1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Strings for a Mahogany Orchestra Model Acoustic?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by [J.K.], Oct 8, 2018.

  1. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Location:
    Δustin
    I'm looking for some strings for my Martin that have a bit of a stronger bass response. I haven't experimented with many strings, and I've changed my mics a bit over the past year, so it's hard to compare some of the older strings I've used. I seem to remember liking the Thomastik strings I tried once (I can't remember if they were Plectrums or Spectrums, of even what the gauge was), but I feel like there was something about them I found to be missing.

    I love the sound of a mahogany guitar, especially since I mostly play fingerstyle and it has great dynamics for a more folksy sound, but the low-e (or D or C, depending on the tuning) doesn't seem to hit the mix very well. The low fundamental isn't quite strong enough, and the overtones on the low E and A seemed to be a bit overpowered by the tendency of the unwound b and e strings having so much more twang to them.

    Does anyone know of a set with a more powerful E and A string? I don't know whether to look for heavier gauge strings, of if a lighter pair will keep the balance stronger. I can't even remember which strings I've played were round core, hex core, or had silk-inlayed cores.
     
  2. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,129
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    SoCal
    Try the Martin Retros. Lots of guitarists over at AGF love them. I just bought two sets (Lights, LJs) that I will be trying soon on my Mahogany Martin 000-15sm.
     
    howardlo and Nickadermis like this.
  3. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    3,094
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Location:
    Camden Point, MO
    I am currently enjoying some La Bella Silk and Steels. Very balanced for fingerstyle. The bass is even with the treble strings in apparent volume. But it’s not pronounced like a Dread. Of course this is on an OM size guitar.
     
  4. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,910
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Location:
    Poland
    I use Martin Clapton's Choice for an all-koa orchestra guitar. Happy with those.
     
  5. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Location:
    Δustin
    Are those the monel ones? I have a set on a dread that I never bonded with before, and they balanced it out really well by giving it a more mellow and balanced response, but I feel like that's kind of the opposite of what I'm looking for with the mahogany guitar. I want the low E string to be fuller and a little more vibrant. Maybe it's worth a shot trying the Retros in there. Or maybe I need to buy some individual E and A strings separately to stand out against an otherwise more balanced set.
     
    Chiogtr4x likes this.
  6. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    71
    Posts:
    4,713
    Joined:
    May 20, 2017
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    IMO, the challenge is from finger style as much as mahogany. I have a dred and need to keep the A and E strings from sounding muddy. That’s as much from the muted attack when playing with the pads of my fingers as anything else. I tried different strings each change until I restrung with Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze. The mud is gone without the unwound strings sounding too loud over them. As an added bonus they last pretty well. They also sound good playing leads or strumming with a flat pick.
     
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  7. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,129
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    SoCal
    Yes, they are crafted with Monel (a solid Nickel/Copper wrap wire - not nickel-plated). Maybe the Bluegrass (Tony Rice) set would give you the E, A fullness you want. I'm trying the Lights and the Medium/Lights (LJs). The Monels were recommended for all Mahogany Martins by some AGF forum members.


    E B G D A E Tension
    Extra Light .010 .013 .023 .029 .038 .047 131.9
    Custom Light .011 .014 .023 .031 .041 .052 149.80
    Light .012 .015 .025 .031 .041 .054 163.33
    Medium .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056 191.3
    Medium/Light .013 .017 .024 .032 .042 .056 173.4 Laurence Juber
    Bluegrass .013 .016 .026 .034 .044 .056 184.9 Tony Rice
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  8. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Location:
    These Days NE Ohio
    I own a 1942 Harmony H165 Stella. For whatever reason I have gone back to D'Addario Custom Lights but slap on a 12 E and 16 B. Then again, this is a ladder braced guitar so a very different beast from what you are talking about.
     
  9. John E

    John E Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,144
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I always use D'addario EXP16 .12-.53 on pretty much every acoustic I own.
     
  10. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,607
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    I think some of the solution might come from adjusting your technique to whatever strings and set-up you home in on. For me, there's always some compromise involved but I can minimize it by spending a lot of time with a particular guitar and learning to work with it's quirks.

