View Poll Results: What gauge strings on your archtop?

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  • 10

    27 4.00%
  • 11

    134 19.85%
  • 12

    324 48.00%
  • 13

    171 25.33%
  • other

    50 7.41%
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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    I guess jazz cats don't bend notes much.
    In one of Buddy Rich's recorded rants, he wails on the bass player, "WHAT'S WITH THIS BENDING!!!"

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  3. #102

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    I use Newtone 11 gauge strings, mainly due to arthritis making 12s, 13s unplayable, plus large hands and fingers don't help. find Newtones seem to have less pull/tension.
    My Slaman is strung with Newtone Gypsy Jazz Nickel 11s, 1948 Rex /Harmony/Gretsch acoustic archtop Newtone bronze 11s. My DRL CT-09 (Google drl guitars) which is basically a thinline flat-top with built-in pickup and preamp, is strung with Newtone Heritage 11s, (a special light tension set) and used to play 30s/40s standards in a trio. I pick lightly, the action at 1th fret on the DRL is 2mm on treble and bass sides, but still get clarity and definition plus its kind to the old fingers.
    Have to admit I don't think of myself as a 'real' jazz guitarist.
    Last edited by bananafist; 12-06-2013 at 02:06 PM.

  4. #103

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    I use 0.14 TI's on an archtop with 25" scale.

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    I guess jazz cats don't bend notes much.
    Howard Roberts used 16-56 and bent a lot of notes.




  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin' Brian
    Howard Roberts used 16-56 and bent a lot of notes.
    0.16? Who even makes strings that heavy?

    It's possible to get your strings "bendable" with the right setup, even with heavy strings. Whole-step bends not so much, but the half-steppers are very possible.

  7. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    0.16? Who even makes strings that heavy?
    LaBella makes a 15-56 flatwound set.

  8. #107

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    I use a 012 set but change the first two strings to 014 and 018 (by them by bulk). I can do half-step bends, not more.

  9. #108

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    I had used 12s for years, sometimes roundwound and sometimes flatwound. Usually D'Addario strings as they are inexpensive, readily available and very consistent.

    Recently I tried Pyramid Gold 11 flatwounds on my carved 17" archtop with a floater and was amazed at how much the tone opened up- warmer and more resonant. Maybe the 12s put too much tension on that top, or maybe it's a difference in alloys or even the round core Pyramid uses with those instead of the hex core that D'Addario uses (although the plain strings sound better, too). I tried the same strings on my GB10 and liked that change too, although it wasn't as pronounced as with the carvetop; the pickups on that guitar are so hot that I usually run the volume knob around 4-5 and the lighter strings seem to help with that.

    The Pyramids seem a bit darker than the D'Addarios with the result that I roll off the tone knob less, which may help with the sense of resonance.

    Last week I replaced the D'Addario Chromes 12s on my Tele with Chromes 11s and thus far do not like that change. The Tele seems to need the heft of the bigger strings, but it could be that "new string twang" that's bugging me. I don't know how Ed Bickert got that fat tone with the light strings he used. I would just get "plink, plink, plink."

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3rdOrbit
    I'm one of the odd ones out. I've got an arch, but I don't like fat strings. It's 10's for me all the way. And in round wounds. Flats don't inspire me.

    Supposedly fat strings equal fat tone and big sustain. I find thinner strings are just as fat with the tone rolled down, and they sustain just as well. I'll go out on a limb and say they sustain even better. Call me crazy.

    And thin strings are much easier to play. And because they are, there is a nuance and touch you can get that is much harder to achieve with the heavies. You can really make your guitar talk with thinner strings.

    String me up and pelt me with stones, but I think it's been proven by some of the greats.
    Jim Hall and Ed Bickert both used light strings and no one complains about their tone being thin or wimpy.

  11. #110

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    I use .11's on my 175 and all my other guitars.But I mainly play rock and roll and blues and I do need to do a lot of string bending.But the .11's serve me pretty well on what little jazz we experiment with and don't seem to compromise my tone.Now I do use round wounds and get that extra little bite in my solos.

