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  #1  
Old 12-06-2008, 06:05 PM
SongwriterFan SongwriterFan is offline
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Default Silk and Steel strings: Why don't they get any respect?

It seems like any time I see "silk and steel" strings mentioned here, people just don't seem to care for them.

I've even asked at several stores about them, and they all seem to say there's no way I'd ever want them on a guitar.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I tried some out. I wanted to put some new strings on the four Gretsch American series guitars that I bought earlier this year. These are going to nieces/nephews for Christmas this year, and I thought they'd appreciate the decreased tension and the ease on the fingers.

So, I put a set on one of the guitars, expecting to be very disappointed and not buy any more. Wrong!

These things were not the "tone robbers" that so many people seem to think they are.

Yes, they do "mellow" out the tone, and decrease the perceived volume. Some say it takes the "twang" out of steel strings . . I wouldn't describe it as that, really. I just think it decreases the attack (whether you're using fingers or picks) relative to the sustain.

They don't sound like nylon strings on a classical guitar . . but they perhaps sound like a cross between steel and nylon strings . . . maybe 1/3 of the way toward nylon.

Next, I decided to try a set on my Composite Acoustics Cargo. Again, I expected to be disappointed, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I guess I'll have to try them out on a "real guitar" next. Probably one of my McKnights . . probably the Deacon. Somehow I suspect that I won't be disappointed.

Then I'll finally get brave enough to try them on something like my Taylor or R Taylor.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:07 PM
HHP HHP is online now
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They are highly thought of by Gypsy Jazz players and some mandolin players. I have never liked them on flat top guitars.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2008, 06:09 PM
patchmcg patchmcg is offline
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I like Silk-and-Steels. I keep one of my twelves strung with them, and an OFCer suggested I try them on my parlor guitar. I've bought the set, but not put them on yet. I like the tone, especially for finger-picking, and even when I only had one guitar, I sometimes used them.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:47 PM
weatherford weatherford is offline
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Years ago, I put S&S on my little Washburn, but was totally unimpressed with the sound. Prefer the extra lights.

After this next "tune-up", however, I may try them again. Although, I think the extra light tension was less than the S&S... will double check, as that was a long time ago (decades, not years...)

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Old 12-06-2008, 06:59 PM
FutureFolkie FutureFolkie is offline
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I like them just fine for what they are. They do not however, offer me the tone I'm looking for.
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Old 12-06-2008, 07:02 PM
Frosty Frosty is offline
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I have used Silk and Steel on some guitars, particularly the "heavier gauge" set made by LaBella. They work well - that is, sound good - on some guitars.
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Old 12-06-2008, 07:03 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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SongwriterFan,

I think your description of silk and steel strings is fairly accurate. That's why I don't use them, but I can see where they have a place in the market.

If they work for your needs, why not?

Regards, Glenn
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:13 PM
Chazmo Chazmo is offline
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I think once your ear gets used to PB strings or 80/20, the silk and steel wound strings sound very mellow.

I too have used them on one of my 12 strings, and I like the results. Quiet and soft-sounding. I've heard some folks like to record with them because they're very responsive in a studio environment. Live, they just don't have the punch.
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:58 PM
Sammy_L_D Sammy_L_D is offline
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Strange, because several of my coworkers, plus the luthier who operates out of the store basement, all use silk and steels (at least for some of their guitars, maybe not all).

I think they're great, though I personally don't use them.

I also always recommend them to parents for kids starting out; much nicer on the fingers.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:10 PM
birkenweg42 birkenweg42 is offline
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I have used GHS Silk & Bronze on my all-hog Martin OM-15 for a year and liked them a lot. I thought the tone was super mellow and very bluesy. Great for fingerstyle couch playing. The downside is that they won't last very long.
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2008, 09:22 PM
SongwriterFan SongwriterFan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birkenweg42 View Post
I have used GHS Silk & Bronze
Hmm, haven't heard of these.

I'm using the Martin "Silk and Steel" (not the Marquis version), which actually use nylon instead of silk.

They are 11.5 - 47 in size.

John Pearse also makes some Silk and Steels, and I think they are available in 2 or 3 sizes.

Are the high E and B strings on the GHS sets made of steel (like all other strings I've seen)?
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:30 PM
andrewrg andrewrg is offline
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They sound flabby and feel floppy to me; never got on with them-at least the one set I tried.
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2008, 09:54 PM
cc132 cc132 is offline
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My next set will be silk and steel.

For reference, my ideal guitar sound is Nick Drake's.
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  #14  
Old 12-06-2008, 10:48 PM
buzzardwhiskey buzzardwhiskey is offline
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I have tried many strings on my CA GXi and recently landed on Martin Silk and Steel. For this guitar, these strings are a good compromise.

This guitar doesn't need loud strings, and it doesn't need thick strings, and it doesn't need strings with a lot of sizzle.

And they sound good when the guitar is amplified (a little less "quack").
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  #15  
Old 12-06-2008, 10:54 PM
drjond56 drjond56 is offline
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I have used Martin Silk & Steel for a long time now as my preferred string. I play fingerstyle on a 00-12 guitar. I don't strum or use a pick at all--I don't think they would work well for that. I really don't care about lost volume ( a cannon is an artillery piece and not a musical instrument). They are easy on the fingers and I really enjoy the mellow tone. I think that music traditionally played on a nylon string sounds fine on my guitar with these strings. I don't record, but it seems that string noise is less with these strings, so that might be a plus for some players. I have not used the GHS set or the John Pearse set, but I seem to recall that the JP's are not a "standard" silk and steel for some reason. One of the manufacturers makes a Silk and Bronze set (can't recall which company) but I have never seen those for sale.

Jon
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