My string experiments.. Thu, Mar 10, 2005

In my recent endeavors to learn classical guitar I have been on the supreme quest to find the perfect strings. Searching around the Internet this story can be found in many places, but this is my story. The story of the strings - The uncompleted task.

First off I’d like to plug our good friends over at Strings by Mail. They are a small operation trying to make good by selling mostly strings for acoustic guitars and some odds and ends. The guy posts in a forum I read quite often and seems to be a generally affable type. Just yesterday I received my first order from them. Great prices and great service. I will be ordering from them again in the future. This is not a paid advertisement.

Let us take things in chronological order…

D’Addario Pro Arte Silver EJ45

After purchasing my first classical guitar I had no clue which strings to try. My years of electric guitar told me that D’Addario made some pretty darn good strings and it was all they did for a living. Figure it would be as good a place as any to start. Turns out I was right. The strings were easy to tune and sound really good to a beginners ear. Tuned up pretty quickly and stayed in tune quite well. So for the first set I don’t think I could have gone wrong!

Augustine Imperial Black

In typical Sergent fashion the second I changed my strings I hit the Internet and read all sorts of articles, news group postings, forums, anything I could get my hands on. Couldn’t decide. Ordered a sampler pack from Guitar Salon. Slapped on the Augustine’s. I have to say at first I was a bit disappointed. Here’s what I noticed.

The intonation on the G and B strings seemed a bit weird. I thought it was my guitar that was set up improperly, but later I’ll find out differently. The Imperials also took forever to settle down. For almost a full week every time I would pick up the guitar the first 2 or 3 minutes would be spent tuning up the strings again. And in that first week they seemed to go out of tune frequently. So there is the bad.

The brighter side of this story is that these strings sound beautiful once they are settled in. The intonation seems to improve. The sound is bright, but not tinny. Sweet, but not soft. On a cedar top they sound great and seem to have quite a long life. Very romantic. That rough spot starting up is just a killer.

Savarez Corum Alliance 500AR Red Card

Next up in the sampler pack was the Savarez strings. I’ll make this one short and sweet. They are good strings. Excellent in fact. I can understand how some people love the sound. My preferences are different and I didn’t like the snappier bright sound. They were almost tinny they were so bright. Great volume and a good feel. A good string for people looking for that sound. It’s just not me.

Hannabach Silver 200 900

Wow. That is all I can say about the Hannabach’s. This particular set is labeled as Medium/Hard tension, though they feel closer to the hard end than medium. As I write this they are still on my cedar topped Ramirez. They tune up quickly, settle down quickly, and have fabulous intonation. Love the fact that they are a little thicker. I think it helps my bigger fingers to be a little more accurate. Also for me it makes performing barre’s easier. Most people find the harder strings harder to barre. For some reason I found the opposite. Still figuring that one out. These strings sound awesome. Bright, bold, powerful, round.. pretty much every good quality that I look for in a classical guitar sound. Am I giving it away that these were my favorites?

La Bella 2001 Series

I have yet to try these. They are next on deck for the Ramirez if I can get myself to take the Hannabach’s off. Lets see.. It was the night before last I put some Hannabach 815’s (hard tension) on the Hill (spruce top) and it seems to have cleared up many problems I thought I was having when I had some Augustine’s on there. Because the harder tension seems to be the way to go on that guitar I ordered up another set of the 200 900 Hannabach’s and a set of Augustine Regals which are supposed to have a little better quality than the Imperials. Only one way to find out. Practice practice practice. The fun way to wear out strings.

And thus ends my dissertation on classical guitar strings. Figure this will serve as much a memory jogger for myself as well as helping someone else out that might be going down the same path. Still more experimentation to go. I hope to update as I learn more.