Acoustic string journal

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TanninTannin Frets: 519
I've done quite a bit of string experimentation this past year or so. I've been keeping notes individually for each guitar, copied below and annotated for readability. (What me? OCD? Never!) I'll update this thread from time to time. Please feel welcome to comment, argue, all the usual things.
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    edited July 30
    THE DOCTOR
    Maton SRS60C Custom dreadnought, bought used February 2019, made in the Custom Shop October 2014. Western Red Cedar top, Queensland Maple  back, sides, and neck, rosewood fretboard. The cedar top makes this a more melodic, gentler dreadnought than most.

    * Elixir Nanoweb PB 12-53. Came with these, the factory standard. 12-16-24 32-42-53
    * Elixir Nanoweb PB 11-52. One gauge lighter. Bad idea. 11-15-22 32-42-52
    * Elixir Nanoweb bronze 12-53. (MM, $30.) Reverted to standard. Not entirely happy: the lower strings lack definition. Largely this is a dreadnought thing, but strings should be able to help.
    * Rotosound Jumbo King bronze 12-54. ($11.70 MM.)  A bit more definition in the wound strings but still not enough. Similar to the Elixir PBs but a little brighter, a little better defined, *lots* more string and fret noise (but less than the Martin 80/20s on the Angel). 12-16-24 32-44-54
    * Martin Retro monel 12-54. (MM, $24.66) Excellent, in a weird way. Flat, metallic, but warm too. Nice and smooth under the fingers, and very quiet (hardly any left hand string squeak). They last *forever*! Over 6 months and they still sounded much the same as they did in the second week. (Monels sound dreadful for the first few days, you *must* stick with them until they play in.) I really, really like the feel (smooth, gentle, but none of that slickness coated ones have) and the lack of string noise. All that said, the sound is not right for this guitar. Its natural sweetness and their natural metallic flatness don't quite match. 12-15-25 31-41-54
    * SIT Silencers semi-flat 80/20 brass 12-52. (SBM, $13.32.) Supposed to be "compression wound" and semi-flat surfaced for noise-free fretting. Initial impression was that they were rather odd strings: some of the deadness flatwounds have, plus some of the extra brightness of brass. Despite a fairly smooth feel, and a liberal application of Fast Fret, they squeal more than a bit. Sounded quite different the next day and ever since: these are really rather nice: warm and medium-bright with good feel. I might buy them again. 12-16-25 32-42-52. See https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/200300/sit-silencer-compression-wound-acoustic-strings
    * Ernie Ball Earthwood bronze 12-54. (MM, $16.70.) I went back to phosphor bronze to see if I liked it better yet. My right-hand technique had changed quite a bit so it was worth a try. Initial impression: not bad but a bit muddy and I disliked the very rough feel of the Balls.  Settled in quite well and made a good sound overall. I still disliked the roughness, though a rub with a foam nail buffer helped. Good strings but I won't buy them again. 12-16-24 32-44-54
    * Fender brass medium 13-56. (MAN, $10.) As good a sound as I'd ever had from this guitar, but the feel is remarkably heavy. Are the Fenders so much heavier than the Darco 13s? Does the Doctor stiffen up more than the Angel when you go up a gauge? Or is it just that with bluegrass sets on both the other sixes now, I no longer have a lightly stung "rest guitar" to give my fingers a break? Overall, the sound is good but it's too hard to play. The Fender 13s only lasted a week before I spat the dummy and took then off. 13-17-26 36-46-56
    * SIT Silencers semi-flat brass 12-52 again. (SBM, $13.11.) I have come to like these a lot. They felt familiar and comfortable straight away. I'll keep trying new things, but probably come back home to Silencers every second set.  12-16-25 32-42-52.
    * Darco brass 12-54. (Repackaged Martins.) (MAN, $12.) Fitted May '21. First time I've tried full-on round-wound brass 12s with this guitar. Noticeably lighter tension than the Silencers (surprisingly enough given the .54 6th) and more finger noise of course. Very much strings with two faces. Fresh on: somewhere between shouty and shrill. Nasty. After a week: still a very present top end but balanced other than when strumming (which gets a bit over the top). Improved further as they aged. Excellent after two or three weeks and still good after about 7.  12-16-25 32-42-54.
    * BEST SO FAR: SIT Silencers, Darco brass lights.