  12. #111

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    Classical players have known for quite some time that strings that are too high tension for a given guitar constrict the resonance of the top and therefore the sound considerably. Lighter tension sometimes 'opens up' the resonance of the top and makes the guitar more lively and sound far better. I have found that with my own classical.

  13. #112

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    Although I usually put 0.012's on my archtops I recently tried 0.013's on my Eastman AR605 . I took them off after a few days. I found that they indeed made the guitar sound dead and restricted. For me 0.012 is the way to go.

  14. #113

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    A timely thread. In regards to string brands and gauge.

    I've got a 25'' scale archtop and would like to loosen (reduce the tention) the feel of the strings. Primarily at the right hand. I understand TI's have the absolute lowest string tention because of the way they're made. Minimum metal core and a greater outside wrap. Can anyone verify this? Or just a general thought on loosening up the feel of a 25'' scale?

  15. #114

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    Installing a shorter tail piece will do it.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by teleboli
    A timely thread. In regards to string brands and gauge.

    I've got a 25'' scale archtop and would like to loosen (reduce the tention) the feel of the strings. Primarily at the right hand. I understand TI's have the absolute lowest string tention because of the way they're made. Minimum metal core and a greater outside wrap. Can anyone verify this? Or just a general thought on loosening up the feel of a 25'' scale?
    they have the lowest tension because of the way the gauges are combined in the set rather than how they are made I think, but certainly a lot lower tension.

    Jens

  17. #116

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    Carvin SH550: T-I Jazz Swing 10s
    ES-335: T-I Swing 11s
    Ibanez AFJ91: T-I Swing 12s

  18. #117

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    Thomastik Infeld Swing Flatwound 12s

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by teleboli
    A timely thread. In regards to string brands and gauge.

    I've got a 25'' scale archtop and would like to loosen (reduce the tention) the feel of the strings. Primarily at the right hand. I understand TI's have the absolute lowest string tention because of the way they're made. Minimum metal core and a greater outside wrap. Can anyone verify this? Or just a general thought on loosening up the feel of a 25'' scale?
    Not sure if the reasoning is right (don't know enough about string construction), but they do feel much lower tension, for whatever reason.

    I use 0.14 TIs and can easily do half step bends on all strings. 0.13 Chromes made that much more difficult.

  20. #119

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    I know they're not generally considered a jazz band, but Led Zeppelin used 8s, and their sound wasn't noticeably thin. Once you're amped, I suggest the electronics count for more than the gauge, particularly the EQ. In addition the choice of string material surely has a larger effect than gauge on final sound because it changes what the pickups pick up.

  21. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryCorby
    I know they're not generally considered a jazz band, but Led Zeppelin used 8s, and their sound wasn't noticeably thin. Once you're amped, I suggest the electronics count for more than the gauge, particularly the EQ. In addition the choice of string material surely has a larger effect than gauge on final sound because it changes what the pickups pick up.
    The gauge of the string definitely has a very audible effect on the the amplified sound - of course most so when playing clean. A thin string with low tension vibrates differently from a thick string with high tension. My Strat sound radically different with 9s from what it does with 13s (it's decades since I tried such thin strings on my archtops, but as I remember the effect was the same). Of course, the other factors you mention also play a role - as does the playing technique, choice of pick etc. And of course all those factors can be obscured if distorsion and other effects are used (so maybe Led Zeppelin is not the most obvous example here. The thickness of Jimmy Page's sound was to a high degree derived from amp breakup which is mostly avoided by "traditional" jazz guitarists).

  22. #121

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    I remeber reading a Guitar Player article by Andy Ellis on Kenny Burrel and he (-AE) talked about "quarter-note bends." That was a new concept to me. It is an important one---Kenny B and Grant G could get a lot of feel out a slight bend.

  23. #122

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    Rotosound Flatwounds 12s on solid body (before them DR Blues for a long time)
    Lately, I'm switching on archtop between D'Addario's 13s: Half Rounds and Pure Nickiel (nickiels bring a little more tension which makes action a little higher - it really makes chords sound bigger).

