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  #1  
Old 09-21-2023, 07:58 PM
Spot Spot is offline
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Default Another string question- something slightly easier on my fingers?

I recently bought a Martin 10e Road (a/e dreadnought) - don't know what the stock strings are but they are hard on my fingers. I'm a relative beginner, have dabbled most of my life... have been learning bass for a few years and everything became worlds easier when I switched to a short scale with tape wound strings. I'm wondering if there are any strings that are a bit easier on the fingers without sacrificing too much sound quality. I know that regular practice toughens the finger pads, but there may be a bit more than that here contributing to my discomfort (i.e. sensory changes due to spinal problems.)
Thanks for any thoughtful responses.
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2023, 08:29 PM
wguitar wguitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spot View Post
I recently bought a Martin 10e Road (a/e dreadnought) - don't know what the stock strings are but they are hard on my fingers. I'm a relative beginner, have dabbled most of my life... have been learning bass for a few years and everything became worlds easier when I switched to a short scale with tape wound strings. I'm wondering if there are any strings that are a bit easier on the fingers without sacrificing too much sound quality. I know that regular practice toughens the finger pads, but there may be a bit more than that here contributing to my discomfort (i.e. sensory changes due to spinal problems.)

Thanks for any thoughtful responses.


DR Sunbeams are round core and a bit easier to fret. Another is Straight Up Strings.
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Old 09-21-2023, 08:31 PM
Rosewood99 Rosewood99 is offline
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Originally Posted by wguitar View Post
DR Sunbeams are round core and a bit easier to fret. Another is Straight Up Strings.
I’ll second that.
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Old 09-21-2023, 08:44 PM
BlueStarfish BlueStarfish is offline
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First things first. With apologies if you’ve already taken care of this — a good “set-up” (e.g., careful adjustment of the string height at the nut and saddle) on your guitar will not only make it easier on your fingertips but easier to play and play more in tune. Martins in particular are famous for coming from the factory with high action (under the assumption the buyer will have the guitar set up to their preferences). The store where you bought your new guitar may be able to do a set-up for you (if you bought it locally). If not, if you post the city you live in, perhaps others can recommend a good local guitar store with a good service department.

Once you’ve gotten a good set-up done, then Martin Retro’s always feel a bit smoother to me than standard uncharted phosphor-bronze strings. Also coated strings, if you haven’t tried those yet.
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Old 09-21-2023, 09:17 PM
mcmars mcmars is offline
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So many things help to make a guitar easier to play. I have weak hands from bad arthritis, so I have a punch list of things that help me, some of which have been mentioned:

(1) string gauge and type, I would try 11 gauge or even 10 as you mentioned you have some medical issues. Not sure how a big dreadnaught will work with 10 gauge, might be a bit thin and weak. I play 0, 00 and 000 sized guitars, they don't need as heavy a string gauge to drive the sound. Some strings claim to have less tension, but TBH, just dropping the string gauge down a notch will make a noticable difference. I would not be surprised if that dreadnaught has medium gauge strings as that is what many BG flatpickers prefer for volume. No way can I play medium gauge strings!

(2) short scale, if you really want to make it easy, find a 24" scale guitar and use 12 gauge strings. But for me, anything less than 25" scale is good with my favorite being 24.75"

(3) Set up and specifically cutting the nut slots perfectly low, but not buzzing. And leveling the fretboard and rounding the frets. One would think I brand new guitar would not have issues with frets or being level. But guitars move around and it takes a lot of time and skill to get it right at the factory. I have all kinds of issues with this with plec'ed necks and expensive instruments that I would have thought would have got this right, but they dont. So most all my guitars go to my awesome luthier after they settle for a month or so. He does a full set up and generally levels and shapes the frets as well as so many have issues and he cant properly set up an instrument if the frets are not level. I doubt most music store set ups go beyond relief adjustment and saddle height, I would look for a good luthier or skilled tech. The exception are the 3 waterloos I have, they still have the factory set up and they have never moved at all. My luthier worked for Collins back in the day, he says their quality control is extremely high so they get sent out from Austin after many final steps and inspections.

(4) play frequent short intervals, no painful binging, break it up in small frequent practice sessions. Work on a light touch with good placement just behind the fret. Only enough pressure to get the job done with no buzzing.

(5) capo, if the issue is nut slots too high, a capo is your best friend till you get a good set up



I will mention this as well. a good way to build up strength and the finger pads is to play electric guitar. I have used it as a bridge when I had a 10 year period of nerve pain in my hands, wrists and arms that made me give up music for a while. I decided I wanted to get my music back after a knee replacement when I had time. I bought a 5 string banjo, even easier, and played it for a few months first to get going, then electric, then acoustic with 10 gauge strings, 11 and eventually 12 gauge strings.
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Old 09-21-2023, 09:23 PM
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Silk and steel strings are easier on the fingers as well as everything everyone said in the previous posts. Getting a proper setup is the first step though.
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Old 09-21-2023, 09:30 PM
JackC1 JackC1 is offline
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You guitar comes with Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 Guitar Strings Phosphor Bronze - Medium.

