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The guitar string. A soul to take into account
One of the fundamental parts of the Spanish guitar is the guitar strings. They are responsible for the type of sound and melody achieved when using this musical instrument. In the market, there are different types of guitar strings made with other materials. The choice of a string type depends on several factors. But above all, the preferences of the musician will make them vibrate to get the sound out. Your personality, pulse, and type of music you play will significantly weigh the type of string to use.
Throughout history, man has perfected this subtle element until finding a perfect combination of material, position, and vibration makes it possible to extract that musical essence to the strings that form this musical instrument.
Trying different types of strings is one of the best practices to find the perfect choice to achieve the best results and comfort.
The historical evolution of guitar strings
The appearance of strings in the world of music predates the appearance of the guitar as an instrument. In ancient Egypt, string instruments were used to create melodies for unique entertainment. One of the eastern instruments where this element appears was the rebab, whose appearance dates back to the 8th century BC. A bow was required to play this instrument.
The first strings were made of hair or various parts of the cattle, primarily intestines. The popularity of the use of animal intestines to give life to these musical elements grew, and soon all the cords were made with this material. The first guitar that emerged in the thirteenth century had strings made with sheep’s intestines.
The main disadvantage that the cords made with animal intestines presented was their high sensitivity to the climate and humidity. The instrument was quickly out of tune, and in many cases, even broken. With the appearance of plastic, the panorama of musical strings changed radically. Nylon began to be used to manufacture these elements as they presented better results than those previously used. Despite this, even today, gut strings are used to provide a warm and harmonic sound, especially in instruments like the vihuela, the theorbo, the lute, or the clavichord.
Advances in strings continued, and you can find carbon or titanium guitar strings that provide a different feel and a special kind of sound that supplies a broad spectrum of the melodies that the guitarist can get.
Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing The Right Guitar Strings
When you go to a store to buy a string, you will find many brands. Because of this, knowing which string to choose is becoming more complicated. In addition, there are many brands in the market; picking the most appropriate may not be an easy task. To ease that moment, let’s explain some basic concepts that you should know before buying a guitar string.
There are two fundamental factors to take into consideration before buying guitar strings, and they are:
- the tension
- the material
How to choose the correct guitar string based on the tension
Based on the string tension value, we can classify them into three groups, low, medium, and high tension.
Each of these guitar strings presents specific qualities that you must know to choose the most adequate for you.
Low Tension Strings
These strings are easier to play, making it much more enjoyable to create melodies. In addition, using low tension strings makes it much easier to produce nuts for the guitars. They can be used practically on any guitar, even older ones. They create a more serious sound and have less volume. One point to keep in mind is that they can lead to fret buzzing.
Medium Tension Strings
These types of strings are the most suitable for those who start in the world of music because they can maintain a good balance between the advantages and disadvantages of high and low tension cords.
High Tension Strings
We recommend this type of string for those who already have some experience with guitars as they are more complicated to play and can be very annoying for beginners. However, they produce a sharper sound and have more volume.
Evaluating the type of string that is most appropriate depends on the experience and skill of the musician. Also, his pulsing and personal preference since some strings can be much more pleasant on certain occasions, allowing to create a more gratifying experience based on the tension of said strings.
String Selection Depending on the Materials
If we pay attention to the strings that make up a classical guitar, we will see two significant types, the first three or more acute and the last three or more serious. The sharp ones have a plastic appearance, and the bass has a more metallic look. The bass has a plastic material core made of silk or nylon, covered by a wire in a process called winding.
Usually, Bronze is the material used for the wound. However, there is also the option of using copper, nickel, gold, silver, or tungsten. Gold and silver, although more expensive, are often used because they have excellent corrosion resistance and are hypoallergenic.
When using a round string core, the wound can produce round strings. It can also create flat or semi-flat wounds depending on other flat string cores used for the winding.
The primary considerations to take into account in the sharp strings of a guitar are:
- They are usually made of nylon. We speak of clean nylon as the most commonly used material. It can adequately maintain the sound, resulting in a rich, balanced sound and effortless vibrato.
- The “rectified” nylon is another type of material used in this type of string with a longer duration.
- Titanium is also is another popular material. It has characteristics very similar to those of clean nylon. They can maintain sound and vibrato. The main differences are that these types of strings usually have a higher pitch sensitivity to temperature and are usually more brittle than nylon strings.
- The carbon fiber strings produce a solid and bright sound, provide stable tuning, good durability. In contrast, they have low resistance. In addition, it usually results in a less rich sound.
- Composite strings produce brighter sounds with excellent projection.
These strings are composed of a core of silk or nylon covered by a filament that can be of Bronze or silver-like materials more used. In the case of the Bronze, it is possible to obtain a dark sound with a shorter duration. On the other hand, if the rope is coated with silver, it can bring a brighter sound and a more prolonged period and resonance.
Some tips for making the right decision
An excellent tip to commence your journey in guitar playing is to start with strings of medium tension that present good characteristics for those who do not yet have too much skill in this art.
The string material is not the most relevant decision. It usually has more influence in terms of comfort and touch. Testing strings made of different materials makes it possible to find the right one for you to play the guitar more enjoyably.
Sometimes new guitars are usually provided with very soft strings that tend to tangle. You can solve this issue by using stronger strings. Also, we suggest you try the type of string that suits you the most, then as you progress on your skill, try different kinds of tensions to find new sounds.
Keep a record of each set of strings
It is advisable to record the types and brands of the strings you’re using and take notes of your first impressions when you string your guitar. These impressions could be valuing factors like touch and pulsating comfort, pulsation hardness, capo position.
In addition, you should take notes on the high and low frets, the guitar pick noise, and strumming. We recommend that you always evaluate the same instrument so that your notes are the most objective possible.
We even recommend storing the annotations in the string package you got when purchased. This way, you will know what string has been tested and acquire the same ones that you have liked. Or even switch to a different brand for the next set of strings you might need.
The strings are sold in complete sets or as individual strings making it possible to prove endless combinations. In this way, you will be able to find the most appropriate for each specific case.
Trial and error is the best way to select the most appropriate strings for a guitar. Experiment with different string tensions. Try with various materials until you find those strings that give you a pleasant sensation. A vibration that translates into an unforgettable melody making it possible to enjoy quality music.