Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #63593  by chris
 Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:17 pm
Does any one experiment with different strings and string gauges and different picks for different tone out of your acoustic. If so please comment and let me know what your using.
 #63594  by waldo041
 Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:49 pm
plenty of info in the archives, just do a search.

 #63609  by Pete B.
 Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:50 am
fwiw, You can modulate your tone from bass-ee to treble-ee by going from a thick/stiff pick (bass) to a thinner/flickier pick (treble).
I like a set of Elixers on my acoustic, but recently bought a set of some coated black strings I am going to try (Dr.?).
Last edited by Pete B. on Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
 #63623  by chris
 Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:26 pm
Black coated strings ?? Never seen them but they sound interesting. Let me know when you try them out I am looking for something that doesent have so much string screech when you are changing chords or sliding up and down the fretboard. Flat wounds maybe?? I have pretty much settled on one kind of strings and have not looked at anything else.
 #63689  by abica
 Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:05 pm
Disclaimer: I call myself a novice now, not a rank beginner. That means I "still don't know much," or worse "just know enough to get into trouble." But I do obsess over minute technical details...for better or worse.

I love Elixir nanowebs. Smooth and nice. I'm trying polywebs on the elec. (acoustic's my primary) and I actually like 'em...not sure how the tone would differ tween polys and nanos on acoustic.

Elixirs are pretty quiet. John Pearse are the squeakiest bastards I've ever felt.

Elixirs are expensive, but every time I get a "normal" set of strings, I miss the dank. They're really shimmery when you put 'em on, but once they settle in, the overtones mellow out and they just sound sweet (a lot like how fiddle strings behave). Last a long time too, IMO. It's also nice to not have nasty rusty solid strings. Other acoustic strings I've played are Martin (OK) D'addario (about the same IMO) and John Pearse (I thought the mediums were powerful...but a thick set of strings that can limit your playing...and the lights just don't do it for me)

String gauge matters too. It's a playability/tone tradeoff. Extra lights sound wimpy, mediums are powerful. Mediums are like a guitar exercise machine. Also, it can be hard to execut bends on medium acoustic strings...and if you do a lot of 'em, man, it kills your fingertips.

As far as picks- I think material matters. Maybe it's all in my head. Maybe it's just the response of the material affecting tiny parts of picking style. Personally, I don't like nylon picks. I don't really care for tortex, but better than nylon. I DO like celluloid, and I think they all sound different...but I might be just a bit insane :D I think the slick yet hard celluloid has a nice combination of sharp pick attack and an unyielding nature, whereas a slick and bendy-err nylon pick has a softer attack.

There's a definite difference between thicknesses in a given material. Thicker gives harder attack and more pronounced percussive sounds. Thinner sweeps the strings and is less "clicky"

And the hard plastic "jazz" picks...those are fun for noodlin' around single note stuff, but you've kinda got to adapt for chords.

Speaking of that, right hand dynamics plus pick design can alter tone too. Downpicking and palm muting like a metal player is different than using a bluegrass mandolin kinda chop. Rest-stroke, economy/sweep picking, alternate picking, upstrokes vs. downstrokes on chords, attack angle (perpendicular or chopping back), more or less motion of picking hand on lead-in and follow-through, planting palm or floating over the guitar's top, using a loose wrist or a different technique...all these make a difference. I've found that you can play forcefully without bangin' the strings, or you can bang 'em and get a more percussive sound. (Go listen to some gypsy jazz rhythm guitar- in that style, the rhythm git is essentially playing percussion too)

Of course, you get twang from back by the bridge, nice bell-like tones a bit further up, then "even" tone, then warmer, then round tone up by the neck. These positions also effect "perceived loudness" too, IMO, so you can move about to create more dynamics in your playing.

It's been fun rambling about stuff I sit at work and think about ;) BUT REMEMBER- don't stress out about tone too much- playing/practicing is much more important than wasting your time trying to pull good tone. That comes in time. So they tell me... :lol:
 #63697  by chris
 Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:46 pm
Thanks guys I really appreciate all the help. It has really inspired me to delve deeper into guitar playing than I ever thought. So please dont get upset with me if I post more dumb questions.I have really learned alot from this forum. Thank you again to everyone Chris..
 #63704  by Pete B.
 Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:04 am
Here are those black coated strings. Put 'em on yesterday, and while not as slick as elixers, they look and sound great. I found 'em on sale for $7/pack for coated acoustic strings. Not bad.

 #64535  by IamDocWatson
 Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:26 am
i use 13's NO COATING, high action and a 2.5mm tortis pick. loud rich authentic tone for bluegrass playing. but no i dont experiment anymore, i did until i came up with this combination. its perfect, my guitar eats up guitars with low action or light strings or people using thin picks. my guitar cuts through with banjos and mandos. thats what i need. lastly when people who dont use 13's or have low action use my guitar they cant play it that well. not good. 13's are liek a workout at first like some one mentioned but you get used to them quickly. people look so lame when they put my guitar down and say the actions too high or the strings are too hevay, like its a bad thing. they just have weak hands. i liek to be able to know i can play any guitar i see lying around.
 #64552  by Pete B.
 Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:06 pm
IamDocWatson wrote: guitar cuts through with banjos and mandos.
Hey can you post a sound-clip or a YouTube of this this?
Sounds like you have it dialed in. 'Would love to hear it.
 #64562  by ronster
 Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:58 pm
Depends on what you play. I use my acoustic primarly for Jorma and some jerry tunes. I play with D'Addario Phosphor/Bronze 12's and no pick. I think the room you play in might have the most affect on your tone with an acoustic.