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Guitar Strings - Less Squeak and Favorite Makes?
Old 28th March 2003
  #1
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Guitar Strings - Less Squeak and Favorite Makes?

How much of it is a technique thing, and how much of it can be cured by using particular kinds of strings?

I've heard of flat wound and round wound, and I'll take a guess that flat will squeak less. Of you guitarists out there, is there any sacrifice of tone when using one type of wound string versus another?

I'm not a fan of using a de-esser or sidechain to take down squeaks, or if the player has almost no control of them, that means tons of careful tweak editing, which I also dislike.

Any advice?
Old 28th March 2003
  #2
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mdbeh's Avatar
 

Some of it is technique. My brother's old bass teacher, who plays in the National Symphony, always said, "there's a left hand attack and a right hand attack," which I thought was a good line. A lot of guys don't pay enough attention to what their left hand's doing.

That said, some types of strings will squeak less than others. I like nickel strings, as opposed to stainless steel, for this--the Ernie Ball "Rock 'n' Roll" type are good. Ribbon mics help, too. I have a Sank-modded Beyer 160 that's great for smoothing out clanks and squeaks.

Personally, I'm more than happy to give up the super-bright attack. It sounds impressive by itself, but it just clashes with cymbals and vocal "air" in the mix. I don't do Nu Metal, though, so YMMV, depending on what styles you're into.
Old 28th March 2003
  #3
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Kris's Avatar
Elixir's are exceptional at keeping squeaks down on acoustic... and I prefer the tone of them on my Gibson as well...

They also last much longer...

They make em for electric too, but I've never tried em... I stick to the cheapo Ernie Ball Super Slinkys... work great for me...
Old 28th March 2003
  #4
tee
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tee's Avatar
 

Elixir

Ditto on the Elixirs, that's been my experience also, plus they're really balanced tonally and last about 3 times as long as the usual suspects.
Old 29th March 2003
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Amen to the Elixirs... I love 'em. Huge decrease in finger noise and great tone out of the wrapper. I find that with most acoustic string there is about a day of "break in" time before they don't sound weird and rubber-metallic to me.

For electric I always use the GHS Nickel Rockers.
Old 29th March 2003
  #6
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
For electric I use regular Ernie Ball Slinkys, 10-46 or D'Addario depending on what's in stock when I go to buy strings. Acoustic I use the D'Addario set of 11's. There's a big differance in the type of string too, 80/20 is much more mellow then a phosper bronze set. If you want total brightness and long lasting electric strings use stainless steel rather then nickel. For a long time I used Blue Steel's because they lasted longer, but I didn't like the tone as much as a nickel set. Strings play a much bigger part of acoustic sound then electric sound IMHO.
Old 29th March 2003
  #7
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5down1up's Avatar
 

i never understood the advice why people are using " new strings " when recording . i hate that , on all guitars and especially on bass . i like the sound of those jazz guitar strings which dont produce a lot of overtones . chords sound amazing using those strings , distortion is another story .

i think the tone itself depends a lot on the playing skills , especially of what you call dynamic .

i stick to the cheap strings like ernie ball for electric ,
i love the martin strings for acoustic ,
and the jazz strings for the semi acoustic .

i would love to experiment a lot more with different settings but adjusting guitars to different strings and tuning especially the real low ones is pain in the A**
Old 29th March 2003
  #8
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

A few thoughts from years of observation.

1. a guitar's setup can be optimised to a particular brand and size of string in addition to particular tunings. I've seen setup make a huge difference in sound, intonation and even squeeks. When it's really optimized it can become a bit of a one trick pony which is why you'll see some people always bringing lots of different guitars with them.

2. a change in enviornment can really throw off a setup. It's not uncommon for high profile groups to ship their recording guitars to the studio a few weeks in advance and then bring their technician in to set them up at the studio right before they begin to record.

3. the biggest problem with "dead" strings is that the overtones are out of tune which can really throw off anybody trying to overdub.

4. most of the very best sounding acoustic strings don't seem to last very long. I haven't knowingly run into Elixirs yet. Maybe I'll get my wife a set to check out!

5. there's a big difference between a great sounding solo guitar and one that sounds great mixed with other instruments.
Old 29th March 2003
  #9
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"there's a left hand attack and a right hand attack,"

mdbeh, the bass teacher you know is onto something here, for sure. That makes a lot of sense. I won't try that line on a client until it's painfully apparent that they need some advice, but the guitarist I'm cutting my own material with could stand to hear it. Much appreciated. thumbsup

Flatwounds will really mellow the tone of your instrument. It is kinda like rolling down the tone knob on your guitar/bass quite a bit. Depending on the style of music that you are recording, this might not be a problem at all.

