Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Rotosound: The Art & Engineering of Rock

When Rotosound Swing Bass strings were introduced fifty years ago they changed the sound of rock forever. In the intervening years the company, manufacturing processes and music have gone through many changes, yet the impact of Rotosound strings still resonates - loud and clear.

It all started back in the 1950’s. Founder and engineer James How became fascinated by an instrument called a zither after hearing a musical score. He soon discovered that sourcing strings for zithers was very difficult so being an engineer started building a string-making machine in his shed at home. Not long after the Rotosound Company was born.

During the rise of the British bands in the 1960’s, Rotosound strings, in particular their bass strings, really took off. John Entwistle, The Who, came to James How with a request for a custom set of strings, and after working with James and his team they invented the now famous Swing Bass 66 bass strings.  The following year Jimi Hendrix contacted Rotosound for an unusually light gauge set of guitar strings which he favoured for ‘bending’. This result of this was the Cosmic Light and Micro Light sets of guitar strings featuring gauges as fine as .006”

During the seventies whilst Rotosound continued to build on its artist portfolio with names like Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Sting (The Police) and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth) they also moved to the Sevenoaks Factory they still occupy today.

When Jason How become CEO following the death of his father James, it quickly became apparent that the manufacturing processes had to be updated. Jason too is an engineer and over a period of eight years set about rebuilding every machine in the Rotosound factory combining his father’s original designs with current technology without sacrificing any of the quality or sound.

Today, represented in over sixty countries, Rotosound continues to be a world influence in music today and their string continue to make musical history. They are featured on a catalogue of the best albums including the Jimi Hendrix’s (Noel Redding) Are You Experienced, Yes’ (Chris Squire) Fragile, The Who’s (John Entwistle) Live At Leeds, Oasis’ (Paul McGuigan) Defintely Maybe, Nirvana’s (Krist Novoselic) Nevermind, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ (Duff McKagan) Appetite For Destruction and Rush’s (Geddy Lee) 2112. Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones once said ‘they are so good – I use twelve at a time!’.

Rotosound’s history is littered with a litany of firsts in the history of instrument strings and rock music and continues to be at the forefront of string manufacture today. Rotosound proudly continue to make their strings at their Sevenoaks factory in Kent with a highly secretive process using a unique form of steel. 

To find out more go to http://www.rotosound.com/

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