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string selection - the process


uncle fester
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Just thinking out loud, but for the first time in my life i've made a concerted effort to get the right strings for my guitar (per my opinion). Overall, I'd say my guitar tends towards the bassy side, i love the punch of bass, but a big thing I'm looking to avoid is the lower notes sounding muddy / not enough differentiation.

 

Anyways - the process I've gone through


  •  
  • started with stock strings, not sure what they were, felt a little light
  • tried martin retros, very much not a fan of the nickle sound, and it might be a useless thought, but didn't love the look of nickle on my guitar (although in support of the retros, buc just posted a vid w/ retros on his j-45, and it sounded pretty righteous)
  • put d'addario PB Med (EJ 19) 12 - 56: back to liking the overall tone, but too much bass
  • now have d'addario PB lights (EJ 16) 12 - 53. feeling i like it better, only been an evening so need to give it time
     
     

 

So will give these time, but if all goes well, would want to try elixirs of the same guage due to all the talk on here, but right now - the d'addario PB EJ 16 seem good for me. It really is a process when you start to focus on certain things, but i'm starting to see how to pick the different pieces apart to get a better whole. Again, really appreciate all the input I've received / information I've taken in through this forum - rgds - billroy

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Stock strings were probably Masterbuilt PB, which I hear are made by D'Addario - unconfirmed..

 

I've used master builts quite often on my J200, like em, they don't last more than 6/8 weeks for me.

 

I keep going back to Elixir Phosphor Bronze 12s. They really out last anything else, I know many don't like coated/treated strings, but I do.

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I put a set of D'Addario EJ-16s on my J-45 on Mar.16 and right now they sound really nice. They seemed a bit bright off the get-go but have mellowed to a great bass with subtle high end sound. I've tried quite a few different brands but these ones always seem to sound the best.

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Stock strings were probably Masterbuilt PB, which I hear are made by D'Addario - unconfirmed..

Yes - but 20/80's, not ph. b.'s. Very good strings (wherever they're from).

Like the straight forward D'Addario EJ-16's, which are the reliable team of workhorses when it comes to phosphor bronze steel.

Respect them a lot and used them here and there for ages.

 

Apart from that, you seem to have moved so far into to the experiment that things now are so subjective only you and can judge what's up or down.

The nuances are so subtle and exactly what certain brands/types do to your instrument is beyond us.

All I'd say is "avoid coated strings". I know it's controversial, but they insert a filter - a sonic coat - between you and the guitar, which is alienating.

Retros aren't my cup if tea either - too different or far away from the basic bronze on wood.

Well just my 6 Yen - others will recommend them like ice-cream on a beach-trip in July. What do I or they know, , , about what makes you ring.

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It is a long process made more difficult as the number of guitars hanging around multiply, all of which have different voices needing to be nuanced. Then once you think you have it figured out you give into an urge and buy an archtop with a carved top and back plate which is a whole other ballgame. I have settled in with Newtones over the years. I also use DR Sunbleams as I do not have to order them (translation - having to think about it in advance) and can usually find them locally. But when it comes to my Epi archtop, I use the D'addario Nickel Bronze strings - 13s with a 14/18 on the upper end. I found the NB strings also work well with heavier built flattops and have been using 12s on my Epi Ft-79.

Edited by zombywoof
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I put a set of D'Addario EJ-16s on my J-45 on Mar.16 and right now they sound really nice. They seemed a bit bright off the get-go but have mellowed to a great bass with subtle high end sound. I've tried quite a few different brands but these ones always seem to sound the best.

 

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Thanks all, I appreciate the replies. I do agree with E-minor 7 that now I'm in the subjective front - just tweaking in a manner that probably only I will notice.

 

I do want to give the elixirs a try just to understand the differences. Longevity is not a huge problem for me, but I would not have known how I felt about the retros without trying them. I also believe this is an experiment that is dependent on the guitar, as Zombywoof discussed. This is probably a case where I'm lucky I only need to do it a couple of times (for the moment), but for you collectors - I have to imagine it's a fun process finding the voice of each of the guitars you acquire.

