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Alistair S

Acoustic guitar strings

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I'll 'fess up. I hate new strings :o - or did!

 

I prefer a more mellow tone to the bright, new string tone. I quite like old strings, and I'm not alone. I'm pretty sure Nick Drake played on old strings. Clapton had old strings on his slide guitar and some others have professed to liking old strings too. 

 

However, we do have to change them sometimes ...

 

I recently bit the bullet and put new strings on my Martin. D'Addario Phosphor Bronze. Lots of people like them (apparently) and want that brilliance. Not me! They had to go. They grated.

 

They came off and I tried some John Pearse 610LM Silk Wound Phosphor Bronze strings. These are mellow and they make me want to play again. What a difference! Nice tone. 

 

I'm now thinking about trying some silk and steel (I may have gone for some before but I thought the gauges on offer looked a bit light for my taste).

 

I see nickel wound strings are making a comeback. Some people like the coated strings (Elixirs, etc.). What about you? Am I nuts liking older strings? Anyone tried silk and steel?

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I used to use D'Addario Phosphor Bronze, but have moved on to Elixirs.  That said, I'm the complete opposite of you, I much prefer the bright tone of new strings* and was changing the D'Addarios monthly.  Elixirs can go for several months before dulling much, and the coating minimizes screeching finger slides.  I doubt I'll ever use any other brand.  

 

*  I should note that my guitar has a balanced tone that makes good use of the brightness.  I've played other guitars that were much twangier, and I suspect that I'd be less inclined to change those.  

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I don’t like new strings either. But unfortunately I usually leave my strings on muuuucccchhhh longer than I should. For instance. I played a gig last August. I thought about changing them before the show but didn’t get to it. Fast forward to about a week or so ago. Yep, I finally changed them. And I play almost daily. I bet they were pushing a year old. 

 I also use the D’addario Phosphor Bronze. I agree. Definitely too bright sounding early on. But they usually get to my liking after a good 10+ hours or so. The only other acoustic strings I’ve tried was something by DR I think. I hated the sound and removed them pretty quickly. I’ve heard good things about Elixirs. I think Dave HoboSage mentioned that he uses them or something similar. 

 So yeah. I hate changing strings and I also hate new strings. 

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It's not just me then! :)

 

I can understand that new strings likely help if you need an acoustic to cut through in a mix but I'm less convinced of their benefit for solo guitar and finger picking. Others will disagree, I'm sure, but I'm also pretty sure that a lot of the older recordings we all love weren't made with brand new strings.

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Back in the 30's and 40's  They weren't using bronze or phosphor bronze.   They were using nickel alloy's on acoustic steel string guitars.  Nickel doesn't last that long.  It's certainly not as brash as those strings made for the last 50+ years.  

 

Nickel acoustic strings are making a comeback.   Such as D'addario Nickel Bronze.   I have a set of these but my guitar is just now a week old and I'm reluctant / too lazy to switch.

 

 

I play flatwounds electrics on my archtops.   If you are willing to lose some of the brashness and bass response of Bronze them They have a wound G string so you won't have intonation issues that come with trying to string electric strings on an acoustic.

 

 

 

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I prefer coated strings - they last longer, and less 'finger squeak'.  Been using Martin Lifespan on my old acoustics for some time.  About 3 years ago, got a new Taylor.

The Taylor 310ce came with Elixers, they were dead when I got it, but as it was a NOS, figured they were just old.  Tried another set - yuk.  Tried D'Addario coasted string. Horrible.  Back to the Martin Lifespans.  I use the 80/20s, don't like the sound of the 92/8s as much, but that's all I can get for my  12-string in the Martin Lifespans.

Bought a set of Martin Retro (nickel wound), which I just put on the Taylor yesterday.  Definitely a different sound when new, will see how they 'break in' - I'm usually happy with the Lifespan strings once they are a couple of days old.

 

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