Tactile feel of Strings

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,565
Murfreesboro, TN
Of course people choose strings based on how they feel. For sure. Some people consider it the only important factor.

Other people also consider how it sounds, how often they break, how long they last. And how much they cost.

As to difference between brands, that is likely to get controversial.

Most metal guitar strings are made of music wire. D'addario claims it's NYXL strings are made of a different alloy, that is the only exception I am aware of. For all others, the plain strings and the cores of the wound strings are made of the same stuff. Music wire is a specific high carbon steel that is flexible and stretchy and strong. It's used for springs too, so it's super common. It's a commodity. Back around 1918 there was only one supplier in the U.S., they had a patent. Today there are over 1000 wire mills that can make it.

The plains and the cores are essentially the same, but there are still differences between brands. Obviously string gauge, a thinner wire is stretchier and tunes to pitch at lower tension. And some brands use plating (Ernie Ball plains are plated with tin) and some use anti corrosion coatings (elixirs). And there are bigger differences in the wound strings. There's no standardization on wrap wire. The wrap doesn't have to be strong or stretchy. Different metals sound and feel and wear different. Bronze is different from steel or pure nickel or monel or nickel plated steel... These don't just sound different, they also feel different.

Some use coatings, plating... and may use a different ratio of core to wrap. Some brands use hexagonal cores, some use round. Some use round wire wraps, some use wire tape (flats). Every difference makes a difference. Which is why there are so many different kinds of strings.

I have preferences, everyone who notices difference does. I don't like tin plating, it reacts with my hands and corrodes quickly. And I don't like monel, it feels sticky. I do like pure nickel wraps, they sound mellow. I prefer a wound g, something about it just seems right. Nickel plated is also good, seems brighter than pure nickel.

I prefer 10s on 25.5" scale (12s if acoustic) and 11s on 24.75". Lighter than that feels noodley and weird. Like it just stretches forever. For me, this is all about gauge. I don't notice this particular difference in brand.
 
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Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,176
Athens Ga
I bought my player strat mid-summer, and recently got the free setup the store offers done, which replaced the out-of-box strings with some Ernie ball 9’s. It could be my imagination but the Ernie balls felt much more… well…. Slinky…perhaps more plastics (even though they’re not plastic obviously). All the reviews of strings and brands that I’ve read have talked about their effect on tone, their durability, etc, but not much on the tactile feel of the strings.

Is that a thing? Do people pick strings based on how they feel on your fingertips? Again this is all assuming we’re comparing the same gauge.

If so, would love to hear people’s opinions on how different brands of strings feel.
You’re feeling the difference between .009’s and .010’s. The thicker gauge strings feel stiffer. Other things affect stiffness as well such as neck angle but in your case it’s just the difference in gauge of the strings.
 

Mega-Gazz

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 31, 2021
17
.
You’re feeling the difference between .009’s and .010’s. The thicker gauge strings feel stiffer. Other things affect stiffness as well such as neck angle but in your case it’s just the difference in gauge of the strings.

Naw, both sets were 9s.

I’m really surprised at the difference… now that i changed back i can say confidentially that the fenders make me fret more accurately because i can feel them better. I can also say that the Ernie Balls were much more responsive and particularly more bass than the fenders. The EBs also picked up my fingers travelling the strings more.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,565
Murfreesboro, TN
Pretty sure the guitar comes with 10s.

EB 9s are potentially literally "super slinky". Is that what you picked out?

Either way, 9s will feel slinkier than 10s.


Naw, both sets were 9s.

Fender's website confirms, the factory strings on the Player Series are 250L, 9-42 in nickel plated steel.

I very seriously doubt if any human could feel a difference in stretchiness between the plain strings on two sets of .009s. Some string sets have a big difference in tension between strings within the set--and I don't notice if that difference is less than about 3 lbs. One being music wire and the other being tin-plated music wire just doesn't add up to that much difference. On the wound strings it's more plausible, there are a lot of different core-to-wrap ratios that add up to .042. One company might use a .018" core with a .012 wrap; another might use a .030 core with a .006 wrap--and most people will feel that kind of difference.

BUT, since the strings were changed as part of a set-up--the other changes made as part of the setup could have changed the perceived stiffness of the strings. Almost certainly did, in fact. Lower action means strings stretch less distance to fret, which means it takes less effort. Moving the saddles around changes the vibrating length and actually changes the amount of tension required to tune to pitch. It's much more likely the difference you feel comes from the setup, not from the string brand. So credit where it's due, in this case it seems your tech did a good job.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,176
Athens Ga
Naw, both sets were 9s.

I’m really surprised at the difference… now that i changed back i can say confidentially that the fenders make me fret more accurately because i can feel them better. I can also say that the Ernie Balls were much more responsive and particularly more bass than the fenders. The EBs also picked up my fingers travelling the strings more.
I’ve used every kind of nickel wound strings made on setting up thousands of guitars and I can’t tell much difference between brands. Some strings use a hex core which might make a slight difference?
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,176
Athens Ga
Throw 56 guitarists in a locked room and pose the age old question,
"who makes the best strings". You'll get at least 86 opinions! :p
It used to be all the brands were made by three companies. I think there are others out there now though.
 

kurher

Strat-O-Master
Oct 2, 2017
545
3rd Stone from the Sun
Naw, both sets were 9s.