Have you had it setup? What's the action at 1st and 12th frets? Try .5mm @ 1st, 1.75mm @ 12th; if you don't have any preference.

After a setup; if you still find mediums too hard, you can try extra light strings. I played a friend's dreadnought setup with extra light strings, it feels like I'm not pressing anything.
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Old 09-21-2023, 09:54 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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All good advice. I think everybody means well. My turn. I suggest starting simple, go buy a set of 'light' strings and put them on. Yes that cuts off a whole bunch of analysis and judgement but it's the price of a cup of coffee and a donut. And it's one step with no alteration to the instrument, nothing irreversible. And I think playability trumps tone, all day.

See if you like the change in feel, I think it ought to be noticeable. If that suits, you've made a good change, enjoy it. If it still feels too hard to fret, take the instrument to a professional tech and discuss face to face. Perhaps expectations need to be addressed as well as the instrument.

Last edited by phavriluk; 09-22-2023 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 09-22-2023, 10:05 AM
jpd jpd is offline
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Default My 2 cents....

Martin "Flex core". My old digits prefer them.
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Old 09-22-2023, 10:55 AM
EZYPIKINS EZYPIKINS is offline
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Check nut height and neck relief first. Allot of people will try to get better action, just by filing the nut.

They end up filing it too low. Therefore, they must put too much relief in the neck, to make it play without buzzing.

With the nut slots at the right height, you can set relief at .005-.006 And strings will feel much softer.

Sure, lighter gauges will help. But having the correct setup makes a huge difference.
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Old 09-22-2023, 02:11 PM
CharlieBman CharlieBman is offline
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I second the notion of making certain you have a good setup. String height at the nut can be brutal on fingers if the slots are too high, regardless of what strings you use.

If you take it in for a setup, use someone who is very reputable. Filing good nut slots can be a tricky business and a lot of techs simply don't deal with it.

Once your sure your setup is good, then you can experiment with different gauge strings and ones with more flexible cores.
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  #12  
Old 09-22-2023, 07:35 PM
Spot Spot is offline
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Wow thanks for all the excellent thoughtful responses. I do plan to take it for a setup, but probably won't have time for a while. I think it is likely that the action is high, as it takes a bizarre amount of strength to play bar chords (and strength is not one of my problems usually.) Will poke around Youtube and see if I can get a sense of how the various strings suggested might sound.
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Old 09-22-2023, 10:26 PM
JackC1 JackC1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spot View Post
I do plan to take it for a setup, but probably won't have time for a while. I think it is likely that the action is high, as it takes a bizarre amount of strength to play bar chords
How's the barre chords up the neck? Don't know your experience level, but when I first started barre chords just used a whole lot more strength than they are now on the SAME guitar. Turns out, I just have to find the right places on my barre finger vs string locations and angle and slightly rotate my finger a bit.

You can't just take a guitar into a shop and say "please set it up". You should give detailed instructions so the shop knows what you want. Everybody in this thread says to get a setup, but they don't say anything specific.

Also, you can do the setup yourself pretty easily (and everything's reversible with replacement nut/saddle). At the very least, adjust the truss rod to get the right relief. I like just a tiny bit of relief (just measured it at .06mm).
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Old 09-23-2023, 07:48 AM
RoscoeGumar RoscoeGumar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spot View Post
I recently bought a Martin 10e Road (a/e dreadnought) - don't know what the stock strings are but they are hard on my fingers. I'm a relative beginner, have dabbled most of my life... have been learning bass for a few years and everything became worlds easier when I switched to a short scale with tape wound strings. I'm wondering if there are any strings that are a bit easier on the fingers without sacrificing too much sound quality. I know that regular practice toughens the finger pads, but there may be a bit more than that here contributing to my discomfort (i.e. sensory changes due to spinal problems.)
Thanks for any thoughtful responses.
I'm certainly no expert but, I bought a D-10e as my second guitar (after buying and returning a $150 Yamaha). I ultimately traded the D-10e in towards a Taylor but, in my time with the D-10e, I changed to light gauge strings and sanded the saddle down to lower the action (I did this a bit each time I changed strings). The combination of the two definitely made the guitar easier to play. The nut probably could have used some filing too, but, I was more nervous about doing that myself and didn't necessarily want to invest in a decent set of files.

As others have suggested, I think new Martins generally have high action, on the theory that the buyer will adjust down to their preference (much easier to lower action than raise it). On higher end guitars, this makes sense to me. On more entry level guitars, I think they should be easily playable out of the box.

I don't know how long you've had your guitar but, if still within the return/exchange period, it might be worth playing as many different guitars as you can get your hands on and deciding from there whether you think your Martin is a long term guitar for you. If so, it's probably worth paying to get it set up and swapping out the medium gauge strings with light gauge.
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Old 09-23-2023, 08:16 AM
strummerpsf strummerpsf is offline
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I also have a D10e. I found that I liked the sound (balance) of 80/20 strings better than the PB. The 80/20's are also lower tension, so easier on the fingers.
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