Are You Using The Wrong Strings? | Acoustic Guitar String Comparison

today we're going to be talking about

guitar strings specifically acoustic

guitar strings we're going to run

through on a guitar I'm going to change

all the strings we're going to talk

about the benefits of different

materials the kind of tone you can

expect and why you might be using the

wrong gauge on your guitar so you want

to stick around for this one


hey you're watching Alamo music TV my

name is Chris McKee with Alamo Music

Center in San Antonio Texas you can find

us online at Alamo

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I'm wearing which is a black and white

photo of our historic downtown

storefront so today as I mentioned we

are going to be talking about guitar

strings I've got a handful of them here

for a reason I'm actually going to

change the strings on this guitar

as we demo it so that you can hear the

difference between them not just in the

materials that are used but we're also

going to go through different gauges

because we're going to talk about what

happens when you change the strings on

your guitar now the guitar I'm using

today is a Taylor 114 II and I've chosen

this guitar for a few reasons primarily

it is a guitar with a solid top but with

laminate back and sides now what that

means is that what we are going to be

hearing is really the response of the

top and the strings themselves

so the kind of tonal EQ response that

you might get from rosewood or mahogany

or maple is not going to factor into the

equation here what we're really hearing

is the top and the strings themselves

the other reason I chose this guitar is

because it's a grand auditorium body

meaning it's kind of an in-between best

of both worlds Swiss Army knife of a

guitar jack of all trades if you will it

does everything pretty well so it can

serve as a larger bodied guitar for

strumming and picking as well as a

smaller body guitar for things like

finger style playing what we're going to

do on this guitar is go through a series

of strings now I don't have an

exhaustive list of every single string

manufacturer in the world or even that

we carry but let me tell you what we're

going to be putting through this guitar

now first of all we're starting with a

fresh set of a lick sir Nano web

phosphor bronze strings in 12 to 53

gauge now that's a standard light gauge

12 to 53 most of the strings we're going

to be putting on it are 12 to 53 just

from different manufacturers or made of

different materials now Taylor uses

electric guitar or strings on all of


tarz and they have for decades

increasingly more and more manufacturers

are doing the same thing either with

elixir or d'addario's exp strings even

Martin's lifespan strings which are not

coded but treated strings are what

Martin uses on their guitars and let me

tell you why one they're good quality

strings for the vast majority of people

they sound really good they feel really

good but here's the biggest reason they

don't know when you're going to be

buying the guitar they don't know when

you're going to be playing the guitar

they build a guitar they put it in a

case after inspection they ship it out

in a box to a dealer maybe it's a

domestic dealer like we are here in the

United States

maybe it's someone overseas so it might

be a dealer that's not going to see that

guitar for many many months a normal set

of acoustic guitar strings or even

electric guitar strings is likely to

corrode in that period of time however

by using coded strings the manufacturer

can ensure that a fairly new set of

strings is going to be on that guitar

regardless of the time frame when you

eventually take it off the wall and go

to play it it also is a pretty good

likelihood that regardless of who might

have played it before you the strings

are still going to sound fresh now the

reason for that is the coating this

coating that elixir and and daddario use

coat the entirety of the string to

prevent dirt and oil from getting into

or onto the string and I say into

because on the bass strings they're

wrapped and those things will go in

between the wrap to the core of the

string and kill the string from the

inside out but even on the non wrapped

plain strings like the high E or B

string those things will corrode

particularly if you have someone that

has a high acidic pH of their oils and

they play the guitar it's just this is

how it happens so manufacturers will use

coded strings to ensure the long life of

the string now why are we talking about

this because some of you do not like

coated strings period and that's fine I

don't think you have to like coded

strings in fact there's often a debate

on Facebook in various tailored guitar

groups of what are the right strings for

instance to use on the Taylor guitar I'm

going to break any rules if you have an

opinion that it has to be electro

strings today now I personally use a


strings for all the reasons that we

mentioned I don't have to change strings

as often I think they're good strings to

begin with I like the way they sound

here's another good strong reason to use

those strings if you liked the way the

guitar sounded when you bought it

and it already had electric guitar

strings or daddario exp guitar strings

or Martin guitar strings know that you

fell in love with that sound which is a

combination of the guitar and the

strings that were on it but you should

feel free to experiment try whatever

strings and that's what brings us to

this topic what are the right strings

for you so if you didn't know there's

all sorts of different materials that

are used for guitar strings so as I

mentioned these are foster bronze Nana

Webb nano Webb means the coding elixir

uses is a rather thin phosphor bronze is

the type of bronze that's being used we

also have things like 8020 s

these are daddario EJ 11s they are the

exact same gauge 12 to 53 they are not

coated and they are 80/20 now they

should have a brighter tone because if I

understand it correctly there's more

nickel in the string than on the regular

foster posture strings keeping that

theme daddario also makes these nickel

bronze strings also 12 to 53 so these

are going to be even more nickel so we

can hear what that sounds like what's

really cool is these retro strings which

are nickel or monel that martin makes

and these are actually acoustic guitar

strings that were closer to what was

