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?
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.
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.
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.
Hampered by ill health, but never ones to retire shyly, The Who continue celebrating their 50th anniversary as they contemplate retirement.
Guitar Planet grades the creative comebacks from three iconic artists who are attempting to give 2015 a much-needed injection of impetus.
Guitar Planet takes on new albums by southern stars Blackberry Smoke, nu-metal icons Papa Roach and the legendary Venom.
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?
Enter Shikari renew their archly political assault while expanding their sonic horizons on The Mindsweep.