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  1. #1

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    I was paging through zZounds searching for new acoustic strings to try out on my D-28 and came across this set that was allegedly Tony Rice's (RIP) prefered gauge and brand. I had never heard of Nickel strings and so I thought I'd make some recordings against a standard set of 92/8 Phosphor Bronze strings. Listening back, I found that the nickel strings tend to sound a bit warmer with more sustain, less pick noise, and a slightly reduced front to the note.

    Timestamps for anyone that'd like to skip to a specific part:
    1:11 - Playing Samples
    1:20 - Isolated Chords
    1:50 - Scales
    2:32 - Light Strumming
    3:11 - Noodling
    4:53 - Funk
    5:22 - Heavy Strumming
    5:46 - Jazz
    6:56 - Capo'd Strumming
    7:21 - Fingerstyle
    8:00 - Drop Tuning
    8:29 - Arpeggios
    9:01 - Classical
    9:53 - Chord Melody
    10:41 - Outro
    11:21 - Free Impulse Responses

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    There are several manufacturers who offer pure nickel strings, among them D'Addario and Pyramid. Another string which might work for you is the Martin Retro monel. Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper, with small amounts of other metals, depending on the alloy. I don't know Martin's exact formula, and it really doesn't matter much. Monel retains more of the acoustic sound of bronze (which is mostly copper, with tin and some other metals) than pure nickel, and is extremely corrosion resistant. I used pure nickel strings for years, but have come to prefer monel. Another fairly recent entry is D'Addario's nickel bronze, which are bronze strings with a nickel coating, which improves the magnetic properties and thus works better with magnetic pickups. Most steel-wound strings are nickel plated.

  4. #3

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    I was most impressed by the focused tone of the Jazztone 205s, one of my favorite picks. Kudos for your deft control of the wee beastie.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    There are several manufacturers who offer pure nickel strings, among them D'Addario and Pyramid. Another string which might work for you is the Martin Retro monel. Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper, with small amounts of other metals, depending on the alloy. I don't know Martin's exact formula, and it really doesn't matter much. Monel retains more of the acoustic sound of bronze (which is mostly copper, with tin and some other metals) than pure nickel, and is extremely corrosion resistant. I used pure nickel strings for years, but have come to prefer monel. Another fairly recent entry is D'Addario's nickel bronze, which are bronze strings with a nickel coating, which improves the magnetic properties and thus works better with magnetic pickups. Most steel-wound strings are nickel plated.
    How are the Monels through a magnetic pickup?

  6. #5

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    They're fine. Monel has more nickel than anything else in the alloy, and nickel is highly magnetic. A minor adjustment of polepieces might or might not be necessary, depending on the pickup and the player's ear. Mine probably average a half turn or so in adjustment between pure nickel and monel.

  7. #6

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    I recently came across the Martin Retro strings and decided to try them out. I put a set on my Gibson L-1 and like them so far. Haven't played much acoustic lately so not sure if they make much of a difference.

  8. #7

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    Well, whoever the idjits are, that Martin hired to redesign their Monel string packaging, need to be fired. The one thing they are not is nickel-wrapped. Monel is not nickel. Wiki: "Monel is a group of nickel alloys, primarily composed of nickel (from 52 to 67%) and copper,with small amounts of iron, manganese, carbon, and silicon." A string wrap that is @ half to two-thirds nickel and @ half to one-third copper is ... not nickel. Just like "nickel-plated steel" string wraps are ... not nickel. Nickel string wraps are "pure nickel" (or something really close to it) - hardly a challenge for packaging designers and product managers, eh?

    The previous and original iterations of Martin's Monel roundwound string packaging correctly and unequivocally identified the fundamental nature of the product, unlike the current shitty-looking iteration, which uses both "nickel" and "Monel" to identify the product. [ed: visuals added below]

    Reminds me of the liars at Rotosound, who clearly identify their Top Tape steel-wrapped flatwounds strings as "Monel flatwounds", depite their being no Monel in them.

    I don't fault Alex Price - clearly his ability to read the several decorative references to Monel on the package, or to use the Google (including many posts on this forum as well as UMGF on this very subject) is diminished due to the alien appliance he wears on the top of his head, clearly shown in the video, that is obviously affecting his brain function. Someone should let him know that he really should retitle the video as "Monel vs. Bronze" and perhaps edit some of his comments along the same lines. Or maybe do a video in which compares actual nickel strings to phosphor bronze strings

    I liked the video, but IMO it would have been better if he had focused on the bottom four strings for the picking parts, since the top two strings
    are unwound steel, identical for all strings sets, and have nothing to do with nickel or Monel. Or 80/20, or phosphor bronze, for that matter.

