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NJ Tom

String advice for J-35

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I'm in the process of re-starting guitar, long story, won't bore you with it. Just got a '13 J-35 and have been attempting barre chords all week long, something I gave up on the first time around 14 years ago when I first began playing in my early 50's.

 

Today I tried a set of Martin Retro Custom Lights (11-52) figuring the softer alloy and thinner gauge might make it a bit easier on the fingers. I made a little progress but at the expense of tone. It was like hearing Pink Floyd on a cheap 60's AM transistor. I pretty much put the guitar down after two hours...it was tough to listen to. Very distracting...no, make that annoying.

 

I have no idea what the previous strings were but the guitar sounded a helluva lot better whatever they were. I probably should have just tuned down a full step to relieve string tension.

 

Any string brands/thinner gauge suggestions that won't make my guitar sound like a cat caught in a fan belt?

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I went to 11’s a year or two back to see how it went

Didn’t really notice a hell of a difference in ease of play or anything but the change in tone was noticeable. I didn’t like it. And have been using 12’s again ever since

One mans meat and all that , someone else may be happy with the tone of 11’s on a dread but not this camper

 

As far as 80/20’s or PB or dadarrios or elixirs or whatever , that’s all up to yourself

Those Martin retros are recommended highly by some here and you don’t like them so obviously recommending a particular string is shooting at the moon sometimes

 

 

But I’d defintily recommend 12 gauge and see if that helps

Edited by blindboygrunt

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I agree with the others here, where 12s are about as light as you want to go.

 

if your action is on the high side, see if you can have the set up checked out.

 

I use 12s and my acoustics are set around 5/64s ~ 4/64s and they are quite easy to play.

 

and just as a side note.. Acoustic guitars and Bar Chords are not always good combinations.

 

So I think you will want to consider how you are moving forward with in acoustic in your life.

 

If you don't have a capo, I'd strongly urge you to try one.

 

I play TONS of acoustic guitar, I have the callouses to show for it too. But to sit and play Bar Chords all night long would probably be the end of my left hand as I know it.

 

With a capo, bar chords are only needed when they are actually "needed"...

Edited by kidblast

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My secret weapon string wise at the moment is the Thomann house brand, Harley Benton. When their 12 gauge ‘Value’ strings were recommended to me it seemed INSANE to put a £2.50 set of strings on my £2000+ instruments, but they’re actually remarkably good strings and several other pro pickers I know are using and recommending them.

 

They have a lighter feel than Martin 12s and are reminiscent of D’Addario EXPs in tone and feel under the fingers. My Hummingbird and SJ200 sound wonderful with them, and the upside of using 12/17/25/33/43/53 strings rather than the Martin 12/17/24/34/44/54 is that the action on my SJ200 has come down a touch, to the point where it’s absolutely perfect. I’d planned to take 1mm or so off the saddle with the Martins, but the Harley Bentons are right in the sweet spot.

 

They stay fresh for a long time too-longer than the outrageously expensive Ernie Ball Paradigms, which made me chuckle. £2.50 a set which lasts four gigs or £20 for a set that lasts three?

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Yep.......11s are not quite enough string to drive an acoustic top for good tone. Use 12s, and if the action is not right look into a setup and/or tuning down a half or full step. As far as a recommendation? I recommend you buy several sets from the major makers and run through them until you find the one that works for you tonally and digitally (meaning the fingers). Part of learning to play well is learning to listen critically to what you're hearing and make good judgements about your sound.

 

Happy hunting! [thumbup]

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I'm in the process of re-starting guitar, long story, won't bore you with it. Just got a '13 J-35 and have been attempting barre chords all week long, something I gave up on the first time around 14 years ago when I first began playing in my early 50's.

 

Today I tried a set of Martin Retro Custom Lights (11-52) figuring the softer alloy and thinner gauge might make it a bit easier on the fingers. I made a little progress but at the expense of tone. It was like hearing Pink Floyd on a cheap 60's AM transistor. I pretty much put the guitar down after two hours...it was tough to listen to. Very distracting...no, make that annoying.

 

I have no idea what the previous strings were but the guitar sounded a helluva lot better whatever they were. I probably should have just tuned down a full step to relieve string tension.

 

Any string brands/thinner gauge suggestions that won't make my guitar sound like a cat caught in a fan belt?

 

I've been using Elixir Nanowebs 12's. easy on the fingers, I'm 68 now, and they last a long time.I can play everyday with them.

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if your "new" to big guitars it will take some time to get the strength for barre chords, I left 60 years old a few years ago and have scince used a capo and learned to use less of these chords when not capoed, theres lots a stuff to play or learn without them if need be, ie suspended chords - just play what you can and enjoy-(lower action seems to rob tone so I dont go that route )

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I've been using Elixir Nanowebs 12's. easy on the fingers, I'm 68 now, and they last a long time.I can play everyday with them.

 

I favor the PB 12s (nanoweb) they really do outlast just about anything on the market these days.

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Yep.......11s are not quite enough string to drive an acoustic top for good tone. Use 12s, and if the action is not right look into a setup and/or tuning down a half or full step. As far as a recommendation? I recommend you buy several sets from the major makers and run through them until you find the one that works for you tonally and digitally (meaning the fingers). Part of learning to play well is learning to listen critically to what you're hearing and make good judgements about your sound.

