Flatpicking Guitar Network

For Fans of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

I'm the proud owner of a Martin D28-CW (#103) that I bought in December of '07. I love this guitar and see it as a lifetime "keeper". Since I got it, I have been experimenting with different kinds of strings to best bring to life its awesome tone. So far, I have tried:

1) Elixir Nanoweb phosphor bronze mediums - decent tone, very long-lasting.

2) Martin Bluegrass 80/20 bronze medium / lights - good to very good tone (probably even better in true medium, which I haven't found locally) and reasonably long-lasting for a non-coated string.

3) Ernie Ball titanium RPS coated mediums - somewhat "thin" tone initially, but played-in to a surprisingly rich, deep tone for a coated string. Some of the best treble tone and longevity of any strings I've ever used on any guitar.

4) D'Addarrio EXP phosphor bronze mediums - very unpleasing dry, brittle tone so far, but just put them on 2 days ago, and I haven't played as much as I'd have liked to.

I've gone with the longevity of a coated string because my hands get very sweaty, but I somewhat lean toward non-coated strings on this guitar for a more bluegrassy tone. Any suggestions? I've thought about ordering a set of the Tony Rice signature D'Aquisto strings, has anyone tried them?


Views: 702

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

HI Marty,

Keep doing what your doing...try different strings each change. As stated on previous posts, the tone different strings bring out in each guitar is subjective to the ear of the player. What you like, I might not and vice versa. You may get to the point of "saturation" trying to find the "perfect strings (or pick) for your guitar. I know I did, spent countless hours with different picks and strings untill I settled for Martin SP+ Phospher wound and a Dunlop Ultex .72 mm pick. After all that, play that beauty and let the troubles of the world stay outside! :-)

I haven´t tried the Tony Rice strings but I have heard much good things about them. My choice of strings for my HD-26 are D'Addario EJ17. Those are the best ones I´ve tried.
You might consider Cleartones mediums if you want coated strings without the coated sound. I have been satisfied with them on my Dreads and they last me about 4 months.
Oh boy strings are so subjective, BUT I do have a 2005 28CW (#290) and have used PBs of various designations since it was new.

A few weeks ago I was encouraged to try some nickel wound strings (the D'Aquisto TR strings were recommended). I could only find D'Addario EJ-22s locally - so those are the ones that I've tried.

Well, they're not bad at all in my opinion. I was really impressed at how they bring a lot of punch and clarity to individual notes and still sound good strummed. The other benefit that I've noticed is that because they don't tarnish - no black fingertips! I still want to try a set of TR strings to see if they're any different.

I did try the nickel strings on my Clay Hess D18 and hated them. They weren't bad for leads - but when strumming - they were just awful. I immediately went back to 80/20s on the D18.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. One of the things I'm doing (along with trying different types) is keeping track of when I put them on, brand/type, gauges, and my initial impressions as well as impressions of how the tone changes as the strings settle in and age. By the way, the EXP's are now sounding much better. They were very harsh and metallic-sounding at first, even more so than most new strings. Now they're mellowing out nicely and I'm enjoying playing more again.

Stan, I particularly appreciate your opinion since you've also got a CW. How long have you had it?
Marty, I bought my D28CW new in March of 2005 - terrific guitar.
I used to play with coated strings all the time, on account of having acidic perspiration. A non-coated set will usually last me three days, and I go to school for music so I would end up going through lots of strings. I've heard about people taking vinegar supplements to alkalize their system, thus adding to the life of their strings. I am trying the vinegar, because I prefer the tone and feel of non-coated strings. Wish me luck! If anyone has experience with the vinegar, I'd love to hear about it.
Hi Marty,
Although I don't use them on all my guitars I have used the Tony Rice (nickel plated) strings on my BRW Collings Clarence White. This may sound crazy but I never like them right after I put them on but I swear they sound better after I have used them awhile. It is probably me adjusting to the strings but it doesn't happen when I change strings on my other guitars (I too use EJ17s). You should give the Tony Rice's a try but watch out...I have taken a lot of grief from the traditionalists.
Best regards,

I use Elixir Nano PB Medium. I break G strings and the occasional D string...cost of doing business. I tried alot of other strings and played alot of strings on friends guitars. Nano's seem, to my ear, as the best value. I play fairly hard but I don't bash my guitar. If you are a hard player, you too may break a G string.

I've tried cleartones...they were awful. I used to use EJ-17's ( back then they were know as J-17's) for about 20 years with good results, but after I started to flatpick full time, I just wore them out in about 6-10 hrs of playing. Find a string that doesn't steal the sound of your guitar. Since your hands sweat, I'd stay with a coated string. One other thing to do is to buy Darco strings in bulk and change them often...like every week or so. Real inexpensive string and sound decent as long as you don't leave them on too long. Another thing to do with sweaty hands is use a little bit of baby powder on your hands an rub it in good before playing. I do this before going on stage during the summer months and it seems to help. YMMV. Good luck and happy hunting.


Don't Miss These!



Latest Activity

David Gilstrap posted a status
"Anyone know if flat pick magazine has Margret's Waltz in a particular issue ?"
Dec 29, 2018
C Griffin updated their profile
Dec 17, 2018
Jim Cornwell posted a photo
Dec 8, 2018
Jim Cornwell updated their profile
Dec 8, 2018
Profile IconMark Hubble, Marc Thebeau, James Ross and 16 more joined Flatpicking Guitar Network
Nov 19, 2018
Conch Hampton updated their profile
Nov 19, 2018
Bob Mesher replied to Bob Cron's discussion Norman's Preferences
"All I remember was when he had a Martin with flush frets on it (i.e. just markers for a guitar that was designed for slide only) and he had it converted for flat picking. "
Nov 2, 2018
Bob Mesher commented on Joe McColley's video

St Anne's Reel

"Nicely played. "
Nov 2, 2018
Keith Mellinger updated their profile
Oct 30, 2018
jerry L. Pujol posted a song

 play Nine Pound Hammer Practice Tracks and Tabs (4) (1).zip

Sep 22, 2018
Sam Byerly updated their profile
Aug 29, 2018
Ralph Schut updated their profile
Apr 24, 2018
Ralph Schut left a comment for David Bullock
"Hello David, sorry for the late reply - I had not visited this site for years. Unfortunately, I do not have tabs for Man of Constant Sorrow - the video you saw was recorded by somebody who had requested me to teach them the song - I only played it…"
Apr 24, 2018
Ralph Schut left a comment for Dave Siler
"Hallo Dave, ich spreche auch ein Bischen Deutsch :) Danke für Ihre Nachricht! Alles Gute und viel Spass beim Flatpicking!"
Apr 24, 2018
Ralph Schut is now friends with Maria Calfa-DePaul and Dave Siler
Apr 24, 2018
Profile IconCary bowden, Donald S. Brazelton, Leland Tam and 6 more joined Flatpicking Guitar Network
Apr 23, 2018

© 2019   Created by Dan Miller.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service