    But, seriously, what the hell is going on with that lid? I ...wait, back in a minute, ... hey, you kids get offa my lawn! ...
    Attached Images Attached Images Trying out Nickel Acoustic Strings on my D-28 (Comparison with Phosphor Bronze)-screen-shot-2021-07-27-3-29-44-am-png Trying out Nickel Acoustic Strings on my D-28 (Comparison with Phosphor Bronze)-martin-monel-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-28-2021 at 11:45 PM.

  9. #8

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    My understanding is that the term "pure nickel" does not mean "purely nickel and nothing else." It means an alloy of pure nickel and other metals, as opposed to an alloy of a nickel compound and other metals.

    My further understanding is that all the so-called nickel wound guitar strings are either Monel (a trademark for a specific range of nickel-copper alloys) or something metallurgically very similar. [Based on a ton of googling I did a while back, so take it for what that's worth]. D'addario's use of "pure nickel" is, uh, purely marketing speak to differentiate their solid-nickel-alloy wound strings from their nickel-alloy-plated strings (which they call "nickel wound").

    I went through several rounds of experimenting with Martin Retros, TI roundwound nickels, a couple of different brands of roller wound "pure" nickel stings, and D'addario nickel and "pure nickel". Plugged in on a Godin Kingpin, they all sound the same. Unplugged, the Martins are the loudest and have a little more harmonic content and acoustic zing (though less than PB).

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    My understanding is that the term "pure nickel" does not mean "purely nickel and nothing else." It means an alloy of pure nickel and other metals, as opposed to an alloy of a nickel compound and other metals.

    My further understanding is that all the so-called nickel wound guitar strings are either Monel (a trademark for a specific range of nickel-copper alloys) or something metallurgically very similar. [Based on a ton of googling I did a while back, so take it for what that's worth]. D'addario's use of "pure nickel" is, uh, purely marketing speak to differentiate their solid-nickel-alloy wound strings from their nickel-alloy-plated strings (which they call "nickel wound").

    I went through several rounds of experimenting with Martin Retros, TI roundwound nickels, a couple of different brands of roller wound "pure" nickel stings, and D'addario nickel and "pure nickel". Plugged in on a Godin Kingpin, they all sound the same. Unplugged, the Martins are the loudest and have a little more harmonic content and acoustic zing (though less than PB).
    Yeah, the folks at D'Addario use the ol' "Nickel Wound" vs. "Pure Nickel" gambit, but show their hand on the back of the package with some actual information, which is OK by me. Standard marketing bullshit as opposed to completely idiotic marketing bullshit.

    I'm no metallurgist (but I do play one on TV). My guess (without bothering with the Google) is that "pure nickel" wire, as used for wound guitar strings, probably clocks in at somewhere between 95-100% pure nickel, with trace elements added for other practical reasons by the Acme Nickel Wire Company - a bit of cobalt, a dash of plutonium, some oregano, perhaps some compressed dryer lint. I'm sure one of the many metallurgists who are members here will chime in with the facts. Just the facts, ma'am.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-27-2021 at 01:07 PM.

  11. #10

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    My problem with Martin strings is their string feel. Compared to D'Addario and DR strings, my fingers feel the round wound nature to a higher degree (and I do not like it).

    At the moment, I am using the following strings:

    Electric archtops: TI Flats (Swing series)
    Acoustic archtops: D'Addario 80/20 on some and TI Flats on some (I know that flats are not supposed to work on an acoustic archtop, but TI Flats work on them for me, both in feel and sound)
    Gypsy guitars: Argentine loop end
    Flat tops : D'Addario 80/20
    Classical: D'Addario low tension
    Solid Bodies: DR Pure Blues

    I do not like the feel of the Martin retros (they do sound pretty good). I find Phosphor Bronze to be too muddy for jazz chords. I haven't tried silk and steel in years (I might give them a try on my Grand auditorium flattop, but I am unsure about their suitability for acoustic archtops or Dreads) and I am interested in the Dogal 80/20 flats, but at $35 a set, I have as much hesitancy in buying those as some Evangelical Christians have about getting a Covid vaccine.

  12. #11

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    I tried these and I like them.

    Sorry! Something went wrong!

  13. #12

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    [QUOTE=Stringswinger;1136860 I am interested in the Dogal 80/20 flats, but at $35 a set, I have as much hesitancy in buying those as some Evangelical Christians have about getting a Covid vaccine. [/QUOTE]

    I tried the Dogal flats on my Stromberg G1. They produced a fine “thunk” but for the 5th string, which just said “thud”. They do amplify well with the repro deArmond though.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    I tried the Dogal flats on my Stromberg G1. They produced a fine “thunk” but for the 5th string, which just said “thud”. They do amplify well with the repro deArmond though.
    How did they hold up? I find 80/20 strings tend to corrode faster than other strings. The last thing I need is to fall in love with $35 a set strings that need to be changed frequently.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    How did they hold up? I find 80/20 strings tend to corrode faster than other strings. The last thing I need is to fall in love with $35 a set strings that need to be changed frequently.
    That thudding A string precluded any profound romantic attachment. I’m going back to GHS half-rounds.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    That thudding A string precluded any profound romantic attachment. I’m going back to GHS half-rounds.
    Hardly a "ringing " endorsement. You have added to my hesitancy.

