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Bit embarrassed to ask...but...any recommendations for strings?!


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SO...wait! I imagine this has been done to death somewhere here...but..

I've recently got hold of a Yamaha FG 04 LTD (my apologies to the people who have read this in my NGD thread). 

My only other acoustic right now is a VERY light Lakewood and I use 10s on it.

Recently I started playing electric and using light strings there and found the sound of lights really fine.

Then I stumbled over this comparison of 10s and 13s on an acoustic.    Maybe it's just me, but the 13s sound kind of muddy and clunky (Warning the playing starts at 4:20!!)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YpNv6Ma-KE&t=493s&ab_channel=AlexPrice

Now I  wasn't considering 13s, but 12s certainly.

Any thoughts?

Any favorite strings that you you can sing out?

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Hello again, Brindleleaf

When it comes to strings it's really a matter of personal preference in sound and playability (and please ignore anyone who says you have to use 12s or 13s or whatever on this or that guitar to get anything like a decent sound - that is just their personal preference). As to PB v Bronze (or any other material), again, it's up to you

I always recommend experimentation with different brands, gauges and compositions. I've found that different guitars suit different strings. On one of my guitars - a solid Englemann spruce over solid mahogany dreadnought I prefer 10 gauge PB strings when it's in standard tuning (at the moment it has 14 gauge PBs on it down-tuned to standard C because I'm experimenting with a few songs that I think will go well with some low bass notes). On my 000 parlour I prefer 12 gauge bronze. And on one of my guitars - an old all-laminate dred - I actually have a set of high tension nylon strings. Sounds wonderful to my ears.

Have fun!

 

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PS. I'm using the word "bronze" in the post above to mean "80/20 bronze" as they are commonly called but in fact they are brass: 80% copper and 20% zinc. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin usually with traces of other elements often, these days, phosphorus, hence "PB". Electric guitar strings are usually wound with nickel plated steel so they react better with magnetic pickups. You can use nickel plated steel strings on acoustic guitars too if you want (even though many people say you can't).

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10 hours ago, Brindleleaf said:

SO...wait! I imagine this has been done to death somewhere here...but..

I've recently got hold of a Yamaha FG 04 LTD (my apologies to the people who have read this in my NGD thread). 

My only other acoustic right now is a VERY light Lakewood and I use 10s on it.

Recently I started playing electric and using light strings there and found the sound of lights really fine.

Then I stumbled over this comparison of 10s and 13s on an acoustic.    Maybe it's just me, but the 13s sound kind of muddy and clunky (Warning the playing starts at 4:20!!)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YpNv6Ma-KE&t=493s&ab_channel=AlexPrice

Now I  wasn't considering 13s, but 12s certainly.

Any thoughts?

Any favorite strings that you you can sing out?

 

 

we play 2-3 hour acoustic sets and i use 11s for playing leads on my Ovation. 12s sound fuller and give you a balanced round sound which i prefer but my fingers won't last all night . these work and sound great:  Martin M-1100 Marquis 80/20 Bronze Light Acoustic Strings.  hope that helps.  🙂 

 

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There are three things that influence string selection

1 - compostion, the type of material the string is made out of.   Industry names are Phosphor Bronze, 80/20 (which is a composition  ratio) and lots of other things.   The two biggies are PB and 80/20.   The have a slight but detectable difference in sound that can be used to taylor the voice of your guitar - many people think PB are more "mellow" while 80/20 are "bright" (be warned that opinions vary and even manufacturers don't agree).  Get a set of each, try them out, make up your own mind

3 - I put this second tho its really third - coatings.   Some strings are coated with a variety of materials or processes to make the, last longer.   Some people feel that coating change the sound.   Like everything else in life, coatings are a compromise.   After you have decided which composition you like you should try the same composition in a coated or long life string to see what  you think.

2 - Gauge.    Here is the biggie and the answer to your question.   There are three things that affect the linear tension in a string - its length, the frequency its tune to, and its size.   On a given guitar the length is set and assuming we are tuning to standard concert pitch then the note frequencies are also fixed.    As we go up in string size (this is actually pretty complex math) the tension increases.

