James How, Founder and Chairman of Rotosound, speaking in 1992
Lars Mullen talks to Jason How, Chairman of Rotosound about the early days of the company
My dad James How pioneered all this back in 1958 and I have documents of him looking into making strings as far back as '53. He was certainly buying materials then, in reference to his collection of Austrian Zithers, which he was using as a musician, but couldn't get strings, and with his engineering background decided to make them himself. He designed his own machine and started up in his shed, simple as that really.
Originally he called the company Top Strings, but he couldn't copyright the name, so Rotop followed which evolved into Rotosound around 1965, derived from the Latin word roto, which means round. This of course tied in nicely with the company's flagship and the now world renowned, round wound bass string. Bass players loved this new round wound sound that cuts through the mix with more definition, as opposed to the flatwound string of that time, which was dull in comparison, and the only place to buy them was from James How at Rotosound.
It was John Entwistle who actually asked us back in the 60's, for a louder, bigger sound from a set of bass strings, hence the round wound bass strings he started using around '63. He thought, well I'm the bass player in The Who, but I can now compete with the guitarist, and as we now know the rest is history, and evidence that this was a totally unique product at the time, and none of the other companies had cottoned on to making round wound bass strings.