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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    edited July 30
    THE ANGEL
    Cole Clark 3 Series Angel bought new in January 2020: Huon Pine top, Queensland Silkwood back and sides, Silkwood neck, ebony fretboard. Its own unique sound, difficult to classify; rich and subtle, with a lot of top end but well balanced nevertheless. Sometimes I describe it as "the acoustic equivalent of a Telecaster" which gives as good an idea as any.

    * Elixir Nanoweb phosphor bronze 12-53. Came ex-factory with these. Replaced them once with the same thing. As always with Elixirs, they lasted well. Unfortunately I didn't make notes about them at the time but I can't have been 100% happy or I wouldn't have started trying all these other ones out. 12-16-24 32-42-53.
    * Martin Authentic MA140 80/20 brass 12-54. (MM, $13.66.)  Bloody wonderful! That ringing brass zing just does it for me. Fantastic sound. But a little buzzy on the bass strings, needs to be slightly heavier (at least for my heavy right hand). Lots of string noise from that rough finish. Don't last: at their best for 10 days max. But brass is like that. 12-16-25 32-42-54.
    * D'Addario EJ16 bronze 12-53. (MM, $15.70.) Pleasant, rich, very warm, but rather bland, especially after the brass Martins. Don't seem to get the top moving. B string buzzes. Lighter than most 12-53ish strings, which I have since learned is typical of D'Addarios. One gauge up might be better. 12-16-24 32-42-53.
    * Elixir Nanoweb coated 80/20 brass mediums 13-56. (MM, $30.) Good but strangled - just a bit too much string for the guitar. Great RH feel (I love to dig in like a bass player) but too much hard work on the left. 13-17-26 35-45-56.
    * Fender brass 12-52. (MAN, $10.) Excellent sound second only to the Martin 12s; too sloppy under the right hand for me. 12-16-24 32-42-52.
    * Darco brass mediums 13-56. (MAN, $12.) Very nice. Best, most playable mediums so far. Probably the best strings of any gauge so far. Remarkably easy under the left hand. After a couple of weeks, still have a little zing (I think the 13s last longer than 12s do). (BTW, Darco is Martin's cheap brand, invented by some marketing zombie. The packaging is plain and you don't get six little paper envelopes, each with a single string. But they are the same strings out of the same factory.) 13-17-26 35-45-56.
    * GHS Vintage Bronze 85/15 brass 12-54. (SBM, $11.62.) I expected these to sound very like the other brass strings I've used (all 80/20s), but they don't. They are curiously mellow, even when new, and not unlike old, well-played 80/20 brass strings. Good strings, but not for me. They might go well on the Doctor. A little bit light for this guitar's setup, especially the always-problematic B string. Wasn't happy with them - more the too-low tension than the tone - and they only stayed on for a week. 12-16-24 32-42-54.
    * John Pearse brass bluegrass 12-56. (SBM, $13.62.) First impression: these are as good as it gets. Even fresh on they sound great and have a good feel, though heavier than I expected, more like 13s than bluegrass 12s.  After a couple of weeks, not quite so keen. They are just a fraction heavy for the guitar, and the sound is striking me as excessively toppy with not enough bottom end. I remain just as keen as ever on them for single-string fingerpicking, but the plain steel two sound thin and shouty, while strumming produces a very nasty boxy sound. In the end, I took then off early. I might try the standard JP lights though (as opposed to this bluegrass set). 12-16-24 35-45-56.
