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  1. #1

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    Silly to talk these details, I know. It's not so important.

    But, curious what the thinking here is. Been thinking of going that route. Nylon strings are 3/3 as far as type. Maybe it makes more sense. Rhythm wise I do like 13s with a wound G but, that's one phase of playing.

    What do you all think? These guys at a certain point were no longer on traditional sets. Some probably went down from 13s to 12s but I can't tell. I do see the plain G.







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  3. #2

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    On single note lines I prefer the sound of an unwound G. With the TI Swing sets, I just buy a separate unwound G and switch.

  4. #3

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    Jim Hall told me he switched to a plain "G" to facilitate a more expressive classical-style vibrato, inspired by his studies with Vincente Gomez.


    PK

  5. #4
    I think I enjoy the unwound for leads as well. It certainly seems to vibrate better. The wound G on a set is the highest tension of the whole set, traditionally speaking, and this disparity between strings becomes worse as gauge goes up. It can sound a tad choked. Though incredibly stable, pitch wise.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by paulkogut
    Jim Hall told me he switched to a plain "G" to facilitate a more expressive classical-style vibrato, inspired by his studies with Vincente Gomez.


    PK

    Very interesting. It makes sense especially in that case.

  7. #6

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    I find there's a change in sound from the wound to unwound. I prefer it to be as low in pitch as possible. So, I use an unwound G.

    I once looked into getting an unwound D as well, but there's a technical reason that it doesn't work.

  8. #7

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    Ed Bickert also used a plain G (and .010s, per his Guitar Player Magazine interview- Ernie Ball IIRC).

    I have one guitar I normally use a plain G because it's got PAFs; I find wound Gs balance better on my guitars without adjustable polepieces. I like the sound when playing lines and plucking rather than strumming.

    Gs heavier than .020 get stiff and choked up by the octave. Lighter Gs are better in that regard.

  9. #8

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    I was listening to someone the other day who had no squeaks while playing chord melody. He said that's much easier for him with a plain G.

  10. #9

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    Unwound on my tele, wound on my 575.

    Different guitars like Different things.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Ed Bickert also used a plain G (and .010s, per his Guitar Player Magazine interview- Ernie Ball IIRC).

    I have one guitar I normally use a plain G because it's got PAFs; I find wound Gs balance better on my guitars without adjustable polepieces. I like the sound when playing lines and plucking rather than strumming.

    Gs heavier than .020 get stiff and choked up by the octave. Lighter Gs are better in that regard.
    I find the Thomastik G's which are lighter tend to fare a little better for leads. Maybe they hit the sweet spot. However I do miss some of that thickness from my Chrome 13s which are fairly traditional gauges. I must admit though that they are unbalanced feel wise as well as tonally.

  12. #11

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    On stage the issue of finger squeaks is neglectable IMHO. My Victor Baker lam-top and my Super-400 are strung with TI 013 flats, the Trenier has 012 roundwounds (with a 13 E + 17 B) , all have wound G's. When playing chord-solo style the flatwounds are way more tolerant and allow for some sloppiness in your left hand whereas the rounds are demanding CLEAN fingering. Re tone and phrasing etc. I have no problems with a wound G string as long as the guitar is set up properly with frets still tall enough etc. On my Tele and the ES-345 I like an 011 set as I have a pretty strong left hand - bending and vibrato is easy and compared to 010's the slightly stiffer set sounds better for comping, strumming and seems to sustain better too (more mass > more energy in the string).

  13. #12

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    I treat each guitar individually. Some of my guitars can't take a non-wound G due to the bridge carving. Others don't have adjustable G string pole piece to balance the sound. Others are required to allow string bends, so they need an unwound G. There is no correct answer.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr
    There is no correct answer.
    Physical factors determine the amplitude, frequency, and decay of an oscillating string of specified metal(s), tension, length, diameter, mass, density, etc plucked with a given force at a given point between nut and saddle. Then there's the transduction of that mechanical energy into electrical energy by perturbation of the pickup's magnetic field. I've never seen any documentation of the relationship between physical string parameters and pickup output, and I suspect it's unique for each and every combination of guitar, pickup design and construction, string material & construction, etc. And strings don't vibrate in isolation. I bet that almost every element in the guitar has some effect too. I've been unable to find any info on mass per unit length of strings, which is probably a major determinant of sonic differences between wound and unwound strings of the same outer diameter.

