Do luthiers consider strings?

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
Guitarhancock
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Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by Guitarhancock » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:06 am

When luthiers build guitars is consideration given to strings? With so many string types today and classical guitarists falling in love again and again with a " new" type of string how would a luthier even know what string to recommend. Does it even matter to the builder of the magic boxes?

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James Lister
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by James Lister » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:39 am

Yes, it does matter (to me anyway). In my case I have a preference for a particular type of string, and I always fit these to my guitars, as I think they work best with the guitars I build and produce the sound I'm looking for. Of course, my customers may have their own string preferences, and that's fine, but for me to assess my own guitars, it helps to at least be consistent about which strings I use.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:32 am

Both Luthiers I know personally give a lot of consideration to strings. Especially Sebastian Stenzel, whom I know much longer, has tried many string brands and types and also experimented with them systematically, researching their tensions and intonation properties with his own experimental rig. He then settled on one string combination and consistently equipped his guitars with this set, until the production quality of the bass strings went down so significantly (I don't need to name the brand here...) that he had to look out for an alternative set, which now he also uses consistently.
Also Sascha Nowak does that since long time, using always the same set for his quitars.
It is quite important to be able to assess the outcome of their building efforts.
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petermc61
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:14 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:Both Luthiers I know personally give a lot of consideration to strings. Especially Sebastian Stenzel, whom I know much longer, has tried many string brands and types and also experimented with them systematically, researching their tensions and intonation properties with his own experimental rig. He then settled on one string combination and consistently equipped his guitars with this set, until the production quality of the bass strings went down so significantly (I don't need to name the brand here...) that he had to look out for an alternative set, which now he also uses consistently.
Also Sascha Nowak does that since long time, using always the same set for his quitars.
It is quite important to be able to assess the outcome of their building efforts.
I am curious to know what Sebastian uses now. Same for his spruce and cedar guitars?

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Peter

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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by edcat7 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:15 pm

James and rojarosguitar's comments make sense. I have dreams of commissioning a 'Bossa Nova' guitar but it has to have La Bella 900 strings, the one's Baden Powell used.
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by joachim33 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:21 pm

James Lister wrote:Yes, it does matter (to me anyway). In my case I have a preference for a particular type of string, and I always fit these to my guitars, as I think they work best with the guitars I build and produce the sound I'm looking for. Of course, my customers may have their own string preferences, and that's fine, but for me to assess my own guitars, it helps to at least be consistent about which strings I use.

James
James,

out of interest: which strings are you designing your guitars for?

Joachim

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James Lister
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by James Lister » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:02 pm

joachim33 wrote:
James,

out of interest: which strings are you designing your guitars for?

Joachim
D'Addario EJ45 or EJ46 - although I wouldn't really say I design my guitars for them, just that my guitars work best (for me at least) with these strings. Others also work well, but D'Addarios are also very reliable.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:30 pm

James Lister wrote:
joachim33 wrote:
James,

out of interest: which strings are you designing your guitars for?

Joachim
D'Addario EJ45 or EJ46 - although I wouldn't really say I design my guitars for them, just that my guitars work best (for me at least) with these strings. Others also work well, but D'Addarios are also very reliable.

James
That's very sensible. You built the guitars you built and find the strings that work with them best.
Stenzel now fits Savarez Cantiga Creation NT on his guitars. Sascha Nowak puts Savarez Alliance HT. Sascha said, all professional players who play his guitars want these strings anyway.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by astro64 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:15 pm

Greg Byers always uses D'Addario J45 or J46. For the same reason as many luthiers: excellent intonation, a neutral string (which some hear as boring), and for consistency from instrument to instrument. That doesn't mean his guitars only work with those strings. He will setup intonation for carbon trebles if you want those. I have tried several string sets so far on mine and I do come back to the J45 trebles. Most bass string sets have worked very well, current favorites are Corum basses.

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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by JohnB » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:15 pm

James Lister wrote:
joachim33 wrote:
James,

out of interest: which strings are you designing your guitars for?

Joachim
D'Addario EJ45 or EJ46 - although I wouldn't really say I design my guitars for them, just that my guitars work best (for me at least) with these strings. Others also work well, but D'Addarios are also very reliable.

James
I acquired two used guitars last year and asked the luthiers what strings they recommended. Both kindly replied:

Stephen Frith also uses D'Addario EJ46 High Tension but, in addition, suggested EJ45 as a second option.