    * Santa Cruz Parabolic Low Tension coated bronze. (SBM, $30.25.) The first time I've had phosphor bronze strings on the Angel for almost a year. The Santa Cruz strings are overpriced and overhyped, but excellent. The Angel sounds less boxy with these than with the JPs (which were a bit much for it), but still has plenty of treble. Interesting gauges! On paper this is a bluegrass set, but in the hand the feel is akin to 11s. They are too light for this guitar and I might do better with the Santa Cruz medium tension set. These are very good strings and I'll buy them again in one gauge or the other. They last well too. Removed 11-7-21. 12-16-23 32-44-56.
    * Newtone Masterclass round core brass bluegrass. (NEW, $18.24. Fitted 11 July, off on the 20th.) Awful. Very lacking in bass and weak tone overall, but shouty and obnoxious on the treble side. They improved with more time on, but not nearly enough. Nevertheless, they seem to be excellent strings with a nice feel, not as soft under the right hand as I had feared, and an excellent score on the Squeak-o-meter for an uncoated string: call it a 4. Quite smooth under the fingers too, a 4 where 10 is very rough. Although a benefit in many ways, this  makes it difficult to get enough volume from the bass strings without a plectrum Unless I miss my guess, these would come into their own on something like a big, bass-heavy Martin dreadnought, and using a pick rather than fingers. After a bit more than a week of putting up with them and hoping they would eventually improve, I gave up and took them off before their time. Nevertheless, the quality was obvious and I'm encouraged to try some different Newtones over the coming months. Something similar to these in a phosphor bronze might be just the thing on the Messiah. 12-16-25 36-46-56. 
    * SIT Royal Bronze light. (SAB, $14.55. On 20-07-21.) Immediately pleasing, and still impressive after a week or two worth of playing. A fine balance between richness, warmth and ring. Not bad for squeak either - say a 5 - which is probably better than SIT's own Silencers. SIT say these are their best bronze strings and charge a dollar extra per set without really saying what makes them special. For the sake of curiosity, I have ordered a set of their cheaper standard bronzes to compare against, but I've also ordered another set of the Royal Bronze because these are as good as anything I've had on this guitar. One more thing: I used to love the sound of brass strings on the Angel, which is now 18 months old, but the last 3 brass sets have been unsatisfactory. Has the guitar changed so much as the woods mature? Am I using the wrong brass strings? Have my tastes changed? Or is it my technique that is different? (I used to use all-flesh but use a lot of nail now). Whatever the reason, I seem to like phosphor bronze on the Angel now. 12-16-25 32-42-54.
    * BEST SO FAR: Martin brass, Santa Cruz Lights, SIT Royal Bronze.


