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View Full Version : Phosphor Bronze versus 80/20 Bronze


HereIGoAgain
05-14-2006, 11:08 AM
Why do many people here say that phosphor bronze strings sound brighter than 80/20 bronze strings? My experience on every guitar I've owned (not including my Taylor as I've only used PBs on it) is that it is the other way around. The PBs are *more mellow* than the 80/20s. Guitar players I know in real life, as well as knowledgeable sales people, confirm what I've stated here.

Now, I'm not trying to start any fights. I'm just curious as to what's going on.

Folkstrum
05-14-2006, 11:15 AM
I just picked up a 6-string pack of Earthwood (?) 80-20's, medium light to try on the Omega MJ (I just found the mediums a bit to heavy, and hard on my aging fingers! :( ) Anyway, I would tend to agree--the 80/20's have been as bright to my ear...or durn near close. As I mentioned in another post on strings, seems like we're always trying to find the ONE SET OF STRINGS that meets all our needs. I believe this to be the impossible dream...I have a number of brand/composition loyalties for over 30+years of playing. I've never found "ONE" be-all, do-all. Must my 2 cents.

Mak2525
05-14-2006, 11:23 AM
Why do many people here say that phosphor bronze strings sound brighter than 80/20 bronze strings? My experience on every guitar I've owned (not including my Taylor as I've only used PBs on it) is that it is the other way around. The PBs are *more mellow* than the 80/20s. Guitar players I know in real life, as well as knowledgeable sales people, confirm what I've stated here.

Now, I'm not trying to start any fights. I'm just curious as to what's going on.

I think you'll find the general consensus on this forum and the UMGF find phosphor bronze strings to be warmer / less bright sounding than 80/20's. In fact, I was never a fan of Elixers (80/20 nanos) because they were too bright to my ears. I gave them a try when the PB version came out, and they are now on all my guitars - much warmer sounding than the nanos!

However, when PB's first go on, they may have a little more metallic sound for the first day or so. Some say they are brighter because of this, but they seem to forget they were changing old dead strings that had no ring to them. :)

min7b5
05-14-2006, 11:36 AM
I feel like the 80/20 have less midrange to them. The have that classic smiley face eq curve to them. The PB's sound bigger to me, with a more pronounced lower midrange. They also feel a little stiffer. I go back and fourth, but mostly I prefer the pb's.

surfoxy
05-14-2006, 05:31 PM
I kind of liken it to the Rosewood vs. Mahogany thing, in that there are very different interpretations or definitions of what sounds "bright". If you follow my description below, I liken PB's to rosewood and 80/20's to mahogany.

I have some rosewood dreads, and they are generally a bit bassier than their mahogany brother, and generally have more overtones, ring out longer, and to me are brighter through the trebles. The mahogany guitar is clearer throughout the register, with a more fundamental tone, which I think a lot of people describe as "bright". If you really listed to someone else play the different guitars, the rosewood guitars are brighter and sparkle more, but have more of a "wash" of sound. They are also interestingly enough, warmer through the mids and bass. I think the same is true of PB's vs. 80/20's.

The PB's have more warmth, brightness and overtones. The 80/20's have more clarity, a more fundamental tone, more bite and cut to the sound. But they aren't brighter, at least not when they settle down after an hour or two of playing a new set. The difference between clarity, fundamental tone, and cut of both Mahogany and 80/20 strings and the overtones, warmth, brightness and sustain of Rosewood and the PB's is something I hear described in a lot of ways and often the terms are swapped around. And different people hear different things and certainly describe what they hear differently.

I put PB's on my Rosewood guitars and 80/20's on my Mahogany to accentuate the qualities and differences of the different woods.

anthonyc007
05-14-2006, 05:53 PM
I have found 80/20 to be a brighter than PB.

min7b5
05-14-2006, 10:29 PM
I have found 80/20 to be a brighter than PB.

