Meet & Greet

Silk and steel

1

Hey everyone. Idk what this is really. Facebook for grestch fans? Also idk if this is where I post this question. Please forgive my ignorance

2

Hey everyone! Just got my first grestch yesterday. Roundneck boxcar. It's also my first resonator. I am really loving it. I've always been an acoustic guy, and a devout silk and steel user. I don't use a pick and whether I'm going picking or just slamming away I like everything about the silks. So my question is, can I put them on the resonator? Specifically Martin custom 11.5-47 I just don't know if that's a thing and I can't get a strait answer anywhere. Right now it's got PB light I believe. Thats what came on it. I can't stand the feel or sound. If that's not an option does anyone know a good reso string that might feel similar to silks? Thanks so much for any input

3

Silk & steels are not the usual choice for a resonator, and I've never put them on any of mine. But I seem to recall a member did try them on his - maybe in the last year or so - and liked how they sounded. I think he even posted some sound samples.

Since the S&S will have less string tension, they can't possibly harm the guitar, which is built for considerably heavier strings. The softer strings aren't going to impart as much string energy to the resonator itself (and, accordingly, to the body), which means that the guitar won't have the volume or quite the honk typically heard from resonators, but it that's OK with you, it's OK with us.

You may find that the neck itself relaxes some with the lighter-tension strings, and may develop a slight backbow that may or may not affect action and playability. But if that happens, you can loosen the truss rod a bit to compensate and get the proper neck profile back.

Unless I'm dreaming, the sound clips from the previous experiment sounded really good. A bit more delicate than we're used to from resos - but lush, warm, and resonant.

Forge ahead and let us know how it goes. (You might want to try a heavier gauge than 11.5 - 47, though.)

4

Silk & steels are not the usual choice for a resonator, and I've never put them on any of mine. But I seem to recall a member did try them on his - maybe in the last year or so - and liked how they sounded. I think he even posted some sound samples.

Since the S&S will have less string tension, they can't possibly harm the guitar, which is built for considerably heavier strings. The softer strings aren't going to impart as much string energy to the resonator itself (and, accordingly, to the body), which means that the guitar won't have the volume or quite the honk typically heard from resonators, but it that's OK with you, it's OK with us.

You may find that the neck itself relaxes some with the lighter-tension strings, and may develop a slight backbow that may or may not affect action and playability. But if that happens, you can loosen the truss rod a bit to compensate and get the proper neck profile back.

Unless I'm dreaming, the sound clips from the previous experiment sounded really good. A bit more delicate than we're used to from resos - but lush, warm, and resonant.

Forge ahead and let us know how it goes. (You might want to try a heavier gauge than 11.5 - 47, though.)

– Proteus

Thank you so much! That's the kinda answer I needed. I bet they will sound good. I'm having a hard time navigating this place but when I do it I'll try and post a sound video. And idk much about neck adjustment so that's what I was worried about. If it would damage the guitar at all. Do you say heavier guage just for sound purposes? Or will that help the neck out?

5

Dunno about resos, but I recently am fixing up a guitjo (banjitar?) and found that someone makes a silk'n'steel set for those. The other regular sets are very light guage-ish, way lighter than regular guitar strings.

6

And idk much about neck adjustment so that's what I was worried about. If it would damage the guitar at all.

I don't know how it would be possible to damage a guitar with lighter strings than it was designed for - and most guitars now are built to take heavier strings than most of us put on them. The neck will react to different string gauges by flexing in one way or the other, and that's what the truss rod is there to correct.

More string tension (as from heavier strings than the guitar comes with) will tend to pull the nut end of the neck toward the bridge (speaking in exaggerated terms), creating a dip toward the middle of the neck, which will also result in higher string action. This doesn't hurt the neck (unless it's extreme, the guitar is tuned way above standard pitch, and the condition continues for a very long time); the solution for playability is to tighten the nut on the truss rod, countering the pull of the strings and "pushing" the center of the neck up to a straighter profile.

(Experts will argue about the ideal arch or bow of a neck, with some maintaining it should have slight "relief" between roughly the 5th and 9th frets, with the neck dipping very slightly there. Others say the neck should be dead straight, without relief. No one I know says it should have a hump in the middle.)

Less string tension, as from lighter or lower-tension strings, won't pull the neck as hard toward the bridge (again in overstated terms), and could let the headstock end drop a little, humping the neck up in the middle. In that case, action gets lower (with likely buzzing and string rattle against the frets). The fix is to loosen the truss rod, letting it dip in the middle.

There is a limit to the amount of neck relief or bow a truss rod can compensate for. A well-built guitar should be made so that the nut on the truss rod, as delivered with "reasonable"-gauge strings, is roughly in the middle of its travel. That way it can provide about the same amount of adjustability either direction.

