Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
Godlovitch
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Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by Godlovitch » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:55 pm

After awhile, classical guitar strings go duller than when new, even if you wash them. The basses wear down more quickly than the trebles. A rep from one very well-known manufacturer of classical guitar strings told me that basses generally wear out 2 to 3 times faster than trebles. My own experience is that 4ths wear out most quickly. I speculate - and note, it's just speculation - it's because their windings are more delicate than the other basses and that they're depressed against the harder metal frets more often in much repertoire. There may be other factors, of course.

I've asked various parties whether any strings are marketed on the grounds that, e.g., they last twice as long as the competition. My responses haven't yielded any positive answers. Some have even suggested that that's just too 'subjective' a property to measure - as if the same couldn't be said for timbre, brightness, and other aesthetic properties of string sound.

It seems possible to devise a reasonably good set of empirical trials to test relative durability. So far as I know, none has been tried. Does anyone know (a) whether there are any strings marketed for their relative durability, (b) whether there is any good empirical evidence to account for growing string dullness, and (c) whether there have been any reliable and not merely anecdotal - one's relying merely on personal experience - tests of string durability? This could be a basis for someone's acoustic engineering thesis!
Thanks for your help.

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pogmoor
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by pogmoor » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:07 pm

The D'Addario website says:
Multifilament Composite Core – D’Addario exclusive high-tech core material dramatically improves string life, tuning consistency and possesses a bold, more dynamic response.
I think that indicates that they are indeed "marketed for their relative durability".
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Paul Fischer (1995) and Lester Backshall (2008)
Yamaha SLG 130NW silent classical guitar (2014), Ramirez Guitarra del Tiempo (2017)

Godlovitch
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by Godlovitch » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:29 pm

Thanks. Now I'm wondering whether some numbers can be attached to qualitative descriptions like: "dramatically improves string life". By how much? By which criteria? Which of the strings? And against what comparative lines?

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:24 am

Too many variables. Some people have friendly acids in their finger sweat; some people don't. Some people dig hard with the right hand, some don't. Some have hard nails, some soft; some keep a clean fretboard...you get the drift.

Empirical data can't always tell the tale. Sometimes it's just numbers in a tumbler.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
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joachim33
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by joachim33 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:40 am

pogmoor wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:07 pm
The D'Addario website says:
Multifilament Composite Core – D’Addario exclusive high-tech core material dramatically improves string life, tuning consistency and possesses a bold, more dynamic response.
I think that indicates that they are indeed "marketed for their relative durability".
Their EXP range is marketed for even longer bass durability.

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joachim33
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by joachim33 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:03 pm

Hannabach has a "series 7004" durable D-string, that comes in tensions MT and HT. it uses a different alloy for the winding. The idea is to replace the D-string of the set you are using with this one.

daverkb
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by daverkb » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:52 am

I was quite amazed to 'learn' that some believe that the bass strings wear out 2 or 3 times faster than trebles strings. Why? For me, it's the trebles which by the fourth week of use are so noticeably in loss of vibrancy that the irritation factor causes me to switch out the entire set. Only once the new set of strings is on the guitar do I notice the increase of zing in the new bass strings. Yes, the bass strings do fade, but I don't notice this effect nearly as much as in the trebles.

Also, I just put a set of normal tension Philippe Bosset strings on my Malapanis spruce top. Bosset makes a nice enough string. The sound is lovely. And I just might try another set of Bosset, but they would a the high tension set. This is because the normal tension set appears to reduce the duration of the treble sustain. From this I conclude that some guitars need medium to high tension strings so to deliver extra top movement which in turn elongates the duration of the sustain. Or a least, this might be a good theory? For now, it's the best I can come up with.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:14 am

Durability is obviously limited by the material. Windings are plated copper and it can only take so much deformation before it begins to affect the sound. Why the need for such a durable string though? Strings work out at around £2, £3 or £4 per week dependent on how many hours you put in. For your £2 you'll get some 15 hours of use. In my part of the world you'll struggle to buy a cup of coffee for £2, which might put the running cost of playing a guitar into some perspective.
Historicalguitars.

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petermc61
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by petermc61 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:13 am

daverkb wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:52 am
Also, I just put a set of normal tension Philippe Bosset strings on my Malapanis spruce top. Bosset makes a nice enough string. The sound is lovely. And I just might try another set of Bosset, but they would a the high tension set. This is because the normal tension set appears to reduce the duration of the treble sustain. From this I conclude that some guitars need medium to high tension strings so to deliver extra top movement which in turn elongates the duration of the sustain. Or a least, this might be a good theory? For now, it's the best I can come up with.
You could just easily conclude the guitar might need lower tension to sound its best. The top may be choked by too much tension and might be looking forward to relaxing a bit. There’s no way to know (short of trying both) if lower or higher tension will improve sustain, or possibly make no observable difference at all.

JohnB
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by JohnB » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:48 am

With some strings I find that I have to replace the top E string much more frequently than any other string. This is because the E string of some brands quickly become "gritty" due to nail wear. I am particular sensitive to this - if I can't get a good, grit-less, sound the rest of my playing tends impaired (it's all in the mind, of course).
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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joachim33
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Re: Relative Durability of Guitar Strings

Post by joachim33 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:18 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:14 am
Durability is obviously limited by the material. Windings are plated copper and it can only take so much deformation before it begins to affect the sound. Why the need for such a durable string though? Strings work out at around £2, £3 or £4 per week dependent on how many hours you put in. For your £2 you'll get some 15 hours of use. In my part of the world you'll struggle to buy a cup of coffee for £2, which might put the running cost of playing a guitar into some perspective.
This is, if you don't value your time. I think the real cost of a string change is the time it costs to change them. If I change strings (typically full set in one go) it costs me as much time as I can afford to play per day. The next days after a string change will be affected by the need to frequent re-tune and the strings not having opened-up. To me, at my current skill level, string sets have to be usable for 2 month or more to make (time-)economic sense.

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