main sponsor

Further Adventures With String Theory

We continue our string-based feast with a look at silk and steel sets – can they bring new flavours to your playing?

Thursday, 26. April 2012  -  by  Russ Thorne

Recently I've been trying a few different options from the string smorgasbord. This time my attention turned to my old Ovation celebrity electro-acoustic - something of an unruly beast. Could different strings bring it to heel?

Silk and steel

The Ovation has always been punchy but lacked the subtlety to deliver some of the more gentle folksy numbers I play when I switch to acoustic, so I thought I'd go for some Martin silk & steel strings to see if they made a difference.

The strings are built around a steel core wrapped in nylon (not actually silk) and in this case finished in silverplated copper. The setup certainly feels different - it's far from pure nylon but there's a distinctive rubbery give, and it's more forgiving on the fretting hand.

Mellowing out

Generally silk and steel sets are lower tension (albeit not dramatically) than standard phosphor bronze offerings, which contributes to that laid-back, elastic sensation. While they lack the attack and twang needed for the blues this light gauge option excels at flowing fingerpicking and melodic work, staying beautifully sharp and clear with some lovely complex twinkles in the higher registers. Forget about strumming – it gets flat and squelchy very fast – and get folked up instead, it's what these strings were born for.

Swapping to silk

Silk and steel sets create warmer, more mellow tones so they're not going to suit every playing style – or indeed every guitar. I won't be having them on my other full acoustic, so I can retain the bright metal zinginess of PB strings for blues and country songs. But they've transformed the Ovation into a softly spoken sweetheart with lovely sustain even unplugged, making it a great backup for gentle numbers.

Other sets available include D'Addario as well as the Martin offering. They're a little more expensive than the usual acoustic PB workhorses and don't stay as bright for as long; plus, their fingerpicking focus will mean they're not quite right for everyone. But if you fancy something a little calmer from the menu, silk and steel strings might be a very tasty treat indeed.

Follow Us

In The Magazine

20.04.2015 22:02The Who Hits 50: But Where Do They Go From Here?

The Who Hits 50: But Where Do They Go From Here?

Hampered by ill health, but never ones to retire shyly, The Who continue celebrating their 50th anniversary as they contemplate retirement.

Cat: Features
06.04.2015 23:14Don’t Call It A Comeback: Muse, Blur & Faith No More

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Muse, Blur & Faith No More

Guitar Planet grades the creative comebacks from three iconic artists who are attempting to give 2015 a much-needed injection of impetus.

Cat: Features
19.02.2015 22:10Album Round-up: Blackberry Smoke, Papa Roach & Venom

Album Round-up: Blackberry Smoke, Papa Roach & Venom

Guitar Planet takes on new albums by southern stars Blackberry Smoke, nu-metal icons Papa Roach and the legendary Venom.

Cat: Features
15.02.2015 19:345 Things We Learned From The Grammys

5 Things We Learned From The Grammys

The music industry’s glamorous state of the union address was delivered this weekend, but what did the Grammys have to say about guitar music?

Cat: Features
22.01.2015 21:33Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

Enter Shikari renew their archly political assault while expanding their sonic horizons on The Mindsweep.

Cat: Album Review
go to Archive ->