Strings for TONE

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by jtodds, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    Playing the acoustic more and more these days, really loving the immediacy and tonal qualities. I just picked up a McPherson that has some great character contrasting my HD28. Very piano like.
    It came with Elixir Medium 13-54. The low end was amazing, clear and round with a great upper register. Problem was that it was a little fatiguing on my hands. I play 10's on my electrics mostly, some 11's.
    I switched on a set of SOB 12-53 acoustic and it "felt" better but I lost a lot of that special quality I was enjoying especially in the lower register. I like SOB strings so I think it has more to do with gauge.
    I am not a strummer per se on acoustic - listening a lot to Django (I know about the selmer thing) Russell Malone, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice - mostly a flatpicker.
    Should I just try and adjust to the bigger gauge or is there a brand that is "bigger" sounding but in a lower gauge?
    I play for hours daily and seem to gravitate almost completely to acoustic these days but the 13's were challenging after some time so I was tuning down.
    Advice?
     
  2. David Collins

    David Collins Member

    Messages:
    2,253
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Simple answer, no.

    You're not going to get a medium gauge sound out of lights, and that's pretty much it. You can change your setup, your style, but your not going to find any brand of string that will get a medium tone out of light strings.

    Their necks of course are non-adjustable (bit of a thorn in my side, personally), but they do come with different saddles for seasonal or style adjustments. Still, I think it wouldn't hurt to check with your tech about having the nut height fine tuned. As of a few years ago, I still felt they were a bit high right off the rack - better than Martin or Gibson by far, but still with a bit of room to come down. Changing you setup to make the mediums more comfortable is a good first step.
     
  3. royd

    royd Member

    Messages:
    2,000
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    try a set of bluegrass gauge strings... lights on the top and mediums on the bottom. That is what I use on my Lowden and it works great, and I don't lose the bottom end when I drop tunings.

    most companies market that mix (I use Wyres).

    Also, some acoustics can be very sensitive to changes in strings. For Example, my Lowden can be pretty particular. I tried a set of Thomastic Infelds once and they sounded like rubber bands on that guitar. I put a set on a Taylor I had and they sounded fine... It could be that your McPherson just doesn't like the SOB's.
     
  4. MikeD

    MikeD Member

    Messages:
    55
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Try either the John Pearse "New mediums" or the GHS "true mediums" as well. You get the .013, .017 & .056 of the mediums to get the tone out of the trebles and bass, and the lights in the middle to get the feel. If I don't run lights or mediums on a certain guitar, this is all I go with. The Bluegrass strings just don't deliver the fat trebles I like with the lights on the unwound strings like the new and true mediums do.
     
  5. androidbruce

    androidbruce Member

    Messages:
    29
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    I LOVE the Coated Black Diamonds! They last longer than elixrs and sound so good! Not too bright and the tone stays consistent for a while.
     
  6. JSeth

    JSeth Member

    Messages:
    2,140
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon... "Heart of the Valley"...
    the DR "Rare" Bronze seem to feel fatter (and sound that way!) while playing easily - try the .12 set - they say it's medium but it plays like light gauge...

    That said - the first post nailed it... there's no way to get that fat tone from light gauge strings... I've just come to the conclusion that I have to bump up to mediums. .013's, 'cause I can make my fingers stronger but I can't live without that sound!!!
     
  7. Figher53

    Figher53 Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Location:
    92354
    That's funny... I was just about to post on DR Rare Phosphor Bronze strings. To me they are far and away the best sounding. And they do the '12's sound like 13's' a little better than the rest since they're wound a little tighter and hence a little more dense. Or at least that's what my feeble brain and ears think.
     
  8. Ogre

    Ogre Member

    Messages:
    4,308
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2002
    Pyramid are my favorite, but D'Addario Phosphor Bronze arefine(and what Collings & Froggy Bottom recommend) Elixers last a long time, but they have always sounded funny to me.
     
  9. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    I am feeling more and more this way. The tone is so inspiring that, well it has to be worth it - whatever "it" might be.

     
  10. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    Excellent - will give em a try, thanks!

     
  11. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    That might be it as well. I was just hearing Tommy Emmanuel say the same thing - Martins shining on one of his guitars makes another limp, for instance.

     
  12. Jimmydeez

    Jimmydeez Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,501
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2002
    Location:
    Havertown, PA (outside philly)

    I was just thinking this. I put some Martin PB lights on my Martin OMC Aura and I am just not digging them. Very harsh and brittle sounding.

    I think I'm gonna order some strings from webstings. I used their strings exclusively with my DC16-rgt and loved them. I'm hoping that they will bring some warmth and depth back to the OMC.
     
  13. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    I changed out the saddle to the lower height and put the 13's back on and all is well in the world. I will experiment with some of the string suggestions but clearly there is much tone to be had in the bigger gauge.
     
  14. littlepicker

    littlepicker Member

    Messages:
    178
    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    south shore of Lake Erie
    Did you put the lowest saddle in?
    Did you lose much volume when you put the lower one in?
    I'm in about the same situation as you.
     
  15. jtodds

    jtodds Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Location:
    NY - Manhattan
    Put the lower saddle in and I really like it. This is an amazing guitar. The 13's are essential, specifically what will be the best brand match I don't know but even these Elixir's sound great.
    I can't answer for sure how much volume was lost as I was switching directly from the lighter gauge on the medium saddle and did not like that tone, so I was more conscious of the overall improvement of gauge and saddle. I will switch again at some point to determine this and go from there if it is a noticable drop. From what I am experiencing I don't expect it to be an issue as I am REALLY enjoying the tone and playability of the guitar as it is now.

    If you switch I would really like to hear your experience.

     

Share This Page