    Having said that, if the low strings are working for standard and your dropped tunings but the unwound strings are too strident, I'd start with the B and the high E. A little heavier gauge for the unwound strings and a lighter touch might help cut the twang. Picking closer to the bridge might also help.

    I use D'Addario Custom Lights on my mahogany Tacoma PM15, and Elixir mediums on my koa Taylor GS.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,383
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Location:
    Manassas Park, VA
    With respect to the Martin monel strings
    At least on their light gauge set the A string the D string and the B string go down one digit less from your regular light gauge strings the G string goes up one digit
    So this means you'r Aa string is going to be a little bit smaller than your regular light gauge
    I like the tone in Monell's but I really didn't care for them tweaking the string gauge this way
     
  12. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    13,623
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    D'Addario makes a set they call "Bluegrass" - the reason I mention them is that they have a .012 on the high E but a .056 on the low E, which is similar to the skinny high, fat low string sets you can get for an electric. Might be worth a try, only $4.41 on Just Strings, for example.

    In any event you might try that concept for whichever type strings you prefer - skinnier on the high end, fatter on the low - mixing up the diameters rather than just taking what the standard set might be.
     
    Harry Styron and studio1087 like this.
  13. howardlo

    howardlo Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,168
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    Location:
    Hobart, IN
    Another vote for the Martin Retros. Very popular on the Acoustic Guitar Forum, especially on all mahogany guitars.
     
  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,626
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    The industry-standard folk guitar string, for good reason, is still D'Addario phosphor bronze, regardless of the guitar's make or model. I'd start with that and see what happens.
     
    toomuchfun likes this.
  15. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,228
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    PA, US
    I agree with Charlie above, D'Addario phosphor bronze are a great choice for a mahogany body guitar. I find the sound and tension to be very nice.

    But to the OP, you aren't giving enough information. You have to figure out what gauge you are presently using before we can help. If you're using mediums there isn't a lot available in heavier sets. If you're using lights move up to mediums, but you might find bending strings a lot harder.

    I'm also going to offer another option, your pick. I get different sounds from different picks. If you're using nylon or something similar you will get a better bass sound with a harder pick.

    A note on Martin Retro strings - the first set I put on I took off in less than a week. I struggled with the noise I got sliding on the wound strings. The overall sound was fine but the noise wasn't. I tried them again and left them on for a longer time. The noise I got from sliding on wound strings went away after a week or so and I found a very balanced set of strings. They aren't as bright as many but a good balanced sound and a long life for me. I've had a set on my '53 0-18 for over a year and they still sound good and stay in tune. ymmv.
     
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  16. Hudman_1

    Hudman_1 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    52
    Posts:
    91
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2018
    Location:
    Michigan

    I use Martin Lifespan PB’s on my Martin 000-15.
     
  17. po-boy

    po-boy Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    642
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    gulf coast, alabama
    Cleartone 80/20s on my 000-15 -

    i like the way they balance the sound of the all mahogany guitar -
     
  18. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,626
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    And another note on heavier strings: some folks tune down a step. When I visited my sister in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we went to a jam. Half the guys there had capos on the second fret. They left 'em there till someone said "Blues in D!" - and all the capos came off.

    Re picks: I never paid much attention to 'em until I started playing mando. Mando players are fanatics about picks, because they affect a mando's sound dramatically. With guitars, there's less of a difference, but now that I'm used to swapping around picks, I'm finding there is a difference.

    I've never liked Martin strings. They should stick to making guitars and leave string-making to the string makers.
     
  19. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    25,162
    Joined:
    May 10, 2003
    Location:
    Near Milwaukee
    The D'Addario Bluegrass Strings (as mentioned above) are what you want. Rather than the common 12-53 they go from 12-56. They are bottom heavy so when you play fingerstyle the thump and boom or the bottom is very pronounced. I normally play D'Addario 12-53 EXP's but I've put the bluegrass strings on my D-15 or 00016-SGT and the bass is fantastic.

    These....

    [​IMG]

    They also make 80/20's.

    [​IMG]
     
    jackal likes this.
  20. dustoff

    dustoff Tele-Holic

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    536
    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    Glenview Illinois
    Martin Marquis all day long
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.