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brass vs steel guitar strings

12 Nov 05 - 06:34 PM (#1603283)
Subject: brass vs steel
From: mkebenn

Recently bought brass wound strings instead of steel. I don't care much for them. Wondered what you were using, and the reason. Used on a Martin dreadnought, if that's relevent. Mike


13 Nov 05 - 05:25 AM (#1603625)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: DonMeixner

I have used Martin Bronze Lites for 30 years. They suit my style and I can always find them. No other reason.

Don


13 Nov 05 - 07:38 AM (#1603659)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: Mooh

Regular D'Addario phosphor-bronze. They stay bright enough, long enough, to my ears, under my fingers with my body chemistry. Years ago there was a Takamine lawsuit "Martin" that liked bronze wounds, but all my current axes are solid wood all round and seem to prefer the phosphor-bronze. Don't usually use coated strings, though sometimes will for recording if finger noise becomes an issue.

The electrics get D'Addario nickel strings, the classical hard tension nylons, and the fretless bass gets Rotosound nylon coated tape wound strings.

Strings are pretty individual to the hands, ears, and instrument, so your milage may vary.

Peace, Mooh.


13 Nov 05 - 10:42 AM (#1603754)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: Leadfingers

I am another D'Addario addict - Use their Phosphor Bronze on all my guitars and mandolins , though i tend to use John Alvey Turner for banjo !! Martin strings break too quickly for me !!


13 Nov 05 - 11:34 AM (#1603787)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: GLoux

John Pearse Phosphor Bronze...if I can't find them, I use D'Addario.

-Greg


13 Nov 05 - 12:40 PM (#1603819)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: mkebenn

Thanks, and thanks for assuming I meant bronze and not brass, which, of course is what I meant. Mike


13 Nov 05 - 12:45 PM (#1603820)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: Richard Bridge

D'Aquisto do a string they call their "Brass Master" series.


13 Nov 05 - 02:05 PM (#1603874)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel
From: kendall

D'Addario works for me too. I am trying a set of Pyramid that are very loud and seem to be holding up well, but they are expensive. The jury is still out on them.


13 Nov 05 - 07:45 PM (#1604137)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Hand-Pulled Boy

I'll stick to Newtone strings.


13 Nov 05 - 07:51 PM (#1604142)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Justa Picker

I fluctuate between Newtone phos/bronze, John Pearse 80/20s or Elixer Nanowebs, depending on the need and useage. The bronze GHS Laurence Juber cryogenics are nice too.


13 Nov 05 - 08:16 PM (#1604149)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Mooh

Heard good things about the Newtones...should order some from 12th Fret. Thanks. Mooh.


13 Nov 05 - 11:35 PM (#1604278)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: yrlancslad

Thanks for clarifying "guitar strings". I was going to weigh in with my opinions about 'tina reeds, steel versus brass.


14 Nov 05 - 12:14 AM (#1604292)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Bert

Is there really much difference? Try a blindfold test.


14 Nov 05 - 06:33 AM (#1604441)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: mooman

I used to use Elixirs but now all my instruments are strung with Newtone phosphor bronze strings. Because Malcolm Newton uses a round core wire rather than a hexagonal one, they tend to accumulate less moisture and last well with an excellent sound. Considerably cheaper than Elixirs too (I order them direct from Malcolm and tend to buy about 12 - 16 sets in my own custom gauges (he will make up sets with the gauges you specify as well as having a number of "standard" sets) at a time to keep postage to a minimum). All his strings are still made by him personally.

I tend to find steel wound strings a bit lacking in character and clangy although they last forever. In the days I used to have a tenor banjo, I tended to use nickel-wound strings on that,)

Peace

moo


15 Feb 09 - 12:10 PM (#2567540)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

Out of the "guitar strings" threads over the years, this seems as good a one to re-start as any.

How about a systematic review concentrating on TYPES (not makers) of guitar strings - there will have to be some mention of makers because some makers almost monopolise certain types. What I'm looking for is a heuristic feel for the direction in which a type of composition or structure or coating would influence sound.

Here goes: -

First off can anyone summarise the sound differences between: -

bronze,
80/20 phosphor-bronze,
brass, and I have recently seen
92/8 phosphor -bronze and
strings allegedly alloyed with titanium?

I once tried D'Aquisto Brass masters (the D'Acquisto Bronze Master 13/58s were my string of choice at the time) and found that although there was a quite attractive bright "ring" to them, they did not "shimmer" like 80/20s.

I have used straight "bronze" and for me I do not hear an increase in bottom end thud, but I do hear less shimmer and maybe marginally less brightness.

I have not tried 92/8.

I have not tried titanium.



Coatings - I have tried the D'Addario EXP and found them a bit greasy sounding. Elixir Polywebs sound lke they are coated in a thick polymer (suprise!) and so are a bit dull and thudding, without good brightness or shimmer. Elixir Nanowebs feel and sound bright and not honking to me - but I just put a set on my Mugen THE78 and the G is dull already - out of the box.

Elixir are VERY overpriced in the UK - is there a cheaper alternative?


Size matters!

I like a big bassboom. Elixir do light/mediums ie 12/56, and D'Aquisto do both 12/5s and 13/58s - but not coated.

I've recently started trying out some DADGAD stuff, so I'd really like a set 14/18/24/32/44/58 which is not a standard DADGAD set.
The only maker I know who will do custom sets (quite a few do do DADGAD sets) is Newtone, and I don't like his strings (see below). Anyone got suggestions?


