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Old 04-24-2013, 12:15 AM
TomcatToo TomcatToo is offline
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Default low tension strings

Would any of the low tension strings (Martin Silk&Steel, Newtone Heritage, DR Sunbeam roundcore, etc., etc.) be "strong enough" to move the top of an OM-35 custom from MFG enough to make the guitar sound good or would they likely just fall flat on their face? I would really like to get one of the OM-35s but I have some arthritis coming on in my hands and the low tension strings are becoming more necessary every day.

Tom
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:45 AM
krisls krisls is offline
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Absolutely. You will get a lot of people say you must use mediums or maybe lights at a pass. I use 11's (Custom Lights) on both mine. Pretty much settled on the Pearse Silk n Bronze on the Tak stage guitar which is a Nex Body. Similar to a Grand Concert or OM style. Playing about on the 000 Custom but the Martin FX seem nice. The Sp's are too stiff. I love Thomastiks but they are very spendy. Might just go back to the old Dad Custom Lights in the 80/20 which work well on that one.

Try a few and see, don't just be told you must use this or that.

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Old 04-24-2013, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomcatToo View Post
...I have some arthritis coming on in my hands and the low tension strings are becoming more necessary every day.
Hi Tom...
Guitar life is full of compromises.

When it comes to my hands, I'll gladly shave a touch off the tone side to bring the tension on hands to a level I can play longer and enjoy my guitars.

One of my guitars thrives on .011 (Custom light) whereas the others do fine with .012. A good setup also goes a long ways toward keeping the action low, and the enjoyment high.


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Old 04-24-2013, 09:07 AM
TomcatToo TomcatToo is offline
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Larry, if I do wind up getting the OM-35 do you have any recommendation for a local luthier to do a set up?

Tom
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Old 04-24-2013, 09:11 AM
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Larry, if I do wind up getting the OM-35 do you have any recommendation for a local luthier to do a set up?

Tom
Hi Tom...

Michael Bashkin would be my choice. He has serviced all my guitars since 2005.


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Old 04-24-2013, 10:57 AM
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I haven't used any low tension strings except for the Martin Silk & Steel. They have a unique tone which most people don't seem to like, but some people do. You get a diminished dynamic range and sustain. They've given my given my guitars a muted kind of tone in comparison to my usual phosphor bronze strings. I had one guitar on which I really liked the silk n steels, but never liked them on any other guitar. Can't say what the difference is with the other low tension strings.

But with your playing style and touch, they might give you what you want.

Seems like the best thing to do is get your guitar properly set up for the string gauge you want to use - that might take care of the tension issue. Although some guitars have a higher string tension than others even with the same action height at the nut and the 12th fret and the same neck bow. Anyway, I generally use lights (12's), but I have used 11's on occasion too. I haven't noticed a big difference in tone or dynamics between the 12's and 11's, but then I don't have the most accurate ear in the world either...
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:17 AM
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Don't forget that a shorter scale length will also take some tension away for you.
Then there's also the "tune down half a step and capo the first fret" which essentially creates a shortscale guitar. Heck, if you get a shortscale guitar AND tune it down and capo it...AND use silk and steel or silk and bronze light gauge strings...that thing will play ITSELF!!

Oh and if you don't play with other people a lot, tune down half a step and forget about the capo..heck, tune down a WHOLE step if you want or have to.

So yeah, there are many ways to skin a cat and to reduce string tension. The brand and/or composition of the strings are just one piece of all the things you can do to reduce string tension.

Good luck and I hope that arthritis goes away or is manageable for you. I have it in my spine and it SUCKS!
Oh the joys of aging :-(
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:00 PM
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I, too, have arthritis issues. I found that changing neck profile had at least as much effect as changing string type might. I use standard light gauge on my guitars, but, in moving from a narrow, low profile 1 11/16" nut Guild guitar to a more vintage v-neck 1 3/4" Martin shape, I can play without the sort of arthritic thumb pain that had sidelined me before.

I had a D-18GE for a while and I used mediums on it with no problems. However, dreads cause shoulder issues for me, so it's gone - replaced by guitars no bigger than 000 size.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:48 PM
TomcatToo TomcatToo is offline
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I presently use Martin M-130 S&S on my Taylor GC8e and I'm very happy with both the way they feel and the way they sound, but the OM-35 is a totally different thing that I don't have any experience with other than lust.

