Rotosound British Steels Review (2011)

To start this review, I strung up two very different types of guitar – one is a Fender Stratocaster (Mexican Deluxe, 1997) and the other is a Custom silverburst Gibson Les Paul (2008). I played through a Fender Hot Rod deluxe ‘Texas Red’ Ltd edition all valve amp. The cable was a Pete Cornish HD cable.

The strings I had on these before were Rotosound R10 (yellows).

British Steels hark back to the days when a lot of the strings you could buy were only stainless steel and were used by guitar legends like Brian May and Jimi Hendrix to name but a few.

These strings have appeared on some of the most famous recordings on this planet!

I couldn’t wait to hear them!


On first inspection, they add great punch and ‘twang’ instantly to my Strat and I can hear top end harmonics singing away that otherwise struggled to be heard.

The sustain seemed to have increased too, which I suspect is due to the high iron content which gives them increased magnetic property so your pickups can ‘keep them ringing’ so to speak…

I played them on stage at a function gig and I found they cut through a mix perfectly well without the need for EQ/pickup adjustment so I could keep my bluesy ‘neck pickup’ sound and still be heard – though I found they were very lively during rhythm playing – I guess the bonus of this is that I can use my volume pot more effectively rather than ‘river-dancing’ on pedals all night.

When playing functions, you need a versatile array of sounds at your fingertips and these strings performed particularly well on the Blues/Country numbers but were a little too forward for rhythm in the rock numbers.

Until I brought on the Les Paul…

Les Paul

The British Steels can really brighten up an otherwise ‘middley’ sounding pickup like a humbucker so when I switched my Les Paul to rhythm, I could back off and still be present enough to fill the sound.  When it was time to lead, I switched to ‘Treble’ and I instantly came forward to the front of the mix.

Summary -

Bright, ‘twangy’ and grippy strings which really add a true vintage tone and impressive response.  If you’re not careful, they can be a little harsh on a Strat (or Tele) unless you are playing country then you will appreciate the new trebles you can hear.

They really add a ‘bite’ to your tone and for humbuckers, they add a new toppiness which helps your solos soar to the top of a mix.

Rotosound are always manufactured to the highest standards and that is why I trust them night after night – the British Steels are solid, dependable and now my new favourite string!!

They are available in the following gauges:

BS09 09 / 11 / 16 / 24w / 32w / 42w

BS10 10 / 13 / 17 / 26w / 36w / 46w

BS11 11 / 14 / 18 / 28w / 38w / 48w