Friday, September 18, 2009

Rockin' at Russo's

Dr. M. having a rockin' good time at Russo Music Center!
Martin Sustainable Wood Series D-18 in Cherry. Long Tee by Audio-Technica

Time for New Guitar Strings?

Some days are just made for good times. Most guitarists revel in spending a little time at their favorite music shop among instruments they may dream of owning someday. This past Friday afternoon was sunny and warm. Perfect for a ride out to Russo Music Center located at 1989 Arena Drive in Hamilton, NJ. Better than a candy store for guitarists, this store has beautiful Martins, Gibsons, Fenders and Taylors to name only a few top brands. My mission was to seek out someone knowledgeable about guitar strings especially for my acoustic guitars. I know what new strings or even a change in the type of strings can do for your tone and playability. At a Free Martin Guitar Clinic, Dave Evans put a set of light strings on my D-16GT which has a pickup. That guitar has sung so sweetly ever since! It also plays like a dream and has become my favorite now. PHOTO: Professional Guitarist Barry Peterson stops in to play a Martin Eric Clapton Signature 000-28. Hear our podcast of him playing "Tears in Heaven" on this guitar! Dr. M's Radio Show

If you want to take your acoustic playing to the next level, let me suggest at least trying some new strings. A seasoned guitar tech will be able to tell you which strings to choose based on your picking style, genre of music and of course the size of your guitar. I always thought putting light strings on a Dreadnought was a bad idea. This might be true if you are playing it acoustically. In my case, I only use my D-16GT in the studio for recording and with an amp. Therefore, having heavier strings for more volume was not necessary in this case.

I really began to have my eyes opened to new possibilities when Chris Colletti showed me the advantages and disadvantages of using certain string gauges on my acoustic guitars. After a little discussion, he was able to figure out the perfect fit for my two Martins, the SWDGT which is a D-18GT in cherry and the Little Martin LX1E. Sometimes strings can just go dead from being on too long. Chris made a lot of checks in the alignment of the neck, the bridge and other points to make sure the action was as low as possible without buzzing. Chris also said a Luthier can sometimes work on a saddle to make the action lower, making the guitar effortless to play.
Chris also suggested that I try a set of Elixirs Nanoweb technology strings which are very comfortable to play. They changed my vision of what medium strings could feel like! I don't know about you but I don't care for heavily calloused finger pads. The strings will be a make or break factor in how often I'll pick up the guitar too. Martin SP Lights were a revelation in what a change in string gauge can make in your playing and the guitar's response. I doubt if I'll ever go back to Medium strings on my D-16! Using the lighter strings even helped lower the action naturally on this guitar.

TIP: If you want to maintain volume and bass, you'll most often need to stick with a medium or heavier gauged string. Try splitting the difference with something like the Martin SP Light / Medium strings. Sort of a half and half approach. They seemed more balanced for my Little Martin without any significant loss of tone or volume. I am one happy picker now!
PHOTO ABOVE: Chris Colletti, one of the guitar pros at Russo Music Center doing a set up on my Martin SWDGT.

Want to learn more? Listen to some great guitar playing by professional entertainer, Barry Peterson and Chris Colletti's advice on how to pick the best strings for YOUR guitar.

It's all right here at Dr. M's Radio Show Podcast LIVE from Russo Music Center!

PHOTO: Dr. M and her Little Martin LX1E with new Martin SP Medium/Light Strings. Pigment Dyed Distressed Hoodie by Audio-Technica.

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