Both you as the player and the guitar feel the tension in the string.   The higher the tension the harder a string is to fret or bend, usually we feel the guitar is harder to play.  Higher tension pulls more relief into the neck and loads the bridge more.   The guitar senses that as more energy inputted to the bridge resulting in more sound energy.   As you reduce tension the string gets floppier, relief backs off, the guitar might get "muddy" sounding or buzzy.   Once again, a compromise - enough energy to sound good, light enough tension to play easily.   To much tension, however, will slowly or rapidly damage a guitar.

OK, every commercial guitar maker designs their guitar for a certain amount of tension and they optimize construction and bracing for a certain set of strings (by the way, sets of strings are designed to have approximately the same tension in each string).   Almost every guitar on the marked is designed,  braced, and optimized for either commercial "light" gauge (0.012 to 0.053 or 54) or "medium" gauge (0.013 to 0.056).   Lights pull about 165 total pounds, mediums about 180.  Super lights (11's) are down around 145 or 150.

Most of the time you will see the mediums on large bodied guitars like dreads and jumbos played hard with a flat pick.   On modern smaller guitars OM and down) you almost always lights.   If your guitar is designed to be plugged in (and you come from an electric background) you might drop down one more string gauge for ease of play.  It doesn't hurt your guitar one bit to run lighter strings or less tension - you like the sound, go for it.   You might have to tweak the action, follow the link I gave you in your other thread.

The one thing you simply do not want to do is go above mediums - they do make heavies, they are designed for other guitars and other tunings.

 

ps - its funny how are ears work, we are less sensitive to loudness (which is why decimals are logarithmic) and we have a hard time sensing small changes in volume.   I've hear a lot of people say "I put 10's on my acoustic guitar and its just as loud".  It really isn't

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I will add one more thing to the above.  If you want to experiment with string tension if you down tune one semi tone and capo at the first fret you will be approximately the same tension as a standard string set one size below what you on your guitar.  If you tune down two semi tones and capo at 2 it will be approximately two standard sets below yours.   If you tune up one semi tone (you won't be able to capo) you will be at the tension of a standard set one size above yours.

Lets say you have a set of lights (12's) on your guitar.   One step down and capoed at 1 will still be E standard tuning but the tension of a set of 11's.   Two steps down, capoed at 2 will be the equivalent of 10's at E standard.   Tuning up a half step will be roughly like 13's but the tuning will be E#.   Its just a nice way experiment without buying a lot of strings

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FWIW, I'm currently using Ernie Ball aluminum bronze 11's. They sound okay and seem to last. I used to use 12's and for a long time I used 80/20 bronze. I switched to 11's to get closer to the feel of my electric, which is strung with Ernie Ball skinny top heavy bottom 10-52's.

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Freeman, may I add a fourth and fifth? How the strings feel and sound on that particular guitar. When I only owned one acoustic and one electric, life was simple. Now I have different gauges and materials for different guitars. What sounds best, and what feels best, are not always compatible either, so there has to be a trade-off, a negotiation, if you will.

Another consideration is geography. I send coated strings to relatives in the Philippines regularly, because uncoated strings last a few weeks at best. A coated set will last three months.

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Thanks for the ideas everyone...got a bunch of new strings on the way. I'll get back to you as I try them...going to take a while :)

One of the things that has really struck me is how ridiculously bad I am at listening! I listen to a video of one type of strings and think 'Wow...that sounds good', listen to another and thing...'hmm...that sounds good too'. Ask me what is different and I'd be STUMPED. It reminds me of tasting good wine with a friend ho was a professional in teh wine business. 

 

Him: "Can you taste the raspberry in this one?"

Me: "Erm..nope"

Him: "There is a hint of vanilla and chocolate in this one....close your eyes and try to taste it"

Me: "can't taste that...but it's nice" (facepalm!)

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3 hours ago, Brindleleaf said:

 

One of the things that has really struck me is how ridiculously bad I am at listening! I listen to a video of one type of strings and think 'Wow...that sounds good', listen to another and thing...'hmm...that sounds good too'.

 

LOL - yeah. I hear people saying "this string sounds way better that that" etc etc when in reality there is often very little difference in sound between strings.

This is worth a look and listen:

 

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10 hours ago, Brindleleaf said:

Thanks for the ideas everyone...got a bunch of new strings on the way. I'll get back to you as I try them...going to take a while :)

One of the things that has really struck me is how ridiculously bad I am at listening! I listen to a video of one type of strings and think 'Wow...that sounds good', listen to another and thing...'hmm...that sounds good too'. Ask me what is different and I'd be STUMPED. It reminds me of tasting good wine with a friend ho was a professional in teh wine business. 

