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Strings for a late 1960's Humminbird Custom

#1 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 08:11 PM

I'll spare you the rather long back story to me being reunited with my HB. The repair shop did an amazing job cleaning it, replacing the nut and filing the bridge. It plays wonderfully up-and-down the necK.

Now it's been almost 20 years since I played it and memories can be strange,. As part of the repair, he re-strung it with D'Addario EJ16's. I was extremely unhappy with how brash it sounded. I was told that those strings will play themselves in and they have, to an extent. I've been hoping it was the strings and not the general tone of the guitar. I've toyed with restring it (I have a seat of GHs Light Silk & Steel and Medium, Vintage Bronze, 13/5.

Is it just that my memory is going? I've been playing an OM-21 the I'm thrilled with and I know they are totally different


Does anyone have any thoughts as to how I should move forward? What's a reasonable amount of time to let the EJ-16's EJ-16's settle in?

Thy
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#2 User is offline   Buc McMaster 

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 09:43 PM

I’m a fan of nickel wrapped strings on mahogany guitars. Dry, short sustain, warm. Haven’t liked them on every guitar but I REALLY like them on most. DR Sunbeams are my choice in a pb string.......round core, low tension and a short break in period. All subjective, of course.

This post has been edited by Buc McMaster: 13 June 2018 - 09:44 PM

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#3 User is offline   anzafrank 

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 10:09 PM

The EJ16's so far sound better than anything I've tried including a whole lot of Martins on my 86 J-30 (H.B. without the bling). Maybe your bird has a very bright sound to start with? On mine, the silk and steel Martin meds. were not nearly bright nor loud enough for my tastes, but the EJ16's are actually louder, smoother and brighter. Even the first string has a nice ring. I'd love to play your bird just to hear those EJ16's on it. Might have to do it the hard way trying everything out there until you find the ones she loves.
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#4 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 03:51 AM

View Postanzafrank, on 13 June 2018 - 10:09 PM, said:

The EJ16's so far sound better than anything I've tried including a whole lot of Martins on my 86 J-30 (H.B. without the bling). Maybe your bird has a very bright sound to start with? On mine, the silk and steel Martin meds. were not nearly bright nor loud enough for my tastes, but the EJ16's are actually louder, smoother and brighter. Even the first string has a nice ring. I'd love to play your bird just to hear those EJ16's on it. Might have to do it the hard way trying everything out there until you find the ones she loves.


That's why I have the two very different types of strings if I decide to switch out the EJ16's. Just so you know, I've tried a bunch of top-notch picks including BlueChip, CharmedLife, Readbear, and Wegan just to name a few. I think the Wegans are the mellowest right now. The EJ16's are definitely changing as a week has gone by and I've tried to play for about an hour / day.

This is an impossible post to reply to...I know. I'm not even sure how to describe the sound/tone I'm looking for. I'm not looking for a sound like the OM. I strum, flat-pick, and finger pick....so that doesn't really narrow it down. Loud is fine. Even bright...but I'm sorry, the only word I can use to describe my first few days with the EJ16's is brash...

This guitar has a lot of personal history for me, so I'd really like to keep it. I remember falling in love with its sound and looks, but memory is an odd bird. I can't really put a finger on what it was about the sound that made me choose it. (There were 100's of top shelf used guitars for me to choose from, and I did frequent the store and was there enough that the guy in charge of the better used guitars and I were on a first name basis, so I'd to say I probably played 50-100 different guitars in passing while hanging out there. He was never really trying to 'sell' me. I guess I was just like a Sam Ash 'bar fly'.

i really appreciate all the responses. I owe everyone a round!
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#5 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 04:52 AM

Iíd wager that the setup has lowered the action a hair too much. I always find that my guitars can sound uncomfortably bright if the action is too low.

Personally Iíd shim the saddle a touch and see if that alleviates the bright/brash tone.

