How luthiers string their guitars...

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
User avatar
Charles Mokotoff
Posts: 898
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:43 pm

How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Charles Mokotoff » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:57 pm

I recall this topic coming up a while back. After commissioning several guitars over the last 10 years, I have a theory:

If the guitar ships to you new with D'Addario EJ46, either the luthier likes these neutral strings, or hasn't given string choice a lot of thought.

If it comes with anything more "exotic", i.e., anything that is not D'Addario, those are probably the BEST STRINGS for that guitar. It usually means the luthier has tried out several sets, gotten feedback from customers and decided this is it.

I have noticed that when I get a new guitar with something other than D'Addario and spend a lot of money at SBM trying lots of sets, I end up with the original set. Only differentiation is I typically put on a carbon 3rd regardless of whatever the luthier had.

This has happened to me several times (Mueller-Savarez, J. Dick-Hannabach, Gutmeier-Oasis carbon)

Anyone else have this experience?

ben etow
Posts: 776
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 4:23 pm
Location: Brussels

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by ben etow » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:36 pm

There may be regional considérations here. My Bordeaux-based luthier has been putting Savarez HT classic Alliance strings partly because they are widely used in France, easily available, not too pricey and arguably higher performance strings than D'addario's.
And he sticks to them because he wants to be able to assess correctly each new guitar, mentally comparing to the previous ones.

IMO, the best strings for a guitar don't exist. Because the player's sound production is at least equally important in the best choice of strings.
Last edited by ben etow on Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
souldier
Posts: 795
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by souldier » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:44 pm

I think the easiest way to get this answer is to ask a luthier directly if he/she has tested various strings and found a particular set that brings out the best in their guitar. In my observation though it seems many luthiers aren't as particular about strings and focus more on building the instrument itself.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

gjo
Posts: 258
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:48 am

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by gjo » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:45 pm

In my experience the choice of strings is very personal to the player and not the maker. Whatever string I use, most customers go back home and change strings immediately.

D'Addario strings are mostly very consistent and you can buy them all around the world in the same consistent quality. They are reasonably priced, so I can use and waste several sets for one guitar and because I am used to them, they give me a good first impression of the sound of a new guitar.

The final choice of strings is not the maker's choice, it is the player's choice.

User avatar
Tomzooki
Posts: 1480
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:12 am
Location: Quebec city, Canada

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Tomzooki » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:50 pm

I think D'Addario Pro Arte are a good choice precisely because they are neutral. They guve a good idea if the voice of the guitar without the added coloring of fancier strings
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
Yamaha GC-3A
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

User avatar
Charles Mokotoff
Posts: 898
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:43 pm

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Charles Mokotoff » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:21 pm

I agree with all of these comments.

I just couldn't help noticing that on several of my brand new guitars, I went off trying different sets and almost always found the set the luthier shipped it with was the best sounding. I did ask two of the three luthiers who said they had tested many strings and found a set (in particular to trebles mostly) that they felt brought out the best in their guitars.

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 5908
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by petermc61 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:19 pm

Interesting question. I suspect when a luthier recommends a less common string it must come on the back of some experimentation and thus should sound better than a randomly chosen set.

I have had luthiers ask me what strings I settled on for their guitars. I happily provide the feedback and why I chose those strings. I don't know whether that affected their future choice of strings or not.

One comment I will disagree with is a suggestion EJ45/EJ46 are 'neutral' strings. There is no basis for saying this in my view - how do you determine 'neutral'? Every string has its own sound characteristic, and only comparing to other strings can you place them on a continuum. Even on that continuum, EJ strings do not sit in the middle tonally (putting aside other characteristics like sustain and dynamics). If that continuum was from rich/warm to bright the basses would be close to middle
but the trebles on the warm side (even compared to their nylon subset comparators). One outlier characteristic is their G-String 'tubbiness' factor where they are FAR from mid pack. Probably their worst aspect.....

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1473
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:30 pm

Also: same guitar build but one with spruce top, one cedar. Same strings? And even more: does each new guitar require testing or will the same design build predictably play best with x brand strings?

edit: listening to "Antigoni Goni meets Hauser for the first time" on youtube, one of the 'experts' says that, even thought the design for a series of Hauser guitars was the same, each has its own character. So I guess that answers my question. For original Hausers, at least!
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

Laudiesdad69
Posts: 1069
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:16 pm

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:35 pm

In my experience, I agree with what others have said previously about EJ45 and EJ46 being neutral sounding strings. I'll say "neutral" as they are clear sounding and colorless. They have been this way on several guitars I have owned.

I've tried other strings that had a "golden" sound, or "brown" sound, and various bases that have varying degrees of dark tone. On one of my guitars, the Cantiga basses give a dark, silver color to the sound.

It just seems that when strung with Pro-Arte, any sound that you are getting is the sound of the woods of the guitar, without any added distraction that other, color heavy strings, seem to add.

I know, those of us who see colors in respect to hearing sounds, are probably crazy. Guilty as charged, I guess😂

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 5908
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by petermc61 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:40 pm

I'm not exactly sure how one brand of string gets the sound of the woods of the guitar more or less than any other string. I would grudgingly accept a string being called 'neutral' if it sat in the middle of a continuum of sound from bright to dark . D'Addario doesn't do that though.

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1473
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:09 am

I wonder if people describe D'addarios as 'neutral' when what they really mean is universally familiar. In other words, everyone is familiar with how D'addarios sound, so they're a good base line to begin a discussion of how other strings sound in contrast to them. Maybe they've become the default standard sound.

we somewhat arbitrarily and parochially measure other currencies against the U.S. dollar (well maybe not in Australia.)

Or not. Just an thought.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

User avatar
Tim522
Posts: 320
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:58 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Tim522 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:09 am

I like the sound of EJ45 and 46 and I also love how they feel! I'm pretty sure that every new and used guitar I've owned has come with D'Addario.

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 5908
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by petermc61 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:09 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:09 am
I wonder if people describe D'addarios as 'neutral' when what they really mean is universally familiar. In other words, everyone is familiar with how D'addarios sound, so they're a good base line to begin a discussion of how other strings sound in contrast to them. Maybe they've become the default standard sound.

we somewhat arbitrarily and parochially measure other currencies against the U.S. dollar (well maybe not in Australia.)

Or not. Just an thought.
Jeffrem

I think that is exactly it - familiarity. Given their consistency and good intonation they are very useful as a reference point. Following on from your argument, that is different to 'neutrality'.

Cheers
Peter

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1473
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:25 pm

"Following on from your argument, that is different to 'neutrality'."

Yep.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

ben etow
Posts: 776
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 4:23 pm
Location: Brussels

Re: How luthiers string their guitars...

Post by ben etow » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:14 pm

Laudiesdad69 wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:35 pm
In my experience, I agree with what others have said previously about EJ45 and EJ46 being neutral sounding strings. I'll say "neutral" as they are clear sounding and colorless. They have been this way on several guitars I have owned.
I would never say the EJ45/46 trebles sound clear... Maybe among the nylons, but I am not even sure of that.

Return to “Classical Guitar Strings”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot], vesa and 10 guests