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I think I wore out my string crank today.........

Went through four different string sets today:  D'Addario EJ16, Martin Retro, Rotosound Jumbo King and DR Sunbeams.  All light gauge and, save the .053 low E in the D'Addario, all 12-54 sets.   Stretched them, tuned to standard pitch, played each set for a couple hours and then on to the next.  Some might consider this a rush to judgement but once they settle to tune and are banged on for awhile, a good set of strings should be delivering what I paid for..........at least that's my take on it.........shouldn't have to wait for the tone.

I like my guitar setup to be "right on the edge" of rattling under hard attack..........low saddle with good ramping for break angle, as low as possible in the nut and no more than .003" of relief........essentially a flat fingerboard.  Different string sets of the same gauge act quite differently on such a setup.  The .053" low of the EJ16 set rattled as did the .054" round core Sunbeams, which I used to really like but they don't do it for me on the 185.......for an unknown reason the high E of this set was noticeably louder than all the other strings and had a kind of 'honky' tone to it......I dunno?  The Retros are very good, play and feel good under the fingers but I guess my ear has changed and I prefer the harmonics of phosphor bronze on this particular guitar.  Which brings me to the Jumbo Kings.........the winner of this shootout.  Great feel, very balanced volume across all strings up and down the fingerboard, they stretch to hold tune quickly and zero fret rattle anywhere on the board.  For my ear they are the tonal winner as well.........solid low end and nice round highs (which of course is greatly influenced by one's pick choice.......I prefer a round edge, no bevel, 1.4-1.5mm......much like a mandolin pick).


As an side, I am considering changing the pickguard.  The original is really good, still down flat as a pancake after all these years but I'd like to see a bit more of the golden center showing through.  I've ordered this one for a 'look see'...........I might do it I might not..........comments?



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Hats off for taking the time to A-B errrr, A-B-C-D these strings. I’ve never had the patience to do that.

When I think Rotosound, the first thing that comes to mind is the bass strings that sounded fantastic but would grind down the frets in record time. Obviously that’s not going to happen with bronze. 

I leave strings on my guitars for a criminally long time. I have no idea what’s on any particular guitar unless I dated a string package and put it in the case pocket. 

I will give Rotosounds a try!

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Hard to tell, but I think the new guard will look nice. To me, it kind of depends on how much of the sticky tape will be visible in the lighter parts of the guard. If it it shows too much, you can always cut smaller piece of the tape and only put them under some of the darker parts. If your new guard is stiff enough this will work just fine.


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This 'side-by-side' of the two pickguards in question is revealing.  (my printer has died and I am unable to print out the templates made available.)  Without a perfect match in profile there will likely be a tan line showing in places......the finish is 20+ years old and has surely been altered by exposure to UV.  The profile of the replacement guard does not seem to match the original at the back:  the flat edge at the top does not appear to be as long and the upper right corner and backside curve look different.  If the photo is correct this may not be good as a replacement.  As I have figured from the start of this thought experiment, it will likely be necessary to send the original guard to a maker to get the right thing but I am quite reluctant to remove the original guard for a variety of reasons without an exact matching profile.  This may be a non-starter.


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I go back and forth between Retros and SCGC mid-tensions on my J-185 '52, they both sound great and bring different things out of the guitar.  The Retros really hit the fundamental whereas the SCGCs bring out the overtones, which on a maple guitar are not too overpowering.

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