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Thread: Guitar String suggestions

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    Guitar String suggestions

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    I know they say experiment but a place to start would help. I recently bought a birthday gift called an Ashthorpe D-97 dreadnaught style acoustic-electric guitar. The reviews say the guitar is 5star but the strings they supply you with aren't good. So if i want to be in the general area of sound or tone like 1960s-70s folk rock(America-Csny-Jethro Tull-Simon&Garfunkel etc.)what brand,type of metal, flat wound, guage should i use. Mind you, i mean one suggestion that would cover most of the sounds or tone generally mentioned above

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    How a particular set sounds on any given guitar is *not* going to be known until you try some out. The obvious choices would be phosphor-bronze sets from D'Addario, Martin, et al, and also some of the new nickel alloy strings (aka "monel") that harken back to probably a bit earlier time, though still would have been used by some in that timeframe.

    As far as gauge, I'd probably start with light gauge unless you know the guitar is built to handle mediums and want the extra volume (and finger pain!).

    I would not bother with treated strings until you have zeroed in on the type of string, and think the extra cost might be worth it for you.

    BUT, the strings are a small part of the sound of any guitar. The guitars used in the recordings you are probably referring to were made with solid spruce tops and solid tonewoods like rosewood (Brazilian, at that, in many cases - these days not in the realm of affordability for average folks) and mahogany for backs and sides. You are not getting that quality of instrument, so don't be surprised if it doesn't deliver what you are looking for without a lot of tweaking in the mix, as they say.
    Last edited by keith.rogers; 3 Weeks Ago at 14:38.
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    It also depends on your playing. I can't use light gauge strings without going out of tune... I must press them too hard or they have too much give for my playing style... so I prefer a hybrid set of 11s on the bottom and 10s on the top, which luckily Ernie Ball just recently made as Ultra Slinky sets so I don't have to mix and match anymore... but yes, I'd probably buy a few different sets of strings... different types/different gauges... play them for awhile and take note what you like and don't like about each type/gauge and figure out what works for you.

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    Is this your first acoustic guitar? If so, try 11s. I like coated strings - less string squeak and they last longer. I use 13s on my Taylor dread (Martin Lifespan coated 80-20), but use 10s on my old 70s Epiphone dread and 11s on my Fender dread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjbphotos View Post
    Is this your first acoustic guitar? If so, try 11s. I like coated strings - less string squeak and they last longer. I use 13s on my Taylor dread (Martin Lifespan coated 80-20), but use 10s on my old 70s Epiphone dread and 11s on my Fender dread.
    It's not my first...but i have been tone starved on my electric and would like to do better with this acoustic.Flat wound and silk and steel is what i remember about "preferred" in the 1070's.

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    I have settled on Elixir 80/20 Nanoweb -.011-.052 Custom Light for both my Taylor dreadnought and my Dean Key Largo. I actually prefer the Martin Authentic Acoustic - 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Light for their sound but I can't stand the squeaking and the heavier string tension when playing barre chords. I don't change strings often, so the extra life of the nanowebs is a plus.

    I don't recall anyone using flatwounds on acoustics in the 70s except for jazz archtops. Acoustics were always phosphor bronze. A few people would use silk/steel, but strictly for finger picking. They don't hold up to a flatpick. I think if you go back to check what folks like Paul Simon, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Paul and Mary, and Bob Dylan were using, it would be a Martin with roundwound bronze strings. A few folks played Gibsons or Guilds, but probably 75% or more had a Martin.

    Your string choice might also be determined partly by your action. If its too high and can't be adjusted adequately, you'll need to lighten up on the strings, unless you've got a grip of steel. Also, don't expect to get a Martin D18 sound for $100. There's a reason why a good Martin or Taylor will cost you $1000 and up.

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    I tried the ELixirs too and really liked them. They last so long I cant remember what gauge the set is.

    mjb mentioned it reduces squeeks too, I agree thats a nice bonus.

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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    Optima Gold Acoustic 11-50. Forget about all others. And forget to look for new set on very long time. Strings are not corroding at all, are very precise calibrated/tuning, have natural tone and last almost endless. Common problem with other strings is finger dirt, there is a reason for ultrasonic cleaning after some weeks/months of use. Another common problem can be saddle sharp edges (some case even tuner shaft's holes can be sharp) - it can be a reason even for Optima string braking, must be carefully rounded, polished and graphite oiled.

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