String It Up Without Getting Strung Out!

Use those guitar strings to string it up, without getting strung out!


There are many factors that are important to a guitarist when they are faced with the task of making music. Depending on the style and feel of the music, you need the proper guitar, amp, effects, etc., and finding the right combination to fit the situation can be challenging as you wouldn’t necessarily take a Marshall stack and your floral print jem to a barn dance or a church service. But there’s one aspect of your guitar arsenal that often gets overlooked or is not fully understood by the average guitar product consumer and this is the second most important element of your instrument aside from the axe itself! Your STRINGS!


Strings come in a huge variety of brands, types, sizes etc and there are also custom strings for down tuning, country picking, classical, you name it. There’s a string marketed for everything under the sun. Then there is coated, flat wound, round wound, nickel wound, etc., making it easy to just walk in to a music store and say “gimmie a pack of 10’s,” and walk out with whatever the young gent behind the counter prefers or can make the most gross profit from. But if the strings are the link between your fingers and the instrument, then they should work for you in whatever capacity you choose. Obviously you need to know a little about your style of music, and the qualities of sound that you want to resonate in order to create the feeling and mood of the music. For country music, you want a very bright and twangy sound that nickle wound strings (or bronze acoustic strings) will help produce. For metal you want a thick low sound which may require a light top heavy bottom set (usually comes in a pack like 10-42 with thicker gauges for the lower strings), and for Jazz the flat wound are the best.


I’ve found that by really dissecting your music and identifying the tones you want to achieve, this will make a huge difference in your overall sound. With that in mind, I have always been willing to experiment and try new things to achieve the right sound. About 10 years ago, I had bought my first 7 string and was getting into working with lower tunings. I was also writing alongside of orchestrations and string instruments that where cutting right through my chuggy chugg guitar and I wanted to somehow turn my heavy metal machine into a classical tone generator. One day while working in Cleveland at the Guitar Center a young rising star of the underground death metal scene came in and sparked up a conversation about heavy tones. He suggested I try flat wound strings, because the smooth texture of the strings carried the note with a cleaner crisper resonance, as with lower tunings sometimes the ribbed winding of wound strings creates extra buzz and tininess that adds noise to your already high gain distorted sound. So I tried a set of D’addario Chromes and I was pretty blown away at the sound considering these are primarily considered Jazz strings. So I’ve been slinging the chromes 90% of the time ever since. I’ve tried many other brands and types of both flatwound and wound strings, but for me, the D’addario’s help create the perfect blend of tone that I’m trying to achieve.

By taking a moment to research what the string claims to offer and what they are suggested for and comparing the tonal options to what you wish to achieve sonically, you can get the MOST out of that little pack of strings! So do a little investigating and don’t get strung out on the choices, but string it up and give your music the sound it needs to resonate throughout the world!!

Scott “SVH” Von Heldt is a staff writer for SMG. Scott is currently the lead guitarist for Brian “Head” Welch (ex-Korn) and has worked with members of White Zombie, Cirque Du Soliel and many others. In late 2008 he released the first book of his Mystic Art of Self-Discovery series entitled Mind Over Metal: The Musician’s Guide to Mental Mastery.


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