If you stumbled across this site, you may or may not be aware of the raging string debate in the guitar industry. Players from across the globe are constantly bickering about the qualities and properties of various strings, and with the mounds of information available to consumers, it can sometimes be difficult to pick out which strings will best suit your purposes. To aid in your research, we continue on our saga to compile basic string reviews about a variety of different products; this edition will focus on the Dean Markley Blue Steels.
Sound and Feel
To the uninformed observer, most strings seem to sound and feel fairly identical. After all, how much difference to the sound could the exact type of strings actually make? The answer is quite a bit, as the Dean Markley Blue Steels prove. This fantastic string set provides a very balanced sound; the highs are bright but avoid becoming overly treble-heavy and bright, while the lows grant warmth without the ability to overpower the highs. As one could imagine, the superior balance these strings offer work well for acoustic rock or blues sounds, but if you’re interested in playing something rather melodic or are in need of punchy higher strings, the Dean Markley Blue Steels may not be the string for you. For the rest of the world, however, the sound quality of the Blue Steels is perfectly suitable.
While sound is definitely a strong suit for the Blue Steels, it’s actually their feel that most distinguish them from other strings. Many consumers find the Blues Steels to be easier on their hands; the strings are “soft” and therefore they’re easier to play, especially for beginners or guitarists whose calluses aren’t as developed.
Basic Construction and Durability
Interestingly enough, the construction of the Blue Steels varies substantially from comparable strings. The strings are marketed as “cryogenically activated”, which isn’t a reference to a science-fiction movie but instead a technique used to change up the feel of the strings. After the 92% copper and 8% zinc strings are finished being constructed, they’re blasted with frozen nitrogen at roughly -320 ºF. This helps to remove small gaps and inconsistencies in the string, allowing for maximum performance and consistency.
In addition to improving the sound quality, the cryogenic treatment most definitely enhances the durability of these strings. Players report the Blue Steels lasting for much longer than your average string(Although not as long as coated Elixirs). That being said, professionals or anyone on the road will still likely want to order several packs in order to maintain the most professional tone at all times.
Tuning and Intonation
According to the reports put out by Dean Markley, the cryogenic activation actually makes the strings stay in tune for longer as well. While this is definitely a great selling point for the strings, you will need to keep in mind that the ability for the strings to stay in tune is strongly related to the actual guitar the strings will be played on. For this reason, be sure to regard reports on tuning accuracy with a grain of salt.
Price and Availability
One of the nice things about the Dean Markley Blue Steels is the massive availability of these strings. Guitarists looking to pick up a pack of these strings can probably find them at their local mom and pop store, and could even pick them up at a big box retailer. Furthermore, the strings are widely available online; both general online marketplaces and specific music retailers carry a large stock of these strings and sell them at a reasonable price.
Speaking of price, the retail price point of these strings is another one of the stronger suits of the Blue Steels. While you shouldn’t ever have to pay more than $10 for a pack of these strings, through most retailers you can find the Blue Steels for as little as $5-6 per pack. Seeing as most other strings at $5 a pack aren’t nearly as high quality, that makes the Blue Steels one of the best values available today.