being used back in the Golden Age prior

to World War two that Martin and other

manufacturers were using now in addition

to these we're going to also take a look

at something that's maybe a little

outside the box that's these flat tops

okay so these flat wound strings are

going to have a different sound all

together despite the fact that they're

Foster bronze and I have a theory on

this I've read various things different

opinions but here's my take on it round

wound strings which is what you have on

most acoustic guitar strings because of

the way that they're made there's a

certain attack that they have and what

we're hearing is the vibrating resonance

of the string as is passing through air

when you deal with a

flattop string it's basically crushed

and polished and flattened that wound

around the string isn't pronounced and

rounded it's flattened out it feels

really nice on the fingers but also has

a really mellow tone and I believe

that's because it is affecting the air

around it differently so you're playing

the same notes the same frequency but

how it's affecting the air transmitting

to your ear is different I don't think

it's kind of disturbing the air to the

same extent that a round wound string is

what do I know I'm just a YouTube

presenter so in addition to those

materials of strings we're also going to

be doing two different gauges of strings

now these are Martin Foster bronze 13

256 this is what we would typically call

a medium gauge string and then we have

some daddario extra lights ten to forty

seven I went in skipped 11 s and just

went to extra light gauge strings 10 247

these are also Foster bronze now why

we're going to go through and I'm

physically changing the strings on this

guitar and that's all I'm doing I'm not

adjusting the setup at all this is going

to create different tension with these

different gauge strings a heavier gauge

string is going to create more tension

on the neck and that means the action is

probably going to be a little higher

unless you adjust it and it's going to

put more tension on the top of the

guitar pulling at the bridge now it is

my opinion that if you put too heavy of

a gauge string on a small body guitar or

even a large body guitar that's not

braced for it that you put too much

tension on the top a lot of people use

heavier gauge strings to try to get more

volume out of it but I believe it's

actually counterintuitive you create too

restrictive of a tension so that's a the

top can't really respond and so you're

kind of choking it out it's like taking

a drumhead and tightening it up too much

now the other thing happens if you go

with something like tends not enough

tension on the neck actually means that

the truss rod is going to pull the neck

back you'll probably get buzzed we'll

see if that happens on this guitar

sometimes it takes a while for it to

kind of settle in but you're also doing

the opposite of what you did with the

medium gauge strings and you're not

driving the top enough now guitars are

manufactured they're built there

designed with a certain string in mind

from the Builder they brace that top to

handle certain tension and to move based

upon that tension when you change it

you're going to affect that now that

doesn't mean you shouldn't and you can't

you can but know going in what's likely

to happen now if you need for feel sake

a extra light gauge of strain you might

be able to get away with it particularly

if you're plugged in but no going in if

your guitar sounds quieter and you just

don't seem to get the resonance out of


that's why or if you're getting buzzing

that's also why if you go to heavier

gauge string you're likely going to be

choking the guitar

your actions got to be high and you

might have binding in the nut creating

tuning issues I don't want to discourage

you from experimenting the point here is

to experiment but no going in what's

likely to happen as the result of it all

of these strings gauges and materials

have a point to them they have a place

in everyone's repertoire one of the

things I'll say if you go to a heavier

gauge string is if you want to tune down

you should probably look at that or

maybe even a mixed set of strings if you

like alternate tunings like Dada Dada or

dropped D or dropping it a whole step or

half-step tensions change as you change

the tuning of the guitar and so that's

definitely something to take into

consideration when you're going to a

heavier gauge strings so anyways enough

talking now I get to change strings a

bunch of times and play guitar for you

so that you can hear the difference for

yourself check it out









so there you have it hopefully you could

hear the differences between all these

various gauges of strings and the

materials being used in some cases I

think the difference is more apparent

more stark than in other cases at the

end of the day here's my opinion and

advice to you feel free to experiment

now strings can get expensive so if you

want to try a different material maybe

try looking at a lower priced uncoated

string if you're used to coated strings

and try different material there and you

might find that you also like some

materials on certain tone woods for

instance I like the retro strings that

Martin makes a lot on mahogany guitars I

like the strong fundamental that you get

from the strings and I think it goes

well with that tone wood I don't really

like it on rosewood though because I

like the overtones that you get out of

rosewood and the strings just don't seem

to really transmit that very very well

so that's my opinion your mileage may


but feel free now that you've watched

this to go in try different strings

different brands different materials

even different gauges depending upon how

you set up your guitar and find the

right strings for you and you might find

at the end of the day that you've been

using the wrong strings for all of these

years whatever string to use know that

the perfect guitar the best guitar in

the entire world is the one that you're

making music on that's why we put this

channel together we want to help you

make music on your instrument so if

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keep coming back we'll keep putting out

this material for you to help you get a

little deeper down that rabbit hole when

it comes to guitars thanks for watching

I'll see you next time