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Mark

Replacing my strings on my hollow-body

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I bought my first hollow-body at christmas and never having owned one I was looking for

some advice on brand and size of string. I wasen't sure if there was a different type of string I should

be using. Thanks, Mark

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Hey Mark--

 

Congratulations on the purchase of the hollow-body! What brand/model did you buy? If you have time and are able, post a picture or two. We all should be showing off our semi- and hollow-body guitars. They are great instruments, aren't they? I hope you're liking yours.

 

Strings are as personal on a hollow-body as they are on a solid-body or on an acoustic, so I think we need some questions answered before we can make any recommendations. First off, I am assuming you are planning to play primarily electric, correct? If you have a full-depth hollow-body, you can use acoustic strings if you want to play it acoustically, but acoustic strings, especially those made of any bronze alloy mixture (vintage bronze, phosphor bronze, etc.) do not make good strings on an amplified electric guitar because the strings won't interact well with the pickups.

 

So assuming you are playing primarily amplified, here are the questions:

 

1. what sort of music do you play or want to play?

2. how important is it to get some of the hollow-body resonance in your sound?

3. do you enjoy more playing acoustic or electric guitar? (You can pick electric strings that will feel more "acoustic" in their playing style.)

4. do you plan to do a lot of string bending, etc.? I.e., are you a Van Halen/Hendrix/Vai disciple, or is that sort of thing not your cup of tea?

 

Write back with answers to some of those questions, and I think some of us here can give you a hand on picking a type of string. I don't think we need to recommend a particular brand, though, because brands are something you can explore on your own. Still, we can get you at least aimed in the right direction!

 

Ignatius

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I had my mind set on a 335 but my wallet disagreed so I bought a Casino. Its not even close to a 335 but its not bad for a $500 guitar

 

I do find myself playing it mostly unplugged because it's easy and sounds good.

 

I like to play Rockabilly, Chet Atkins (style), Southern rock , Hayes, King and more

I own several Gibson LP's, PRS's, Strats and Taks, so the importance of the resonance is why I bought the guitar

I do use some string bending but would like to use it more

 

On most of my other guitars I have been using DR's (Various Types)

but I will never use their color coated strings again

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post

 

Mark

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Hey Mark--

 

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to respond today. I will be thinking about your answers and offer some thoughts in a day or so. I also hope some other hollow-body players might respond with thoughts, too. Right now, though, I just spent a bunch of time responding to another question and probably need to get back to my life away from the computer for a while.

 

I'll be in touch!

 

Ignatius

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hey mark,

 

i have a casino as well as a gibson hollow body.

for the casino i use 'cleartone' 10's. electric.

these are a bit more in price but last longer.

the sound is brighter, and clearer. i really noticed a difference.

 

the casino is an incredible instrument for sitting around, effortless playing.

if you are a songwriter you will appreciate it.

i record at home, and do not even own an amp.

have some effects but mostly use what is on my tascam 788.

 

anyway, enjoy the guitar. the 335 is also great, but i think the epiphone

is better at least for what i described.

i had bought alternative electronics, in case i wanted to switch at a later date, and

tried to have pickups made. hard to find for the elite. i was told the back pickup cover

measurments could not be bought. was advised to send the pickups to

one of the custom pickup companys which i have yet to do.

 

great guitar tho, from the case has stayed in tune.

wish i could say i did not have any problem w/my 4k gibson

which i love equally.

 

enjoy the guitar in any case. i'm uncertain if the casino comes

with 9's or 10's.

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Hey Mark--

 

My guess in terms of strings for you is that you probably should look at slightly heavier sets of pure nickel or nickel-plated electric strings. Don't use lights or extra lights: those gauges are great for heavy-metal and super-bending, but they will never get a lot of resonance out of the Casino's hollow body. If you want an archtop-type guitar to sing, you need heavier strings that act more like acoustic strings. You will never get a super acoustic sound from a Casino (or from an ES-335, for that matter) because these types of guitars use laminates rather than natural wood. The laminates are not a bad thing as they would be in laminate acoustic guitars. The laminates in hollow- and semi-hollowbody guitars are meant to reduce resonance--and so to reduce the possibility of feedback.

 

Still, with heavier strings (say, a 10-50 set or even a 12-52), you will get some decent acoustic sound from the Casino and still should have the ability to do some string-bending and relatively fast playing. These strings also might be a great gauge to use on any acoustic guitar you might have (or get down the road) so then both of your guitars will have a similar feel when you move back and forth between them.