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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    edited June 5
    THE MESSIAH
    Maton Messiah 808, bought new in July 2020. Sitka Spruce top, Indian Rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard. An orchestra size guitar in the classic spruce and rosewood mould broadly similar to (for example) a Martin OM-28 or a Taylor 714.

    * Elixir Nanoweb phosphor bronze 12-53, the factory strings. Seem to suit it well. Lasted a long time, from late July to about November. Replaced with the same ones. Could use a little more character. Try an uncoated PB? Something with not too much string noise though. I need slightly heavier bottoms since I had the saddle shaved - maybe shaved a fraction too far, it buzzes a bit now on the bass side. A bluegrass set (12-56ish) might be the go. 12-16-24 32-42-53
    * Sfarzo Alloy 5109 bronze 12-54 (coated). Horrible. There is something very wrong with Sfarzo's gauging. In standard pitch the wound strings feel like mediums, or like lights tuned up to F. They are quite stiff under the fingers and pull the action up a little bit in the same way you'd expect a set of mediums to do. Now all of that is fine: I like strings with a bit of bite in them. However the plain B string is a 15, not the 16 supplied with every other set of lights I've ever heard of. It is loose and flappy and sounds dreadful. As a set, the Sfarsos sounded awful first up and settled in to be merely very bad: shouty try-hard strings, very bright and tinny, which made the delicate, rich Messiah sound like a cheap Chinese copy. A quite different sound to anything else I've tried, colder and more metallic. Looking at Sfarzo's range, I see that they also sell this same alloy in 10-48, 11-46, 11-50, and 13-56 sets, which all have sensible, normal gauges. The 12-54 is the only screwy one. I can imagine these working well in the right application: strumming a dreadnought playing country or bluegrass they might be the very thing. But on this rosewood 808 they were hopeless and they came off after less than 24 hours. 12-15-25 34-44-54.
    * Elixir Nanoweb PB bluegrass 12-56. Excellent on this guitar. Noticeably stiffer than the standard lights but by no means difficult. Produce a more ringing, extraverted sound. The Messiah has never sounded better. After a while I started to think that they were a little too heavy for me, but I had bluegrass or medium strings on all three guitars at that time and didn't get any rests. With 12s on at least one of the other two, it's not a problem, and the sound the bluegrass Nanowebs make is outstanding. 12-16-24 35-45-56.
    * NEXT: D'Addario XT bluegrass coated phosphor bronze. 12-16-25 35-45-56.
    * NEXT: GHS Americana PB 12-54. Not coated but "cryogenically treated". Hmmmm ... I'll try anything once. 12-16-24 32-42-54.
    * BEST SO FAR: Elixir Nanoweb phosphor bronze bluegrass.
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    edited June 2
    THE THUNDERHAWK
    Tacoma Thunderhawk baritone jumbo, bought used in October 2020, made March 2005. Spruce top, maple back and sides, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard. The very long scale (730mm) makes this almost unique. It has a rich, deep, well-defined cello-like tone. Some people describe it as "piano-like". 

    * Came with unknown brand phosphor bronze strings with a plain second, something around about 17-70. The vendor thought they were Tomastics, which sounds unlikely. Not great. False notes on the B string. Lacked a bit of punch and cut-through.
    * John Pearse 80/20 brass light baritone. $9.69. Fantastic! Outstanding rich, bright sound with plenty of bass oomph too. Play well, nice to have a wound "B" string (actually F# on the baritone in standard tuning). But just a fraction too light for the setup, they are a bit buzzy. Tuned up a semitone to C they work very well indeed. They also last far longer than any other brass string I've ever used. The Thunderhawk gets played a lot and they have been on for 7 months now and are still good. 15-22-30 43-54-68
    * John Pearse 80/20 brass medium baritone, 17-70. These were very hard to find. I eventually tracked some down half a world away at Strings Direct in the UK. They seemed huge after the lights. Tuned to A (said to be the design tuning for the long-scale Thunderhawk) they are flubby and very muddy. Still a bit flubby and muddy in Bb. You can't really play it like a guitar. Already getting just a bit heavy on the left hand too. In B tuning they are much improved, but that wonderful cello tone on the lower strings is not really there. The sound is deeper and rounder but it's not as usable or as playable: fingering is noticeably slower and heavier. I took them off after two days. They are perfectly good strings and settled in nicely, but no.  (BTW, why not just tune to C and be happy? Because C tuning on the baritone tends to lead to awkward keys in conjunction with a normal concert-pitch guitar - for example, playing the C-tuned baritone in G means playing the standard guitar in Eb, C means Ab, and D Bb. Tuning the baritone a fourth down (B) mostly leads to more pleasant combinations.) Fitted May 21. 17-24-32, 45-56-70.
    * John Pearse 80/20 brass light baritone. $9.69. Straight back to these after just two days with the mediums. The Thunderhawk comes alive with the lights in a way it doesn't with other strings - even back when I used to tune the lights to B it still had that magic tone which you just don't get with the mediums. Fitted May 21. 15-22-30 43-54-68.
    * NEXT: Same again, probably forever.
    * NEXT: Pyramid Master Class Acoustic Baritone brass 15-68. $17.64. But I've ordered these just for fun. Same gauges as the JP lights but round core. 15-22-30 43-54-68.
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    edited July 30
    THE 12-STRING
    Cole Clark 2 Series dreadnought bought new in December 2020: Bunya top, Blackwood back and sides, Queensland Maple neck, River Sheoak fretboard. A fairly typical 12, leaning more towards a jangly treble sound than a warm and rich one, but not unusually so.

