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A musicianer, he's not got as many men friends as he has women, and sometimes the only men friends he has is other musicianers, or a man who ain't got no woman - David Honeyboy Edwards, from his bio

Author Topic: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars  (Read 4781 times)

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crawley

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Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« on: February 23, 2005, 01:08:51 PM »
hey y'all, my name's aaron gabriel crawley, 31 yrs old, and i have also been a pre-war blues geek for years. it all began with borrowing the columbia robert johnson cassette's from the public library. i've been playing for about 19 years. the only guitar i have right now is a beat up '26 L-1 that i bought when i lived in memphis, tn. i now live in albany, ca.

maybe someone can help me out? i use martin silk & steels 11-47's. i'm bored with them but i can't seem to find any others brands, gauges, etc..nayone with an L-1 or similar that can suggest something new?

thanks,
aaron

Offline GhostRider

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Re: What Happened to the Forum?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2005, 01:30:49 PM »
Aaron:

I have a recent reissue L-1 on which I have tried Elixirs and Phosphor bronze. I like the phosphor bronze much better, I think the mahogany bodied guitars need the brightness.

I string mine with medium-guage, poss. your old girl would prefer lights.

John Pearse strings are my brand if available

Alex
« Last Edit: February 23, 2005, 01:33:31 PM by pyrochlore »

Offline Slack

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2005, 04:18:35 PM »
Hi Aaron, welcome to Weenie Campbell.

Is this a flat top? or archtop?

slack

Offline waxwing

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2005, 08:57:09 PM »
Quote
So is that an archtop L-1 or the earliest flat top (i.e. pin bridge) L-1, which did still have a little arch to it but was "H" braced?
...was how I put it earlier today before I got called away, mid post.-G-(GMTA)


 I'm not familiar with the Silk and steels, but I think they create less tension than "steel" strings. if you tried, for instance, a phosphor bronze, or an 80/20 bronze, by Martin or John Pearse or D'Addario, you might start out with 10s. If you search for any of their websights you may find lots of info on various string types and their tensions.
BTW, I live in San Francisco and would love to take a look at that L-1 sometime. Any chance you might be going to Suzy T's CD release concert at the Freight and Salvage in Berkely on Saturday? We could at least say hey.
All for now.
John C
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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crawley

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2005, 11:59:22 AM »
hey, thanks for the tip on strings. i've thought about putting light gauge steel strings on, but it's so lightly built that i'm terrified of destroying the top. can the early stellas handle steel strings?

btw..my L-1's a flat-top. spruce top, mahogany sides, back and neck. i'll post pics as soon as i figure out how. i'm not real computer savvy.

waxwing, i just might show up to that suzy thompson deal. depends on sundays work sched...

aaron

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2005, 12:27:35 PM »
Hey Aaron:

BTW that "beatup" L-1 of yours is probably worth upwards of $1800 US. I have seen some moderate to good condition L-00's go for $2300 US+ recently on eBay, the rarer L-1 should be worth more.

I'm sure yours sounds great. I only have to wait 75 more years until mine gets that broken in!

According to my research, 1926 was the first year that the flattop L-1 was produced.

Alex

Offline Slack

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2005, 12:34:49 PM »
Hi Aaron,

I've got a 1928 L0 (although no way to tell exactly what year on these guitars) that I keep strung with lights and it handles them fine - I did have a little reenforcment done to the bridge plate - but I think they can handle lights.  The scale is pretty short on these, I think mine is 24.25 - so that lessons the tension too.  Hang on to that guitar - these are the first flat tops Gibosn made.

cheers,
slack

Offline Richard

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2005, 12:58:16 PM »
Take a look at www.newtonestrings.com - really highly recomended and they do stock them somewhere in the US, if not I'm sure they would put some in the post to you - they send 'em to me!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2005, 01:08:21 PM »
Newtones are available from the Twelfth Fret in Toronto as well, a bit closer than sending for them across the pond. Info here: http://12fret.com/retail/newtone.htm. Haven't tried these strings myself but have meant to for awhile. Next time I'm at the Fret I'll probably pick some up.

Offline NotRevGDavis

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2005, 06:02:45 PM »
Newtones are available from the Twelfth Fret in Toronto as well, a bit closer than sending for them across the pond. Info here: http://12fret.com/retail/newtone.htm. Haven't tried these strings myself but have meant to for awhile. Next time I'm at the Fret I'll probably pick some up.

Here in the States Newtones are available at The Guitar Gallery. I buy my Michael Messer National Newtones directly from National Reso-Phonic in San Luis Obispo, CA. The Newtones aren't on the new website so you may want to give them a call, (805) 546-8442.
I really like the sound on my Tricone I'm using 13-56.
If you decide to use Newtones be sure to read the instructions before cutting any excess, the wound strings may un-wind if not under pressure.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2005, 08:25:16 PM by NotRevGDavis »
Got the name, still workin' on the licks!

