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    SonoTone Vintage Strings

    By Phil O'Keefe |

    Something new in vintage-style strings

     

    P.K. Pandey had a problem. As a recording engineer and A/V systems design/build engineer, he had spent over 25 years seeking impeccable tone, and while he never intended to become a string manufacturer, he couldn’t find strings on the market that reproduced the sound and feel of the vintage strings from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that he remembered using in his youth. So he began a three year process of experimentation and development that led to the creation of just the right formula of quality materials and meticulous manufacturing processes that resulted in strings that satisfied not only himself, but some rather famous guitar-playing friends that he had shared them with. Their enthusiastic response led to him changing his mind about selling strings to the public and putting the strings on the market, and SonoTone was born. 

     

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    What You Need To Know

    • SonoTone is a small-batch manufacturer of strings - their strings are not made in mass-market, large-batch quantities. 

     

    • SonoTone Vintage strings are made with premium materials. The strings are designed to improve fidelity and resonance, while also improving tactile response and playing feel.  

     

    • An extensive three year experimentation and testing process that examined different metals, amalgams and manufacturing techniques was used to determine the ideal materials and manufacturing methods used for SonoTone strings. 

     

    • SonoTone hand-winds their strings, and all of their products are made in the USA.

     

    • The wrap used for SonoTone Vintage strings is pure nickel. 

     

    • The SonoTone Vintage strings use a hex core. 

     

    • As a result of their stringent development process and manufacturing techniques, and the high quality materials that are used, longevity is increased and breakage greatly reduced compared to many other strings. 

     

    • The SonoTone Vintage Strings are available in multiple gauges, including 0.009-0.042, 0.010-0.046, 0.10-0.52, and 0.011-0.048 sets. 

     

    • For review, I was sent one set of light gauge (0.010 / 0.013 / 0.017 / 0.026W / 0.036 / 0.046) strings. These were installed on one of my personal Les Pauls. I’ve been playing them hard and regularly for quite a while now, and they still sound and feel terrific. 

     

    • Many sound demo examples are available for you to check out on the SonoTone website, but ultimately you need to try a set out for yourself on one of your own instruments to get a clearer idea of what they’re all about. 

     

    • SonoTone also offers their Vintage Strings in bass sets, which retail for $69.99. They also offer strings in a variety of gauges for acoustic guitars too.

     

     

    Limitations

    • They’re marketed as “premium strings” and they carry a premium price tag, making them more expensive compared to most traditional string brands. 

     

     

    Conclusions

    I think that the most significant challenge facing the folks at SonoTone is going to be convincing guitarists to give a pack of their strings a try for themselves. Based on the price, many will probably continue to opt for “what they’ve always used”, and that’s unfortunate because these strings really do seem to be a cut above typical, ordinary strings. Of course, endorsements from high-profile players like Joe Perry and Jeff Beck probably won’t hurt. While I’d want to try them in the summertime to see how they do under the harshest conditions (my body chemistry is famous for killing strings quickly when it’s hot and I’m sweating a lot), they have lasted noticeably longer for me than ordinary strings typically do, and without the prophylactic feel of coated strings. Furthermore, their playing feel is excellent and the tone is also quite impressive, with a clear, harmonically-rich, lively, strong and punchy sound that I found very appealing. Does all of that make them worth the higher price? Only you can decide that for yourself, but for those who want the best that they can get, and who feel price is a secondary consideration to sound quality and playing feel, auditioning a set of SonoTone Vintage strings is highly recommended.   -HC-

     

     

    Want to discuss the SonoTone Vintage Strings or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Electric Guitar forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!

     

     

    Resources

    SonoTone Vintage Strings ($18.99 "street" per pack)

    SonoTone’s product web page      

     

    You can purchase SonoTone Vintage Strings  from:

    SonoTone      

    Amazon   

     

     

     

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    Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

     

     

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