    * Came ex-factory with Elixir Nanoweb phosphor bronze (PB)10-47. Good sound. Plenty of top end on this body (not middly and borderline muddy as bronze strings can be on some guitars).  They need a gentle touch on the right hand: I get buzz between two strings in a course when I play them the way I play my 6-strings (i.e., like a demented bass player doing 80s disco-funk). Will probably last well which is especially important on a 12-string 'coz restringing is a pain in the arse. UPDATE: after getting used to them, I tuned them down to Eb to de-jangle it just a little, and to make life easier for my left hand. That worked well. 10-10 14-14 23-9 30-12 39-18 47-27.
    * D'Addario EJ38 PB. 10-47. (MM, $30.) I had the nut re-filed to be able to swap the E and A strings over with their octave strings, what you might call doing a half-Rickenbacker. Although the factory Elixirs were still good, they were now too short. The EJ38s were what the local shop happened to have in stock. I like them. Theoretically the same gauge as the Elixir 10-47s, they are in practice a fraction lighter. They are flappy in Eb, just right in E natural. A bit dear at $30-odd for uncoated strings. Possibly a fraction too middly now that I've swapped the courses over and brass might be good, but let's wait a while before deciding. A couple of months after putting these on they seem to be lasting well for an uncoated string, although to be fair I don't play the 12 much. Same nominal gauges as the Elixirs except for the octave G which is an 8. 10-10 14-14 23-8 30-12 39-18 47-27.
    * Darco 80/20 brass 12-54. (SD, $15.72.) Yes, a six-string set. I wanted to try the Bunya and Blackwood twelve-string out with six strings so that I could - don't laugh - hear it. With 12 strings on, those extra strings make a much bigger difference to the sound than the woods or the build; I wanted to listen to the guitar itself. I also wanted to try a six-string with a wider neck (50mm instead of 44mm), and above all, decide whether to keep the 12, trade it in on another six-string, or just play it with 6 strings. A set of phosphor bronze 12s would have been ideal but I didn't have any handy. As always with brass, at first the Darcos seemed way over-bright, but they mellowed nicely. It's a nice guitar strung as a six, but even though I like a wider neck, it's a bit *too* wide and I think I'll sell it. I do like the compressed dynamics. This is a setup you can take liberties with. (That is the extra 12-string build strength paying off.) 12-16-25 32-42-54.
    * NEXT: Might give some Mari silk and steels a go seeing as I found a set unopened in my ancient old Yamaha 12-string case - they'd been there 20 or 30 years. Price sticker says $11.95. Current price is $35 to $40!
    * NEXT: Martin MA500 12-string PB 10-47 SBM: $9.99 US. 10-10 14-14 23-10 30-12 39-18 47-27.
    * NEXT: Dean Markley 2202 85/15 brass 12-string 9-46. SBM: $8.99 US. 9-9 12-12 20-9 26-11 36-18 46-24.
    * BEST SO FAR: D'Addario EJ38s. 


    THE GUILD
    Guild CO-2 bought used in July 2021, made in Tacoma 2007. Red Spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck, ebony fretboard and bridge. A bold, responsive 000-size guitar with that nice Guild top end, not unlike a brighter Martin 000-18.

