I'm slowly working my way back around to playing gypsy jazz after having sold my Gitane DG300 a few years ago. In the end the neck specs and scale were too great for me, and I've had my eye out for a better fit since then. Well, just today I purchased an older Eastman AR800e from Chuck Levins (awesome to deal with, by the way). Some of you here are familiar, but for those not: it's a non-cutaway oval hole archtop that looks similar to a vintage Gibson L4. The scale is 25", nut width is 1.75", and the neck profile is a medium C shape.
Now, I don't expect this guitar to compete with the authentic sound of an actual gypsy jazz guitar, but I would like for it to lean that direction. Therefore, I'd been searching for standard gauge gypsy jazz strings. You know, like a 12-53 set that one would put on a flat top acoustic. Well, I found them! Two, in fact:
"These acoustic strings offer a very brilliant, balanced, lovely and round tone due to their four deep strings coated with silver-plated copper wire
Available in 12, 16, 24, 32, 42, 52 at https://www.stringsbymail.com/pyramid-307-silver-plated-acoustic-guitar-strings-12-52-6964.html
"La Bella’s Silver-Plated sets are made with silver-plated copper wire
, hand-wound on a steel core. First introduced by La Bella in the 1940s, this traditional style of string has slightly less tension than bronze or brass wound strings. As a result, our Silver-Plated strings produce a uniquely clean and crisp tone."
Available in 11, 15, 22, 32, 42, 52 at https://www.stringsbymail.com/la-bella-700ml-silver-plated-acoustic-guitar-strings-med-lt-11-52-4593.html
I'm so curious to try these out! I'm most interested in the Pyramid ones as I've been extremely impressed with their electric strings and specifically how they silver-plate the plain b and e strings. The ones I have appear to be longer-lasting, and I really like the way their plain strings sound compared to Ernie Ball plain b and e strings.
Interesting side note, from this thread http://www.djangobooks.com/forum/discussion/3155/gibson-mona-steel-strings
I now use Argentine reds on my 1920 Gibson L1 because they're just wonderful on it. The nickel strings of the same gauge feel too squishy and lack bass - so with nickel/bronze strings I have to use a "true medium" (12-53) which is just too heavy for that guitar and dampens the soundboard too much (L0/L1/L2 were lightly built... unlike most archtops they do not benefit from heavy strings) I have a feeling that a lot of the griping you hear about early Gibson archtops is due to people putting 14's on them and then wondering why they sound crappy...)
It's very interesting to learn that these "mona" strings may have been the design of strings intended for this instrument when it was produced because I can tell you for a fact that they sound much better - and that's not just a "gypsy jazz" guy's opinion - and it's not a subtle difference. My brother, who largely plays archtops was just bowled over at how much better the Argies sounded and felt on the L1. The relatively high action (low by Gypsy standards - maybe 2.8mm) all of a sudden made sense... in other words - the high action became very playable. Most important - the volume and tone took a big leap forward.
Very interesting stuff. Thanks for digging into this.
Since the Eastman is not a vintage model Gibson it won't require such low tension, but maybe the same type of strings in a standard gauge will achieve a similar effect. I should note that since the AR800e comes with a floating (fingerboard mounted) magnetic pickup, I don't expect it to sound that great plugged in with silver-plated copper strings. Therefore, I'll also be picking up some Martin Retro monel strings to see how those fare. I've been enjoying them on a flat-top acoustic I have, and monel strings are probably what a Gibson L1, L3, or L4 oval archtop would have come with back in the 20s.
Here's some pics of the guitar that's on the way: