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Martin Retros on a 'hog slope?


dhanners623
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So we're in the U.S. on our summer visit. Getting in some fun gigs (a necessity, since I live in Kuwait, Where Music Goes to Die) and I wanted to gauge the members' attitudes/experiences about Martin Monel strings.

 

I put a set on my kitbuilt mahogany square-shoulder dread (a D-18 clone) and LOVE everything about them -- so far. But I have not yet tried any on my J-35. What experience, if any, have you guys and gals had with them on a mahogany slope? At some point, I'll no doubt put some on to try, but I wanted to hear your thoughts first.

 

It matters because I tend to buy all the strings I need for the coming year during the summer trip. Can't get Martin Retros in Kuwait, and even your basic D'Addario EJ17s will set you back about $18 a set in the desert.

 

Yeah, my ears will be the final judge, but of those of you who have tried them, what did you think? I'm a rhythm guitarist and do some fingerstyle to accompany my vocals, so even though I'm trying the Tony Rice set, I'm not tearing off any great licks....

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Retros work very well for me with mahogany. I’ve heard good and bad about them with rosewood. Absolute favorite set, without doubt, are Martin Titanium on my red spruce topped J-45, and they would be also on the J-35 but for the magnetic pickup which doesn’t play nice with that. Much smoother of feel than Retros with less tension, solid short sustain and dry thump. They hold tuning better with titanium less subject to temp changes.......they just don’t move once they settle (very quickly I’ll add). Expensive? Yes. At about $34 a set, they take the place of anywhere from 2 to 6 sets of phosphor bronze, bronze and others, depending on your personal favorite. Titanium lasts a very long time and nickel is very corrosion resistant.......I expect at least 10-12 months from a set. Three plus months on the current set and they look, feel and sound like they did when new. Everyone has favs......titanium’s are mine for a lot of reasons.

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Well, there you go. Opinions here are thumbs up, but I found they lacked warmth and were a little harsh sounding on my 000-18 and J-50, so I went back to Th-Infeld Spectrum 13's at 20 bucks a set through the gimmesomestrings site. I moved the Retros over to my '37 Epi Electar lap steel where they fit in well. Still trying to justify the $30+ step up to titaniums since I'm pretty happy with the $3.59 Dunlop 80/20s.

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I loved them on my J-45. Thought my string search for that guitar was over. But then at the urging of a bunch of guitar buddies I tried Santa Cruz Mid Tension strings. WOW...they were perfect for the 45. Play like lights but get the top moving like mediums. Sweet tone with a noticeable increase in volume. Retros are now my second favorite strings on the 45.

Edited by Rev Roy
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Wow. Thanks, all!

 

I'm realizing more and more there's a whole music product world going on that I am clueless to overseas....

 

Later today, after I go into town and get a haircut, I'm going to sit in the shade out by the pond and string the J-35 with Retros. Will report back....

Edited by dhanners623
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Apologies, not to be difficult - but I can't say I'm in line with everyone with respect to the retros. Maybe they represent a sound I'm not familiar with, but when I put them on my J45 they just didn't work for me, couldn't get them off quick enough (my whole body and being rejected them, it was odd). The look is partially there too, acoustics need bronze colored strings up top (opinion, and meant in humor).

 

Anyways d'addario PBs have been good to me (12/54), and just about to switch to the Martin 12/54 PBs to see if I can get a little more oomph out of the high e.

 

Regardless, if you're just here for a short time, I'd recommend getting a couple 3 packs of the d'addarios or even martin PBs to have on hand. You might not like it better, but they are not too expensive and it is a different sound to play with. and if your in purgatory, it's nice to have optional sounds to try out and form an opinion until next time your hear.

 

Best of luck in Kuwait, I can't think of many fun reasons people are there.

 

regards - billroy

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That's also where I land on the Retros, as I said earlier, but I only have one mahogany guitar, which is a small L0, and I never thought of trying them. Now I wish I had, but I cut 'em short for the lap steel. Is anyone still playing Black Diamonds? I'm thinking they might have the all steel tone thing too.

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I've got Martin Retros on my Hummingbird and J45tv. They sound real good. Got a set of Martin Marquis on my Dove and SPs on my other Gibsons. I know this "string" deal is very important to some folks and I understand why, but I think all my guitars sound good. irregardless of which Martin strings I have on. For me, I think it's a combination of the strings, the guitar, and the fact I love playing the guitar. Chances are I'm missing something on the string issue, but if they sound good on a guitar, I'll likely keep using them.

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Strung up the J-35 with the Retros yesterday. Jury is still out, which is odd because when I strung up the kitbuilt D-18 clone with them, the change was immediate and noticeable, very much for the better.

 

They don't sound bad on the '35, mind you. It's just at this point, I don't know if it's worth switching over from EJ17s. I'll give them more time, of course. Maybe they'll surprise me tomorrow....

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Ok, this was weird. Played the J-35 at an open mic last night. Again, the Martin Retros sounded good but, like I said in my previous post, I don't know that they're worth giving up EJ17s for.

 

So this morning I pull the guitar out of the case to play it and all the strings were flat several cents. The humidity hadn't changed that much, so I thought that was strange. I tuned them up to pitch the strings suddenly took on a pop and sizzle they hadn't had before. NOW they were sounding special. And they still do.

 

In my years of playing, I've never had anything happen like that....

Edited by dhanners623
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uh huh.......yep. I think nickel wraps are the ticket for that old time tone Gibson slope shoulder guitars are famous for.

 

Now try a set of titaniums for another step up.

 

Not to sound like a rube, but how long do the titaniums last, on average? (Although there's no such thing as "on average" when it comes to strings....) I checked JustStrings.com and they're $39.95 a set.

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.....how long do the titaniums last, on average?

Yeah, no such thing as "average" when it comes to guitar strings. However we can make guess-himations...........

 

Just tossing around numbers that most certainly vary from player to player, let's say you change strings every 6-7 weeks at $7/set......that's about $50-60/year on strings. As I mentioned above, the titanium set on the J45 are a few days shy of four months play......and I play them a lot. There is no appreciable difference in feel or tone and there are no tuning issues since they went on the guitar........truly, no difference at all. Intonation is very good (.012s), no spotty corrosion....they look like I just installed them. I anticipate at least another four months play but won't be surprised if they last another six or seven, or even more. The $40 price of admission for a set titaniums stacks up pretty well against the price of seven or eight bronze sets over the same period of time. Yes, they are expensive, but if they are tonally the right string for you and your guitar they are no more expensive and perhaps even less over time.

 

They are much like Retros in tone but feel much, much smoother under the fingers. They are literally like wet noodles coming out of the paper slips......the titanium core is incredibly flexible which seems to translate to noticeably lower string tension......very, very easy to play. I understand that string choice is like everything else that's subjective in this world and everyone has their favorite for their particular instrument(s), but if you're a fan of Retros you will most certainly like the titaniums.......they're the same but soooo much better in many ways, and actually about the same price as bronze over the course of several months.

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