Brightest Acoustic Guitar Strings

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by taxman, Dec 19, 2009.


  1. taxman

    taxman Senior Member

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    I'm looking for 11s. What is the brightest set out there? I'm talking shimmery, sparkling bright.

    I have a set of Adamas on my Ovation -- very, very bright but it only lasts for a few hours.
    And I have a set of Pyramid Gold flatwounds on my Epiphone John Lennon acoustic -- very, very dull on the bass side.

    Recommendations for the brightest acoustic strings, please.
     
  2. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Then it's bronze strings you want, perhaps particularly bright 80/20s. Among the brightest I've tried were actually Elixirs - which needles to say last quite a while, but in my book that's the only positive about them.

    Myself I've taken a liking to cryo hardened strings, which are brighter as well as bassier, punchier and cleaner sounding. They are however quite hard on your fingers, so I'd suggest going down a gauge compared to standard. Them being more powerfull, there will not be any drop in volume anyway. DMS Blue Steels Acoustics are available in .011 and .010 sets so I would start there.

    Flatwounds are generally more mellow and jazzy in nature.
     
  3. JohnSS

    JohnSS Member

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    Strings that have a higher brass content are usually brighter sounding. That's why 80/20 bright bronze sets sound brighter than phosphor bronze or some other configurations. I believe there are still some all brass alloy strings from Black Diamond and some other brands that are available.
     
  4. taxman

    taxman Senior Member

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    Thanks for the replies.
    80/20s will be tried.
     
  5. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    The biggest catch here is that words like "bright" or "warm" are entirely metaphorical, with no real logical direction as to how they should be assigned. It would be just as intuitive to describe tone as "tangy" vs "sour". People tune in to different qualities of timbre, attack, sustain, and apply their own associations, which are entirely subjective. Even different string companies will describe 80/20 as brighter vs phosphor bronze as warmer, while others will assign the exact opposite description to them.

    When I was working with Elderly Instruments, I took an afternoon to go through the entire inventory of D-18's, trying to find the two that I felt sounded most identical. I then proceeded to go through the setups, matching them as perfectly to one another as possible. I then strung one with a fresh set of 80/20 bronze D'addario mediums, and the other with medium phosphor bronze D'addarios. I set them out in the customer area, and asked employees and customers to play them, and rate them relative to each other, one as "brighter", the other as "warmer". The results were about 50/50.

    There was no attempt to make this an ideally controlled study, nor was it carefully documented or run through other protocols that a reliable study should endure. Still, I felt it offered a rather interesting insight in to perception and use of subjective, metaphorical terms like this.

    I consider 80/20 to be brighter, for a few days. The alloy oxidizes much faster than phosphor bronze however, and within a week or so of playing, I would generally describe phosphor bronze as brighter than 80/20, for whatever that description may be worth.

    Of course you should also keep in mind that there is no hard rule that limits "acoustic strings" to bronze alloys. Nickel and steel strings we commonly associate with electric have always been an available choice for steel string acoustic guitars, and it's really only in the last few decades that they often seem inappropriately categorized as strictly "electric strings". You can get a set of .012" or .013" nickel strings with a wound third, which I would certainly describe as brighter, and there's nothing inappropriate at all about using them on your acoustic.
     
  6. taxman

    taxman Senior Member

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    Very nice post, Dave.
    I have "electric" strings on one of my acoustics and blah, they just don't do a thing except sound like the early Beatles acoustic sound.
     
  7. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    I'm with David Collins on that the alloy matter can be disputed, and thus contradicting my statement. 80/20s though having more sizzle can also have a sweet high end, in a sense, where Ph Brz are warmer yet a harder treble.

    As in the case with Dean Markley, their Bronze strings are muddier and warmer than their PhBrz offerings.

    Electric strings can actually have a dull effect when used on an acoustic and they tend to wear the frets harder.
     

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