Generally I find that DíAddarios donít always suit my guitars, and although they sound great on my Hummingbird and J45, my other guitars prefer Martin SPs, which sound thicker and warmer to me.
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2016 Custom Shop Advanced Jumbo Maple (Ltd to 65)
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2014 Custom Shop J180 Everly (Ltd to 65)
2005 Custom Shop Hummingbird 12 String (Ltd to 12)
1990 Hummingbird (Fullerplast and Paddle neck joint. Yuck...My favourite 6 string ever!)
1968 F25
1967 J45
1935 Dobro M32
2017 Epiphone Masterbilt Century Deluxe Archtop
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1998 Fender Classic Series '60s RI Telecaster
1988 Fender Strat Plus

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#6 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 05:06 AM

View PostJinder, on 14 June 2018 - 04:52 AM, said:

Iíd wager that the setup has lowered the action a hair too much. I always find that my guitars can sound uncomfortably bright if the action is too low.

Personally Iíd shim the saddle a touch and see if that alleviates the bright/brash tone.

Generally I find that DíAddarios donít always suit my guitars, and although they sound great on my Hummingbird and J45, my other guitars prefer Martin SPs, which sound thicker and warmer to me.



Great advice. I may try restringing first. (I broke the wrist in my dominant hand, so I'm afraid I no longer have the steadiness to add a shim, although it appears to be easy enough.) . I may order a card to measure the action, and perhaps go with a lower-tension string. Any thoughts on how long I should wait for the D'Addarios to settle in?
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#7 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 05:16 AM

View PostTenzin, on 14 June 2018 - 05:06 AM, said:

Any thoughts on how long I should wait for the D'Addarios to settle in?


if your playing everyday, give em a week

This post has been edited by kidblast: 14 June 2018 - 05:17 AM

/Ray
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#8 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 04:27 PM

View Postkidblast, on 14 June 2018 - 05:16 AM, said:

if your playing everyday, give em a week


They have calmed down, but they'll never be one of my favorites. ;) . I have a set of GHS Medium Vintage Bronze I may try out. Thanks for the info!
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#9 User is offline   62burst 

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 05:07 PM

Any port in a storm, but the EJ-16's are also not a favorite here, as well. A D'Addario string that is very interesting to try is the D'Add NB1253 Nickel Bronzes. They are fairly transparent, allowing the true sound of the guitar to be heard, and they settle in to a mellow sound in a few weeks (best {to me} after week 5), like the DR Sunbeams that Buc had mentioned. GHS ? ? Are you an electric guitar player? Ease of playability might be on the short list of what Electric players value most, but as Jinder said, you'd best get that string height gauge (StewMac) quickly, especially judging by the fact that the bridge was shaved, a new nut was carved, and by what you'd relayed in the back story link in post 1:

"The person I brought it to made it very clear he repaired guitars and other acoustic instruments but he was not a luthier. He didn't charge me much at all."

'Don't know much about the late sixties 'birds, but by what I've heard about bracing differences and narrower nut widths, I tend to do my bird hunting elsewhere. Did the guitar actually get wet in the plumbing break?

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#10 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 05:22 PM

View Post62burst, on 16 June 2018 - 05:07 PM, said:

Any port in a storm, but the EJ-16's are also not a favorite here, as well. A D'Addario string that is very interesting to try is the D'Add NB1253 Nickel Bronzes. They are fairly transparent, allowing the true sound of the guitar to be heard, and they settle in to a mellow sound in a few weeks (best {to me} after week 5), like the DR Sunbeams that Buc had mentioned. GHS ? ? Are you an electric guitar player? Ease of playability might be on the short list of what Electric players value most, but as Jinder said, you'd best get that string height gauge (StewMac) quickly, especially judging by the fact that the bridge was shaved, a new nut was carved, and by what you'd relayed in the back story link in post 1:

"The person I brought it to made it very clear he repaired guitars and other acoustic instruments but he was not a luthier. He didn't charge me much at all."

'Don't know much about the late sixties 'birds, but by what I've heard about bracing differences and narrower nut widths, I tend to do my bird hunting elsewhere. Did the guitar actually get wet in the plumbing break?



