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Old 12-25-2020, 01:31 PM
dc. dc. is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 31

On the subject of strings, I've been trying all sorts on my fully hollow archtop recently. Since I use both a magnetic pickup and a microphone to amplify this guitar, I was searching for great tone with minimal finger squeak, as the microphone picks up everything.

(And I'm not interested in hearing the "if you had proper technique, finger squeak wouldn't be an issue" argument. String squeak varies widely from one set of strings to the next, so why not experiment?)

Here are a few discoveries I've made. Incidentally, I think these are all roundcore strings:

- Flatwound strings feel great (I tried the Thomastik Infeld Swing), but no matter how much I want to like them, they sound dead and lifeless to me, with the low strings being little more than a "thud". Of course, they are widely used and loved by many players, so YMMV. That said, I absolutely love the Thomastik Infeld Plectrum series with the bronze flatwound G, D & A strings; these are my first choice for flattop acoustic guitars; I can't say enough good things about them. The Plectrums seem to be an oddly magical exception to every other flatwound string on the market.

- The Thomastik Infeld Bebop Roundwound strings are really great sounding and my first choice for standard roundwound electric guitar strings.

- I really like the GHS Rollerwound Nickel Rockers. Roundwound tone with considerably less squeak than a standard roundwound string. These sound great on my acoustic guitars as well as electrics. They don't last long and need to be changed very regularly (especially the low A & E strings), and there is some inconsistency in quality, but they're not expensive either.

- I tried a set of GHS Brite Flats, which are a halfround/groundwound set made with alloy 52. These are the best compromise that I've found for something similar to flatwounds but with a clearer tone in the ballpark of a set of roundwounds. These are a bit less clear/bright than the GHS Rollerwounds. Some players complain that groundwound strings can feel a bit "sticky", but this goes away over time, or you can lightly buff them with fine steel wool for a few seconds and speed up the process. I'm sure the D'Addario halfrounds would be similar to these although I haven't tried them myself yet.

- Newtone double wound strings are supposed to be a good choice for archtop guitars as they have two small windings over the core instead of a single large winding. They can be purchased in either nickel or bronze. These are nice, but not as good sounding as the regular Masterclass strings to my ears, and while the double winding resulted in a slight reduction in squeak, it wasn't significant enough to justify the reduction in tone quality IMO.

There are a couple of string makers that make a hybrid string for players who need something that can be used with magnetic pickups but is more acoustic orientated. I'm curious to try these but haven't gotten around to it yet:

- Gallistrings Acoustic Fingerstyle Strings. These are double wound with one winding of nickel and one winding of bronze.

- DR Zebra strings. Alternately wrapped nickel plated steel and phosphor bronze over a round core. According to their promotional material, "full size archtop guitars respond with richer tones" to these strings.
I have a few different axes scattered about, but I play my Papoose in the car..!
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