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Strings - The Differences...

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I kind of asked this question before but it was kind of heaped in with some others and didn't get addressed, so here it is again...

I had originally purchased the lighter weight/ gage, (which is it?), strings because I was told that they would easier to play... Though, I actually don't notice any difference in the ease based on them...

So, if someone would could they please explain the advantages and disadvantages that the different strings hold, it'd be great!... Also, for the most part, I don't like the sound of the strings when my fingers slide across them, my father suggested that perhaps I try "flat wounds" (?)...Sorry, I've never had a guitar lesson, everything thus far has been self taught, so forgive me if my terminology is incorrect at times... : (

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I haven't really experimented with different string gauges so I'm no expert but lighter strings are easier to bend and are easier on the fingertips but don't provide as much sustain as thicker strings.

The way a string is wound refers to what is wrapped round the core of the string. Round wound strings are most common and, as you can see, consist of a metal wire wrapped around the core of the string. The sound of the skin rubbing against this corrugated surface is largely responsible for string squeak.

Flat rounds still have an outer layer but it is completely flat and thus reduces the noise of string squeak, the trade off is that they have a flat sound which isn't to a lot of people's liking.

You can also get half round strings which are similar to round wound but the outer layer is treated to flatten it a little but again the sound and sustain are compromised.

I too dislike the sound of string squeak but it can be heard in the recordings of even the greatest guitarists and is difficult to eradicate completely. Don't forget professionals have talented studio engineers who can help reduce it's effect. Personally I would't trade in the bright, traditional acoustic tone for that of flat wounds just to eliminate string squeak.

Some good tips that have been passed on to me from other forum members are to just practise lifting the hand a bit more when moving up/down the neck and some people have said to put a little talc/baby powder on the hands before playing.

Perhaps some forum member has a guitar fitted with flat wounds and can post a recording so we can hear the tone?

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Thanks for the information on the different ways that they are wound... And, YES, it be great if someone would post a recording!!!!!

Okay, well if lighter strings are easier to play and easier on the fingers, there must be some trade off?????

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Thanks for the information on the different ways that they are wound... And, YES, it be great if someone would post a recording!!!!!

Okay, well if lighter strings are easier to play and easier on the fingers, there must be some trade off?????

My Footprints and Maiden Voyage ,in the recording booth, were both done using my Epi Alleykat set up with flat wounds. They are favoured by jazz players. Flat wounds have a vintage sound you would expect to hear from the 50s and early 60s.

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Thanks for the information on the different ways that they are wound... And, YES, it be great if someone would post a recording!!!!!

Okay, well if lighter strings are easier to play and easier on the fingers, there must be some trade off?????

The trade off, in addition to a weaker volume and less tone, is higher action. The less tension required to tune a string to pitch, the larger the arc it will vibrate in. Take a rubber band and break it so it's not a loop but one piece. Stretch it just a little bit and pluck it like a guitar string and look at the size of the arc it makes. Now stretch a lot and pluck it. See how much smaller the arc is? More tension = lower action w/o buzz, lower tension = higher action w/o buzz.

If you go with a coated string like Elixyr or D'Addario EXP's you'll cut down on finger noise as well.

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I can certainly vouch for the Elixirs. I use them on my acoustic and they're great!

But they're also expensive (at least where I live they are anyway)

Neil

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Heavier strings will ultimately give you lower action without buzzing because of the increase in tension it takes to tune them to pitch. That said, I play 9 gauge strings on my electrics and have the action pretty low and yes, the strings buzz but not so that you can hear it through the amp. If an acoustic buzzes, it's gonna buzz period.

Now don't forget that scale length affects this too. The longer the scale the more tension needed to tune to pitch. This is why a set of 9 gauge strings on a Les Paul feel eaiser to bend than if the same set were on a Strat. Les Paul scale is 24.75 inches and the Strat is 25.5 inches. It's only 3/4 of an inch, but it makes a difference in tension. If you have a player that normally plays 9 gauge strings on a Les Paul and then they pick up a Strat with 10's on it; they'd almost think they were trying to play piano wire.

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So UGB forgive my ignorance but which ones give you a lower action is it the lighter or heavier ones?

Cheers

Mick

I wanted to ask the same question... but then I read the post twice... :) the point is that if you play lighter strings you'll have to set your guitar to higher action in order to avoid the buzz. If action is low, then you'll have the buzz, because the lighter strings vibrate in bigger "radius" then thicker...

Just to empasize, this is not the question "will the switching to lighter strings give me higher action?" The answer to this question is NO, because lighter strings give less tension, and the truss rod will "defeat" this tension => you'll have the lower aciton!

Anyway, these are two diferent things.

I just wanted to add that this higher action shouldn't intimidate you, because lighter strings are easier to press, so you'll have no trouble playing...

If you ask me, I'd underline the loss in tone! When I switched to thicker strings, the sun came out for me... :) My guitar finaly sounded decently! But then, my guitar isn't the expencive one... Maybe with better guitar the diference in tone is less notable...

Please, UGB, correct me if I got it all wrong.

cheers

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Well UGB, while I typed this out, you' had replied... :) Still, was I right about all this stuff? And one more thing, just to be sure if I got it right, "scale length" is the length of the part of the string that vibrades, i.e. the distance between the saddle and the nut?

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UGB - I just can't get over what a wealth of knowledge you are!!!!

Forgive my ignorance too...

