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Post new topic Electric archtop players - recommend strings, please
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Author Topic:  Electric archtop players - recommend strings, please
Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 6:17 am     Reply with quote

I just picked up a 1960 Epiphone Century 3/4.

Currently strung with D'addario XL115w (I'm digging the wound 3rd). They sound nice, but a little squeaky. Maybe I'd benefit from flat wound or double wound?

I've always had solid body electrics(or chambered, if you want to count my Danelectro U-1 as such), so this archtop is a different animal. I'd like to experiment with string sets, so I'm soliciting opinions/recommendations from folks "in the know."
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 6:54 am     Reply with quote

I use flatwound D'Addario Chromes Jazz Light GC24 set on my big Samick arch top.

They also offer heavier sets in this line.
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Roddy Ring


From:
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 7:34 am     Archtop Reply with quote

I use Thomastik Infeld Jazz Swing flats on mine. They are about twice the price of the D'Addario's that Jerry uses but, in my opinion, they last at least twice as long and sound better, at least to my ear. I think, in general, you will find flats better suit that guitar. Try several different brands and gauges to find the sound and price that fits your needs. Hope this helps. Nice find, by the way.
Roddy
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Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 8:18 am     Reply with quote

Thanks! I've gotten recs for both those sets from others.

I see mixed reviews of the Newtone Archtop double wounds.

Please keep the suggestions coming.
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Doyle Weigold


From:
CColumbia City, IN, USA
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 10:04 am     Reply with quote

Used for rhythm only, I assume?
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Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 11:15 am     Reply with quote

Doyle Weigold wrote:
Used for rhythm only, I assume?


Rhythm only? Me? No.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 25 Aug 2017 5:46 pm     Reply with quote

If you're playing jazz, you should probably try some flatwounds and see what you like. I like the Thomastik Swing (pure nickel wrap) and GHS Precision Flatwounds (stainless steel wrap). The D'Addario Chromes (stainless steel) are OK, but they feel stiffer to me. The most flexible are the Thomastiks - in fact, you may find them too flexible at the 11-47 gauge. Might want to think about the 12-50 set. I also think the Precision Flatwounds also feel pretty good. Probably not as warm as the pure nickel Thomastiks, but I like 'em.

But for me, if I was using this more for blues (which is what I would use a guitar like this for), I would probably want to first try John Pearse pure nickel round wounds with a wound 3rd:

11-50: http://www.juststrings.com/jps-2600.html
12-52: http://www.juststrings.com/jps-2700.html

Note that John Pearse also makes comparable gauge sets except with a plain 3rd - I definitely prefer the wound 3rd for an archtop like this one.

Ernie Ball and DR also make heavier pure-nickel sets - EB has 11-48 and DR has both 11-50 and 12-52. But the John Pearse feel a bit more flexible to me, probably a thinner core on the wound strings. I have a set of the John Pearse 12-52 on my full-scale Howard Roberts, they feel great for blues or jazz. The pure nickel wrap doesn't eradicate finger noise, but I think it helps some, and I do think they sound warmer.

On gauges: if this is really a 3/4 short-scale guitar (like 22-23" scale length or less), I'd go berserk with 11-47 or 11-50 strings. Just too loose for me, but I routinely put 11-48 or so on a full-scale guitar (e.g., 24-3/4" Gibson or 25-1/2" Fender scale). The shorter the scale length, the looser the tension, for a given set of strings in a particular tuning.

But you'll only know what you really like by trying some things. As stated above, Thomastik Swings are expensive - like around $25/set - but I don't think anything quite gets their sound. But I'd probably try other things first to see if they tripped my trigger, owing to the cost of the Thomastiks.
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Chris Walke


From:
St Charles, IL
Post Posted 29 Aug 2017 4:55 am     Reply with quote

Dave - thanks! Over the weekend I was talking to the guitar tech who sold me the Epiphone - we discussed every set you mentioned (except the JP, for some reason), the tech making many of the points you made.

thanks all for the input. I have a good basis for trying out different sets to discover my preference on this guitar.
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