I’m really surprised at the difference… now that i changed back i can say confidentially that the fenders make me fret more accurately because i can feel them better. I can also say that the Ernie Balls were much more responsive and particularly more bass than the fenders. The EBs also picked up my fingers travelling the strings more.

Ernie Balls are "slinkier" than most other brands (same gauge). I guess it used to be one of their selling points.


I don't like tin plating, it reacts with my hands and corrodes quickly.

The vast majority of guitar strings on the market (plain ones as well as the cores of the wound ones) are tin plated. The only exceptions I'm aware of are Pyramid (silver plating), Optima (gold plating) and Thomastik-Infeld (brass plating). What you may be experiencing is the difference in plating thickness & overall quality.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,565
Murfreesboro, TN
Ernie Balls are "slinkier" than most other brands (same gauge). I guess it used to be one of their selling points.

Ernie Ball's early Slinky strings were repackaged Fender strings (which were actually made by V.C. Squier co.). He noticed several guitar players were buying a set, discarding the low e (.055) and using a banjo string (.010) for the high e. His strings were literally the same, just lighter gauge. So they were the first set of 10s on the market. And thus, Slinky.

Gauge for gauge, they are the same. But really different from Fender's "no. 10" 10-55 set. Fender didn't start selling its own 10s for guitar until 1964.
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
665
Oregon
Difference between brands I have not noticed, but I started using the pure nickel round core strings about a year and a half ago, and they do feel nicer to me. Smooth and easy to bend. Less of a high end “sheen” when they are new. Regular nickel/steel strings I felt like always needed to be played for an hour or so before they warmed up and sounded natural.
 

Later

Strat-Talker
Aug 1, 2021
206
Gone
Difference between brands I have not noticed, but I started using the pure nickel round core strings about a year and a half ago, and they do feel nicer to me. Smooth and easy to bend. Less of a high end “sheen” when they are new. Regular nickel/steel strings I felt like always needed to be played for an hour or so before they warmed up and sounded natural.

The player's perception of one string over the other may well be nothing more than a big steaming pile of road apples but that doesn't matter. If the player believes it to be so then just give him the strings he wants. Even if they're wrong, they're still always right. If you mind says these strings play better then you just might play better.
 

Koop

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 4, 2021
17
Mesa, AZ
I've used D'Addario for more than a decade, but I recently switched to Curt Mangan. Are they better? I dunno, I like them but I also met Curt Mangan and he gave me tour of their little shop in Cortez, Colorado. He's a great guy, into guitar, not a big corporate entity and I like the idea of getting my strings from a guy that's totally invested into producing them.
 

henderman

Dr. Stratster
Dec 4, 2013
10,736
largo,fl
i can feel the diff between almost anything but my sense of feel and smell is not normal.

wound strings with a round core will be easier to wiggler than wound strings with a hex core.

a wound string with a smaller core will be easier to wiggle than the same gauge with a larger core.

the original snake oil brand vintage full nickel sets were to me the slinkiest, best feeling, easiest to bend and lasted way longer than anything else i have tried. they were also 12 bux a set.
 

kurher

Strat-O-Master
Oct 2, 2017
545
3rd Stone from the Sun
i can feel the diff between almost anything but my sense of feel and smell is not normal.

wound strings with a round core will be easier to wiggler than wound strings with a hex core.

a wound string with a smaller core will be easier to wiggle than the same gauge with a larger core.

the original snake oil brand vintage full nickel sets were to me the slinkiest, best feeling, easiest to bend and lasted way longer than anything else i have tried. they were also 12 bux a set.

On this side of the pond, a typical D'Addario or Ernie Ball set is about 8 bux, so the cost between these and the more expensive (and better quality) sets is much smaller.
 

henderman

Dr. Stratster
Dec 4, 2013
10,736
largo,fl
On this side of the pond, a typical D'Addario or Ernie Ball set is about 8 bux, so the cost between these and the more expensive (and better quality) sets is much smaller.
what the rest of the world pays for the same things we buy in america after the extra shipping and taxes is crazy as we can still get a set of basic d'addario's for $4.

i will say that $12 set of strings did last much longer before dulling than any other sets so the added cost was not far out of line.
 

coolrene

Strat-Talk Member
Sep 18, 2020
94
France
Depends a lot on the guitar you mount them on... Scale, fret-type, neck carve, fretboard wood: it all comes into the equation.

My playing style involves quite a lot of bending and I play without a pick. So, I use my thumb a lot on the low E and grab the plain strings in a claw. Of course I want the instruments to keep in tune. I also need to feel a bit of resistance, so 9's are too slinky for me.
My personal preference goes to:
10-46 either D'Addario or Pyramid for short scale 24,75 guitars
10-48 Pyramids or Ernie Ball for my Teles (10 13 17 28 38 48)
10-48 Blue Gilmour GHS sets for my Strats (10 12 16 28 38 48)
10-50 Duesenberg for my I-35 semi-hollow and for a PRS DGT (10 13 15 28 42 50)

As a result, I have more or less the same resistance for all my guitars. I keep the action fairly high, to keep the wound strings from buzzing when I hit them with my thumb and to avoid fretting out with the plain ones. That said, it's not crazy high but I don't play with a shredder's action ;)

Happy picking y'all !:whistling:
 


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