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I recently acquired a 63 D-18.  Normally I haven't cared much for mahogony bodied guitars, but this one sounds pretty good as I get to know it better.  I replaced the dead strings it had with EJ-17's.  It was way too percussive and bright for my tastes to begin with, but as the strings age and get darker sounding with playing time I find myself liking how they sound more and more.  It made me wonder if there was some other formulation of string that might give me that type of sound out of the pack, instead of having to wait till they're nearly dead and untuneable.  Ideas?

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These would be my first choice:  John Pearse Pure Nickel.

 

They have a great warm sound, unusually good playability, low string noise, deep, woody trebles and bass ... and are possibly the most transparent of any string I have tested.   These are now my preferred string of choice; excellent for having just enough tension to drive a played-in top, combined with quick, easy fretting/bends/hammer-ons/pull-offs.  A wonderful, dry, clear vintage tone.

 

Around the third day after installing a set, you should know whether or not the sound and feel are what you are looking for.  As for me, even with rosewood guitars, I have to appreciate what a high-quality string with a pure nickel wrap brings to the table.  The more I use them, the more I like them, and that's after using primarily phosphor-bronze alloys for nearly 40 years.  My only regret is that I didn't give them a try much sooner.

 

... JT

Thanks for the recommendation on the Pure Nickel John Pearse.  I followed the link, and that inspired a question.  Their standard set of mediums appears to be .013-.057, which is just a hair heavier on the bass string than what I typically use.  Is that what you use, or are you using the Jazz strings listed just below them?

The other beauty about nickel strings is that they are lower tension lbs. than PB and 80/20.  They fret much easier and are a more pliable strings.  You won't even notice the heavier bass strings, and in fact might still find them easier to fret.  I haven't used the JP nickels but have been using other nickel strings (Ernie Ball and GHS) on acoustics for years.  Love 'em.

I'm using the JPS_980M strings, Mark.

I really like the sound and feel of the heavy "E" string -- it adds depth and clarity to the bottom end. 

Part of the reason that I ended up making the switch to nickel strings was because other alloys actually sounded too evenly balanced to my ears ... not enough bass to offset the piano-like trebles I normally associate with phosphor-bronze.  I prefer a rich, clean, round bass without a tight, muted, or "thuddy" sound.  That larger nickel wound string is just the ticket. 

 

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and power you'll find with a string that size, due to the lower tension, coupled with a stronger projection in the bass, which might be a really nice alteration, or boost, to the sound of a sweet D18 with straight braces.

 

... JT

So, I decided the j-17s were dead enough that it was time to change them out.  I went to my (small) local store, and while they did have some John Pearse Phosphor/Bronze strings, they didn't have the JPS-980M strings.  I did end up getting some nickel strings, but they were D'Adarrio j-22s.  The packaging called them a "round wound".  I can't decide whether I like them or not, although they've only been on about 4 hours.  I changed them, tuned up and played for about 30 minutes, then cased it up and went to pick at a friends house.  I liked the way they sounded with his guitar (a rosewood Larrivee), but when a banjo player and mandolin player got there I didn't like them as much.  I kept trying to figure what sounded "slightly" out.  I suspected it was me, but it sounded in tune with itself, and showed to be in tune with the tuner everyone else had used.   It might well have been due to the fact that he had a fire going in the woodstove and all the instruments were moving around, tuning wise.  I do like the slightly looser feel, and my initial impression of just the guitar with them on it was favorable.   I will probably not pick again with people for a couple of weeks with Christmas Eve falling on Friday and such, so I'll have a bit of time to sort out how I like them a bit better.  At this point I think my next experiment will be to get a set of the John Pearse JPD-980Ms, to do a comparison with.

Hi Mark,  I'm glad you found the courage to try some nickel round wound strings.  As I mentioned earlier, I have been using nickel round wounds for years BUT, I should have also mentioned that the Daddario nickel round wounds (I tried the EJ21's which are the light set to the EJ22's mediums), are the worst nickel round wound I have tried.  I actually forgot about it until I read your post and than smacked myself on the forehead for forgetting and not writing about them.  I found the exact same as you did.  They just sounded "off".  They only lasted a few days on my guitar before I happily took them off and replaced them with the Ernie Ball nickel round wounds that I enjoy very much - night and day difference.  What I am wanting to say is to not let the Daddario's steer you away from being open minded enough to continue trying nickel strings.  I bet the JP's would be much better.  I really like Daddario PB strings very much, just hate their nickel strings (for electric too).  Another choice would be Daquisto as well.  Yes, they make the Tony Rice nickel set, but they also have a complete line in many various guages located in their electric/jazz collection.  Another to look into are Newtone Masterclass nickel round wounds.  These are a round core string and will feel even more pliable than the other nickel hex core strings.  Hang in there!!

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