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Relative tension: 10's vs 11's; Regular vs Silk and Steel; Brands ranked by tension?

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
Am enjoying figuring out my favorite setup for my new-to-me MDC50. The previous owner swore by Argie 10's on this guitar, but I'm partial to Fisoma Silk and Steel 11's.

Tried some Dogal Manouche 11's, but didn't like the sound and feel as compared to the slightly aged Argie 10's. The Dogal were much more stiff. Am trying to figure out whether they are also higher tension or not. They certainly did not have the slinky easy feel of the Argie 10's. Also the MDC50 projects a LOT of volume, even with 10's.

Switched out again and strung in the Fisoma Silk and Steel 11's. I am surprised at how much fatter the strings feel, even with such a small incremental step, but also how they feel like they may still have more tension than the Argie 10's. (This may be all in my head, however, because the strings are fatter and may be fooling me by feel.)

I've seen lots of posts about various strings, but I do seem to remember Michael saying the most people buy Argies and Galli. I also recall reading the suggestions about action height for thinner vs thicker strings to affect tone. By the way, when I switched to 11's of either brand, action seemed to hold at about 2.8 Low E and 2.1High E no matter whether they strings were silk and steel or not.

I guess what I'm wondering is this: has anyone has ranked the various brands by tension so that we can compare and contrast them, even between types of string.

On a side note, I'm always surprised that these guitars can have so much character and volume with what is essentially pretty slinky electric guitar strings. When I was playing electric, I usually subscribed to Stevie Ray's maxim that thick strings equal more tone (he even tuned down a half step to accommodate this). On the other hand, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top always liked the the thinnest strings he could find (staring at .07!) and used his electronics to fill in the tone gap.


  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    edited October 2016 Posts: 1,252
    I'm not aware of a comprehensive comparison, but one way to parse the problem is by technology which gives you buckets into which you can toss strings.

    The slinkiest will be silk & steel which are typically a round steel core, a fiber sheath and silver over copper wraps. There are many silk & steel brands - Martin Marquis comes to mind, but there are many. With the round core offering no resistance to the wraps sliding and the fiber acting as a bushing, these are very silky.

    Hex core silk & steel come next - a hexagonal core with a fiber sheath with silver over copper wraps. Galli GSL and VO27? and I think there is one other Galli G series. These feel like silk & steel till the wraps compress the silk around the hex core so it grabs a little, but not as much as silk & steel over round core.

    Round core - like Argies. I think GSL & a few others are also in this bucket: Round steel core with silver over copper windings. These are slinky, but not as slinky as strings with a fiber "bushing" between the core & wraps.

    Hex core - Like Pearse Nuage and D'Addario - Hex core with silver over copper wraps. When these stretch and break in, the hex core digs into the wraps and binds them up a little so they feel stiffer.

    Note: The tension of a string as experienced by the guitar's neck, has to do with mass, length & frequency - these different types of strings just increase or decrease the perceived tension to the player - AKA more or less "slinky"
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 347
    I was also told, years ago, that Argentines are slightly overgauged--that is, they measure smaller than their official gauge. I haven't applied a micrometer, so I can't say for sure, but they certainly don't feel quite like what the packaging says. But then there are the other factors that Bob points out above, and elements like core geometry, winding material, and internal composition certainly matter. For example, silk & bronze sound, play, and age not at all like "silk & steel" (which use silvered-copper winding).
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