Do luthiers consider strings?

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
D.Cass
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by D.Cass » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:50 pm

Do luthiers consider strings? I think yes. The last luthier I talked fits his with the Pro Arte strings. He said the reasoning is that they are neutral, or some would say boring, enough as a good starting point for the customer. I know Eric Sahlin used to use only Pro Arte strings because they were the most accurate intonation. Since then he has moved to Savarez.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:30 pm

petermc61 wrote: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
Peter, surely you can take it that way, but I would rather think it's a certain need that is expressed by the players and not an 'objective' property of a guitar. For my ears fluorocarbon strings are way too bright on (almost) any guitar (and most certainly on Nowak or Stenzel guitar which both have a fantastic treble response).

But if you play concerts, the subtlety of sound is maybe not in the foremost line of consideration; player might ask for power and confidence that the guitar is cutting through. How else could one explain the big success of all the powerful lattice braced guitars with less than marvellous sound? So I think what people chose for what purposes might be dependent on many more factors than just stating that the guitar would be otherwise too dull.

I assure you, dullness is the last thing any experienced player would use to qualify a Nowak or a Stenzel guitar. Actually, though they pursue similar sound ideal, they are a bit different in sound, but both strong and radiating in trebles.
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petermc61
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:43 pm

Hi Robert

All points accepted! I agree professional players may have different criteria (volume and projection) that may matter far less to you and me. I also value a strong first string but not one that skimps at all on beauty, sweetness or depth of tone. I really hope that Sebastian's guitars do that well as I am on track to receive one from him in March 2017.....

Regards
Peter

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:36 pm

Peter, I can't event start to think you could be disappointed. Sebastians' guitars certainly were great as long as I know him (more than 10 years now), but I think he made a big leap forward in last two years. Very recently there was a guitar built by him late 2015 that came back to the workshop because the exchange deal against a Rohe didn't happen as it was planned and the customer couldn't pay, and I had a chance to jump in and get this pearl. I couldn't help myself and did it.

There will be again some shifting and shuffling in my guitars, I suspect :wink:
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Kintla
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by Kintla » Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:42 am

Fascinating comments from both of you! There may be something different that the "pro's" are looking for. I remember asking Alvaro Pierri what strings he had used for a concert and he said Savarez, but that was some years ago, and I don't know which type he was referring to. When I was younger and hopefully less circumspect, I used Savarez Alliance high tension. The sound was very bright but not only were they difficult to play but after changing to regular nylon I realized that the guitar was already bright enough and that nylon seemed to allow more expression and beauty of sound. Some guitars may benefit from a carbon string or two, but I am leaning toward regular nylon for the most part. Every time I try Savarez Cantiga basses it seems I fall in love with them. Presently I have Pyramid double silver basses on this guitar with Augustine trebles. I like the Pyramids but will be interesting to see if I like the Cantiga's as much as previously after I switch back to them later. Would be interesting to play a Stenzel, I have heard a lot about him and been following him for years, but never have had a chance to see or play one of his guitars, same for Sascha Nowak. Interesting discussion, thanks!

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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by Kintla » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:31 am

One other thing, listened to the recordings on Sebastian's site. The sound that entrances me is the guitars made with maple and spruce. If these are as great sounding in person as they are over the internet, I would be very interested. Rojarosguitar, have you any experience playing his maple instruments, and what were your thoughts if I may ask.

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petermc61
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:47 am

Kintla wrote:One other thing, listened to the recordings on Sebastian's site. The sound that entrances me is the guitars made with maple and spruce. If these are as great sounding in person as they are over the internet, I would be very interested. Rojarosguitar, have you any experience playing his maple instruments, and what were your thoughts if I may ask.
In Robert's temporary absence I will point you to a very recent thread of his about a spruce/maple Stenzel he just acquired.

http://classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewt ... 1&t=111701

Kintla
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by Kintla » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:24 pm

Yes thanks Peter. Of the recordings that I've listened to Stenzel's Maple/spruce guitars have an incredible melodic sound that says it all for me. Maybe if I win the lottery I could buy one. Hope you will share your thoughts on your Stenzel when it arrives.

Tobias Braun
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by Tobias Braun » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:35 am

Good morning!

That is - in my opinion - a good question! Thank you!
For me as a guitar maker it is most important to draw trustworthy conclusions from the experiments I did/do in my workshop. When I change a detail in the construction I want to be sure that it REALLY influenced the sound of an instrument - or not.

There are strings on the market that have a particular strong character; i.e. they add THEIR character to the sound of a guitar. I am talking of "carbon strings".
It doesn't make sense for me to put strings on when you cannot be sure what finally "made" the sound.
I like to compare it with cooking a soup: One makes use of the finest beef or vegetables and finally puts in lots of curry powder. The fragrances of the original ingredients are gone then...

My choice of strings are the ones from DOGAL (Venetian or Diamante) because they have a very "neutral" character and help me to find out, if my ideas or experiments turned out satisfying or not.

