The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Hi there. I am a long time player of acoustic fingerstyle/pop/lt rock, singer songwriter stuff and change my D'addario EJ16 phosphor bronze strings about every month. At that point they are getting somewhat tarnished and have lost some sparkle.

    Now I am a new owner of an Ibanez GB10se set up with D'addario ECG23s (10-48) with the 3rd replaced with a plain steel .019.

    My set up shop tells me that these strings last a long time and I have heard that here and there as well.

    I know it is impossible to give exact advice on this topic, but in general what do people mean by "last a lot longer"? I like a lively sound and do not sweat much at all. At $18 a set, I imagine I am not going to want to change every month, but have no experience.

    Can you give me some thoughts on this topic even though I realize there is no "right" answer. It is just that I have no experience with flat wounds.

    Thanks.

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  3. #2

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    When they stop holding tune. The flats on my 575 have been on there about a year, still sounding good.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photonic View Post
    Hi there. I am a long time player of acoustic fingerstyle/pop/lt rock, singer songwriter stuff and change my D'addario EJ16 phosphor bronze strings about every month. At that point they are getting somewhat tarnished and have lost some sparkle.

    Now I am a new owner of an Ibanez GB10se set up with D'addario ECG23s (10-48) with the 3rd replaced with a plain steel .019.

    My set up shop tells me that these strings last a long time and I have heard that here and there as well.

    I know it is impossible to give exact advice on this topic, but in general what do people mean by "last a lot longer"? I like a lively sound and do not sweat much at all. At $18 a set, I imagine I am not going to want to change every month, but have no experience.

    Can you give me some thoughts on this topic even though I realize there is no "right" answer. It is just that I have no experience with flat wounds.

    Thanks.
    These strings last between 6 and 12 months on my guitars. It may be a good idea to purchase some string cleaner. When the strings start to tarnish, I give them a little cleaning (I use the Ernie Ball wipes). It seems to not only clean the strings but also extend the life of the strings.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #4

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    Flatwounds don't have a "bright sound" and there are no high frequencies that can be lost due to age the way roundwounds lose their highs. Personally I like Thomastik Jazz flatwounds, they are a bit less stiff than the D'Addarios, so consider trying a set of those next string change in a year or so :-)

  6. #5

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    I use a combination of flats 30 40 50 from a set and 12 14 18 plain single strings. It is most the plain strings that wear out first. When that happens, I change only the plain strings for fresh ones. I do this a couple of times until I think it is time to change all strings. (after 2 or 4 years

  7. #6

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    about a year

  8. #7

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    I don’t know how long I leave mine on, which tells you it must be a long time. I use La Bella jazz flats 15-56 and they stay on my guitar somewhere between 1 and 2 years. That’s with a minimum of 3-5 hours playing every day. At some point I feel guilty I haven’t changed them in a long time, and that’s usually what prompts me to change them out.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe View Post
    I don’t know how long I leave mine on, which tells you it must be a long time. I use La Bella jazz flats 15-56 and they stay on my guitar somewhere between 1 and 2 years. That’s with a minimum of 3-5 hours playing every day. At some point I feel guilty I haven’t changed them in a long time, and that’s usually what prompts me to change them out.
    Kind of amazing then compared to the Phosphor Bronze round wounds where in a month the is an easily noticeable diminution of sparkle on my acoustics. Quite a different deal here.

  10. #9

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    I have two guitars that came to me with hang tags and flatwounds that had been unused since new for a minimum of 20 years. They were still in tune. Merely a data point. I use D'Addarios, which start with a fairly bright (if not excessively detailed) tone and keep it for a long, long time. I basically change FWs when I want to try something else. I must note I have dry hands and wipe down strings obsessively, and stainless steel doesn't corrode. OTH, I had a band mate who left visible handprints on mic stands and dissolved string sets by the gross, so he borrowed my backup gtr. on the reg. He irritated me in other ways, as well. It seemed to be a hobby, certainly a habit. The leader of the band we were in had a beautiful little Hagstrom git that I insisted on replacing the flatwound strings once a year just so I could get to play it for a week. The strings were fine.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photonic View Post
    Kind of amazing then compared to the Phosphor Bronze round wounds where in a month the is an easily noticeable diminution of sparkle on my acoustics. Quite a different deal here.
    Can't lose sparkle when you never have it!

  12. #11

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    Don't.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    don't.

    lol ?!?!?!?!?

  14. #13

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    You can leave TI flats on for years if you look after them

  15. #14

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    Phosphor bronze strings are a racket invented in the 1970s; seriously they are very inconsistent over their life time. I prefer consistent sounding acoustic strings like D’addario Nickel Bronzes or the Martin Retros which sound the same for their lifetime.

