You know… if you like these blog articles, you should check out the Gables Guitar YouTube channel. Until recently there wasn’t too much content on there, but I am going to make more of an effort to post videos each week. I’ve already got the ball rolling with a series of videos that document a research project on an aspect of guitar playing that I have been grappling with for decades: STRINGS.
In this series of Youtube videos, I will attempt to demonstrate specifically what differences (if any) the choice of strings makes when it comes to guitar playing. With all the different brands, gauges, materials, wining types, etc. it is very hard to decide what strings are right for the job. I have played guitar for over 2 decades and I have tried a lot of different strings over the years. But while I have had a lot of… shall we say string-related-experiences, I feel that what I know about strings is hap-hazard. I feel like I’m at a place in may playing now where I know what to look for from strings and if I just take a little care to organize and document this experiment, I think it will result in some reliable insights.
The Story So Far…
So far I am one video into this project and I can already see that there probably won’t be an overall “best” type or brand of strings. My initial hypothesis is that there will be different techniques/styles for which each specific string type will perform better and others where it will prove less suited. Did I just say “hypothesis”? I better open a window. It’s getting scientific in here.
But you never know. As I look at all the strings I have already purchased for this experiment, I can’t help but wonder if one of them will just light up my life immediately… Well, I have been playing long enough to be highly skeptical of that kind of thing when it comes to gear. After all, by far the 2 most important factors when it comes to tone, intonation, and general magic are you own left and right hands.
That is part of the reason why I am excited to be doing this experiments now. I have been hitting the practice drills pretty hard as part of my new year’s resolution to pump up my technique. I have logged over 100 hours and have done at least 1 hour every day for the past 50 consecutive days. To put it in NBA Jam terms: I’ve been on-fire since January. Sometime around mid-Feb my character jumped out up from half-court, flew up out of frame and is still up there somewhere. I’m not sure when he is coming back down, but I can tell you this: he’s going to make glass-shattering dunk!!
So nothing is off the table for this experiment. I addition to exotic burnished nickel and flat wound strings (which I can’t wait to try) I will also be going back and evaluating the old cheapy-chungy $5 D’addarios I played when I was just a young punk. I need to update my impression of what they sound like in more experienced hands.
Not only this, but my practice routine in 2016 is much more comprehensive than its ever been. I am very confident that I will hear these strings from just about every possible angle because I have this written routine that explicitly makes sure I run through all the techniques and styles: sweep picking, hybrid picking, legatos, tapping, fingerstyle tremolo, frailing… I’m telling you, my practice can only be described as the sickest thing ever. — Ugh, is this how I talk now? HELP!
Anyway Even if there is no one set of magic strings that out performs all others, I expect that this experiment will provide me with more specific and reliable knowledge which I can use to chose among the different strings. I am tired of feeling uncertain as to whether I need to spend $15 on a pack of M-Steels or if I can use $5 strings and they sound just as good. I am hoping that this experiment will help get me to a place where I, to quote both Public Enemy and the Who: “Don’t Believe the hype & won’t get fooled again…YEEEAAAAOOOO!”
Don’t forget to watch part one of this video series here!