Best regards from Gaaden,

Tobias Braun

hesson11
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by hesson11 » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:49 am

Regarding the use of bright strings by concert guitarists, let's not forget what they are faced with in the concert hall:

"In the midrange above 250 Hz up to the 2-4 kHz region, most of the halls are essentially flat. But around 4000 Hz, and sometimes as low as 2000 Hz, virtually every hall begins a rapid roll-off at even quite close-up audience locations. By 8000 Hz, there is typically a 7 to 10 dB dropoff from midrange level." (Source: http://www.regonaudio.com/Records%20and%20Reality.html)

If this is true, a guitarist in a concert hall might want to compensate for the rolloff of high frequencies. They are not playing in their living rooms, with their nearby reflective surfaces, as I suspect many of us are. Just a thought.
-Bob

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zupfgeiger
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by zupfgeiger » Thu May 04, 2017 2:14 pm

Tobias Braun wrote:
Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:35 am
Good morning!

That is - in my opinion - a good question! Thank you!
For me as a guitar maker it is most important to draw trustworthy conclusions from the experiments I did/do in my workshop. When I change a detail in the construction I want to be sure that it REALLY influenced the sound of an instrument - or not.

There are strings on the market that have a particular strong character; i.e. they add THEIR character to the sound of a guitar. I am talking of "carbon strings".
It doesn't make sense for me to put strings on when you cannot be sure what finally "made" the sound.
I like to compare it with cooking a soup: One makes use of the finest beef or vegetables and finally puts in lots of curry powder. The fragrances of the original ingredients are gone then...

My choice of strings are the ones from DOGAL (Venetian or Diamante) because they have a very "neutral" character and help me to find out, if my ideas or experiments turned out satisfying or not.

Best regards from Gaaden,

Tobias Braun
I completely agree, Tobias. Carbon strings do often falsify the natural sound quality of a good luthier made guitar in the Spanish or Hauser tradition. Nonetheless I would like to confess my bias for carbon g strings, particularly for Knobloch carbon g. It's an excellent choice for those who prefer the natural nylon sound, but the playing comfort of a carbon g. I know that Dogal is the favorite brand for all the beautiful guitars leaving your workshop. I also find Dogal quite appealing and I can hardly wait to touch my future spruce/yew Santos copy, strung up with Dogal, for the very first time. But please forgive me for sticking to my habit and bringing a Knobloch g carbon string to Gaaden end of June. :wink:
The secret of getting ahead is getting started (Mark Twain)

Tobias Braun, Santos copy, spruce/yew, 2017
Andrea Tacchi, Enrique Garcia model, Spruce/BRAZ, 2016
Giovanni Tacchi, Daniel Friederich copy, cedar/EIR, 2017
Alain Raifort, cedar/EIR, 2004

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri May 05, 2017 5:49 am

With all the arguments and reasons for this or that decision for this or that kind of strings I find one idea that stands behind many choices always a little strange: that there is such a thing as 'the' sound of the guitar and then strings that 'neutrally' reproduce that sound or 'falsify' it.

To my understanding there is no such thing as 'the guitar sound' without strings and no string sound without guitar. I'd rather see it that way: different combinations of guitars with strings can enhance or alter certain aspects or characteristics of the sound that can be produced as the end result, and any result that you can get is the result of this inseparable interaction of both.
Last edited by rojarosguitar on Fri May 05, 2017 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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simonm
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by simonm » Fri May 05, 2017 8:39 am

Summary.

Builders tend to stick with one type of string for a long time as they want to compare the guitars not the strings. There is a tendency to go for "neutral" (aka boring) but consistent strings rather than brilliant strings. The strings a builder uses can be regarded as a starting point for the player, not a statement that the guitar sounds best with those particular strings under all circumstances and for all proposes. Every experience player can make up their own minds what to use and decide what is appropriate under specific circumstances.

As a hobby builder I use the EJ45 for two reasons. My teacher likes them for comparisons as they are neutral (boring) and consistent. Secondly they are relatively cheap when bought in packs of 3. If I want to put fresh strings on three guitars for a comparison, this is a consideration.

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James Lister
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by James Lister » Fri May 05, 2017 8:50 am

simonm wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:39 am
Summary...
Mostly a good summary, but I'm not too happy with equating neutral with boring. There are many strings that sound brighter than D'Addario nylons (45s/46s), but on a good guitar, they have a beautiful tone which for me is a long way from boring.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Do luthiers consider strings?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri May 05, 2017 9:58 am

James Lister wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:50 am
simonm wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 8:39 am
Summary...
Mostly a good summary, but I'm not too happy with equating neutral with boring. There are many strings that sound brighter than D'Addario nylons (45s/46s), but on a good guitar, they have a beautiful tone which for me is a long way from boring.

James
:bravo:
Not to mention that there is no universal definition of terms 'good sounding', 'neutral' or 'boring' or whatever qualification one would want to assign to an experience that is contingent on so many subjective factors like sound ...
But I can fully understand and appreciate the argument of consistency, which would just mean that it's wise for a guitar maker to stick to one brand and kind of strings that has proven itself to be consistent enough in quality and properties so that the strings can be factored out (to a degree!) when comparing instruments...
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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