings break a sweat. Time will tell how they hold up in terms of maintaining their crisp sound through regular use, but after about a week of solid playing they still sounded nice and fresh. Not as bright as Ernie Ball Cobalts, but certainly great-sounding strings.
If string-breakage is a problem for you – or if you just don’t want to ever be a problem for you – Paradigm strings are the perfect choice. I also think it’s great that Ernie Ball seems to have really stepped up their game in terms of innovation over the last few years. They’ve always made great strings, but they seem to really be concerned with, “How can we make them greater?” lately, and that’s a very admirable trait.
Hits and Misses
You can’t break them
If you want to break them, you can’t