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Archtop Strings - Any Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Kappy, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Can anyone give me some guidance in buying strings for an ES-175? I'm only really accustomed to regular electric strings (with an unwound G). The strings that came with this guitar are these really weird, sleek strings that have a silverish finish and are very smooth (even on the wound strings). Either this set is way old, or they just sound like deads-ville. I don't really like them.

    I'd like to get a nice set of normal wound 12s with a wound G string, but I'm really looking for the fullest sound I can get, so if those other sleek ones are ideal, let me know. I can get used to them. I guess I just don't know anything about the advantages/disadvantages of the different types of strings you can get for these guitars.

    Thanks for any clues.

    Dave
     
  2. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Sounds like the guitar is strung with flatwound strings.These were more popular in the olden days and cut string noise and could be considered fairly dead sounding.

    Lots of makers make sets in appropriate gauges for a jazzbox.They might not be heavily stocked by your typical store.I'm sure D'Addario makes a jazz set that is roundwound and also styles that are sort of between flat and roundwound.You might try Dean Markley medium gauge which I think run from .011 to .052.Some folks will suggest brands like Thomastic-Infeld(sic?).

    Flatwound strings are either wrapped with flat wire or the wrap is heavily ground down afterward and are dark with little fingernoise.They give that typical "underwater" old school jazz comping tone.They were fairly common in the 50s and 60s and some folks use them for "surf" tones.

    Roundwound strings are wrapped with round wire and are the most common strings used today.Brightness varies with alloys/metals used.

    There are some configurations where the string is slightly ground or even semi flat which retain some livliness with less noise.

    If you check the sites of various manufacturers you probably can find explanations of string types and gauges.

    As for Superior Guitarworks there probably are some threads you can find on the Les Paul Forum.In general they have a good rep but may be busy and expensive.Ron Ruggerio is another local guy with lots of experience.Since you live in Narberth I'd suggest checking out Cintioli Music in NE Philly of you aren't familiar with them.
     
  3. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Thanks for the replies to my questions, mc5nrg. I have actually spoken on the phone with cintioli when I was looking to buy a Heritage archtop. I'll have to talk to both and see what they're about.
     
  4. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm using a 13-56 set of roundwounds... somethimes with a plain G (a 19, I think), other times with a wound G.

    The plain G makes for easier bending, so that seems to be the one that ends up on there, more often than not.
     
  5. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    I like the flatwound strings on my jazzbox.I use the GHS flatwounds but go with 13's so I can get a fairly big low E.
    Their 11's go to 46 on the low E and I prefer something larger.
     
  6. xroads

    xroads Member

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    If this is your first archtop, you should find out if flatwound or roundwound
    is your preference. Obviously, the guitar is strung with flatwounds now,
    and you don't seem to like them.
    As others stated, flatwounds sound more damped, but they also bring out a woodier sound IMO. I experimented quite a bit with my Heritage H575, and end up using Thomastik flatwounds (12). All roundwounds sounded too shrill to me, and didn't give me the sound I was looking for from an archtop...

    Good luck,

    Xroads
     
  7. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I'll give the flats a chance. It's possible they've been on the guitar for 3 years (I can't tell if they're worn out or not, I've never used these). I could see myself getting used to them. I guess I'll just buy 4-6 sets of different styles and sizes and get a feel for whether I like them or not.

    Thanks for all the replies. I may wind up being an archtop player after a few years hanging around you guys. ;) (*Shhhhhh* don't tell Jim Soloway. :))

    Cheers,

    Dave
     
  8. AlexT

    AlexT Guest

    Bear in mind that flats last extremely long. I started using Tomastik 12s on my 335 and archtop and now have them on all my guitars.

    Alex
     
  9. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    LOL!!

    FWIT, I'm with AlexT on this one. I've been playing Thomastik Infeld Swing Series flat wounds for about 12 years. I woldn't even consider anything else.
     
  10. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    heh. You know it's ironic, I picked up some Tomastik Infeld Swings yesterday that are 13-53. I haven't put them on yet, but I'm looking forward to checking them out.
     
  11. Zelmo

    Zelmo Member

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    Found this old chestnut using the Search function and thought I'd recycle it.

    I just bought a thinline archtop today and I've also got some questions about strings. I REALLY LIKE what's on there now, but unfortunately, I don't know what they are except that they're 12's with what feels like a pretty heavy gauge on the low end (54, 56 maybe?). Nice woody sound; great tonal balance and feel, and great tension. The 12's easly feel like I'm playing 11s.

    Flattwound, roundwound - how do you tell? Only thing I can see is that the light does not reflect uniformly along the entire length of the wound strings. Sort of shiny for a few inches, then darker, then shiny...

    I'll have to find out what's on there now and go from there.

    The main question I have is this: it's currently got a wound G string on there and without being able to get a full step bend on there, I'm kind of ham strung. Do I put a plain G on there and risk losing what sounds like a nice balance, or do I keep the wound string on there and just work on comping, etc.? What do you all do with the G string?

    Any thoughts much appreciated.
     
  12. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    I think you will LOVE the Thomastik BeBop series.

    They make .013s with a wound G and .012s with a plain G.

    They sound and feel incredible. And they're roundwound.
     
  13. Zelmo

    Zelmo Member

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    Thanks. I'm putting in an order for some things tomorrow. I'll give 'em a shot.
     
  14. mbruffey

    mbruffey Supporting Member

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    Be sure you try both pure nickel and nickel wrapped for tonal differences. Mark
     
  15. K-man

    K-man Member

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    If the flatwounds don't work out you could try the D'Addario halfrounds. They are a nice compromise.
     
  16. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    FWIW, since starting the post, I was using the TI GB-114s on my ES-175 and loved them! Great tone, great feel. I've subsequently sold that guitar, however.

    I'm using their "Swing" .012 guage set on my CS-336 and I love them too. I couldn't be happier with their strings. Haven't felt a need to try many other brands. Bonus that they seem to last forever too.
     

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