That's the kind of insight I was looking for regarding tone. Very helpful. Mellowed down is probably not the usual direction for the material we're working on. Nobody likes a dull 12 string, for instance. Thanks Kent.

Kris: Elixir's are exceptional at keeping squeaks down on acoustic... and I prefer the tone of them on my Gibson as well...

They also last much longer...


Moze: Amen to the Elixirs... I love 'em. Huge decrease in finger noise and great tone out of the wrapper.

Tee: Ditto on the Elixirs, that's been my experience also, plus they're really balanced tonally and last about 3 times as long as the usual suspects.

Looks like I'm convincing the guitarist to get a set of Elixir's then! I read in another thread where sonic dogg found the Elixir's in disfavor, and wonder why. I should point out that he squeaks the worst on bass, if it makes any difference when we change the strings. Any advice on bass strings, or does the same general idea hold true here as well?

5down1up: i never understood the advice why people are using " new strings " when recording . i hate that , on all guitars and especially on bass .

Could you elaborate on why you dislike new strings when recording? The break in time could be a small factor if the strings are brand new on the day of recording, I guess. Why else?
Old 29th March 2003
  #10
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Bob, all excellent observations. Point #3 is well taken. I'm hearing overtones from certain notes on the 12 string that clash with the fundamentals. I'm betting there are a few dead strings and that the general setup could use some work. Much appreciated!
Old 29th March 2003
  #11
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Jax,

Gotta agree with the elixer statement, but I will elaborate: get the nanowebs in addition to the polywebs and use what you think sounds better. I personally like the new nanowebs a LOT.

I also agree that brand new strings don't sound terrific on an electric guitar. They audibly sound more brash and strident in the highs. But they are a no brainer on acoustic instruments- whenever I'm doing a serious recording, a brand new set of elixers and usually a set up are always in order.

Ben
Old 29th March 2003
  #12
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Etnier's Avatar
 

Quote:
I read in another thread where sonic dogg found the Elixir's in disfavor, and wonder why.
I don't know that thread, but some acoustic guitar purists claim the Elixers, which are coated with a microfine plastic layer, don't sound as good as a brand new conventional set. IMHO it's a very subtle distinction, and the reduction in string squeak is well worth whatever is traded off in most cases.
Old 29th March 2003
  #13
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Right on, Etnier.
Old 30th March 2003
  #14
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Tim L's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Kent
... I usually throw new ones on the day before a session, stretch them and tune them several times and then check the intonation. I give everything a final check during the 30-ish minutes prior to recording too.
This is what I like to see happen also... makes a big time difference!

I haven't gotten into the Elixers but I do like using the D'Addario coated's on my acoustic. I'll have to give the "E's" a shot.
Old 30th March 2003
  #15
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5down1up's Avatar
 

if you are breaking strings a lot , you are doing something wrong or the instruments are not adjusted well enough .
it happens from time to time ... but it shouldnt happen a lot .

ok , if you are a whammy bar or bending maniac , probably

i like the dynamic action of a guitar , using new strings this option is kinda more limited to my ears , cause even if you dampen the strings , the sounds between low & high dynamic parts are just different . the tone is somehow thin kindalike comparing the fat sound using your thumb or a real thin plec .

thats why i like nylon guitars a lot , you can hit em hard and it still sounds great , especially playing with fingers it sounds just fat .

its like comparing keziah jones and dave matthews . dont get me wrong i love dave but keziah is the man .
Old 30th March 2003
  #16
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

I kill strings hard and fast, they last about an hour in any kind of intonation. The G's always die first, then the low E, otherwise I might get an hour and a half or more.

I'm talking acoustic here.

Elixirs die just as fast in my hands, I play 'em from the core on out.

It's amazing, with really good set-up, really healthy strings, and a player with a certain kind of awareness, a guitar can actually be in tune all the way up and down the neck, and with other instruments! Well some guitars anyway.

An instrument without all these factors going for it can drive some players to real desperation. Or it can feel so nice... yeah...

I use Chet Atkins' prescription for avoiding squeeks- press down HARD with the left hand when sliding between positions. It hurts a lot but it works.

I used to break a lot of strings, but now they all die and are buried before they break. Big fat old things, more mass to move the air.
Sensation in the fingertips is a red flag- somebody hasn't been playing enough.