    * D'Addario EJ16 PB 12-53. Fitted 26-7-21. Started with these as a plain vanilla sort of sting to set a baseline. Seem like a decent choice. 12-16-24 32-42-53.
    * NEXT: Probably something else along roughly the same lines for the first change, but I think the guitar might be well-suited to monels or (seeing as I have them lying around spare) D'Addario nickel bronze 12s. Early days yet.
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  • jellyrolljellyroll Frets: 2830
    Not sure I’ve the patience to read it all but Kudos for the effort. I started a string diary too but it faded once I’d run out of adjectives (“not bad”, “quite nice”, “great”…..er….)
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 17279
    I did this over a couple of years a while back, but I didn’t try this many!
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    Added updates to the Doctor entry (new Darco brass 12s) and the Thunderhawk (JP mediums on and then off again, replaced with JP lights). I've ordered 3 different sets of Newtones to try out on different instruments, also SIT Royal Bronze 12s, Rotosound Nexus coated 12s, Curt Mangan Fusion Matched coated 12s, plus various repeats of favourite ones.
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  • DavidRDavidR Frets: 132
    Gosh. Well done. Useful for others+++. I keep a string diary too but don't experiment as much as you do. Mainly because I feel I've found my fave strings for each of my instruments, but your try-outs re-inforce the fact that we should always be open to change.

    More generally, I am always fascinated that prior to D'Addario introducing phosphor-bronze in the 1970's all acoustics used Monel or 80/20 'bronze'. Well before that they would just have used Monel. People can't have bothered that much about strings back then. When folk put PB on an old 1930's/40's instrument now, that's not a sound anyone would have been hearing at the time!

    Big fan of Monel, not least because of cost-savings resulting from less frequent need to change. I just like the tone. Put on PB from time to time. Except for my resonator, upon which Monel does sound dull.
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  • maltingsaudiomaltingsaudio Frets: 1816
    In an effort to channel Blackadder referring to Dr Johnston’s new dictionary:
    ”(cough) Picato phosphor bronze”
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    In another thread, simonhpieman asked some questions:

    When you talk about how long the strings last, is this until one breaks or until you consider the tone to have "gone off"? 

    Until the tone goes off. I can't remember the last time I broke a string. 

    It sounds like you play quite a lot?

    Several hours a day. Being retired is great!

    How long do you expect things to need to settle in? I assume this varies quite a lot set to set. I'd have thought my Martin string would have dulled down a lot after 45 minutes of gig-level strumming but it's still pretty bright.

    I think this varies with the string (a bit) and with the player (a lot).  Some people love the sound of brand new strings, some can't stand it. But let's not go any further down that thought-path until we have clarified some terms. 

    Strings go through a set series of stages over their life.

        1: Wild. They are all over the place when you first put them on and have not yet stretched and settled down. They sound unpleasant, mostly because they don't hold tune yet. They need to be stretched (either manually or by playing them in) until they hold tune. This stage lasts only a short time. To pluck numbers out of the air, say 20 minutes of normal playing, or as little as 5 minutes if you stretch them manually.
        2: Zingy. The string holds tune, but is still ultra-bright. This stage lasts for a day or two, or a few hours of playing time.
        3: Normal tone. Still quite bright, but not excessively so. This stage lasts a long time; typically something like 3 weeks for brass, 6 weeks for phosphor bronze, several months for monel.
        4: Dead. They sound dull and lifeless, the overtones are gone.
        5: Unusable. They no longer play in tune.


    This is only a rough guide. Sometimes stage 5 happens before stage 4. The borderline between stages 2 and 3 (zingy and normal) is fairly subjective. (In theory it could be measured and quantified, but who has the equipment to do that, let alone the time? We are guitar players, not PhD candidates!) Note that none of these terms or stages are "official", they are just stuff I made up to describe what I see.

    Most of us put new strings on when we get to the end of stage 3 (normal tone) but some people change far more often. Many well-paid professional musicians, especially ones with professional road crew to do the boring stuff for them, put new strings on every night and always play in stage 2 (zingy tone). On the other hand, some people actually prefer stage 4 strings (dead tone) and leave them on until they break. 