Anna Maria Espinosa Rodriguez again fits D'Addario EJ46 (High Tension) but with Savarez Alliance Classic HT (540J) strings for the G and B. She also suggested trying EJ45 if the guitar was played in.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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petermc61
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:36 pm

astro64 wrote:Greg Byers always uses D'Addario J45 or J46. For the same reason as many luthiers: excellent intonation, a neutral string (which some hear as boring), and for consistency from instrument to instrument. That
I agree with the comments about intonation and consistency. With regard to the question of neutrality I would turn it around: 'a boring string (which some hear as neutral)'!! :D

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Peter

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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:42 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:
James Lister wrote:
joachim33 wrote:
James,

out of interest: which strings are you designing your guitars for?

Joachim
D'Addario EJ45 or EJ46 - although I wouldn't really say I design my guitars for them, just that my guitars work best (for me at least) with these strings. Others also work well, but D'Addarios are also very reliable.

James
That's very sensible. You built the guitars you built and find the strings that work with them best.
Stenzel now fits Savarez Cantiga Creation NT on his guitars. Sascha Nowak puts Savarez Alliance HT. Sascha said, all professional players who play his guitars want these strings anyway.
Re Stenzel - sounds like he has found a good set. Other than perhaps trying nylon alternatives for first and second strings I really like this combination.

Re Nowak - all (ALL???) professional players who use his guitars use HT Alliance? Seriously? In that case his guitars must be quite unbalanced to need just about the brightest treble strings ever made. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but....

Cheers
Peter

astro64
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by astro64 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:55 pm

petermc61 wrote:
astro64 wrote:Greg Byers always uses D'Addario J45 or J46. For the same reason as many luthiers: excellent intonation, a neutral string (which some hear as boring), and for consistency from instrument to instrument. That
I agree with the comments about intonation and consistency. With regard to the question of neutrality I would turn it around: 'a boring string (which some hear as neutral)'!! :D

Cheers
Peter
Aha, I know what you mean. But I must say on my Byers cedar top many other treble sets are too lively for my preference, too sensitive to timbre changes with small right hand shifts, especially on the lower positions of 2nd and 3rd string. Not so with the J45s. So I think it shows that Greg did maximize the sound for the boring strings, and succeeded....

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:11 pm

petermc61 wrote:


Re Nowak - all (ALL???) professional players who use his guitars use HT Alliance? Seriously? In that case his guitars must be quite unbalanced to need just about the brightest treble strings ever made. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but....

Cheers
Peter
Peter, you can't be serious with that ... these people have access to all guitars they want to have, and they pay solid money for Nowak guitars, they aren't exactly cheap... They certainly do not buy an unbalanced guitar just to counteract this with a strange set of strings ...

Actually they are among the best balanced guitars I have ever played, but people do have their own string preferences, and these people seem to like about the brightest sound they can get. Some of them play in cameral ensembles and need to come across with the violin etc...

The first thing I did on my Nowak was to take down the fluor carbon trebles, and paired the basses with Labella e1 and b2, leaving the carbon g.
I'm now having Savarez Cantiga Creation NT on it and the trebles are much nicer but the basses are maybe a tad too low in tension ...

When I orderd a Nowak quite a while ago, the first thing before I did that was to take his standard string set down and put the lowest tension LaBella I could find on his private test guitar to see whether I would still like it. I did very much, so I thought a guitar that takes such a range of strings well is a well made guitar.

I should add that I'm still in the process of familiarizing myself with this guitar, and when I get to know it better, I'll do some recording.
Music is a big continent with different landscapes and corners. Some of them I do visit frequently, some from time to time and some I know from hearsay only ...

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petermc61
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:00 pm

Hi Robert

I might have been pushing the argument but yes I was serious.

Alliance HT are probably the brightest treble strings made. The e1 to my ear is positively bright, thin and I can't imagine using it on any of the guitars I own. I hold nothing against Savarez as a company as I love the Cantiga basses and I use their carbon g from time to time.

Now, I know there are professionals who use strings other than Alliance (Matthew McAlister, Jason V, Tariq Harb come to mind without much effort) so it is not as if Alliance HT strings are the standard string for performers.

So there are two ways to approach my logic. I assert Alliance HT are the brightest treble strings made. Maybe I am wrong, but I have never heard brighter.

If, truly all professionals use them on his guitars then this suggests either the guitars do not sound bright enough with (maybe) the other 99% of treble strings available on the market OR as a class of players the pros who use his instruments like bright, thin sound.

I rather hoped it was not the latter in which case I concluded that if so many good players concluded the guitars do not sound bright enough with any other brand of treble string then that is the same as a guitar that is generally a little dull. A guitar without sufficient treble response is what I call 'unbalanced'.

That might sound like a tough call and I hope as an owner of one and a friend of the luthier I didn't mean offence.

I see you have put other strings (nicer, in my view) on yours and are happy with it. That's great. What I don't get still is the uniform need for a bunch of professionals to use Alliance HT on them.

Regards
Peter

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