REVIEW: Ernie Ball M-Steel Strings

M-Steel-PackErnie Ball has been around for 52 years now – can you believe it? – and in that time they’ve spearheaded some pretty revolutionary innovations in the string world, such as the Slinky range and the brilliant Cobalt series. The latter are incredibly strong, powerfully-voiced strings that pretty much refuse to die. So what does Ernie Ball hope to achieve with the new M-Steel line? Well, they feature new patent-pending technology based on a defence-grade alloy known as Maraging Steel in order to keep the strings stronger. By the way, before we get into the review: to celebrate the introduction of M-Steel strings, Ernie Ball is launching “M-Steel Madness.” Starting April 1st, fans will be asked to post videos or photos of themselves with their newly purchased M-Steel strings using the hashtag #msteel. One lucky winner will be chosen at random on July 1st, and receive a prize package of exclusive musical gear.

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Introducing The Hodgson Pickups ‘Zero Tolerance’ Muting Pickup


I’ve been thinking about getting into the guitar equipment biz for a long time and it’s never quite happened. Everything’s already been done, so what’s the point, right? But I recently struck on an idea that nobody has ever done before, and it’ll surely be my ticket to guitar gear superstardom alongside names like Les Paul, Leo Fender, Ted McCarty, Seth Lover, Seymour Duncan and Yahoo Serious. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce the first innovation from Hodgson Pickups: the Zero Tolerance. While most pickup companies are pushing the boundaries in terms of high-output pickups, the Zero Tolerance goes the other way: it’s designed to provide a signal so imperceptible that it’s effectively muted. That’s right, the Zero Tolerance is the very first pickup designed to give you an automatic ‘mute’ function when you select it. Use it to kill your signal between songs or to get that cool Randy Rhoads ‘stutter’ effect: it’s up to you!


The Zero Tolerance is available in single coil and humbucker configurations. Versions are available with ceramic, Alnico II, Alnico III, Alnico V and Alncio VIII magnets, but whichever model you go for, each coil features only a single wrap of 42AWG wire: not enough to create a perceptible signal.

Now, the Zero Tolerance is not cheap: it’s hand-made and it takes a really precise hand and a lot of patience to wind a single wrap of copper wire around a bobbin. So it’s a bit of an investment. The humbucker version is $250 (Additional $25 per bobbin for custom colours), and the single coil version is $190 (Additional $190 for custom colours). I haven’t looked into it but that’s probably cheaper than just installing a killswitch or simply disconnecting one pickup from your toggle switch, right?

Available after April 1 right here at I Heart Guitar.