I agree
:)

ljguitar
05-14-2006, 10:31 PM
I agree
:)
Me too...80/20 definitely brighter.

Matt Mustapick
05-14-2006, 11:04 PM
d-red

Wow, describing tone is a challenge, but for my ears you really nailed it. I prefer the Elixer nano 80/20s.

pdks
05-15-2006, 10:20 AM
Reading Chris's (d-red) words on tone reminds me of listening to a talented sommelier describe wine ...translation from one sense to another through words!


I like the "PB for rosewood; 80/20 for mahogany" concept, and will give it a try ...when I've saved enough for my D18GE!


Do you use Elixir's, Chris?

ljguitar
05-15-2006, 10:34 AM
...I put PB's on my Rosewood guitars and 80/20's on my Mahogany to accentuate the qualities and differences of the different woods.
Hi D-red...
I like your comparisons.

For me it's a top wood thing...& I believe top wood determines tone more than strings.

Around here it's 80/20 on Cedar tops and Phosphor Bronze on Spruce. My Italian Spruce - being mellower than Sitka - works well with either.

For recording, I pretty much run 80/20 on everything I can because of the brightness, and more fundamental you described.

bsnelson
05-15-2006, 04:09 PM
So are the "original" Elixers (Polyweb and Nannoweb) 80/20? The package is not marked. The "new" pb Nannowebs are clearly marked.

Matt Mustapick
05-15-2006, 04:51 PM
Bnelson, I don't know for a fact whether or not the original Elixer's composition is 80/20, but yes, we've it to mean the same thing here.

ljguitar
05-15-2006, 05:00 PM
So are the "original" Elixers (Polyweb and Nannoweb) 80/20? The package is not marked. The "new" pb Nannowebs are clearly marked.
Hi BSNelson...
Yes. Standard Poly and Nano-web are 80/20.

surfoxy
05-15-2006, 10:31 PM
Thanks folks for the compliments on my writing, I had actually thougth it a bit rambling when I wrote it, so the feedback is nice.

Larry, it is mostly about the top wood, I agree--certainly more than strings. But not all. I played a lot with the same top woods and different back and sides. I have continued to do so since I bought my guitars, and there is a marked difference in the sound with different sides/back. Not as much as tops, no, but a real difference. Either way, different-sounding guitars are enhanced by different string types.

ljguitar
05-15-2006, 10:44 PM
...Larry, it is mostly about the top wood, I agree--certainly more than strings. But not all. I played a lot with the same top woods and different back and sides. I have continued to do so since I bought my guitars, and there is a marked difference in the sound with different sides/back. Not as much as tops, no, but a real difference. Either way, different-sounding guitars are enhanced by different string types.
Hi Red...
No arguments there...but I'm not obsessive about brands of strings. To my ear - 80/20 sound like 80/20 and phosphor bronze sound like phosphor bronze.

When choosing strings, if guitars are already somewhat dark - Cedar top and Vintage Martins, and they respond well to 80/20 versus PB. And some spruces tops are already bright and PB help tone them down.

My string drawer has a good supply of both, and also some 85/15s which are somewhat brighter than phosphor bronze, but not as bright as 80/20. And I keep a few sets of both Nano and NanoPB on hand as well, and the obligatory D'Addario EXPs which I find darker sounding than Elixirs, but love the ''bite'' of the winding for hammer ons/offs.

IainDearg
05-16-2006, 08:07 AM
I've been switching from 80/20s to PBs ever since they were invented and I've come to the conclusion that I can't tell the difference. How dumb is that? No matter - for some reason, I'm happier with 80/20s on mahogany and PBs on rosewood.

aschroeder
05-16-2006, 01:43 PM
I've found PBs to be much less bright than 80/20s. The Elixir PBs are mellow and warm to my ears. I put them on my cedar top 714 and didn't like them. The sound was less crisp and punchy, almost muddy sounding. I lost the string definition I was used to. The 80/20s work best for me.