Ernie Ball Paradigm review: The best get better

There’s a spark of joy when you put a fresh set of strings on your guitar, and play that first open chord. For well over a decade I’ve loved going to the guitar store and asking for that little neon pack of goodness from Ernie Ball. I’ve been a Slinky’s player for as long as I can remember. I was first inspired to try them after I saw the incredibly long list of endorsees on the back of the pack of strings.

Guys like Vai, Slash, Hetfield & Hammett, Paul Gilbert, and many more make up this amazing, and growing list of Ernie Ball players. Some of these same players are the people I saw when Ernie Ball first announced their new Paradigm strings. They weren’t just playing them to show you how they sounded, they were actively trying to break the strings.

From Kirk Hammett doing all sorts of dive bombs in a pre-gig warmup, to Paul Gilbert going crazy with bends, John Petrucci inflicting pain with his whammy bar, and lots more…these strings are truly unbreakable. But Ernie Ball hasn’t just stated that they’re unbreakable in a gimmicky way. They took the high road, and are offering a 90 day break or rust replacement program for them. How cool is that?


I didn’t put the strings through a rigorous break test, because I wanted to keep the pair they were nice enough to send me on my guitar! But, I did want to see how they differed from the regular Ernie Ball Slinkys. Below you can listen to two different examples. I play some pentatonic riffs, rhythm with distortion, and some clean arpeggiated parts and chords. The first example is with a fresh set of Slinkys, and the second set of audio is from the Paradigms.

Are these strings awesome?

If there’s a possibility, I think these strings feel even more slinky than the Slinkys themselves. They have a great snap to them when I put them on my Charvel, and were really inspiring to play with. The examples were from my Charvel San Dimas going into the BIAS amp emulator plugin in Pro Tools. Distortion parts (Mesa Mark II C) were on my bridge pickup, and clean parts (Matchless) were on my neck pickup (both humbuckers).


I played distortion parts, clean parts, used all sorts of different picking, including some hybrid picking that had me thinking I need to put a set of these on my Tele immediately, and they held up for all different scenarios.

If you listen to the examples, I think the Paradigm strings sound a little darker in tone than the regular Slinkys. Ernie Ball has this interesting guide on the back of their strings (and online) that show their Tone Profile including: output, treble, mid and bass. I’m kind of surprised the bass isn’t higher than it is for these strings.


I did pull and bend the heck out of these strings while setting them up. This was all on a Floyd Rose system as well, but they settled in pretty nicely in a short amount of time.

It was a lot of fun playing with the Paradigms. I loved how they sounded when I was doing slow bends, or double stops. The way they feel is great for rhythm playing too. Having tried so many different brands over the years, I can safely say that Ernie Ball is in another class when it comes to how their strings feel and how long they last.

A lot of musicians feel that accessories don’t play a big part in your tone or overall playability. Over the years I’ve totally seen that to be false. Whether it’s good strings or picks, or even the tools you use to set up your guitar, this all adds to your guitar playing experience in a positive way.

The best get better

Because of their tone and feel, and what seems to be superior durability over every other string, I’m going to be replacing my go to Slinkys with Paradigms next time I go to the store.

The best review I can give you is that I’ve been playing 100’s of packs of Ernie Balls over the years, on tour, in crazy weather conditions, and really testing the original Slinkys to their max. I’ve only had a handful of string breaks in over 10 years!

The Paradigms look to surpass the Slinkys, Cobalt and other models of Ernie Ball strings after years of developing them. Go pick up a pack today, and let me know what you think. Feel free to reach out on Twitter or Facebook.