 

By the way, Z-woof, how's that 12 string treating you, have you given it enough attention to start to decide on strings etc...? 12 strings - that's more of an effort.

 

Rgds - billroy

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Is this for your J45 Vintage? I've tried a bunch on mine. The stock Masterbuilt 80/20 lights are one of my faves so far. Tried Martin Retros and didn't like them (I like them on some other guitars), but that change coincided with a bad saddle lowering, since corrected, and I am going to give them another shot. Tried some DR Rares, they are ok, not great. One of my other guitars is a Martin HD28VS 12 fret. It tends toward the bassy, and I like John Pearse New Mediums on that guitar. The 5th and 6th strings are a bit lighter than a standard medium set (maybe some of the others are different too?), and that seems to tamp down the bassiness in a good way.

 

Edited to add: I also tried mediums and Bluegrass gauge lights (heavier 5th and 6th strings) and did not care for either. My J45 likes lights. My fingers like lights. It works out well.

Edited by gfa
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Is this for your J45 Vintage? I've tried a bunch on mine. The stock Masterbuilt 80/20 lights are one of my faves so far. Tried Martin Retros and didn't like them (I like them on some other guitars), but that change coincided with a bad saddle lowering, since corrected, and I am going to give them another shot. Tried some DR Rares, they are ok, not great. One of my other guitars is a Martin HD28VS 12 fret. It tends toward the bassy, and I like John Pearse New Mediums on that guitar. The 5th and 6th strings are a bit lighter than a standard medium set (maybe some of the others are different too?), and that seems to tamp down the bassiness in a good way.

 

Edited to add: I also tried mediums and Bluegrass gauge lights (heavier 5th and 6th strings) and did not care for either. My J45 likes lights. My fingers like lights. It works out well.

Seems as if you haven't tried D'Ads. Give'em a go.

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For the last thirty-five years or so I just walk in the store, ask what strings are on sale and by ten or so packs of lights. Martin SPs work great for me and I load-up when they're on sale, although I found an old pack of Gibson Premium strings that are lights and put them on my Koa AJ a couple months back. Years ago I literally agonized over which strings were right for my guitars. Me and my music friends were always telling our string stories and handing each other our guitars to play to evaluate the sounds like there would be world peace because of some new fantastic strings. As already mentioned, it's a personal thing that only "we" are likely to notice......... Remember the ones that were a different color for each string? I liked them for a while, until I figured Cash or Dylan wouldn't be caught dead with them. Then I went to Elixers for a few years. Black Diamonds were okay. Tried several "off" or generic brands for a while, never settling on any one in particular. Once I hit on the Martin SPs I was sold. I'll try their Marquis strings too........... Find the strings you like and play your guitar.

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Is this for your J45 Vintage? I've tried a bunch on mine.

 

Hey GFA - this is for my J45. I never thought I'd trend towards the lighter guage strings, but this guitar is calling for it. I'll give the John Pearse a go at some point to compare, appreciate the tip!

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For the last thirty-five years or so I just walk in the store, ask what strings are on sale and by ten or so packs of lights. Martin SPs work great for me and I load-up when they're on sale, although I found an old pack of Gibson Premium strings that are lights and put them on my Koa AJ a couple months back. Years ago I literally agonized over which strings were right for my guitars. Me and my music friends were always telling our string stories and handing each other our guitars to play to evaluate the sounds like there would be world peace because of some new fantastic strings. As already mentioned, it's a personal thing that only "we" are likely to notice......... Remember the ones that were a different color for each string? I liked them for a while, until I figured Cash or Dylan wouldn't be caught dead with them. Then I went to Elixers for a few years. Black Diamonds were okay. Tried several "off" or generic brands for a while, never settling on any one in particular. Once I hit on the Martin SPs I was sold. I'll try their Marquis strings too........... Find the strings you like and play your guitar.

 

 

Hey MisouriP - that's some sound advice. I do believe it's a different task for someone with multiples of guitars vs myself with just a couple. Much easier to obsess over the one vs the many. I'll go pick, the chickens are getting up ;)

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