I did measure the action and it is as if the gentlemen had it exactly as a few luthiers recommended. (After a three or four all gave the same general height for different strings at particular frets, I figured the info was safe) . GHS makes a few different acoustic strings. I called Stings & Beyond and described everything and they recommended those. They were closer to the least expensive than the most expensive acoustic strings so I don't think they were trying to sell me.

If my memory serves me correctly, this guitar never had a proper setup because I remember the action being higher up the neck. (When you're selling on time to a 17-year old who doesn't know anything, why waste time setting it up properly?) . It really does play much easier than before and 'G' string used to buzz and around the 4th fret. I really think it was just the strings and coming from a Martin OM-21, the brightness really stood out. I remember (although I can't say why) I never cared for D'Addario strings. <shrug> So much as changed...lots and lots of information-- much of it good and much of it bad. That's why I'm so thankful to all who have answered.
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#11 User is offline   OldCowboy 

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 06:24 AM

I've owned a couple late 1960's Hummingbirds. The experience wasn't really pleasant, due to the narrow fretboards. As for string choice, it sort of depends on your idea of what sounds good. If I were looking for the antithesis of bright, my first choice would be Dean Markley 80/20 bronze.
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#12 User is offline   Tenzin 

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 09:57 AM

View PostOldCowboy, on 17 June 2018 - 06:24 AM, said:

I've owned a couple late 1960's Hummingbirds. The experience wasn't really pleasant, due to the narrow fretboards. As for string choice, it sort of depends on your idea of what sounds good. If I were looking for the antithesis of bright, my first choice would be Dean Markley 80/20 bronze.


I'm not trying to turn a Hummingbird into something it's not. I expect a large sound. I can go with bright & balanced. The D'Addarios are getting closer to that sound. I like how I can fingerpick and hammer-on/off without hurting my hands. ;) It's nice to have a large sound....even 'booming'.

I have a lot of history with this guitar and I wanted to love it like I originally did. The guy who did the repair offered me $2,500 on the spot so if I wanted a Martin Dreadnaught, I would have gone that way. I hope to pass this down to my children.
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#13 User is offline   Mafy31 

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 01:21 PM

View PostTenzin, on 14 June 2018 - 05:06 AM, said:

Great advice. I may try restringing first. (I broke the wrist in my dominant hand, so I'm afraid I no longer have the steadiness to add a shim, although it appears to be easy enough.) . I may order a card to measure the action, and perhaps go with a lower-tension string. Any thoughts on how long I should wait for the D'Addarios to settle in?


I would rather go for the Exp16. I didnt like the EJ, and usually i dont like coated strings either.
But EXP16 sounded great out of the box on my hummy and they last so long, i just love these strings even though i really like Martins SP as well on it.

This post has been edited by Mafy31: 17 June 2018 - 01:21 PM

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#14 User is offline   Jinder 

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 07:46 PM

 Mafy31, on 17 June 2018 - 01:21 PM, said:

I would rather go for the Exp16. I didnt like the EJ, and usually i dont like coated strings either.
But EXP16 sounded great out of the box on my hummy and they last so long, i just love these strings even though i really like Martins SP as well on it.


Absolutely agree on EXPs, my Hummingbird loves them too!
#######
2016 Custom Shop Advanced Jumbo Maple (Ltd to 65)
2015 SJ200 Standard
2014 Custom Shop J180 Everly (Ltd to 65)
2005 Custom Shop Hummingbird 12 String (Ltd to 12)
1990 Hummingbird (Fullerplast and Paddle neck joint. Yuck...My favourite 6 string ever!)
1968 F25
1967 J45
1935 Dobro M32
2017 Epiphone Masterbilt Century Deluxe Archtop
2003 Takamine EAN20C
1998 Fender Classic Series '60s RI Telecaster
1988 Fender Strat Plus

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www.jinder.co.uk
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#15 User is offline   QuestionMark 

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 07:50 PM

Martin SP 80/20 Bronze strings in Light gauge. Thatís all I use and recommend.

QM aka Jazzman Jeff
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