    There are many research papers on the physics of guitars and other musical instruments. The above area would probably be a great topic for at least a few PhD theses - and maybe a little research would help settle some of the questions we all have about this.

  15. #14

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    I don't like plain G strings, and I'm seriously considering using a wound B. I've discovered that JustStrings has .016 wound strings, and I think I'd like to try one on my archtop, replacing the .017 that comes with the .013 set. The B is much too loud in comparison to the E and G now. I couldn't live with the volume and (lack of) intonation of a plain third string.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    There are many research papers on the physics of guitars and other musical instruments. The above area would probably be a great topic for at least a few PhD theses - and maybe a little research would help settle some of the questions we all have about this.
    I was a Physics major in College. My thesis paper was "Standing waves on a wire."
    Unwound G string - Mundell Lowe, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall-screen-shot-2021-08-07-7-17-04-pm-jpg

  17. #16

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    Might this help also with sustain on chords?

    Even with radical adjustment balancing the b and wound G on the pickup is tricky

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr
    I was a Physics major in College. My thesis paper was "Standing waves on a wire."
    Unwound G string - Mundell Lowe, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall-screen-shot-2021-08-07-7-17-04-pm-jpg
    L is the vibrating length?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I don't like plain G strings, and I'm seriously considering using a wound B. I've discovered that JustStrings has .016 wound strings, and I think I'd like to try one on my archtop, replacing the .017 that comes with the .013 set. The B is much too loud in comparison to the E and G now. I couldn't live with the volume and (lack of) intonation of a plain third string.
    Then your E will be too loud.

    I think the apparent jump in volume between an adjacent pair of wound and unwound strings is as much or more about timbre as it is actual volume, whether it's D to G, G to B or even B to E. Pickups with adjustable polepieces allow for some compensation for this, but many pickups don't offer that.

  20. #19

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    On my pickup, the B is as low as it will go, and the E is way up, as high as the G. I've even removed the polepiece under the B entirely, and it's still too loud in comparison to the other strings. A wound B might not work, but it won't require a second mortgage on the house to find out.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    I think the apparent jump in volume between an adjacent pair of wound and unwound strings is as much or more about timbre as it is actual volume, whether it's D to G, G to B or even B to E. Pickups with adjustable polepieces allow for some compensation for this, but many pickups don't offer that.
    I think there are more factors at play here than are generally considered. Timbre is one of them - and if it is, one solution may be mixing strings of different alloys and construction. There are many unwound strings with coatings of tin, bronze, etc - and different steel alloys have higher or lower outputs. If output can't be matched with adjustable pickups and polepieces, try a lower output and/or less bright subsitution for the offending string(s).

    Back in the day, I raised the pickups on my 345 and my 175 as high as I could get them without string buzz, in an effort to get the highest output I could. This seemed to even out the volume from string to string, although I was surprised that it didn't increase output as much as I expected it to do. What I failed to recognize for years was how the increased magnetic pull from pickups so close to the strings affected tone, timbre, sustain, intonation etc. When the strings are too close to the pickup, the magnetic field acts as a brake on string vibrations. It actually decreases maximum amplitude, speeds the decay of the vibrating string (which reduces sustain), and alters the natural harmonic structure of the string by affecting harmonics and resonances to suck some of the tonal content out of the strings. And this effect even depends on where along the string you strike it, i.e. whether you're close to or far away from an harmonic node. A plain G is probably most sensitive to this because it's much larger in diameter than the solid core of a wound string - so it has greater steel density and is therefore both a more powerful disrupter of the pickup's magnetic field and being affected more strongly by the pickup's magnetic pull on it.

    The lesson I learned from this was that trying to turn a PAF into a Duncan Quarter Pounder by raising it all the way is both doomed to failure and detrimental to the sound and playability of your guitar. If you want a high output pickup, you have to use a high output pickup. All you'll accomplish by sticking a magnet right under a string is to mess with its tone and sustain.