  24. #123

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  25. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I remeber reading a Guitar Player article by Andy Ellis on Kenny Burrel and he (-AE) talked about "quarter-note bends." That was a new concept to me. It is an important one---Kenny B and Grant G could get a lot of feel out a slight bend.
    IIRC from reading something in my blues days, the quarter note bends are on the b3 and b7. Something about the "true" blue notes being located there...but I think it was a quarter of the way between the b3 and the natural 3, which would be an "eighth tone"...a true "quarter tone" bend would be smack in the middle of the b3 and the natural 3 and in my experimentations that did not sound as hip. I could be wrong though.

  26. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny
    IIRC from reading something in my blues days, the quarter note bends are on the b3 and b7. Something about the "true" blue notes being located there...but I think it was a quarter of the way between the b3 and the natural 3, which would be an "eighth tone"...a true "quarter tone" bend would be smack in the middle of the b3 and the natural 3 and in my experimentations that did not sound as hip. I could be wrong though.

    I'll see if I can dig out my copy of the article over the weekend.

  27. #126

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    TI 13's with a wound .018 b string substituted.

  28. #127

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    I keep it simple...flatwound 11's on my jazz boxes. Roundwound 10's on my solid bodies.

  29. #128

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    Flatwound D'Addario 13s on everything. My first guitar teacher played 13s and I wanted his sound. I've tried other gauges and types (roundwound, tape wound), but always go back to flatwound 13s.

    D'Addario has been very consistent for me, I get a bad string every once and awhile, but not enough to drive me to switch brands.

  30. #129

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    There is no hard and fast rule. I am afraid that it is guitar and guitar player specific. Ultimately, you will need to experiment with different gauges in a particular brand you like to find the set that gives you the sound you prefer--with a nod towards heavier gauges in the TI strings because of their lighter tension. I automatically go up a gauge in TI. For me, flats vs rounds comes right down to how much I can tolerate string noise at any given time.

  31. #130

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    I hate string noise...it should be outlawed.

  32. #131
    Anyone who jus slaps on their standard string gauge, whether its 13's on everything or 10's are really not listing to the voice of their guitar IMO.

    Most guitars IME have a sweet spot. Some tops don't like heavy strings and if anything it can be too much pressure.

    The best thing is to decide what type of tension you like, then chose your scale length or get a guitar that can increase tension if you like a shorter scale.

    Then go through the strings gauges until you find the one that makes your guitar sound the best. Not the sound in your head but what makes it sound its best. If the guitar doesn't sound nice to you when under optimal conditions, then get buy a different guitar.

    Thats my opinion.

  33. #132

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    Poor man's TIs

    D'Addario Chromes extra light (48-10), replace b&e with 16 & 13.

    I find the heavier Chromes sets too stiff and thuddy on the bass side in the upper registers...but it's really a scale length problem. Ralph Novak was onto something I think...

    Of course, if you're playing chop chop Freddy Green the heavy bass strings are the thing to do.

  34. #133

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    I use mainly TI Jazz Swing 13's but on some of my guitars I use D'Addario Chrome 12's and also roundwound 10's.

  35. #134

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    Now using 15-56 and won't look back

  36. #135

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinlander
    Now using 15-56 and won't look back
    Me too - if La Bella will let me.

    Those La Bella 15-56 flatwounds are very well balanced for both volume and tone across the set - much better than D'A Chromes. The plain B and E are closer in sound to the wound strings than usual, no doubt due to the heavy gauge. They are livelier than TI flatwounds and at least in this heavy edition they have a wonderful punch.

    But as has been discussed several times here, something seemed to have happened 2-3 years ago. Before, the deep strings were live, but then they became very dead right out of the bag. They also exhibited intonation problems and one could feel irregularities in the wrap when sliding the fingers down the string. The problems presented themselves at the same time the silk wrapping on the strings changed from dark blue to light blue which could indicate that some change of manufacture had happened.

    1½ year ago I bought 12 sets of the new batch but was not satisfied with them, and after reading of the problems on this forum, I wrote La Bella about it and got a kind reply from Richard Cocco Jr. (La Bella's jr. president) in which he told me that they were in the process of revamping their flatwound production and they would send me 12 new sets free of charge when they were through with that. I haven't heard from them since, so I sent them a reminder e-mail a few days ago and look forward to recieve their reply.