Higher action, means a better sound, but harder to play, correct???

I have a Takamine G-Series acoustic/ electric...(Which I believe has a scale length of 25"... I'd like to have easy on the fingers, and as little string slide noise as possible...

Can you just say, NIkki go get________.... Please.... >warm smiles<

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The simple answer is yes, the scale length is the open string distance between the bridge and the nut, however technically that's not correct. One only needs to look at a bridge and it's obvious that EACH string has a unique measurement, therefore the 100%, dead correct answer is..... the scale length of a guitar is measured from the nut to the 12th fret then multiplied by a factor of 2. Ok, we're one step away from a slide rule, pocket protector, and safety glasses on this one so let's back away while we're still 'cool' guitar players.;)

Nikki, higher action on an acoustic typically does translate into better sound, however, you have an acoustic electric so the question is do you want it set up to sound better unplugged or plugged in? Which specific model do you have? I see G series that are all laminate, solid cedar tops, different body shapes, etc.

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UGB - Unplugged....

Takamine G-Series - EG530SSC/ dreadnought/cutaway/ solid top & back/ A/E / natural... : ) Well, that's all the stuff on the box... : ) I'll attach a picture...

I had medium gauge strings on it and I replaced them with with light ones, though I'm thinking I liked the medium gauge better, because the only difference I noticed playing the lighter strings is that they bend easier, which actually works against me, because some chords are a stretch for me and I tend to "pull", them when I don't intend to... Plus, the guitar sounds like it has a bit of a "rattle" if that makes any sense......

697.attach

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I think a good place to start would be light gauge, and for an acoustic that means the 1st string, the skinny E, is a 12, Elixyr Polywebs, not Nanowebs. The Polywebs have a thicker coating and that will cut your finger squeak more. If you don't like them, THEN try the Nanowebs. They've also just come out with a Phosphor Bronze string, which I've not tried, but that might be as good, or even a better choice, for your 2nd option.

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UGB - Thank-you very much... Elixyr is the brand, and the nanowebs/ polywebs are the type, correct???

Just to throw it out there, I have on my guitar right now, Martin "extra light" (the package says 80/20), with the 1st string being a .010, (.25mm), and the 6th,5th,4th and 3rd are all bronze wound.

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I just wanted to ask what this "dreadnought" means? I've seen this "characteristic" or what on few topics here... So what is it?

And UGB, thanks again!!! ;) You're the best!!! :clap:

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Yes, you're correct w/brand and type. You're gonna be making a big jump from a 10 to a 12.:unsure: Just to take it easy on your fingers, you might want to switch to a Silk and Steel string. These are commonly known as Folk type guitar strings; the unwound strings are steel and the wound strings are steel wrapped around a silk core. They're more supple, they require less tension, but they're not as loud or brassy as bronze strings.

A dreadnought is a body style of acoustic guitar invented by the CF Martin company and then copied by any company that ever made an acoustic guitar. If you think the Stratocaster is the most copied guitar, talk to the Martin company about the dreadnought.:D Dreads are big, boomy guitars suited for heavy, rhythm strumming, preferably standing up. Here's a link to Martin's body styles. If it starts with the letter 'D' it's a dreadnought.

http://www.mguitar.com/guitars/choosing/size.html

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UGB- I so appreciate your help, and I apologize for continuing to come back with more and more questions... BUT..."supple", does this mean the strings bend more easily? Because as I said with certain chords they are such a stretch for my tiny hand that I have a tendency to pull them, at least that's what I noticed when I put the extra light strings on my guitar... My fingers are rather tough at this point, so there isn't too much concern there, (don't get me wrong, if I play all day (which often I do, as I'm a farmer and it's off season (winter, where I am) right now so I'm couped up in th house all day) my finger tips will be tender, it's kind of strange I use to have very noticeable callouses, which I don't so much anymore, it's more like my actual finger tips themselves have just hardened, if that makes any sense) actually, (as I mentioned before, I had medium gauge(?) strings on my guitar before), with the extra light strings I noticed that while they require less pressure, the 1st and 2nd strings, actually kind of cut/slice at my finger tips... So, I'd rather spend the extra energy applying pressure than give up my skin! >smiles<

Also, BRASSY, yes I think that must be the sound I referred to as a "rattle", a sound which I do NOT like, which was very noticeable when I switched to the bronze strings! Thanks for that information!!!!! Loud is of ZERO concern to me! Just imagine sitting around at home "picking & grinning", in a mellow kind of mood.... So, now armed with all this information, which strings would you suggest??? I think perhaps I'll but 3 different kinds and try them out over say the course of a month or so... So, don't feel like you have to pick just one kind....AGAIN, I so appreciate your time... Truthfully, I feel guilty asking so many questions when I have nothing to give back...: ( I wrote a long post in the "playing forum", with the intent to give something back, but it certainly wouldn't be of benefit to you!..... ~Nikki

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Oh, just for the sake of clarity... I'm looking for a clean, warm, earthy tone. nothing harsh nor sharp! With as little string slide noise as possible. I don't know if this makes any difference or not but my style seems to be leaning mostly toward finger-picking.

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I'd still suggest the Elixyr Polyweb Lights as your first choice. The polymer coating will kill virtually all of the squeak and it does tame the brassiness of the bronze strings a bit.

Make sure you wear gloves when working on the farm; protect your fingers and callouses.:)

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