    The are a REALLY nice colour though.

  16. #15

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    Agree, I hate PB's.

    80/20's are cool, after the first few hours.

  17. #16

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    I use Thomastic flats. I recall changing them prior to the summer, they still sound great.

  18. #17

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    Thanks to Amazon I know I ordered my flat wounds 10/05/2020. I have no plan to change them.

    The La Bella’s on my p-bass are probably a decade old.

  19. #18

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    I had a set on my Hollenbeck for 2years D'addario's they were fine but really just changed them to go back to pure nickel strings.

  20. #19

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    Wound Stainless flats last forever (the plain strings don't). Wound Pure Nickel flats last me about a year, though I change the plain strings once or twice during that period.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Phosphor bronze strings are a racket invented in the 1970s; seriously they are very inconsistent over their life time. I prefer consistent sounding acoustic strings like D’addario Nickel Bronzes or the Martin Retros which sound the same for their lifetime.

    The are a REALLY nice colour though.
    Are those any better than normal bronze in terms of balance for using on an acoustic archtop when you want to plug in the floater? I'm always on search of strings that can do both well.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Agree, I hate PB's.

    80/20's are cool, after the first few hours.
    Yes, for some reason phosphor bronze always seemed to have weird overtones for me. 80/20 are better, agreed.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejaybill View Post
    Are those any better than normal bronze in terms of balance for using on an acoustic archtop when you want to plug in the floater? I'm always on search of strings that can do both well.
    Depends on whether your floater has adjustable polepieces. If yes, you can often even make bronzewound strings work. IIRC the DeArmond 1000 is wound for bronzewound strings, with more windings around the four low string poles and less around the two high strings.

    I have put Martin Retros on my flattop, loving those more than any strings I have had on that guitar in the 42 years I have had it. I also put them on my archtop with a modified floating Classic 57, which is pretty bassy through my amp; the jury's out whether I like them on that guitar but they did tame the bassiness quite a bit.

    EDIT: four months later and the jury's verdict is in: I really like the Martin Retros on my archtop, both acoustically and electrically. nice sound, I like how they feel. Whoever suggested those to me, many thanks!
    Last edited by Cunamara; Yesterday at 05:12 PM.

  24. #23
    1. When the intonation goes out. Corrosion makes the strings un-even. Put a guitar tuner on the guitar and check every fret. Just play up each string and see that it gives you the correct note - that's with one of those "Snark" clip-on tuners. On an older tuner which only gives you the EADGBE readings - play the open string then play the octave. Most of them will read the octave as well as the open string.

    2. Auditory memory is poor. Record your guitar when the strings are new. Then record your guitar when the strings have been on the guitar for some time. Hear if there is any difference.

    3. Suggested plain strings for those ECG23's: .011, .014, .018 - that .010 that comes with the set is a bit too light for jazz.

    Cheers and all the best with your new GB 10.
    Last edited by Avery Roberts; 05-20-2022 at 12:38 PM.

  25. #24

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    Here's an earlier thread on it with an audio comparison of 16 month old TI flats and brand new ones on the same archtop plus a lot of input from multiple players. Here's the premise:

    "When I put my first ever set of TI JS112s on my Ibanez AF207 in January 2021, I wanted to test their legendary longevity. So I decided to leave them on until they obviously needed changing. Wonder of wonders, they've seemed fine for 16 months now. I've played this guitar weekly for our 2 hour Thursday night jazz show and at least 2 or 3 hours a week at home. I haven't broken one, intonation is excellent, and they still play as well as they did when new - or, at least, they seem that way to me. But I started to wonder if I wasn't accommodating to slow but real change as it was happening, so I just replaced them with new JS113s. I did not change the 7th string, which is a nickel RW 0.76"

    The bottom line is that I didn't need to replace them. But you can listen for yourself and read the comments of others who responded to the comparison without knowing which was which. The consensus was that there was very little difference. The overall rate of correctly identifying fresh vs old was about 50%. With one pass apiece, this was hardly a statistically valid determination - but it was an eye opener for me and others. From now on, those suckers stay on until I hear, feel, or see a reason to change them.

  26. #25

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    How often you should change strings is dependent upon the sound you seek and more importantly the corrosive content of your sweat. Some people can ruin nickel finished or gold plated hardware and strings overnight. My sweat lacks that acidic (or whatever it is) component so my bridge and stop tail look new after years of use. The TI Benson flats sound and intonate perfectly after 3 years. I have changed the plain steel e' and b' a few times.
    Short answer; change strings when you're not satisfied with their performance.