I'm not going to comment on these strings because I've never used them, however it is
worth having a conversation about how you go about choosing your strings.
to start things off... I have a favourite string for electric guitars, but I don't use
them. And here's a roundabout explanation why.
There are two sorts of string.
Those that are made by the company who's name is on the packet (companies like D'Addario,
Ernie Ball, Dean Markley, Rotosound, Thomastik, etc) and those that are produced as
commodity items that are sold to companies to be branded (like Gibson, Fender, Elites, and
various distributor owned brands). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with commodity
strings, some are made by the likes of D'Addario and the rest, but as a buyer you really
have no idea whether your strings are made by one of the big names or a budget factory in
Mexico or China. And it is not unknown for a distributor to establish an own brand by
buying initially from a name manufacturer and then switching to a cheaper supplier a few
months down the line. Martin are interesting, they used to make all of their own strings,
but over a decade ago they started sourcing their budget strings from Mexico.
So, that's why I prefer the string manufacturer brands. You have a far better idea what
you are getting from month to month and year to year.
When it comes to things
like gauges and new materials, I have a pragmatic approach. Back in the early 80's I was
using Dean Markley F150's, their version of the Fender 150 set that Hendrix used (although
I didn't realise the Hendrix link at the time, I just liked the feel of medium treble and
light bass). Even living in Central London at a time where there were more guitar shops
than now, it was often a struggle to find anyone who had them in stock.
apply the 4pm Saturday afternoon test. You are in a strange town at that time and you have
an important gig that night with A&R men from 5 record companies expected. You are setting
up, and realise that your strings are knackered. You HAVE to get a new set, and you need
them now. What gives you the best chance of getting a set of strings that you can use with
the minimum of compromise? The answer is, a standard set of gauges from standard
materials. If you use D'Addario nickel 10's there is a good chance of finding them in a
local shop, and if the haven't got those they will almost certainly have the equivalent
set from Ernie Ball or Rotosound and they will be so similar that you won't notice the
difference once you hit the stage.
Once you move away from the standards and
start looking at unusual gauge sets or different materials/construction you start
eliminating alternatives. It gets harder to find strings when you need them, when you
break a string fitting a new set it is impossible to buy a single string as a replacement
(remember Maxima Gold? Lovely strings, and I've lost count of the number of times I've
seen a guitar with 5 Gold strings and a plain steel high E
) so you
have to break another set for a spare. Working on guitars you get to see a lot of guitar
cases, and it's fascinating to see how many have part sets of strings in the storage
Once you move away from the norm, it's up to you to carry spare
sets. And that means buying in bulk. The good news is that means you pay a little less for
your strings, the bad news is that you have to pay up front. And if you use different
gauges for different scale lengths, that can soon add up. You may be able to afford to buy
strings in bulk this year, but will you be able to afford it next year, and the year
So, for those who are interested, what are my favourite electric guitar
strings which I don't use?
Everly B52's. I tried them when they were introduced
to the UK and loved them. Nickel Iron rather than nickel steel. They feel a gauge lighter,
sound great, and I love how they interact with pick-ups. I step up a gauge when I use
However, Everly strings are hard to find in the UK. And the UK mail order
companies that do stock Everlys don't carry the B52s. So if I want them, I have to buy in
bulk from the USA. And the heaviest set they make are 11's. When I am playing regularly I
use 10's on Fender scale and 11's on Gibson scale. But with the B52's I want to go up a
step to 11's on Fender and 12's on Gibson. So I would have to ask about custom gauge sets
to get what I want. Maybe I could compromise and stay with 10's and 11's, but it is still
a LOT of money to invest in strings. They aren't cheap, and you have to pay Shipping,
Duty, & VAT on top. And they don't offer 12-string sets either
So, by all means experiment with strings. But if you settle on something unusual be
prepared to buy in bulk or be disappointed.
When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro.