Strings in-depth!

History of how classical guitar strings have changed over the years and what are the benefits and differences of carbon vs nylon, hard vs soft tension, etc. It can be difficult to decide what strings to pick among the overwhelming number of options and what are the benefits of using your own mix of strings,  How often should you change strings and how much does it matter if you're just practicing and not performing.  Overview of how strings are manufactured.

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    • martinTeam
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    • martin.3
    • 2 yrs ago
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    This is an AWESOME topic! I will try to have an industry expert coming in as a guest for that!

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  • Second that as a topic.  Would also love to give us options.  For example in India we do get D'Addario Pro arte quite easily but others are either too expensive or hard to get.  Some suggestions would be good.

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      • David Krupka
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Srinath Subrahmanyan As far as I know, 'Strings by Mail' (based in the US) has world-wide delivery. They have a good selection of strings (and other accessories) and their prices are usually quite competitive.

       

      https://www.stringsbymail.com

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    • Srinath Subrahmanyan l second David Krupka for Strings By Mail, and for where you are based Lord of the Strings could be a good alternative, https://lordofthestrings.com

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Blaise Laflamme David Krupka Srinath Subrahmanyan Thank you guys for the suggestions! However, I do feel Srinat's point, I wanted to order at Strings by Mail as well and they had quite high shipping costs to Germany, I figure it's similar for shipping to India. I did find a good alternative in Germany though, but maybe my man Srijit  knows some alternatives in India?

      But damn, lord of the strings, what a fantastic name! 馃鈥嶁檪锔

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    • Martin yeah that's a funny name for sure! In fact as soon as you put 2 sets of the same set you get a good discount, so when I order Hannabach strings they cost me less from them, in the Nederland, than from the other, closer to me from the US. Probably because they are closer to Germany and the distribution costs less... who knows!

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    • Blaise Laflamme thanks much.  Will wait for Srijit also.  Unfortunately strings by mail and even Lord of the Strings are quite expensive for shipping.  Getting Hannabach, Savarez etc are hard here, but maybe Srijit knows a local place...

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    • Srinath Subrahmanyan Hi there! I wouldn't recommend ordering from Strings by Mail, or any other similar online shops that are not based in India. I had ordered twice, and had to pay extra for custom taxes. They're quite reliable, but your location might make things very complicated for you. Ideally customs taxes at the time were 20-30% but for some odd reason, I was charged 100 % once. Best is to find friends in Europe or Us, who can bring them for you or ship them as a gift. There's a limit of upto Rs,4,000 or Rs.10,000 to send gifts free of cost, please look up the current charges for that. Best is to not send the receipt, if a friend buys and then ships them on your behalf. Look up other options such as amazon, it's still expensive but still hassle free. Look up Braganza musicals in Kolkata, if they can ship you some for a reasonable price, that would be pretty cool. I'm myself trying to find a solution for all Indians, who are into classical guitar, to afford classical guitar related accessories for a cheap and reasonable price. The current scheme of things can make matters very perplexing & some of us are trying to find a solution. 

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    •  Blaise Laflamme Martin David Krupka Srijit Mukherjee :

      What strings would you recommend for daily practice (inexpensive but good) and for special performances.  How often do you change the daily practice one.  I may have someone coming from the US who could get me the same.  Thanks.  BTW I have a 14 year old Takamine Hirade H-8 classical guitar.

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    • Srinath Subrahmanyan that's an hard one to answer! I've spent the last year trying a lot of strings, since I've been playing Savarez Alliance with Corum or Cantiga basses for the last decades 馃槺. I came to the conclusion that no set or brand fits every guitar, repertoire or style. Some have too much high or bass harmonics on my instrument, or gave a good round sound but not enough timbers for voices separation, others are hard to play or the whole experience is just not what I was looking for. I personally don't make a difference between practice or performance strings because when you practice on strings that doesn't provide you the dynamics and timbers you're looking for, I doubt by just changing the strings you'll figure out how to re-orchestrate your interpretation and use the right fingerings and motions, if you never figured and practiced them out before with the result you were expecting. I usually restring my guitar each 2 to 6 weeks depending on multiple factors, but you're in the best position to know when your strings no longer provide you what you're expecting. When I was younger I preferred high tension strings, now I'm using normal tension with better results I think... or I'm becoming too old to press on the strings 馃槀. Long blurb to say that considering what I said before I'm mostly using Savarez Alliance Cantiga, Augustine Imperial or Hannabach Goldin.

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      • martinTeam
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      • martin.3
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Blaise Laflamme Srinath Subrahmanyan Exactly what he said! It's a bit like recommending a dentist: everybody is happy with their own one until they chance to another one, than this becomes the new favorite (if that's even possible in the case of a dentist).

      I usually play 1st string Augustine Regal, 2nd +3rd Savarez Alliance, 4th-6th D'Addario Composite. I am usually not happy with the lifespan of the 1st string, but they do sound incredibly warm. When I don't have any concerts, projects or recordings coming up, I am usually happy with a set that gives me nylon 1st string, carbon 2-3rd and some reasonable basses!

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      • David Krupka
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Srinath Subrahmanyan As it happens, I also have an old Hirade, made before the Takamine trademark was included. My parents bought it for me years ago, and it remains in their home, so I don't use it regularly. (I'll reclaim it one of these days!) I used to always use high tension Savarez trebles with Augustine blue Classic basses. The trebles had incredible durability; the basses needed changing every couple of months. (At present, it's strung with normal tension d'Addario Pro Arte Composites. I use these mostly because they're available everywhere, but the guitar still sounds good, and is perhaps a tad easier to play.) 

       

      As for changing strings, I do this as infrequently as possible. I'm mostly concerned about maintaining intonation. As a matter of fact, I don't particularly like the bright, lively, sound of new strings. (Of course, strings that become frayed or dirty do need to be changed.) So I typically practice using what many guitarists would consider to be 'dead' strings. It doesn't bother me, but it's not for everyone, to be sure!

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  • Thanks Srijit .  That is a good summation of the current state at least in India for strings other than D'addario.  

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  • Hi everyone, I have used Hanabbach exclusive for a while. The basses are great. The third is titanyl, and the first and second are nylon PR. However, I started to use the basses of exclusive and the and the trebles all nylon PR. I am not quite sure which of these two combinations are better. 

    I was thinking in trying D'Addario but I am not quite sure if I should try a new combination. The regular tension in Hannabach is not the regular tension in other brands. So we should be careful on this. 

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