String tension in common D'Addario acoustic sets

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Bryan T, Feb 13, 2018 at 1:03 PM.


  1. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a new (to me) guitar that doesn't have an adjustable truss rod, so I wanted to understand the string tension in various sets I'll experiment with.

    D'Addario posts their tensions online, so I grabbed them and put them in a spreadsheet for comparison. Here are the total tension numbers in various sets:

    80/20
    Light (EJ11) 156.42
    Medium (EJ12) 180.28

    Phosphor Bronze
    Light (EJ16) 160.51
    True Medium (EJ24) 170.4
    Medium (EJ17) 185.27

    Nickel Bronze
    Light (NB1253) 159.99
    Medium (NB1356) 184.62
    Balanced Light (NB1252BT) 147.16
    Balanced Medium (NB13556BT) 175.18
     
  2. Bluedano1

    Bluedano1 Member

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    My 'old' ( '93) Martin or maybe it's really my left hand is sensitive to string tension differences between equally gauged, but different brands of Phosphor Bronze lights...
    None never buzz, but it seems like D'ADDARIOS seem to have less tension and are easier players/benders( but I don't care for what I call a very ' frictiony' wrap on their wound strings- noisy and could be smoother on the finger tips)
    Martin PB's ( regardless of SP, Marquis, regular) always seemed tight, hard to play and corroded quickly ( but I LOVE their Retro Monels, lights)
    So my preference on PB strings seems to be John Pearse, or the GHS Laurence Jubers- they are my ' just right favorites' for my hands and guitar
    ** Note this is all splitting hairs- they all sounded very good, stay in tune, last a pretty long time/endure a lot of playing

    Sidebar:

    I did try the D'ADDARIO Nickel Bronze ( as I have been trying out Monels for almost a year, which are Nickel Copper wrap) once to compare, but they just don't have the tone and feel of the tension ( Monels have slightly different gauging) nor the wrap of the Monels-
    Disappointing and expensive.

    The Monels are an interesting string for me:
    They can play warm and bright like a PB string under normal attack , but hit them hard, rub your pick or fingertips on the windings and they will give a metallic growl, which I really dig on blues and say Country blues fingerpicking. Funny now everytime I restring with PB's I miss the Monels- they are funky!
     
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  3. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    Thanks for the info. What is the guitar? I erred on the side of caution with those that didn't have a truss rod.

    I tried a set of used monels, about 12-54, that my music store mate gave me. I'm not sure how old they were, but they weren't very tarnished or worn. I was mainly interested in how they worked with a magnetic pickup, but they had no more ferromagnetic effect than the JP phos bronze I compared them with. Also, they were warmer sounding than the old JP phos bronze that were on there, to the point of being outright dull in the bass. I realise this isn't a very good test, but it didn't encourage me to investigate them any further. I've been trying EB Aluminium Bronze, 13-56, and I like them, bright, metallic and aggressive. It all depends what you are looking for.
     
  4. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    It is a Martin OM-18 Authentic. They recommend medium gauge strings, but I'm not as cavalier!
     
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  5. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    Nice. :) They have a T-bar, so string tension shouldn't be a problem.
     
  6. Bluedano1

    Bluedano1 Member

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    I will say that ( as someone who played my Martin D in a rock context for a few years and used Medium gauge during this time) D'Addario Mediums seemed to have less string tension than a few other medium PB's I tried at this time, so they were a good fit. ( Around 2001-2005)
    But my guitar sounds it's best, IMO and is easier to play with lights- have only used lights now for 10 years ( 24 years now on this poor guitar)
     
  7. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't think my version does. I think I've read that it has ebony reinforcements, but I'll do more research.
     
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  8. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    Good idea! :) You could ask in UMGF, the Martin aficionados there will know for sure.
     
  9. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    EDIT I had a quick look. They do indeed seem to have an ebony reinforcing rod. I had a 1925 O-21 for a while, a long time ago, it had the ebony rod. I was probably overcautious, using 11s on it, but that was in the days before internet advice. It was from the"transitional' period, so I also tried nylon strings on it. Not very good - I can see why the company didn't really take off until steel strings came in. Anyway, I couldn't get used to the very light strings, so I traded it rather than risk damaging it with heavier strings.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018 at 11:13 PM

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