  17. #16

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    Beyond the many well-known excellent sets of strings, I've had good luck with a few less-well-known and not particularly expensive sets for reduced finger noise and nice tone on archtops, including:
    -Galli AJF1252 flatwound 80/20 - heaviest is 12-52;
    -GHS Rollerwound pure nickel, which come in various gauges, including 12-54 and 13-56.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I tried these and I like them.

    Sorry! Something went wrong!
    PS - The coating is a nickel/iron alloy. They sure last longer than bronze.


  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Yeah, the folks at D'Addario use the ol' "Nickel Wound" vs. "Pure Nickel" gambit, but show their hand on the back of the package with some actual information, which is OK by me. Standard marketing bullshit as opposed to completely idiotic marketing bullshit.

    I'm no metallurgist (but I do play one on TV). My guess (without bothering with the Google) is that "pure nickel" wire, as used for wound guitar strings, probably clocks in at somewhere between 95-100% pure nickel, with trace elements added for other practical reasons by the Acme Nickel Wire Company - a bit of cobalt, a dash of plutonium, some oregano, perhaps some compressed dryer lint. I'm sure one of the many metallurgists who are members here will chime in with the facts. Just the facts, ma'am.
    I don't think that's the case. I think all the stuff that guitar string windings are made of is alloys that are much lower in nickel content than that. A truly pure nickel guitar string would be a lot more expensive and not perform as well as monel or similar alloys. I can't prove this via a single reference, but it's the substance of a fair amount of reading.

  20. #19

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    If you like the sound of bronze but want to use a magnetic pickup, the nickel-plated bronze strings work pretty well. D'Addario makes them as well as GHS. I've never used the GHS, but the D'Addario Nickel Bronze strings are good, albeit nearly twice the price of bronze strings. The nickel plating does prevent the discoloration that is common on bronze strings. Bruce Foreman has said that he's using them now.

  21. #20

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    The previous and original iterations of Martin's Monel roundwound string packaging correctly and unequivocally identified the fundamental nature of the product, unlike the current shitty-looking iteration, which uses both "nickel" and "Monel" to identify the product.
    The Retro strings I've seen plainly say Monel, 7 times (!) around the logo, and on the back say "Monel - solid nickel/copper blend".

  22. #21

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    Put a set of those Martin Titanium on my Taylor GT K21e. These are nickel wrapped titanium cores. Don’t know if they’re pure nickel or an alloy. Took a day but I do like the tone. Reduces the brightness of this small(ish) hardwood top guitar. Great feel. Holds tuning overnight even though new. Gives me that small mahogany sound but with koa’s very even frequency response. I’ve gone through Elixir Nanos, D’Addario XS and Santa Cruz Low Tensions on this guitar since I got it back in March. These are my favorites so far. At this price I hope I get the months of play some claim.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    There are several manufacturers who offer pure nickel strings, among them D'Addario and Pyramid. Another string which might work for you is the Martin Retro monel. Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper, with small amounts of other metals, depending on the alloy. I don't know Martin's exact formula, and it really doesn't matter much. Monel retains more of the acoustic sound of bronze (which is mostly copper, with tin and some other metals) than pure nickel, and is extremely corrosion resistant. I used pure nickel strings for years, but have come to prefer monel. Another fairly recent entry is D'Addario's nickel bronze, which are bronze strings with a nickel coating, which improves the magnetic properties and thus works better with magnetic pickups. Most steel-wound strings are nickel plated.
    Never knew they were an alloy. I use 'em and like 'em fine. Nice dark tone for my Martin 000-1 small auditorium...

  24. #23

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    I saw the small nickel on the newer package, but it still says Monel 7 times. I don't know why the nickel is there, but I don't see it as much of a deception with all the monel markings all around, and on the back it clearly says it's an alloy. Not a great idea, but I'm not a marketing person so I can't say why it's there.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I saw the small nickel on the newer package, but it still says Monel 7 times. I don't know why the nickel is there, but I don't see it as much of a deception with all the monel markings all around, and on the back it clearly says it's an alloy. Not a great idea, but I'm not a marketing person so I can't say why it's there.
    I don't think the Martin Retro string packaging is deceptive - it's probably just a mistake, carelessness, ignorance, or some combination of the three. The funny part is the misreading of the package by Alex Price.

    The Rotosound packaging is a purposefully and entirely deceptive - more than one person on this forum has communicated directly with them about it.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 07-31-2021 at 03:29 PM.

  26. #25

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    Who is Alex Price again?