 

Happy hunting! [thumbup]

 

Found a temporary solution. The offending strings were the trebles. I went thru my spare parts stash from my first go-around at guitar and came across an set of opened Ernie Ball Earthwood 80/20 Bronze from which I must have cannibalized the G string at one time. The 5th and 6th strings are 14 and 12 so I replaced only those. The remainder of the Martin Retros stayed.

 

Not a perfect fix but the highs are calmed down a lot and it's much easier to tolerate on the ears. The difference in string tension is negligible so I'll keep it strung like this until I get out and buy different strings that were suggested here.

 

Thanks all

Edited by NJ Tom

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The Martin Retro strings have sort of an unusual sound. Some people like it, others don't. I used them for awhile but ultimately decided against them for general use. One forum member tried them and evidently had an allergic reaction to the nickel in the retro strings.

 

String choice is very personal and you will need to gain some experience before you settle on something. But I use the top three strings from a set of Martion Phosphor Bronze SP Custom Lights and the bottom three strings from a pack of Martin Phosphor Bronze SP Mediums. This gives me .011 - .015 - .023 -.035 - .045 - .056 which lets me "bend" the high strings for blues but still have a strong bass sound. Of course it costs more (since I use two packs) but I don't change strings very often and have really come to like this mixture.

Edited by Boyd

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Try some Martin SP Acoustic 80/20 Bronze strings in 12s . They are inexpensive and sound great. I suggest not using 11s on an acoustic.

 

I prefer 80.20's in 12 as well, but I use the Masterbuilt Gibsons on the J-15m and Elixirs on the J-45.

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Hi All, I'm testing out a couple string choices, and was reading this thread for options. One thing stated is most folks are recommending going with 12s... opposed to 11s, and 13s are not even in the discussion. Is there a reason to stay away from 13s (it's what I've been playing for awhile, I've convinced myself they have a fuller sound).

 

Thanks for any input.. Rgds - billroy

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I string my J-35 with D'Addario EJ17s (13-56) and have never been disappointed. Very good from set to set.

 

In the opinion of this gentle herald, it is better for your fingers to get used to the guitar than the other way around.

Edited by dhanners623

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If you play any blues, the 13's are going to be very hard to "bend". But if you are mainly playing chords then I agree that the sound is fuller. As I posted above, I use a mixture with light upper strings and medium lower strings. This still gives a solid bass sound while allowing me to bend the high strings.

 

I got the idea to experiment with different string gauges after listening to Norman Blake explain that he had settled on the following:

 

1 .011

2 .016

3 .024

4 .034

5 .045

6 .059

Edited by Boyd

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13s just too much iron for me. I don't have big hands. 12s work really nicely for me, and have for some years now. I did use 11s a # years ago, but, they can be a bit anemic.

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I find 13s just too much work for me. I don’t mind them tuned down half a step or a whole tone, but at concert pitch they’re too much meat over a two hour gig for me.

 

I don’t really like the extra tension that 13s exert on the neck and top of an acoustic...it’s a personal preference of course and I’m sure 99.9% of guitars can handle 13s with aplomb. I just remember watching a friend’s Yamaha Country Jumbo suffer a top kerfing failure and peel open like a tin of sardines onstage when he eased it into open E with a set of 13s on it, which warded me off heavy strings for good!

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The DR Sunbeams 12s are round cord and have less tension and a loser feels than the typical 12s. I have no idea how they sound on a 35.

 

Edited by chasAK

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Thank you all, ended up going with the D'Addario EJ19s (12-56). I've got to give it a little time to see how it feels overall, but I replaced Martin Retros that I put on it, and I've got to tell you - I'm happy to be back in the PB family.

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In the short time I've owned my used J-35 it's been through several sets of strings. The unknown originals were replaced by Martin Retros light and the treble only strings were immediately trashed and replaced with Ernie Balls which were less offensive sounding. Last week when I replaced the tuners I tried a set of John Pearse PB lights (12-53). I like them so far...best way my uneducated ears can describe them are crisp and tight if that makes any sense, but I'm sure they're still breaking in so time will tell if they hold up. They'll stay for a while, and next change I have a set of Martin Eric Claptons (12-54) on deck.

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They'll stay for a while, and next change I have a set of Martin Eric Claptons (12-54) on deck.

 

I just put Martin Eric Claptons (13 - 56?) on my Guild. I like them, and is why I switched away from the Martin Retros on my J45 - but maybe a little childishly, I wasn't hot on the idea of putting Martin strings on my Gibson.

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I’m liking the Martin Monels light gauge 12-54. They are actually called Retro, as the Tony Rice set are called Monels.

Sound vey percussive as they age . Gibson need to offer an alternative as it feels strange stringing my Gibson with Martin Stings . LOL

Edited by The G

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On my J-15, it's almost a toss up between DR Sunbeams 12's or Gibson Masterbuilt Phosphor Bronze 12's as far as best sound. Slightest edge given to the Gibson strings.

 

For a longer lasting string I settle with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze 12's. Sound is almost there.

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