    I had 3 sets left of the old batch - from before the quality problems set in - of those 15-56 strings and have just put one of them on my Painter after having used TI Swing for a while. Again I'm reminded how good they are - or were - and I really hope they manage/have managed to solve their problems with the newer batches, so we can enjoy these nice strings in the future too. Nobody else makes such a heavy gauge flatwound set which would have pleased Howard Roberts.

    Has anyone experiences with recent samples of this set?
    Last edited by oldane; 08-30-2014 at 07:14 AM.

  37. #136

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    I also prefer round wounds on my guitars. Rounds bring out more of the nuances of the guitar. All a matter of your tonal preference.

    On a more serious note, I had a question for folks using 13s and heavier on their boxes. I just brougt my guitar into a luthier (guitar maker) upstate, and he said that archtops should not be strung with 13s for too long. Apparently, the point of contact between the neck and the guitar (the heel?) moves around and it could permanently damage the guitar. I am going to try a mix set of 13s and 12s for my guitar.

    In terms of tone fanatics out there, anyone ever try bone saddles. I am having one custom made for my Eastman, and I can't wait to play it.

  38. #137

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    I respect your luthier acquaintance, but I must respectfully disagree. For example, I have a 77-year old Gibson archtop that was made in an era when 13s were standard gauge strings. That's the way that Gibson would have strung the guitar coming from the factory. I have owned the Guitar for over 40 years. In all this time, the neck joint has not moved one micrometer as a consequence of string gauge choice by me.

    If I were to put 13 or heavier gauge strings on my guitars made after the 70s--especially flattop guitars--I do not doubt that neck angles would shallow up over time, especially if the guitars were treated to rides in hot cars (no friend to hide glues and other adhesives). Modern construction of flattop guitars favors light, less robust qualities that translate into a singing tone. This is great, but treat those guitars gently.

    You know, you can string up a Fender solid body from the 50s and 60s with much heavier strings than folks favor, and the guitar will not protest, at all. Recall, guitars in that era were commonly strung with Black Diamond strings bought out of a fish bowl display at the check out stand at the drug store--in gauges that were, er, NOT Slinky.

    Do, though, take care of custom-made flattops. More than anything, NEVER leave them in a hot car. That neck joint will soften up--even with 09s on there--and the neck angle will mess up, for sure.

    Here's an easy one to remember: never put your guitar any place you wouldn't put your baby--except don't put your guitar into the bathtub. ;-)

  39. #138

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    I am glad that I bought 12s and 13s. I usually play with 13s, but what he said about damage scared me. I have two dehumidiers in the room I keep my guitar. Anyway, I am excited about the bone saddle. I tried putting a factory made bone saddle bridge on my box and it sounded really great and I could feel every note resonating through the bottom of the guitar. I will have to record the guitar with the bridge when I get the guitar back.

  40. #139

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    double post
    Last edited by vinlander; 09-01-2014 at 08:13 PM.

  41. #140

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    After years of using 13s and tried 14, I put 15 on mine lately and there is something called a trussrod that just need a little adjustment to keep the neck in balance with the string tension.
    I like my neck very straight and the action so low (before buzzing) nice flat high gauge and trussrod adjustment can care for. If you need fret leveling it is another story, but on my 2 cheap under a grand Epiphone archtops, I could achieve such a fast low action with a high flat gauge without any heel damage (we are talking about years of heavy strings and in Montreal extreme weather and humidity change).
    As much as I want to respect a guitar builder opinion it goes against my thinkerer experience...

    Regarding bone saddle or nuts unless you play a lot of open strings notes or chords it is pretty much non relevant...in jazz many people don't tend to play much open string stuff so I don't think it would much important; but that is my opinion.

  42. #141

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    Good point, I have adjusted my truss rod quite frequently this summer due to the dang humidity. I am curious about the hybrid set...

    Regarding the bridge, the nut affects the open strings. Since the bridge is where the strings transfer their resonance to the top, any material will change the tone. Hence rosewood vs. ebony vs. Tune-o-matic bridges. I have experimented with bone before, and the tonal response is actually apparent.

    Anyway, I like my usual round wound 13s set. Thanks for the responses. I will tell the luthier to put the extra 13s in a ziplock. You can check out his guitars at schneiderguitars.com.

