Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
edcat7
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Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by edcat7 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:31 am

I've La Bella 2001 on a recently purchased cedar top. Can a change of strings make it sound more spruce-like? Ok, Ok I admit I am the happy owner of UKsteve's Bert Kwakkel.

I find the 2001's very dark sounding on the Kwakkel and my go-to strings are normally Savarez Cantiga. Since the 2001's are brand new I'm loath to change them soon. Would the Cantigas sound significantly different to the 2001's? Can you recommend any other strings?

Thanks,

Ed
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petermc61
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by petermc61 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:15 pm

Savarez Cantiga basses, carbon g (Knobloch or Savarez if the former too hard to source where you are) with Mari 100p b and e. Reckon that would move you very much in the right direction.

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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by edcat7 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:20 pm

petermc61 wrote:Savarez Cantiga basses, carbon g (Knobloch or Savarez if the former too hard to source where you are) with Mari 100p b and e. Reckon that would move you very much in the right direction.
Thanks Peter, I was hoping you would reply.
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ben etow
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by ben etow » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:22 pm

Of course, strings can change the tone colour very much. For the trebles, you might consider carbons (maybe the darkest ones to begin with: Knobloch, oasis or Optima; the brightest might be too extreme for you) unless you already had carbs with you Cantiga before (in which case you will probably like the Alliance trebles, hence Dr. Junger Supersona (and possibly aristona) too - maybe less so the Hannabach Carbon because of their high tension).

For the basses, try the ones with more silver/thinest ones and maybe less flexible: Hannabach 815/900, Savarez Cantiga or even HT classic.

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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by edcat7 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:34 pm

Thanks for the replies. The Kwakkel is 640mm. As a general rule must all the strings be at the same tension?
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ben etow
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by ben etow » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:06 pm

In most sets, individual strings have quite different tensions (especially the 1st and 4th).
I do prefer more homogeneous tensions, except for the 6th because of frequent scordaturas (dropped D).

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bacsidoan
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by bacsidoan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:31 pm

As an owner of a Kwakkel, I've found that his guitars do well with carbon trebles. I use Seaguar Premiers on his guitar. Since the main frequency of a vibrating string is inversely proportional to its length, a 640 scale guitar might require higher tension strings then the usual 650 at standard tuning. So if you use high tension strings, the actual tension will be medium.

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souldier
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by souldier » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:46 pm

I've done a lot of string changing of all materials and brands. More and more I am discovering that the strings you use are just very subtle and the inherent sound of the guitar will always shine through regardless of the strings. If you want a more dramatic rather than subtle change, the only route is usually to change the guitar itself. Right hand technique and nails also make a bigger difference than strings.
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by celestemcc » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:03 pm

I use brighter-sounding strings on my very, very dark cedar guitar, and darker-sounding ones on my newer spruce. But in both cases the guitars just do sound very different: tops aside, they're just different guitars altogether. No doubt the spruce's sound will darken with age, but I don't think it will ever "sound like cedar" -- if that can even be quantified. So totally subjective!... One guitar's brighter, one's darker, and vive la difference!

One thing, seriously, that I imagine strings can't do is fully influence the natural responsiveness of the top wood. I can get a lot of variation of tone color on the cedar, but frankly not nearly as much as on the spruce, whatever strings I use. But again, so many factors are involved... in a word, just use strings that give you the sound you best like.
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rojarosguitar
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by rojarosguitar » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:23 pm

If it is a typical cedar (like the cliché of cedar) it's rather impossible to let it sound like spruce, but then, why would you buy a cedar and want the sound of spruce?

In any case, sometimes brighter sounding strings could do the job partly at least. Savarez Cantiga Creation is a very nice bright set. For nylon Daniel Mari trebles are also quite bright. Sometimes Aquila Alabastro Super Nylgut strings are excellent for this, especially the trebles (the basses aren't the brightest folks).

Also Savarez Alliance with fluorocarbon trebles are very bright.
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ben etow
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by ben etow » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:00 am

souldier wrote:If you want a more dramatic rather than subtle change, the only route is usually to change the guitar itself.
Sorry, I have to disagree. If one uses let's say a really fat sounding set like Augustine blue, with really high tension basses and then puts another "extreme" like Savarez HT CLassic/Alliance (carbons) red (MT) - which has a very low tension A and overall one of the brightest tone on the market -, the change will be very dramatic IMO. He might even be unable to adapt his/her technique to those new strings and dislike the tone very much.

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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by ben etow » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:04 am

souldier wrote:Right hand technique and nails make a bigger difference than strings.
I agree, but it may take the player years to practice on the tone production proces (precise angle and nail shape, and probably changing the whole posture in most cases). Changing strings is much quicker and easier.
Doing both may be the ultimate solution.

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rojarosguitar
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by rojarosguitar » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:03 pm

ben etow wrote:... If one uses let's say a really fat sounding set like Augustine blue, with really high tension basses and then puts another "extreme" like Savarez HT CLassic/Alliance (carbons) red (MT) - which has a very low tension A and overall one of the brightest tone on the market -, the change will be very dramatic IMO.....
The change may be 'dramatic' but it's not going to let the cedar guitar sound like a spruce guitar as in OT, necause the differences between cedar and spruce are not simply on a one-dimensional axis from dark to bright....
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 ...

ben etow
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by ben etow » Thu Mar 30, 2017 5:36 pm

rojarosguitar wrote:
ben etow wrote:... If one uses let's say a really fat sounding set like Augustine blue, with really high tension basses and then puts another "extreme" like Savarez HT CLassic/Alliance (carbons) red (MT) - which has a very low tension A and overall one of the brightest tone on the market -, the change will be very dramatic IMO.....
The change may be 'dramatic' but it's not going to let the cedar guitar sound like a spruce guitar as in OT, necause the differences between cedar and spruce are not simply on a one-dimensional axis from dark to bright....
And I can find a dozen spruce topped guitars which sound darker than most cedar topped guitars... And conversely.
The OP mentioned "sound more like", not just like BTW.

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Beowulf
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Re: Can change of strings make cedar sound more like spruce

Post by Beowulf » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:29 am

Generally, spruce tops will have have a greater tone colour change due to nail shape and angle of impact than cedar. As well spruce will show a larger variation in sound character due to changes in attack impact. Spruce will tend to provide greater separation between strings (think counterpoint) whereas cedar will provide a more blended sound. It is all a matter of preference and cedar can be made to sound equally enthralling. To quote Sheldon Urlik (A Collection of Fine Spanish Guitars from Torres to the Present) concerning a 1991 Hermann Hauser III (western red cedar soundboard): "This guitar's sound is the epitome of cedar soundboard voicing. Midrange through treble notes are bell-like, but with a rounder timbre than spruce guitars. Bass is noble in volume and fullness. A wide range of tone color is available but falls just short of that of excellent spruce-topped guitars. This guitar demonstrates that a cedar soundboard guitar's voice can be equivalent in quality, desirability and listening pleasure to that of an excellent vintage spruce soundboard instrument." (p182).

All this is to say that strings that make a cedar top guitar sound more like a spruce top should reduce the "roundness" of the timbre in the midrange and the treble, perhaps reduce the fullness of the bass, and increase the range of tone colour. Which strings will do that, I cannot say as I do not have a cedar top guitar with which to experiment...but those are the likely changes in character that the OP is seeking. Perhaps that may help to narrow down the choices, to whatever degree strings can bring about the desired changes. I suspect that a great deal will depend on the instrument itself and the player's technique.
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