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Silly Moustache 10-01-2019 10:17 AM

To Acoustic Archtop Players - Strings query
Hi, I have three lovely archtops - - a Harmony Monterey, an Eastman AR805, and a Gibson L-4 ('34). all of them are rather underused but I've just realised that I haven't given them new strings for some months.

I started using nickel wound strings because my first archtop had a floating pick-up, but now all are strictly acoustic.
However, over the last year or so, I have discovered that I really prefer nickel wound strings on my F5 Mandolin, so I think I'll stay with nickel(ish) strings on my archtops.

I prefer medium gauge strings - (12 or 13 to 56), so, I could get basic D'addario EJ22s or Dunlop performance - or the fancy D'addario "Nickel Bronze" for 150% of the price.

I'd be interested in your comments/recommendations.


Chipotle 10-01-2019 10:37 AM

I tried the D'Addario Nickel Bronze on my '37 L7. I prefer them to Phosphor Bronze because they are a bit mellower sounding and don't have the "zing" that PB can have when new, and doesn't seem to suit the L7 very well.

I have .12-.53s on right now, but I think they're a bit light for the guitar. Good tone, but lacking some oomph. Next re-string I'm going to get a set of NB in .13-.56 which I think will give the guitar a little more punch and volume.

mr. beaumont 10-01-2019 01:19 PM

On a purely acoustic archtop, I like 80/20's

Gotta play them in, they start off ungodly bright, but then after 10 good hours or so they warm up in a way PB never does.

iim7V7IM7 10-01-2019 02:55 PM

Andy, I have found that on my acoustic archtops with magnetic floating pickups, I prefer Thomastik-Infeld BeBop .013s. On acoustic archtops with no floating magnetic pickup I like either Martin Retros (Monel) or D’Addario or Martin 80/20s (as Jeff suggested after they lose their initial sizzle).

Mandobart 10-01-2019 03:32 PM

I liked the Newtone archtop double-wrapped nickel 13's on my Eastman (essentially an AR805 converted from an MDC805). I would think those are easier to come by in your neck of the globe. However, last few string changes I've been using the Martin retro monel 13's and I like them even better. More volume and clarity. I just bought a set of Curt Mangan monel 13's to try next.

Steve DeRosa 10-01-2019 03:40 PM

Another vote for the Martin Monel MM13's...

DanR 10-01-2019 04:51 PM

I have medium gauge nickel flat wounds on my 60's Kay Mercury. It's been a while since I put them on so I can't remember the brand.

goatdog 10-05-2019 05:52 AM

D’Addario Chromes on both of my Triggs for a nice, warm tone.

Loren Tilley 10-17-2019 09:35 PM

Are those of you suggesting flats talking about on a strictly acoustic?

I'm with the others with either 80/20 bronze or monel. Either is good, both need to be played in. The phosphor bronze really does not do it for me on an archtop.

OKCtodd71 10-20-2019 10:05 AM

RE the 80/20’s: After the initial zing is gone, do they last a pretty good while like that, or do they keep deteriorating and “die” soon after.

iim7V7IM7 10-20-2019 11:07 AM


Originally Posted by hatefulsob (Post 6191148)
RE the 80/20’s: After the initial zing is gone, do they last a pretty good while like that, or do they keep deteriorating and “die” soon after.

I play Martin Lifespan 2.0 80/20s which deteriorate from their day 1 brilliance, and maintain their sound for 6+ weeks for me before I notice any further deterioration.

1Charlie 11-19-2019 02:17 PM

Monels would have been strung on that '34 roundhole L-4 at the factory, for what it's worth. I love them on all old Gibsons, archtop or flattop.

Andy3Sheds 11-19-2019 03:07 PM

I love Thomastik flats on my humble Godin 5th Ave not particularly loud but sound sweet for late night playing and if I want volume I stuck a Kent Armstrong pickup on the neck, sorted!

JoeYouDon't 11-19-2019 09:02 PM

Flatwounds or Martin Retros. Retros are better all-arounders, but flatwounds definitely have their place.

I'm not crazy about D'Addario Chromes, but they definitely have their fans out there. 11-19-2019 09:22 PM

D’Addario EHR350

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