Starting back in about 1970 I wanted a D-35 much more than a D-28 because I thought they were both prettier and sounded better to MY ear. Life lead me away from guitars for about 38 years because my wife and I decided to become studio potters so we could have our own business and not have to work for someone else, but you can't spend your working day with your hands in mud and water and keep callouses and in addition you don't want callouses because you need all the sensitivity you can get in your finger tips to help you tell what the clay is doing.

Now that we are retired and I'm somewhat back into guitars I'm finding that the sins of my youth (motorcycles) are catching up with me. My right shoulder is permanently separated, so dreads are out. My left thumb was severely dislocated in '73 and has been weakened and every few minutes it feels like someone is sticking an ice pick into the thumb joint where it joins the palm but so far I've been able to live with it. Actually, for being 78, I don't have too bad arthritis but my hands certainly do hurt some; more some days than others.

Listening to the sound clip MFG has up for the OM-35, it fits perfectly into my mind's ear of what a Martin is supposed to sound like, so I hope to some day be able to get one.

Tom
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:33 PM
bobdcat bobdcat is offline
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I understand the "ice pick" thing perfectly.

I have found that the v-shaped neck holds my thumb such that I do not need to apply much pressure to it to lower my fingers sufficiently to the fretboard. The elastic nature of the thumb's tendons maintain most of the necessary pressure. This has made playing much more comfortable. Go out to your Guitar Center and try one of the Eric Clapton Martins if you haven't tried a modified V neck. You might find the OM-28V might suit you.
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Old 04-24-2013, 07:04 PM
mercy mercy is offline
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You need to listen to Larry and give up on OM guitars. Thats not a quote but in my opinion OM guitars sound the best. I dont have one due to the tension. I had to quit playing at one time cause of the scale on OMs but I found that I could play the shorter 24.9 scale for a long time. So I have given up fabulous tone for the ability to keep playing.
As far as strings, I have played almost everything and think that the Heritage give the best tone. You might not but I like the sound of Daddarios and these sound the closest. Much closer than the silk and bronze mentioned above and certainly more than silk and steel. I will add this that I play an 11 set with a larger 6th string. I found the standard 47 is too mellow, for me.
As has been said so many times, different people like different things.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:18 PM
LoMa LoMa is offline
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You know, if you want a short scale OM - like 24.9" or anything else you want - you can get a custom made Martin guitar - get a quote from someplace like thepodium.com - it's often no more expensive than getting the standard model Martin with the regular specs. You can tell them you want an OM-35 but with a 24.9 short scale. State your preference for nut width and string spread at the saddle, and your preferred neck profile too.

It doesn't take Martin that long to build your guitar, and Jeff Molde at The Podium will set up the guitar for you to your liking - be sure to let him know about arthritis, and issues with string tension. He'll ask a bunch of questions about your playing style and that helps him dial in your setup. He does not charge extra for the setup - just part of their service.

There are other great Martin dealers too, but I've been very impressed with The Podium people. Elderly is another good outfit to order through.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomcatToo View Post
Would any of the low tension strings (Martin Silk&Steel, Newtone Heritage, DR Sunbeam roundcore, etc., etc.) be "strong enough" to move the top of an OM-35 custom from MFG enough to make the guitar sound good or would they likely just fall flat on their face? I would really like to get one of the OM-35s but I have some arthritis coming on in my hands and the low tension strings are becoming more necessary every day.

Tom
Tom, I use DR Sunbeam PB Mediums (12-54) on my OM-35 which are same gauge as Martin lights. I used to use these same strings on my old GPCPA4 and they were great for both guitars. Very rich tone with great bass and much better overall than the Lifespan MSP7100 Martins ship with.

However, the OM-35 is a very mellow guitar. So I'm going to be switching to JP 80/20 lights on the next change to see if I can brighten it up a tad.
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Old 04-25-2013, 11:00 PM
TomcatToo TomcatToo is offline
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My main thing is that I don't want to lose the quintessential "Martin sound" that I hear in the sound clip at MFG for the OM-35, so I'm looking for something with low tension that will keep that sound. If all else fails, I will simply tune down a whole step and then capo on the 2nd fret and go at it that way.

BTW, I like "mellow"; that is the reason I continue to use Martin S&S strings on my Taylor GC8e (also of course, the low tension too) since I think it takes away the janglies from the Taylor.

Tom
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Old 04-26-2013, 05:40 AM
geordie geordie is offline
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Hey Tom,
Jumbo OM in there vid below - DR Rare's on and in a low tuning - less tension, drives the top just fine.
see what you think.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=plcp&v=pXdGXIRSibo
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