    --A

  43. #142

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    OMG the Schneider SoHo 17 archtop is a work of art. I am speechless.

  44. #143

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    I have to agree with Greentone on the quality of the guy`s work: impressive!!
    However it doesn't change my opinion, I would never like an Archtop strung with 11's dental floss because I don't like the feel and tone of it

  45. #144

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    11s- I agree. I will see if I can just get the guitar strung with 13s again. You can listen to the sound samples of his guitars on that site as well. The soho sounds like a piano with all of its overtones. Real tasty, but breaking the bank. 30k plus in price... Maybe, when I marry a rich girl.

  46. #145

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    Okay...I can see that for the Schneider guitar, with its unusual bridge, etc., the luthier's recommendation of light gauge strings should be followed. A blanket recommendation for all guitars is not necessary. For Schneider's guitars, OTOH, I would do what the luthier suggests.
    String gauge on your archtop?-soho17_tailpieceup-jpg

  47. #146

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    I played his guitars, and they sound even better than they look! He is making a custom bridge for my guitar, an Eastman 805 Uptown. I can't afford his guitars as of yet. Love your Grant Green moniker. I went and saw Peter Bernstein live... wow! He has the same attention to phrasing and rhythm in his lines that Green was famous for. Cool stuff.

  48. #147

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    No generic statement applies to all, there is no absolute I agree with that. One guitar might come alive on a lower gauge based on its construction the luthier (or the player ?) is the authority on that.
    I agree that recommendation can be tricky as our experience might not represent all scenarios but only what "our experience is" or worst...our assumptions...!
    Lets say I respect the guy's work and if he recommends his lower gauge on his guitar who am I to comment on that.
    On the other hand he would not convince me to go lower on my Epis out of fear for their heel, they have never sounded so good since I am using bigger flat gauge.

  49. #148

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    Thanks, Irez87. I was deeply influenced by Green. His phrasing and his tone really got to me. Another guy who did, for the same reasons, was Blue Note stablemate, Kenny Burrell. Here is KB on "Midnight Blue," a great early 60s blues:


  50. #149

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    The archtop is a very different species from the flattop and many solid body guitars in regard to handling the string forces. On the archtop (like on the violin family) the downward pressure by the strings on the top via the bridge is more or less counteracted by the lengthwise compression by the string pull which will tend to force upward the top due to the arch of the top. Thus, in a well designed and made archtop, those two forces balances each other so everything stays where it's at. That's one of the reasons an archtop takes heavy strings so well and survive for so long whereas classical guitars are very often litterally twisted out of shape by the string pull in two or the three decades. Steel strung flattops are stronger than that but they very often need a neck reset after some decades. Violin instruments can survive for centuries if cared for - and maybe good archtops can survive just as long (time will show) .

    I do believe the pictured Schneider guitar may have some problems with heavy strings due to its peculiar bridge design which in my opinion complicates matters a bit. The strings passing through holes in the bridge that way introduces a twisting force in the bridge which is not there with a standard archtop bridge design.

    Also some modern archtops are lighter built than the classical Gibsons, Epiphones etc. and they sometimes sound better acoustically with not so heavy strings. My Benedetto Fratello sounds better to my ears with a 12 set than with a 13 or 14 set. But it can stand the heavier sets without damage. My Painter laminate guitar sounds great with the 15-56 set.

    BTW, the La Bella 15-56 set hasn't so much higher total tension than a classical 13-56 set because it's actually only the two top strings which are heavier (gives a better tone balance between the wound and unwound strings when played amplified). The wound strings are like on many 13-56 sets (ending with a 56 low E). I don't have to tighten the truss rod nut more than around 30 degrees when going from 13s to the 15-56 La Bella set. Such "heavy top-normal buttom" sets were/are preferred by a number of jazz guitarists, among them Howard Roberts and Pat Martino.
    Last edited by oldane; 09-01-2014 at 11:24 PM.

  51. #150

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    Thanks, Irez87. I was deeply influenced by Green. His phrasing and his tone really got to me. Another guy who did, for the same reasons, was Blue Note stablemate, Kenny Burrell. Here is KB on "Midnight Blue," a great early 60s blues:
    I love that tune. Recently learned it and it's such a hoot to play.