 

I have to be honest; I don't hear much difference between specific brands of guitar strings once I choose to go with a particular material. I.e., nickel strings sound different from bronze, but I don't hear much difference between particular brands of nickel or bronze. Given this, I tend to buy cheaper strings. I actually hear a lot more variety arising from the type of guitar pick that I use: different types of celluloid sound different, and celluloid sounds different from derlin or from nylon or from ultex and so on. And then the thickness of picks makes a huge difference: the thicker the pick, the mellower the sound. So I vote, buy strings cheap at first, experiment with picks, and then when you hear what strings can do, move up in terms of string price until you don't hear anything different happening.

 

I think you may be surprised. Some cheap strings sometimes sound great if they fit the guitar and the picks that you are using.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Ignatius

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I brought my Casino in for a professional setup on Friday and should get it back today. I will post the results. Thanks to all that responded, you guys have more knowledge then I do. Mark

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I picked up my Casino this morning and so far I am very pleased with the work they had done. They put on D'Addario EXL115 11-49. It sounds great. They also filed my frets, adjusted the bridge and the neck. I guess I never realized how off it sounded. He also told me the pickups

were not P-90's but some generic brand. I wonder if that is common. EPI's site sayes they are P-90's but maybe they mean (Type or Style) of a

P-90. Either way I am happy. If anyone in the Western Chicago burbs is interested in the place that did the work E-mail me or call me 630.205.2844. midwestav9654@sbcglobal.net I thought they were reasonable and had a quick turn around

 

Whats everyones opinion on having a thread for Luthiers and set up shops we have used and like or dislike.

 

Thanks, Mark Gotta play now!

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Mark

 

I am glad you are satisfied with the work the tech did, i wouldn't worry about the P90 type pups unless they give you a problem, squeal, or harsh or you don't like the tone, if you do they are fine. gibson has to save some money so when you buy an epi, the pups are other than what gibson uses in its guitars, maybe as good many be not, you can decide how they sound. also on strings, your tech put 11-49's, i think that is a good compromise, it is a little heaveir than the 10's and you can evaluate them for your self, tone and feel, tone is normally a tad bit better, but don't forget feel each guitar doesn't feel the same with the same gauge string, most of my jazz guitars and even a few others have 11-48's flat wounds, they all feel different but have a nice mellow flat wound tone, this tone isn't for everybody. on other guitars, less pauls i have 10-46 brite wires and ernie ball slinkys, so this becomes a trial and error thing and as time goes on you will settle on what feels and sounds good to you.

 

on several set of strings i bump up the high e, say i 'm using 11 - 48's on a few guitars i will put a 12 on the e, for a little more body/tone, but again trial and error, personal taste. enjoy the search for what fits your style.

 

 

peace

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ES 345 thanks for the reply. Your right, enjoying the search is what makes me happy. Would it be possible for you to post a full frontal picture

of that guitar in your Avatar? Thanks, Mark

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Mark, congrats on your new guitar. I heard a Casino in action once and it sounded incredible, a decent choice. I can't really add to much that hasn't already been mentioned, you have some very good info here. I do agree with everything that's been said, the type of material and thickness of a pick does more to the tone than most would ever realize. I'm not formiliar with the scale length of the Casino, but if it's like a 335, then one thing you will notice is that the 1st and 6th strings have a tendency to want to roll off the edges of the finger board. A little practice in developing a different playing technique will help. The reason is, the 335 and Les Paul guitars have a 24 3/4" scale vs. say a Fender Strat which has a 25.5" scale. What this means is it takes less effort to bend strings on the short scale and it takes less string tension to tune the string. Some people use a heavier string on these guitars for that reason also. The heavier string will allow lower action because of the higher tension. The occilation pattern of the string is less and allows for lower action without fret buzz and less prone to rolling off the fingerboard. Heavier strings will increase tone, more resonance. I'm experimenting with my 335 and LP now myself. I'm using 10-46 now but I'm planning on trying a set of 10-52. The reason is what I mentioned ,roll off and tone. I tried a set of 9-46, (light on top /heavy on bottom) on my Strat and could not believe how balanced they sounded. I maintained the ability to bend strings like crazy, kept the sharp piercing tone of the 9's and gained much more bottom end with the heavier bass strings. I was also able to lower the action . So a set of 10-52 (light on top/heavy on bottm) would do much the same on the 335 and LP. It's all about what works and sounds good to you, experiment and have fun. One other thing I'd like to mention is what you use to tune a guitar can make a world of difference also. I'm a ferm believer after years of using a digital tuner and comparing the difference between a strob tuner. They are very expensive but they do work, ask anyone who has changed over. A digital tuner can not come close enough to get it right. Strob tuners are 30 times more accurate and are the only device that can set the intonation properly, a digital can not do it accurate enough. You can hear the difference, they are much faster than a digital. Have you ever heard about the dreaded G string curse, have you experinced the 3rd string tuning that never sounds right, always the first to be out of tune, well the strob will eliminate this problem.

