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Thread: Really Basic String Question

  1. #1
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Really Basic String Question

    I've been playing stringed instruments over 40 years now, but I have a real noob question:

    Are the plain (unwound) strings all the same metal? I mean if I took the A's and E's from a pack of monel, phosphor bronze, 80/20, aluminum bronze, etc. would they all be the same metallurgically? Or are they different? Thanks!

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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    Interesting question. I don’t really know but suspect the eventual answer will be “as near as makes no difference”.

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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    I am pretty sure they are the same, or as Ray(T) says very nearly. I have taken plain strings from guitar, banjo or mandolin and noticed no difference. Wound strings from the same manufacturer are the same regardless of instrument, as long as the diameter of the string and type, (phosphor, nickel, 80/20, etc.), are the same. One may be loop end and the other ball end, but are interchangeable should you need to.

    If you look at a singles chart for ordering they have all the different types of single would strings with gauges, but for plain there is only the gauge.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    I have always assumed that they are the same. Slightly different properties of the steel might influence their behavior near breaking tension, but not anything audible.
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    I just put a Monel A on a Phosphor Bronze set.

    I don't hear a difference.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    I would guess that plain strings from the same manufacturer would be of the same composition but that different manufacturers might have different compositions for their plain strings.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    I asked this same question of the good folks at d'Addario and DR. The d'Addario people answered that "for the most part, most are the same but not all. Some are also tinned or coated differently. Tone-wise it is not night and day."

    I haven't received an answer from DR strings yet.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I would guess that plain strings from the same manufacturer would be of the same composition but that different manufacturers might have different compositions for their plain strings.
    I was under the impression that even the different manufacturers source their wire from a tiny number of producers.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Really Basic String Question

    Here is what the good folks at DR Strings said:

    "In theory we would say yes, they are basically all the same but there are 4 wire companies in the US and a couple more worldwide. We imagine they all have similar yet differing metallurgic formulas. All of our plains come from one source and yes, all the same."

    They said no one had ever asked them that before.

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