 

A million years ago when I did the great HCAG String Test I took two of my favorite (and very different guitars) and did what I suggest you do.   I bought two sets of the same gauge uncoated string from the same manufacturer and put them on one guitar, played it and recorded it.   Most of the recording was simple stuff - open strings, a few chords, a coupe of slides.   I did the same with the second set of strings on the other guitar.   I recorded them both, using the same recorder with the same settings.   Then I switched them (same scale guitars) and did it again.   Then I repeated with the same manufacturers coated string (actually I did several long play strings), recording the same notes and chords and slides.   Then I did some others that were kind of rage back them, I ended up wit a boat load of little recordings and I posted the here, without identifying them.   We had a fairly lively discussion, I came away with a better understanding of what I was hearing and what I liked.  Based on that I have made decisions on what strings I like and more importantly, WHY.

I have refined that procedure but I still use it.   I now have some software that lets me look at the frequency spectrum of each of notes as I play them and I can compare one to another.   Does what I THINK I hear match with the graphical information, can I correlate?   Its a worthwhile thing to consider on your journey to understanding your guitar.

ps - I need to clarify, all of these strings were the same gauge and had the same tension.   I wanted to hear the difference in composition

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2004 to what ever year I ended my own string pursuit, science and mythology (forum-speak) all in, I ended up with a single brand/type/gauge that fit the practicable niche for me. The only thing that I found common in all of them was the time between new and decay of the trebles. They all died at the 4th week for my ear. Metallurgy is what it is and string elasticity has a definite mortality rate, regardless of the alloys used, with a maximum duration of 4 weeks. Most begin to fizzle midway between the 2nd and 3rd week but by the 4th week I'd be digging for lost trebles buried by their own metallurgical death knells. So, that experience under my hat, I chose a brand/type/gauge that was cheap and readily available. That's on uncoated 0.12s, finger picked with natural nails, which mine are particularly well suited for.

My weekly playing time is about 10 hours and I change strings within the 3rd week. Could I get away with just replacing the e and b strings? Yes, and I have, but the brand of strings I buy in sets is cheap enough to just replace complete sets.

FWIW, those strings are D'Addario EJ-16s used on a jumbo concert. I use their 0.010 gauge set (EJ-10) on a classical I reworked to sport them. Their tension is little more than the nylon sets I used on that guitar so I gain the steel string sound on a wide board short scale guitar without the expense of a purpose-built guitar.

________________________________________

Now, ask yourself if you're ready to make the effort and incur the expense of discovering the above on your own. What are you looking for in a string? Sound? Longevity? Feel? What set best delivers your guitar's sonic character to your ear?

I read a lot of characterizations of sound people claim they like from their guitars. Some will actually claim they like the sound of old dead strings. Others are more like me preferring the projection, sustain and brilliance of new strings. Others still prefer that 2nd-3rd week treble loss. Then, there are some who cannot decipher what best suits their guitars, after much fuss and expense, and that's either because they have dead ears or dead guitars.

We cannot end this inquiry without giving a nod to relative humidity's role.

So, the guitar's sonic capability, the string brand/type/gauge, atmospheric conditions (RH, particularly) and your own ear's limits are playing a role in your string assessments. Asking (me) what strings might be good for your needs is not just a shot at a moving target. It's a moving target with a blindfolded, ear blocked shooter. 

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Wow...all these last three posts are interesting and I totally understand what you are all saying...but

For me it's a bit like going to a Honey connoisseur convention and listening to people talk about the qualities of Honey that is made only from flowers of the acacia tree vs high altitude spring meadow flowers. It's fascinating to listen to, but beyond me.

In the video there are pretty clear differences between the strings...still hard for me to imagine which ones I would like better.

It's like when my wife says "I think we should repaint the hallway. Maybe this blue? Or perhaps this color? What do you think?"

I say "Yep, both are fine with me!"  Now, I can imagine the colors, but they have no emotional pull for me. Probably I'd like both (to be perfectly honest...I usually don't think we need to repaint at all!), or might prefer one sometimes and the other on other days.

I think it's like that for strings for me (for the moment?!).

I tend to like whatever I've got on my guitar, then when I change strings (even if it's for the same ones!), I'm pleasantly surprised and motivated to play. 

