Are They Really Safe??
Ernie Ball's new Cobalt Alloy strings are bringing out forum and Youtube idiots who think these strings are radioactive and carcinogenic. Cobalt is the "Co" in AlNiCo pickup magnets for the last 60+ years. Cobalt alloys are also used in artificial joint replacements. And I hardly think EB gets their cobalt from Iran's alleged nuclear weapons enrichment program. So they're not toxic. End of story.
Pretty soon guitar string packs may require a Surgeon General's warning. I mean, when a string breaks you can get a welt, right? Or they can poke your eye out. Somebody could even strangle you with a guitar string. Small children or pets could choke on one. Yes, danger is lurking everywhere! And guitar strings are no exception.
"Cobalt will wear out my frets faster cuz it's so hard..." -- Okay, do stainless steel frets wear strings out faster than nickel frets? No. While cobalt is harder than nickel and stainless steel wrap, even phosphor-bronze for that matter, players like Steve Morse & John Petrucci talk about how noticeably smooth these strings are. Smoothness and easier bending indicate lower friction material. Think about it.
EB's cobalt alloy is used in the wrap wire of the wound strings. The plain, unwound strings are regular EB's. These wound strings stay brighter, longer because the alloy is harder, and isn't as corrosive; therefor less prone to the effects of moisture & sweat without the need of a coating. And ALL guitar strings are run through a polishing process anyway. Cobalt's higher magnetic properties contribute to improved output characteristics, which according to players, translates into more defined low end, focused midrange and longer life. How much, depends upon your actual playing conditions. So wash those grubby hands once in awhile, and knock off using a bottle of beer as a slide. It was cool when Danny Gatton did it. You're not him.
Are string manufacturers guilty of hype? Yes.
Do Cobalt's cost more than regular Slinky's? Yes.
Are guitar bloggers full of it? Sometimes.
It's also true that some people like to trash innovations without thinking first. A string manufacturer as long established as Ernie Ball just doesn't invest in worsening their product line or jeopardizing themselves. So try the new Cobalt's if you're really interested. Otherwise, at least try to make sense!
Ernie Ball 2722 Cobalt Hybrid Slinky Electric Guitar Strings
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