Muddyroads

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2005, 06:13:39 AM »
I learned this from some bluegrass guys.  I had always used nickel strings on electric guitars, banjo and sometimes mandolin.  Nickel has nice way of aging and seems to get better  sounding to my ears, then it will eventually die as the strings lose thier elasticity.  So I use  Ernie Ball or DR electric guitar  strings on my acoustics.  They last about as long as the coated strings and give mahogany  a   burst of brightness, which mellows nicely as the strings age.  Also I like the over toness they give.  Since electric strings tend to be lighter and have a springier core, it seems that they assert less pressue on the neck.

I have one maple bodied guitar that is a little too bright in the mid-range with nickel strings but the rest sound fine with them on.

Mud

crawley

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2005, 09:22:27 PM »
Thanks everybody. Haven't tried the newtones yet, though I hope to soon. I have Elixers on now and they're actually closer to what I've been lookin' for. They're 10-47's. Punchier bass and mid's, but the highs are a little light. I'll try 11's next time I have $18 to blow on strings.

Aaron

dabluz

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2005, 06:21:21 AM »
the gibson L-1 and L-00 are known for their great tone. these guitar were originally made to provide low cost entry level guitars. they first appeared around 1926, in 1929 they sold for 27.50 and 37.50 respectively. they were very lightly built guitars with .o8o top thickness and very light bracing which did not extend under the kerfing also the bridge and bridge plate were very thin and narrow. all of this contributed to there exceptional tone. but they do not handle tension very well. i have both of these models from early thirties. very hard to nail down exact year.? around 1931-32 gibson "thickened the bracing up slightly"? moved it forward towards the sound hole to help accomodate string tension and keep them from falling apart at the sacrifice of a little tone. pre 30 models are very light but have exceptional tone. around 1937 these models were discontinued to give way to more "durable guitars" with less warrranty problems. the L series continued with 6 models with heavier construction.

string tension is of defineate concern with the early models. thomastik-infeld makes some very good strings.(i believe the best string made), two series would probably work well. they have round wound nickel low tension "sliders" series and a nylon core phosphorous bronze series. both are exception strings that are great sounding. the sliders are very good if your doing any slide playing also and the phosphorus bronze are exceptionally good for finger style. both are very low tension. they are expensive but have a very long string life. especially the nickel round wound.

they can be found at thomastik-infeld. com. they are available through elderly and muscians friend, although muscians friend only carries the "sliders" line. for anyone who plays lap steel or dobro the make a round wound nickel "jazz swing" series that is unsurpassed.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2005, 06:48:55 AM by dabluz »

shadylane

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2005, 05:48:14 PM »
dabluz, you mentioned thickening of L flat top braces and movement of the X brace around 1931-32.  Do you have you details on this?  Was this associated with switch from 12 to 14 frets?  Where did you get the info?  Thanks.

Brian

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2005, 09:55:13 PM »
I have a old turn of the century Martin 00-21, different guitar for sure, but I have been using the Thomastik-Infeld also and have been pleased.
I use the Plectrum .011 -.050, much brighter sound then the silk and steel. The plain strings are brass coated steel, the wound strings are both steel and silk cored, A,D,G are flat wound E round wound.
Worth a try

Brian

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2005, 08:36:51 AM »
I have used Newtone strings and found them to be very good.  Being made here in the UK, they are easier to obtain - have even bought 4 sets of light gauge on eBay at a reasonable price.  The man behind Newtone, Malcolm Newton, makes a couple of claims that could be of interest.  One is that they reach pitch under less tension than conventional strings - important with vintage guitars.  Also, unlike the current trend, the cores are not hexagonal, octagonal or whatever, but round.  The argument is that whilst the shaped cores help the winding to "bite" and grip well, they do leave a small cavity which eventually gets full of dirt, sweat, etc.  The Newtones do not suffer from this and therefore stay bright longer, without resorting to coatings like Elixirs, for example.

I would recommend them, as I have found them to be excellent - and of course they are British, when most quality guitar produccts seem to come from North America.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline kid reno

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2005, 07:37:56 PM »
On my  guitars I use DR acoustic and gauge them according to the guitar and it's bracing........... J

Orb Mellon

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2006, 07:06:13 AM »
On my ladder braced 1935 Gibson made Cromwell (looks like an  L-00) I use 12-53 gauge 80/20 bronze strings, either D'Addario or Pearse. I can't decide which brand I prefer. 80/20s just sound better to me, more woody and less metallic I guess. They also feel better.

FWIW, Neil Harpe, the "Stella expert" mentioned on a forum some time ago that in the 20's and 30's, all steel guitar string sets were essentially mediums. While I cannot personally confirm that fact, it does appear that lights cause my guitar no harm at all. I don't think I would ever use mediums however.

Orb Mellon

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Re: Choosing Strings for Older Guitars
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2006, 07:09:17 AM »
Also FWIW, my Cromwell lives most of the time tuned to open G or D

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