I imagine I could develop my ear, and seek out the perfect set of strings for each guitar and for my (now) discerning ear...but I may just lose the simple, uncomplicated pleasure I have now.

I tried a lot of strings when I got my first guitar (and then especially to find something that made the Lakewood sing), but I've pretty much forgotten what I tried, and if I liked them or not. :)

Yesterday I received some Ernie Ball Earthwood medium lights (12-54), and they sound fantastic! (even though they are about the cheapest I could find).

I'm going to play them until they go wobbly then cycle through the other strings I've received.

I have played chess pretty consistently for the last 45 years. It's mind-mindbogglingly difficult when you get to higher levels and it's very demanding...but as some famous grand-master once said "You can also just consider it a simple game where you push bits of wood around on a board"

So I guess strings can just be "The 'dingy' things that you move with your fingers or a pick"  🤐

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6 hours ago, Idunno said:

So, the guitar's sonic capability, the string brand/type/gauge, atmospheric conditions (RH, particularly) and your own ear's limits are playing a role in your string assessments. Asking (me) what strings might be good for your needs is not just a shot at a moving target. It's a moving target with a blindfolded, ear blocked shooter. 

Yep I understand, but..

If a beginner asks me what chess opening he should play, I could say "Bah...there are a vast number of openings for every type of temperament and situation! It would depend if you absolutely need to win the game or not; Some people love attacking others like defending. Some like dashing open games. Some like closed maneuvering games. Some prefer semi-open. Some you need to memorize a vast amount of theory. Others you can basically hack your way through a forest of unknown possibilities."

Actually I might say that...but then I would add.."Try these few openings and try to get a  feel for if they suit you. If you feel comfortable. But don't worry too much, your choices will probably change as you become a better player"

When people say they have found "the" strings for them/their guitar, for me it's a bit like someone saying "I saw a unicorn the other day in the forest"

Now you don't want to recommend where I might be able to see a unicorn because it surely won't be there if I go look...guess I'll just look at random then :)

cheers all!

oh P.S. I've seen a ZILLION  kung fu movies, people are constantly hitting moving targets or blocking punches without looking!!

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11 hours ago, Idunno said:

.  .  .  .  . So, that experience under my hat, I chose a brand/type/gauge that was cheap and readily available.  .  .  .  . finger picked with natural nails, which mine are particularly well suited for. . . . .

. . . . . . My weekly playing time is about 10 hours and I change strings within the 3rd week. . . .

 

Same here. Apart from the odd special case (like the 14 gauge strings I have tuned down 4 semitones on one guitar - a DIY baritone guitar) I use two cheap brands of acoustic strings and two of nylon strings. I bulk-buy 5 sets at a time - works out at around £4 or less per set which is half what we would pay for D'Addario sets in the UK.

I change strings every 4 weeks on my most-played acoustics and every 8 weeks on my classicals (I take off the the nylon basses after 4 weeks and turn them around so that the end at the bridge goes to the headstock - gives an unworn length for playing - the trebles last for ever).

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6 hours ago, Brindleleaf said:

Some extremely arcane rites being exposed here!!

LOL. I think "arcane" is perhaps an overstatement but I know what you mean. But, from experience, I think Idunno has it right: strings tend to lose their "sparkle" after a few weeks. And I've also found that it happens just as quickly on expensive strings as it does on less expensive ones. The basic wire materials are commodity items and a string winding machine works pretty much the same wherever in the world it is located.

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I've watched most of these you tube videos and I use 10's on my acoustic. YES we all heard that heavier string sound better. As you can tell in this and many other videos that it just not true.

 

 

 

 

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On 2/4/2021 at 12:55 PM, daddymack said:

Freeman, may I add a fourth and fifth? How the strings feel and sound on that particular guitar. When I only owned one acoustic and one electric, life was simple. Now I have different gauges and materials for different guitars. What sounds best, and what feels best, are not always compatible either, so there has to be a trade-off, a negotiation, if you will.

Another consideration is geography. I send coated strings to relatives in the Philippines regularly, because uncoated strings last a few weeks at best. A coated set will last three months.

Amen to geography.... I'm in Thailand. I use Elixirs on favorite guitar(s), regulars on guitars I like, but not as much. Strings blowing off is a sign it's time to switch guitars...

Oh, I like 11's on electric or acoustic. Fat enough for fullness, skinny enough to keep fingers happy

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