    Another string epiphany for me was the realization that every classic pickup was designed when 3rd strings were all wound. We and the manufacturers are all using solid 3rd strings, but most pickups are still made the same way they were when "light gauge" meant 13-65s with a wound 3rd. Thicker, heavier, denser strings are under more tension than the capellini in common use today. This combination of higher mass and higher tension means that there's more kinetic energy in their vibration than there is in the fluttering of a set of 8-32s. That energy seems to make the vibrating string less susceptible to the deleterious effects of pickup pull. And the lower mass and density of a wound 3rd will perturb the pickup's magnetic field less than a solid string of the same diameter. One solution may be to make pickups specifically for wound or unwound 3rds.

    Finally, I accidentally discovered active pickups when I bought an EMG bass pickup on closeout to try in my 7 string Epi Les Paul. Most actives do not pull much (if at all) on the strings, and the output across all 7 on my LP is pretty uniform, even with skinny top and fat bottom (10-13-17-26-42-56-70+). Sustain ,intonation, timbre etc with an active EMG neck pup are pretty fine to my ears. I still haven't tried actives in any other guitar, but I'm about to experiment with some on my Tele 7.

  22. #21

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    Inneresting stuff, NSHSI.

    You reminded me that a decade or so ago I bought a set of TI round wounds that came with an unexpected plain third. A really huge, thick plain third that balanced abysmally with the rest of the strings both sonically and by feel- it was about twice as heavy as it should have been. Another inexpensive option for a plain string being too loud- which IME is pretty much always the one next to the highest wound string- is to replace it with a thinner one.

  23. #22

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    Sometimes I wonder what manufacturers use as criteria for including strings in sets. The tension often varies a lot within sets, and nothing at all that I can see matches between strings. It just seems random. At least some marketing seems to be involved, especially for artist endorsed sets, but I don't see that much logic even in those.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Sometimes I wonder what manufacturers use as criteria for including strings in sets. The tension often varies a lot within sets, and nothing at all that I can see matches between strings. It just seems random. At least some marketing seems to be involved, especially for artist endorsed sets, but I don't see that much logic even in those.
    In all honesty, I’m not even sure what criteria I use or how I prioritize them. Each of us goes by some combination of tone, volume, feel, flexibility, sustain, superstition, etc. I could say that feel is #1 for me, except that I’ve used a round wound 7th with 3 or 4 flats plus unwounds for over 20 years and it’s never bothered me. I have large hands that get good vibrato on any string even on a 25 1/2” scale, and I bend a full note on a .015 B at & above the 12th without difficulty. So I can’t claim to sacrifice tone or volume to play a decent blues lead.

    With pickups far enough below the strings to avoid magnetic pull’s adverse effects, tonal differences between plain steel and nickel plated wrap over steel core are minimal, at least on my guitars. With pure nickel wrap, a plain steel G does stand out a bit. I’ve been trying my first Stringjoys for about 3 weeks on my Tele 7 (10-52, pure nickel wrap, 17 plain 3rd), and the G is definitely a tiny bit honky. I’m going to try a 15 and a 16 in the 3rd slot to see if it tames the tone (and how weird it feels).

    OK. After the exercise of writing this post, I have absolutely no idea how or why I’ve chosen the gauges I’ve used except for going heavier on the 7 for intonation. Now I wonder if this is food for thought or an idle waste of time?

  25. #24

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    Perhaps the latter, but I believe that thinking is always beneficial, whatever the subject.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Sometimes I wonder what manufacturers use as criteria for including strings in sets. The tension often varies a lot within sets, and nothing at all that I can see matches between strings. It just seems random. At least some marketing seems to be involved, especially for artist endorsed sets, but I don't see that much logic even in those.
    The logic often seems numerical: plain strings seem to go up by .004" (.010, .014, .018) and wound strings seem to go up by .010" (.030, .040, .050). But whether that actually fits the physics of the instrument is a different story. I would think there could actually be some math to predict this, like there is for fret placement.