But, by the pure mechanics of the thing, once a truss rod's nut is loosened/backed off/turned counter-clockwise until it's loose, it no longer has any effect on the shape of the neck. So if you get that far and the neck still has too much hump in the middle, the guitar needs more help than the truss rod can provide (or it needs heavier strings).

Likewise, it's possible to tighten a truss rod's nut to the point where you strip the nut or break the rod. That's even worse - but you have to be a he-man, half-crazy, or not know yer own strenth to do that, because it's pretty obvious by feel when the nut's as tight as it gets.

All that is said just to orient you to the truss rod and what it's about - not to scare you off adjusting it. The conventional wisdom is not to move a truss rod nut more than 1/4 turn either direction in any one adjustment. So if you have too much relief (ie, the neck dips in the middle under the strings and is hard to play), you turn the nut clockwise a quarter of a turn to tighten it, then give the guitar some time to react (minutes to hours, generally not days). Rinse and repeat if necessary. If the neck has a hump in the middle, other direction: loosen the nut 1/4 turn and wait to see what happens.

You can't damage the guitar by loosening the truss rod all the way (though you can certainly make it unplayable), only by tightening it to the point of breakage. Which you're not going to do.

There's no reason to fear adjusting the truss rod - and you may not have to. But if you change the strings and you notice the neck humping up in the middle and are nervous about doing it yourself, a competent guitar tech can sort it out in minutes.

Do you say heavier guage just for sound purposes? Or will that help the neck out?

Well, both. In general, most guys keep heavier strings on resos than other guitars - the guitars just sound better with them, because it gets the resonator cone (and, to an extent, the top) working harder for a bigger boom. The whole point of resonator guitars in the beginning - prior to electric guitars - was to get more volume and projection. But it's not just volume and projection (which we might not need when playing alone, or in an era of easy amplification): it's to get a pleasing balance of low frequencies, which take more energy to produce. Very light strings just won't have the low end you might want from a guitar - and the resonator cones are stronger in midrange and at least slightly rolled off in both highs and lows anyway, so it can use the help.

It's not so much that heavier strings will help the neck out - nothing you're discussing can hurt it - as that slightly heavier Silk & Steels will produce more nearly the same tension as the steel strings you're taking off. That should prevent the neck from relaxing as much as it might otherwise, and minimize the likelihood of having to adjust it - or the amount of adjustment needed, if any.

7

Idk what this is really. Facebook for grestch fans?

This is a pretty mysterious place. Very few people understand the nature and workings of a forum with threads and topics and other such magical things.

8

The difference between this and most other forums that I notice is that it’s an ongoing, daily conversation rather than those forums where you post a comment and wait for a month for a response.

When I want to post a sound, I upload it to YouTube and paste a link in the text box...like so...

9

Specialist forums such as this evolved from BBS bulletin boards and existed way before Facebook, who simply took the concept and homogenised it to fit their own model. This particular forum turned 12 the year Facebook started.

Anyhoo, Proteus had you covered re your question. Lighter strings cannot damage a guitar. Worst that can happen is they don’t introduce enough tension to counteract where the truss rod has been set. In that case slacken the truss rod a little.

And he is also correct when he says he has exaggerated the effects for the simplicity of explanation. Dip and hump sound pretty extreme, but it just means a slight backward or forward curve caused by either the truss rod (from the back) or the strings (from the front). You just need to strike a balance between the two so the neck is as straight as you want it to be.

10

Awesome. Thank you for all that. It definitely helps. And yeah I'll probably start with a heavier silk set. My only fear of experimenting was damaging my brand new guitar. I feel better about that now and I can start hunting my ideal resonator tone. Thanks again!

11

This is a pretty mysterious place.

i can't help hearing this in Elmer Fudd voice: "this is a pwetty mystewwwious pwace."

12

Ok I think what I found is this. Everything else sounds and feels great to me with silk and steel. Slide does not. Slide on the grestch is ideal right now. In my Washburn and Gibson J-50, which have silk and steel, the slide has no body. So for now I'm gonna play with different gauge bronze strings on the boxcar and use that mostly for learning slide and some picking. I'll keep my other guitars with silks. That's where I'm gonna be strumming the most anyway.

Thanks guys for all your help and not being internet jerks lol. I'm really glad I found this forum and I'm excited to be a part of the grestch community. I'm thinking about getting a jim dandy next because i love that parlor guitar sound for all the ragtime I've been studying now and I hear nothing but great things about that little guitar.

Also can I post songs I write on here? I'm actually about to start recording my debut album in Akron within the month, and since live music is dead in the water it'd be great to get my music out there in other ways. I'm really tech ignorant so it's confusing for me on how I start getting my music online in safe ways.

13

Welcome to our addiction. Sure you can post videos and sound clips. We've all done this in one way or another. Comparing pickup sounds or just being creative. Either way it's always welcome and welcome aboard.


Register Sign in to join the conversation