    In general, I hate stage 1, dislike the zingy stage, and much prefer normal tone, but there are exceptions. I sometimes enjoy the sugar hit of having ultra-zingy fresh brass strings on my Huon Pine Angel. Yes, that's way too much top end for any sane person, but it's fun for a day or two, and I can always play one of the other ones if I want something normal. Stage 4, "dead" tone can be good too, given the right string and the right guitar. Stage 4 brass strings - which were brighter than almost anything else in the zingy and normal phases - go very sweet and mellow. I assume that the brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) becomes more ductile as the micro-structure changes in response to fatigue, and this is the basis of the soft feel and gentle tones produced, while bronze (an alloy of copper and tin, usually with a trace of phosphorus added) becomes harder and more brittle, which is what eventually leads to false notes, but I'm no metallurgist and while the observed tone changes are perfectly clear I'm only guessing at the reasons for them. These exceptions notwithstanding, most people play most of the time in the normal tone stage and like that sound. 

    Where do coated strings fit in? Coating certainly extends the length of the normal tone period, at least double. I don't think it makes any useful difference to the zingy period though, except to dull some of the highs. My assumption is that this is because the transition from zingy to normal tone has nothing to do with dirt and corrosion, it is purely a metalurgical process. 

    From the sounds of things it looks like I might like Monels

    I agree about monel for players who don't like strings too bright. Monel in the normal tone stage is similar to brass or phosphor bronze in the dead stage. (Not identical, but similar.)

    Actually, one more question and then I promise I'll leave you alone! All these string changes, are you making adjustments to the guitar each time? Truss rod etc? Surely different gauges and sets has a huge effect on setup?

    No. I try to pick strings that are appropriate to the setup. As noted above, I don't always succeed. Sometimes that's because I tried an experiment and it didn't work; sometimes it's because a particular manufacturer's strings have a higher or lower tension than you would expect from the label; very rarely it is not possible to set a guitar up properly for a given set. (For example that ridiculously over-light .015" B string on the Sfarzos above. No setup that worked for the B string could work for the other five.) 

    In my head I have started grouping string brands into three groups. 

    (1) Those that tend to be lighter than expected - i.e., their 12s play more like 11.5s. These include  D'Addario, Santa Cruz, and probably GHS. 
    (3) Those that tend to be unexpectedly heavy (Sfarzo, possibly John Pearce). 
    (2) Those that are pretty much what you expect - all the others I've tried so far.

    Obviously I'll refine and correct these groupings as time goes by. 

    Returning to the question, big changes to string tension would obviously require a different setup. But small changes are usually OK. (All I've done really is go between lights (12-53) and mediums (13-56) with the added halfway step of 12-56 bluegrass sets.)

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  • jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 522
    edited June 6
    You missed out Elixir Phosphor Bronze 13-56...

    Also tighten the truss rod a little (or actually, lower the saddle very slightly) - you can take the action lower with heavier strings - and they will be easier to play.
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 519
    I don't have a guitar that would like the Elixir phosphor bronze mediums, Jaymenon. I did try Elixir brass mediums on the Angel (identical bar the alloy) but they were a bit much for it, and the Elixir bluegrass PBs are plenty heavy enough for the Messiah. Now if someone would like to lend me an HD-28 for a year or two to try some strings out on ..... :)

    Updated today: a new guitar (with no interesting string changes yet, obviously), a couple of new sets on the Angel, various minor changes. I've started recording date on and date off (because I quite often forget how long I've had a set on) and  also prices. Neither of these are likely to be of interest to anyone bar me but I'm too lazy to edit them out of the posts above. 

    My string box is overflowing with old friends and new things to try, and I just went nuts and ordered another dozen different  sets. It is going to take me years to try all these out. 
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  • ScavengerScavenger Frets: 65
    I've been doing this for years, I thought I was the only one! All I record is the date I strung the guitar , what strings and any adjustments or modifications. I started doing it for my basses , I was finding that although it sounded ok in isolation often in a band setting it didn't punch through . After a bit of experimentation I found that my preferred strings lasted about a year with the response I was after.  I do the same with my guitars now and make note of every gig I play . This gives me a good idea of the level of use the strings are getting and let's me wallow in reverie.
    I recently joined a band wanted to use a certain bass , from my log  I could tell that it was last strung 15thJan 2017!
    www.scavengermusic.co.uk
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