The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Tele on Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:23 pm





I see threads about "the best strings" all the time. Allow me to pour a little fuel on the fire. I fully expect to be told I'm nuts, wrong whatever. That's fine. It is our right to disagree. Just remember the forum rules. Here we go-hold on.................................................

Let me be the dissenting opinion here. I wouldn’t propose to tell anyone that strings don’t affect a guitars tone. I would suggest, that after the first six to eight hours of playing time, the differences that can be heard between different types and alloys of strings diminishes to the point that it is difficult to discern with the human ear.

The six to eight hour number above is only an approximation of when the strings have had a chance to be played, stretched, settled down in terms of structure (physics) and are stable with regards to holding pitch. For me, this is the “sweet spot” in the life of the strings, and also provides the best opportunity to record the instrument (after the first eight hours). From this time, depending on your playing style, sweat, acidity of your hands etc., you probably have 20 to 30 hours of playing time before the strings will begin to lose their ability to hold pitch, and the string physically becomes less stable. This is also the point where people who don’t like the “new” string sound begin to enjoy the sound more. The trade off (to me) is the loss of stability with regards to tuning. If you check with a strobe tuner, you will likely find intonation starts to be affected in a negative manner as well. This is due to the physical string losing some of its stability, and the accumulation of dirt and gunk that gets into the windings. If you are so inclined, use a strobe tuner to check your intonation as soon as you install new strings. Take notes, and measure on at least three strings and in a few different places. After you have 30 or so hours (actual playing time) on them, repeat your measurements and compare the two. You might be surprised what you find.

But back to the original question. I buy strings in bulk, because I need to. I have never taken the “cheaper is better” route, always opting for what I believe is a good compromise between tone and price. For years I used GHS strings on everything. For the past five or so years, I use D’Addario. EXP 16’s on all of my acoustics, and for all but one of my electrics I use EXL 110’s. The main reason I use D’Addario is because they are a large manufacturer, and the strings are almost always fresh, and of good consistent quality. If you do the research you will find there are only a few large manufacturers of strings. I really believe that many other things really determine more of a guitars sound. Again, I’m not suggesting they don’t play a part, I just question how large a part in relation the woods used, the builders methods, your personal playing style, attack and so on. I mean, whatever guitar I pick up and play is going to sound like me regardless of what strings are on it.

All of this is my opinion of course, and my personal experience.



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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Omegaman on Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:48 am

And to think I came here to get the latest Kate Middleton update. Awesome insights Telemark. I enjoyed reading that essay.

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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Melodeous on Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:17 pm

Tele wrote:



I see threads about "the best strings" all the time. Allow me to pour a little fuel on the fire. I fully expect to be told I'm nuts, wrong whatever. That's fine. It is our right to disagree. Just remember the forum rules. Here we go-hold on.................................................

Let me be the dissenting opinion here. I wouldn’t propose to tell anyone that strings don’t affect a guitars tone. I would suggest, that after the first six to eight hours of playing time, the differences that can be heard between different types and alloys of strings diminishes to the point that it is difficult to discern with the human ear.

The six to eight hour number above is only an approximation of when the strings have had a chance to be played, stretched, settled down in terms of structure (physics) and are stable with regards to holding pitch. For me, this is the “sweet spot” in the life of the strings, and also provides the best opportunity to record the instrument (after the first eight hours). From this time, depending on your playing style, sweat, acidity of your hands etc., you probably have 20 to 30 hours of playing time before the strings will begin to lose their ability to hold pitch, and the string physically becomes less stable. This is also the point where people who don’t like the “new” string sound begin to enjoy the sound more. The trade off (to me) is the loss of stability with regards to tuning. If you check with a strobe tuner, you will likely find intonation starts to be affected in a negative manner as well. This is due to the physical string losing some of its stability, and the accumulation of dirt and gunk that gets into the windings. If you are so inclined, use a strobe tuner to check your intonation as soon as you install new strings. Take notes, and measure on at least three strings and in a few different places. After you have 30 or so hours (actual playing time) on them, repeat your measurements and compare the two. You might be surprised what you find.

But back to the original question. I buy strings in bulk, because I need to. I have never taken the “cheaper is better” route, always opting for what I believe is a good compromise between tone and price. For years I used GHS strings on everything. For the past five or so years, I use D’Addario. EXP 16’s on all of my acoustics, and for all but one of my electrics I use EXL 110’s. The main reason I use D’Addario is because they are a large manufacturer, and the strings are almost always fresh, and of good consistent quality. If you do the research you will find there are only a few large manufacturers of strings. I really believe that many other things really determine more of a guitars sound. Again, I’m not suggesting they don’t play a part, I just question how large a part in relation the woods used, the builders methods, your personal playing style, attack and so on. I mean, whatever guitar I pick up and play is going to sound like me regardless of what strings are on it.

All of this is my opinion of course, and my personal experience.



That pretty much says it all for me. Everything was spot on. Funny, I also think most people, from forums I've read, prefer the sound of dying, unstable strings. Moreover, it's those same people who claim their strings last for months. Moreover II, it's also those good people who come back with questions about intonation problems.
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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Tele on Tue May 03, 2011 10:50 pm

Thanks Melodeous. It's nice to hear someone agree with me. More important however is your point about other players perspective, or the lack therof. Kind of like the old axiom, "Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it" and then be confused!!!!!! Very Happy

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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Keenan on Sun May 08, 2011 5:06 pm

Well said Tele! I have to agree that I love my D'Addarios! I spent a while using Elixir's, and I just didn't enjoy them.
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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by Tom Bombadil on Tue May 10, 2011 7:02 pm

Keenan, love your avatar!

I use uncoated extra, extra lights and can always tell the difference after a string change. When do I change em you ask? Usually when the high "E" lets me know by breaking.
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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by ffinke on Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:25 pm

Tele! Well written treatise. I tend to agree with everything you've said and the only point that I could add is that there seems to be a debate brewing about coated vs uncoated strings. I currently play an uncoated string which, to me, has the longevity of coated strings without the cost. I've gone considerably more than the 8-20 hours with these strings and the intonation stays right with them. That's what I look for in a string. I also have a friend who can't play... uh... "Brand 'E'" because the coating flakes off and affects his singing. But like you say: acidity, etc. has a lot to do with how a string performs.

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Last edited by ffinke on Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:40 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by EZSTRUMMER on Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:16 pm

Keenan wrote:Well said Tele! I have to agree that I love my D'Addarios! I spent a while using Elixir's, and I just didn't enjoy them.
I agree also, I tried Elixers too and went back to D'Addarion on all of my acoustics. Tele, you should send your statement in to D'Adderio and maybe they'll put it on the back of there box!
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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by ffinke on Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:10 pm

Maybe put it on their EXP strings? No. I think the opinions shared on forums should remain on forums. I know a lot of people who won't play anything BUT brand 'E'. That's the amazing thing: everyone hears and sees and feels differently. That's a good thing.

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Re: The best sounding strings EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post by TomKitt on Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:41 pm

The guitar and the player make a difference as well. My J350 12 came with EXP's, and they sounded dead in about 3-4 weeks. Uncoated strings (from a number of makers) sounded great, but lasted half of that. The Elixers sound great on my guitar and last a long time. The EXP coating tends to fray and flake where the Elixer doesn't -- with my guitar and my playing style. To each his own, I suppose

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