archtop strings

I remember a thread some time ago discussing the merits of different strings for archtops, but I can't seem to find it. I'm looking for recommendations. The guitar has a floating Benedetto but I'm looking for something to enhance its acoustic voice. I recently restrung it with nickel round wounds but I don't like the tinny brightness. Opinions and suggestions are welcome.


  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 449

    All depends on the sound you want. Flatwounds can sound beautiful acoustically (don't play near the bridge). Jimmy D'Aquisto liked regular brass acoustic strings (not light gauge) -- his brand, of course.

  • WillieWillie HamburgNew
    edited October 2023 Posts: 819

    I use Galli bronze 80/20 AJF 1150 (0.11) with my Epiphone Emperor Regent and Höfner 456 for a warm "oldschool" sound, and Elixier Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze 11/52 (0.11) with my Suzuki P 20 and Framus Capri for a more "versatile" sound. I play acoustically most of the time, the Galli strings do a good and clear job with the Epi and a Fender Frontman 15. No amplified experience with the Elixir.

  • mondodavemondodave New
    Posts: 3

    Thomastik Plectrum are the gold standard for acoustic, from my experience, and they almost cost as much, lol! Any Thomastik product, including flats is going to be top notch. Otherwise I use D'addario half-rounds which are a good choice for acoustic and electric, getting the flatwound feel, but with a little more punch...

  • Posts: 279


  • GouchGouch FennarioNew ALD Originale D, Zentech Proto, ‘50 D28
    Posts: 110

    These rule, especially the 13s, and they last a hundred hours easily with zero playing/tonal degradation. Totally worth trying.

  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-10, Epiphone Zephyr Regent
    Posts: 379

    I couldn't agree more with Gouch. I've gigged for years on various archtops (2 Epiphone Joe Pass's & an Epiphone Zephyr Regent) and the Thomastik Bebop strings are the bomb. I use the 13's as well. They're pricey, but they last a freakishly long time, stay in tune well, hold onto their intonation, and I've never broken one. The set I have on there now has been on it for over 6 months. Give them a try & let us know what you think.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 355

    For strings that work acceptably for acoustic and mag-pickup sound, the best choices I've found are Monels (currently the Martin Retro line) or Thomastik BeBops. And I strongly favor the latter, though different ears can and do differ. Their high price (recently increased) is offset, as Gouch and Mike K point out, by their longevity and stability. On my Eastman, which gets played out on (amplified) every week, they can go a year before I decide they need refreshing. I do currently have Retros on a Loar, and they're decent acoustically, but if I were to dedicate that guitar to acoustic-only, I'd put on phosphor bronze mediums.

    My experiences with other ways of addressing the archtop acoustic/mag-pickup challenge have been less satisfactory. Most nickel strings don't satisfy my acoustic ear, DR Zebras go dead too soon, and the kinds of flatwounds that electric-only players favor are really dead-sounding acoustically. I must have tried GHS White Bronze strings at some point, but since I haven't returned to them, they must not have satisfied somehow. (Don't know why GHS calls this alloy a bronze, since it's nickel-iron, with no copper.)

    Thomastik Plectrums, by the way, are compound strings--basically a silk and bronze set with a round-wound low E and flat-wound A, D, and G. They are indeed first-rate low-tension strings and especially terrific for older acoustic flat-tops. The heaviest set is a 061-013, which has a tension of 156 pounds, which puts it between the pulls of the GHS light and medium-light silk and bronze sets. Not a set I would put on an acoustic archtop. (For comparison, the GHS chart shows phosphor bronze mediums at 194 pounds.)

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,146

    The problem is the ideal setup and string choice for amplified playing is totally different than for purely acoustic. If you're going to do both, then probably some heavier nickel strings with slightly higher action is best. However, that's a compromise so you won't get the best sound for electric or acoustic that way. For acoustic, you generally need higher action and usually 12 or 13 gauge bronze or monel strings. The best electric results come from super heavy strings, often 14 gauge flatwounds, with very low action. The magnetic pickup just loves all that metal right up close to the magnet. However, it sounds pretty bad acoustically.

    Lots of guys have a made a career of playing sort of electro acoustic, like Martin Taylor and Frank Vignola. They tend to use 12 gauge nickel strings with somewhat higher action than a pure electric player.

    I tend to setup my archtops for one specific purpose, so the acoustics have 13 gauge bronze or monel and the electric one have 14 gauge flats.

  • slowlearnerslowlearner ✭✭
    Posts: 39


    Thanks to all for the input. I have tried Monels and liked the sound they produced. Haven't tried the Thomastik BeBops, that's the kind of suggestion I was looking for. Will order some today.

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