Structure - Newton uses a round core AND a low-tension philosophy. I'm unconvinced by the round core view - I'd ahve expected teh "bite" of a hex core into the winding to keep a good unity of vibration. More importantly, his low-tension approach seems to me not to get the top of the guitar throbbing properly - inf act one of his sets (I think 13/56s) were one of the only two sets ever I put on, played for a day to give them a chance, and took them straight off again.


Strings to avoid: Tho only other strings I ever I put on, played for a day to give them a chance, and took them straight off again had a name a bit like (I forget exactly) "Redwing" (presumably composed by someone who never read pulp novels about the Hell's Angels).



Open to suggestions!


15 Feb 09 - 12:38 PM (#2567567)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Will Fly

Richard - my experience is that some strings sound OK on some guitars and less OK on others, but I'll summarise what I use and why.

I play a Martin XC1T electro-acoustic with a Baggs iBeam pickup, and a Larrivée OM-03RE with a Baggs pickup, and I play these both electrically and acoustically.

When I bought the Martin, it was fitted with "Eric Clapton Martin phosphor bronze strings - .012-.054 gauge (I think). I have fairly acidic hands, and these would retain their brightness and zing for about a day. Now, some players don't do brightness and zing - preferring a duller sound - but not me. So the Martin strings had to go, and I decided to try both Elixir coated strings and D'Addario EXP coated strings.

The D'Addario's suit neither guitar nor me. They sound completely dull. I recently had the pickup in the Martin changed from Fishman Ellipse to the iBeam and the techie who did the change also put new strings on for me. He commented on the difference that the new Elixirs made when he took the not-so-old D'Addarios off. Much cleaner and less muddy.

The Larrivée came factory-fitted with Elixir Nanoweb Lite strings - .012-.053 gauge, and I've stuck with these ever since. When the coating starts to fray over the soundhole on the 3rd and 4th strings is when I change them - or when the 3rd string breaks. Elixir 3rds have a reputation for breaking early, and I now order 3rds by the half-dozen from my supplier. This breakage applies to both guitars and can happen at the nut or bridge ends. I wrote to Elixir in Germany about this recently. They wouldn't admit there was a fault, but sent me two complimentary sets... Polywebs just fray faster. However, in spite of these minor complaints, I still prefer Elixirs to any others at the moment. I will never use EXPs again.

My supplier has been recommending the new Ernie Ball coated strings as being very good, and I may well give these a go. However, it seems to me that any comment on strings will vary from player to player and from guitar to guitar - so experimentation with what suits you best seems to be the rule.


15 Feb 09 - 12:48 PM (#2567576)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

Will, does anyone do DADGAD sets or custom sets in Nanowebs, do you know?

Has anyone tried teh various coated strings now surfacing on ebay?


15 Feb 09 - 12:54 PM (#2567587)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Will Fly

I doubt whether any manufacturer does specific sets for "open" tunings - simply because there are so many possible tunings, and I've never personally spotted any advertised as such. :-)


15 Feb 09 - 12:59 PM (#2567594)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

Gordon Newton does do DADGAD sets, and I have seen others. I agree, though, yes, a DADGAD set will be fine for DADF#AD, but put it in CGCGCE and that C on the second string will be dangerous!


15 Feb 09 - 02:03 PM (#2567651)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: eddie1

Hi Richard
Next time you're in a CGCGCE mood, try dropping that E down to C. Yes, it's very slack but gives a wonderful "sitar" kind of sound. Play melody on 1st two strings with other four as drones. I've used this for "Bells of Rhymney", "Sally Free And Easy" and a few other songs.

Eddie


15 Feb 09 - 02:33 PM (#2567682)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: cptsnapper

I've tended to fluctuate between medium gauge D'Addario 80/20 & 85/15 but I'v also just tried the D'Addario Acoustic flat tops phosphor bronze & I rather like them.


15 Feb 09 - 02:37 PM (#2567685)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

What difference can people actually hear between straight bronze, 80/20, 85/15, and 92/8?


16 Feb 09 - 07:49 AM (#2568139)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine

I've been using D'Addario 80/20 phosphor bronze for some years now, and they do the job just fine, last long and sound good. I tried Martin bronze wound strings a while back, mainly because they were cheap- they somehow sounded more "old-fashioned" than phosphor bronzes, and didn't last as long. They didn't suit my regular guitars at all, but were just right for an old guitar belonging to my Dad.


16 Feb 09 - 11:24 AM (#2568252)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: cptsnapper

I definitely find that the 85/15's are brighter but they don't suit all guitars. I've got a Thornbory Knighton 120 which they suit, in my opinion, but I remember suggesting to someone that they try them on their Gibson but we agreed that they were too bright for it. I've never tried 92/8s.


20 Feb 09 - 03:27 AM (#2571552)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: cptsnapper

I REALLY like the D'Addario Acoustic flat tops phosphor bronze strings: I think that they're the best that I've ever used.


20 Feb 09 - 04:31 AM (#2571570)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

Are they a flat finish, unlike a roundwould string? All the flatwounds I have previously played had a notably absent top end - apart from being flat under the fingers, they sounded like old old old dull strings...


20 Feb 09 - 08:58 AM (#2571686)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: cptsnapper

This is what I got from the website.
D'Addario Flat Tops are round wound, then precision ground, leaving the outer surface smooth and "semi-flat." This produces a smooth, flattened playing surface, but does not sacrifice the superb tone and sustain associated with phosphor bronze strings. Flat Tops greatly reduce finger noise and are excellent for recording and flatpicking.

All that I can say is that they really ring for me but that's on my guitar so it may well be different for someone else.


20 Feb 09 - 09:47 AM (#2571726)
Subject: RE: brass vs steel......guitar strings
From: Richard Bridge

Maybe I should try them, and put up with the short life...