A brief spin on an upright bass will put it all into perspective, if need be.
Old 31st March 2003
  #17
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toledo3's Avatar
 

I'm not down with the elixers, but to each their own. they just don't "feel" or "sound" right, to me. If I want to minimize string noise, I'll just put a little silicon on a rag, and wipe it up and down the strings, That being said, a hardly ever do that, and never do that on my own guitars. I spent a lot of time playing jazz, where that is really frowned upon, so I'm pretty much in control of all string noise.
Old 31st March 2003
  #18
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I'm totally NOT down with the Elixers. They feel wrong to me, way too slick. Sorry, I'd rather swap sets around a few more times and have something that's inspiring to play. Seriously though, don't underestimate what the string is made out of. I played any old acoustic strings for years and years until someone told me about the differance between 80/20 and phosper bronze. $50 and a few days later I had learned a lot about how strings affect guitar tone.
Old 31st March 2003
  #19
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Well I hate the way Elixers sound on electric guitar, no doubt, but have a hard time listening to acoustics that aren't equipped with them. I'm not playing Martin or Gibson style guitars, so maybe that's why, but whenever my Taylor or Goodall had anything but Elixers, they just didn't sound 'right.' One brand I'd be interested in is Thomastik-Infield (sp?), though. On my own recordings, I go for a really clear and deep acoustic sound and find it hard to get that low end clarity with most other strings. That could also be because my hands sweat like a mother ****er when I play and Elixers don't seem to mind.
Old 31st March 2003
  #20
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Well you should use what sounds best for your axe. I have a rosewood Collings and it has an extremely rich sound. I tried the Martin strings and it was getting pretty muddy- I'm sure they sound great on a thinner sounding guitar than mine, probably just what's needed with a maple back or one of them brand new still-green things. (the color you turn after too much time at the whiskey still?)

On a really rich sounding guitar like mine I'm using the brightest strings I can find, and brand spanking new. I'm sure that can be obnoxious on a thinner sounding instrument that doesn't give you enough wood sound at all frequencies.
Old 31st March 2003
  #21
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My thoughts exactly, Ted!
Old 1st April 2003
  #22
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sonic dogg's Avatar
Hiya Jax....Yeah...I have a real love/hate relationship with the elixors...they came with my Taylor and yeah they sounded great and lasted a lo....well they lasted until they broke...new out of the package...two strums medium pick...clack! three sets in a row...Dont ANYONE tell me its the guitar set-up...my tech is great at this as am I...the guitar was new...repeated e-mails to elixor and ZERO response...I buy strings in bulk...a case at a time....fuk em if they dont want to warranty their product.....

Martin SP's...real smoothe and balanced..not like the Marquis which i cannot stand...they last much longer than the d'add's and the markleys and all the rest...two hours of wankin on em before a session and they're perfect for all day and the next...

Electrics....SIT's....really....seat em in real good....ya'll know about 'seating' a string....? those SIT's keep their elasticity, tone, balance and they fuk'n stay in tune better than any string I've ever seen....really...and they're cheep!!Also the basic D'add's...good string...lasts till you hate em....they do loose their intonation quickly though......just MHO......
Old 1st April 2003
  #23
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Meriphew's Avatar
 

I've been using DR's lately. They sound great but are a little pricey to change as often as I do. I used to use the guitar strings made by RotoSound, but I can't find them locally anymore.
Old 1st April 2003
  #24
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

I'm happy with the D'Adds, and the price is right, until the damn G string croaks. Often it is incapable of producing a definite pitch long before the other strings are more than mellow. It's got to have something to do with the brutally heavy, often stone, picks I use. You can see how battered and scarred the G string looks before long, the others don't ding up so fast.

I'll have to do some research and see what holds up better.

I do believe the Martins I tried were the Marquis, (de Sade maybe) I'll have to try the SP's.

Now aren't most of these brands from just a few factories? Which are the same thing in different packages?
Old 1st April 2003
  #25
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hey sonic, wanna tell us about seating strings?
Old 2nd April 2003
  #26
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sonic dogg's Avatar
...jajjguy...sorry...i was being flip...everytime i read something about those goddamned elixor strings i wanna choke somebody...i bought a twenty-pack when i got my taylor...and every one of the sets except two or three had a defect of some kind...i e-mailed em and e-mailed and....etc etc...so if it seemed like i was being an ass that is why...also since i been playing for so long i sometimes assume that folks havent heard everything...there is a 'seating' technique and if ya really want to know i'd be glad to share...but if yer just callin me on my comment, then sorry......peece
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