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Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle Discussions on all things unplugged, as well as classical and jazz.

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Unread 02-23-2012, 12:06 AM   #1
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Acoustic Strings that help brighten tone?

Are there any strings that you have used that have helped you brighten up your acoustic guitar's tone?

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Unread 02-23-2012, 12:36 AM   #2
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There are a lot of people with lots of different string preferences. Also, a lot of guitars sound better with string sets which don't match other guitars. However, there's a few things which usually hold true.

If you're going for out-and-out brighness, brass strings and bronze strings are the top.

So, why would anyone use phosphor bronze?

Brass and bronze strings lose that brightness *extremely* quickly. You know those folks who play Martins and who change their strings almost every time they play? That's why. The brightness doesn't last, and it's time for a new set.

That addition of phosphor to the mix makes the string not sound quite as bright initially (although still fairly close)... and then it keeps sounding that way for a long time.

The next treatment to keep strings from corroding goes even further in taking away brightness at the front end: coated strings. In order to keep the strings from fading, a plastic coating (okay, Gortex) gets put on the outside. It doesn't go dead very quickly... but often it's almost already there, due to the coating killing the alloy's tone.

----

Most players wind up going through a few sets when they pick up a decent guitar, just to see what works for them. On my wooden acoustics, I use phosphor bronze. On my crystalline Rainsong carbon fiber guitars, they can take the brightness hit, so they get coated phosphor bronze.

I encourage you to try a few different string sets while you figuring this out for yourself.

Good luck!
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Unread 02-23-2012, 07:53 AM   #3
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I just put on a set of elixar nanoweb phosphor bronze lights on my acoustic and I found at least to my ears/guitar the strings sound great. The high strings have that wonderful chimey tone and the lower strings have a deep boomy bass yet still retain clarity.

Ive put about 5-6 hrs on them the past two days and they are still sounding pretty damn good.
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Unread 02-23-2012, 08:16 AM   #4
Frets? What frets?
 
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I did two things to brighten my acoustic's tone.

First, I replaced the bridge pins with brass ones. The old plastic ones were almost dead and they seemed like a better option.

Second, I started using these bad boys:

ROTOSOUND SUPER BRONZE ACOUSTIC GUITAR STRINGS

They've got this "contact core" design; the core of the string, rather than the wound part, goes over the bridge. Might do something, but that might be the fact that they're phosphor bronze.

End of the day, I like the tone I get from my acoustic using brass bridge pins and contact core phosphor bronze strings. I'm not sure that the physics backs me up on the bridge pins (they're not touching the vibrating portion of the string), but it sounds very bright and clear now.
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Unread 02-23-2012, 04:27 PM   #5
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D'addario have a cool thing on their website, a brightness chart:
D'Addario Strings : Acoustic Strings
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Unread 02-25-2012, 04:27 PM   #6
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I find Elixir's are really bright, but also very deep and balanced. Very Modern sounding. I'll admit they don't have the "soul" of uncoated strings, but that "soul" only lasts so long with uncoated strings.

My 7 month old Elixir's on one acoustic sound identical to the new ones on my other acoustic, so they are worth the money.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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I'm going to offer some suggestions that don't focus on strings, the first of which costs you no money and uses materials that you already own. Playing closer to the bridge will bring out higher partials and thereby make your tone more treble. You might also look into a soundhole cover, as those eliminate bass frequencies.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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If your using a pic and not fingers use a thinner pic, it will really brighten your tone.
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Unread 03-29-2012, 11:52 PM   #9
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To be honest, I love putting electric strings on my acoustic. I think it sounds fairly bright and defined comparatively.

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Unread 03-30-2012, 12:17 AM   #10
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You know, that'll eat your frets right up.
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Unread 03-30-2012, 12:21 AM   #11
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Hasn't affected my 22 year old Ovation yet. Frets are still in tip-top. It could be that I'm a light player and rarely do bends.

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Unread 03-30-2012, 12:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchecterWhore View Post
You know, that'll eat your frets right up.
How so?

Most acoustics have the same frets as electric guitars. Perhaps the use of stainless steel strings will eat into them faster than nickel, but nothing that'll occur in a short time frame, unless of course the frets on the acoustic are shit to begin with.

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Unread 03-30-2012, 02:45 AM   #13
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Okay, I'm probably full of shit. Steel's still going to cause fret wear faster than bronze, but maybe no less on an acoustic than an electric.
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Unread 03-30-2012, 12:18 PM   #14
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Well, yeah. It's basically common knowledge that steel is going to be harder than bronze. But a lot of people prefer to use steel strings on acoustics.

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Unread 04-01-2012, 09:37 AM   #15
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I use Elixir Nanowebs on my acoustics, they have the brightest tone of any acoustic strings I've tried. Plus they don't go dull for a very long time.
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Unread 04-08-2012, 06:05 AM   #16
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Elixir Nanowebs are badass, once you play with the tone of Elixirs you'll never buy anything else.
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Unread 04-08-2012, 01:41 PM   #17
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Don from D'Addario here- a few clarifications here. Using Electric Guitar Strings on your Acoustic Guitar will not eat the frets. Using Stainless Steel Strings have a tendency to eat fret wire more quickly than Nickel Wound String (Electric Strings) or Phosphor Bronze or 80/20 Bronze Strings (acoustic strings). Stainless Steel and Nickel are traditionally used on electric as they are ferrous alloys and have magnetic output, which alloy your pickups to track the string. So feel free to put electric strings on your acoustic - it won't harm it a bit. However, i don't think that would be a good solution to your "Brighter Tone" issue.

Acoustic strings come in a few varieties; 80/20 Bronze - which is 80% copper and 20% tin - thereby the name. This makes for probably the brightest string out there. Each manufacturer has a version of this - Martin, GHS, Ernie Ball, etc. They will be at the brightest end of the spectrum. I use these on a big Jumbo Acoustic that I have. It's very boomy and bassy - so i use 80/20s to brighten up the bass end a bit.

Next you have 85/15's - these are wildly popular but you can find them if you look hard enough. You can guess what the 85/15 stands for - so these won't be quite as bright as the aforementioned 80/20's.

Finally, you have Phosphor Bronze strings - technically, these would be called 90/10's but that just doesn't sound as good but you basically have a string that's 90% copper, 8% tin and then a mix of zinc, phosphor and a few other things that make the string sound the way it does. It is the most popular string on the market. The sound is warm and punchy and can add a bit of bass boost to a guitar that sounds thin in the bottom or midrange.

Hopefully that will help you with your choices. Good luck.
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