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I must be getting too old....I get overwhelmed with all the multitudes of models and endless finishes on guitars. Strings are the same...just too many. I'd say pick one you like, practice and enjoy the notes! You will find that your mood will dictate what type of strings to use, wether it's rock, blues, jazz....hmmm maybe that's why you should have at least three guitars....so each to his/her own!

 

But for rockabilily, try a 10 first for a ES335 type guitar. If you bend strings a lot and want to be gentler on your fingers, you can try 9's. Heavier strings also help keep your finger muscles in better shape, but thougher on bends...ouch.

 

Have fun searching for your strings to match your style of playing and enjoy the art...practice a lot.

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Hi, Mark -

I think you got the perfect strings sizes with the 11s your tech put on. I used 10s until my favorite tech talked me into trying 11s... and I never went back.

The Casino probably came with 10s, but 11s will bring out more of its sound. Epi P-90s are fine, BTW. They're not Gibson P-90s, but sound good and are really strong in output. I play an Epi Casino and a Gibson ES-330 and like the sound differences between them. The Casino seems to be voiced darker than the 330; it definitely has more rock 'n roll growl while the 330 has more high end and clarity for jazz.

I did some research about string gauges to try to get historically accurate strings for my 1959 ES-225. 10's weren't available in the 50's or even early to mid '60s. The standard gauges back then seemed to 12s, with 11s being light. No less an authority than George Gruhn answered my question about this in Vintage Guitar mag. He said that Ernie Ball was the first mfr. to market 10s - until then, guys took a 10 from a banjo set and replaced the high E with it. I went with 12s on that guitar, but play 11s on all my other guitars - seem like the right blend of sound and playability.

 

Also - take a look at Snake Oil Brand strings. They're available online if you can't find them near you. Made with pure nickel for a nice warm, vintage sound that still maintains good snap. They feel great and last a LONG time, too.

 

Enjoy it,

Dougg330

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Very late to this thread but useful nevertheless. Have just bought my first hollow body - 97 Guild Starfiree II, cherry red, beautiful. A tend to play more soulful/acoustic style, for songwriting, not live/blues/rock so much. So I was thinking of the 11-49 range - does that sound reasonable?

I am also intertested in the 3rd G problem mentioned above> I think I have that infection! Maybe it will go when new strings are on. But I was wondering how that can be solved and f it has to do with the floating bridge. Can anyone advise and in particular how to re-string and keep intonation with this type of bridge!

Thanks all

 

Paul

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I use 11 to 48 (or 49), the G is usually an 0.18 plain which is quite bendable once you have worked a bit.

Best I've ever used are DR Handmade Blues.

Tapewound/flatwound strings are also a good option, usually have a wound G but long-lasting and have a great feel and tone when you get into it.

For these Thomastik-Infeld are amazing but D'Addario are cheaper and well worth trying. 

Keeping intonation; note the position of each end of the bridge in relation to the f-hole, it should be near the wide point.  Many (but not all) f-hole guitars are designed so the bridge lines up with the wide bit of the f-hole.  Use that and the bridge posts as your guide.  If you remove all the strings to clean, when putting new ones on, do the low and high E strings first which will hold the bridge on.   In the past I've also glued a thin strip of felt to the underside of the bridge to cushion it when you adjust it with the strings on.  Basically all you can do is intonate the 2 E strings and hope the rest will line-up ok.   When you get it right, it is worth making a mental note of the (approx) string length measurement from tailpiece to bridge too.

Another tip is to measure the distance from nut to 12th fret; it should be the same distance from the 12th fret to where you place the guitar bridge.

Best wishes.

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