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The Huge Impact of Strings On Tone


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Those of you who compare strings often will know the following very well, but for me this is a rare happening, let alone in valid A/B comparisons.


When preparing guitars for a bandmate and me before rehearsal yesterday evening, I got into it by accident. All strings are roundwounds with plain G3rd. However, there's one among them strung in the recent past with different brand and make. It sounded indeed very different from a guitar of same build.


In the following I will describe it in detail.


While checking and refining tuning, I was listening to piezo tones from Gibson Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess, Gibson SG Supra, three Fender Nashville Power Telecasters, and two Graph Tech modded Fender FR Stratocasters with different bodies, necks and magnetic pickups. Hardtails are strung using .011" - .050" and Floyd Rose guitars .010" - .046" chrome-plated steel wounds of same brand. I know from A/B comparisons on two Fender Nashville Power Telecasters that these gauges are very close soundwise. Therefore all of the piezo tones were rather bright but clearly reflected the tonal behaviour of the related solidbody guitar.


Then came the surprise: The Fender Nashville Power Telecaster strung for a bandmate with nickel-wound .010" - .046" strings sounded radically different. Especially the wound strings had a much mellower timbre, and the plain ones offered less upper midrange and presence. In relation, you could have meant all the different guitars previously mentioned with chrome-plated strings virtually sound the same.


Then I compared the magnetic tones of two differently strung Fender Nashville Power Telecasters with stock TexMex pickups (the third one is N3 Noiseless modded). The difference was slightly smaller since the very treble will translate via piezos only, but there still was a huge gap between their tones. You could have thought to hear two rather different guitars. Since I know the both of them with same sort of strings as well, I know for sure they are as close as can be.


I take this as a proof that next to player and, if applicable, pick or picks, strings are the very things deciding about all the rest.

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