Modern Gretsch Guitars

Strings for a Country Club with Dynas

1

I'm retreating from the political thread and getting back to the music. I just bought a Country Club with Dynas, and as a bonus, treated myself to Damian Bacci's really excellent "Ultimate Rockabilly Guitar" DVD. The guitar came strung with D'Addario flat-wound 12's. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about flat-wounds, and I'm still not sure. I'll probably reserve this guitar for Rockabilly and Rock'n'Roll mainly, but maybe a bit of jazz as well. I have a great jazz guitar and great blues and rock guitars, but my recent rebirth of interest in '50s guitar music inspired my getting a Gretsch to begin with, and that's the sound I'm after.

So I thought I'd ask the veteran CC players here what strings you use, and what the advantages are of each of the main choices. My inexperienced take: round-wounds would be twangier, flats jazzier. Is that right? Would Dynas be happier with pure nickel? Chrome? Any particular brands? I like the smoothness of the D'Addario flats, but something is missing in the sound. I don't want to go above a 12 on the high-E unless someone can guarantee that 13s are better than sex.

I searched some posts on this forum, but if there is a really comprehensive discussion of this, I managed to miss it. I'd be grateful for any wisdom you guys and gals may want to share.

2

Try a set of Thomastik 10-44's flatwound.Amazing strings.Will play great with the CC's longer scale.

3

As a long time Country Club with Dynas player (since 1965), I'd just change the trebles to .010", .013" & ).17" which will give you a flatwound Skinny Top/Heavy Bottom set. I've been using the .052/.010 set since the early '60s and have been using the same gauges but flatwound since 2007. I use the D'darrio Chrome light gauge with the trebles replaced as described. Flatwounds last for years. I change them when I break one of the wound strings which on my Club (my main guitar) takes about 5 years. If you can't get with the flats then go nickel wrap.

Dynas like headroom...the way to get tone out of them is to run your tone control dimed and the volumes dimed or nearly so on the guitar and bring the volume down on the amp. Keep the tone controls on the amp more or less straight up at 5 and you'll hear the famous Dyna bite on the bridge PU and roar on the neck PU. I dime all the knobs on my guitar and then back the neck PU down slightly until there's a bit of treble bite when both PUs are engaged. This gives a mellow sound on the neck PU alone and a bit more volume and bite when both pickups are engaged, the bridge alone gives a thin twangy tone.

Here's a sound file...both parts have the same settings on guitar and amp except a bit of tremolo on the lead part.

4

Well gee.

I keep D'Addario standard 12s on mine, wound third. "Twangier" in a way than flatwounds, of course - but really really fat. If it had a maple top, I'd probably use 11s, but the spruce top imparts something of an acoustic character to the tone, and the 12s enhance that.

Only electric I use 12s on. Plenty jazzy (in its characteristic way), and gets jazzier (in the modern muddy way) if you dial down the treble, but good for most anything else too, up to crunchy rock. (Might have to dial the bass down at the amp for that.) No good for metal with 12s.

I haven't been tempted to try flats on mine, I like the sound so well as it is.

I did have Thomastik 12s on it for awhile, and they lasted a long time. Probably a bit smoother sounding than the D'Addarios, but not compelling enough to make me keep them on.

Actually, this last go-round I have "Newtones" on it. English brand, very low production I think. Found them at juststrings.com, and chose them because they're supposed to be "low tension," which I thought would take a little of the required manliness out of pushing the 12s around. They sound good, I don't notice much different in slinkiness. Maybe a little. http://www.juststrings.com/...

Still rounds, though, and still wound G.

Actually, ignore me. I've only ever had 12s with wound Gs on that guitar, so what do I know? (Just that it sounds so good to me that way I'm incurious about other options.)

5

My DeArmond-equipped guitar loves Fender pure nickel roundwound 150's.

6

Almost any decent strings will sound "good" on a spruce topped club with dynas. But they will accentuate different tonal potentials in the instrument. Often distinctively. It makes sense to start with a string you like in a gauge you like already and then see if there is something you want more of. I'm currently loving T-I Swing 12s on my Rose. But it's 16" with a tone post and a maple top. So...different animal. If I was fortunate to possess a spruce club, I'd start with those. But I might eventually experiment in different directions.

7

Pyramid flatwounds-11s on all my archtop electrics. They sound great and play like butter. They are expensive-$25-30 a pack, and I don't yet know how long they will last, but they are real special strings.

8

With a basic understanding of structure + material = tone,I know what I like to use and why. D'Addario breaks it down pretty nice on their website with their products.

D'Addario XL Pure Nickel strings - look back to the '50s, when nickel was the primary alloy found in electric guitar strings. Pure nickel strings would be supplanted by nickelplated steel in the '60s when guitarists required brighter tone and enhanced magnetism. Pure Nickel brings back the richer, warmer timbres found in traditional blues, classic rock, rockabilly, and more.

D'Addario XL ProSteels utilize an exclusive corrosion-resistant steel alloy that delivers super-bright tone without shrill overtones. They offer a palette of harmonically rich, brilliantly penetrating highs combined with pronounced, tight-and-tough lows. If you're looking for more crunch, bite, and sustain, ProSteels are the choice for you.

D'Addario Chromes are wound with flattened stainless steel ribbon wire which is polished to an incredibly smooth surface. Chromes deliver a distinctive damped but tone-rich sound that only flatwounds can produce.

9

I vote for the Thomastik Jazz Flats, 012 or .013. They make both the D'Addario Chromes and the Pyramids feel like steel rods in comparison, and they have a bright snappiness as well as the characteristic flatwound "plonk". They're extremely responsive to changes in picking technique, and it's even possible to get an airy, acoustic-sounding shimmer with a light enough touch.

10

D'Addario EXL115Ws (11s with a wound 3rd string), are my string of choice.

11

I'm with seadevil, TI-12's work great on my G400C, big body spruce top. It is a match made in heaven.

12

I have always used 11-49 's on my country club and falcon , BUT lately , I've changed my ways , 11-49 I found were way TO BIG , Now im using 10-46 , its a newer Falcon LTV , and a 6120 RHH . my old 6136 LDS and COUNTRY CLUB are long gone to someone else , so these New GUITARS that I now have are with the lighter strings , lighter strings work well for me now , D'Addarios , great price and available pretty much everywhere . Good luck finding what works well for you .

13

Gents, this has been really interesting and enlightening. Thanks to you all for the suggestions and information. ''I use 9-46 D'Addarios on my Gibsons, but I have been thinking of going to 10-46 lately. I use either 10s or 11s on my gypsy guitars at gigs, with scales of 670 and 675mm. That has strengthened my fingers for sure, and the 9s seem a little then now.

It seems like players are all over the spectrum as far as diameter and type of string. I'm not crazy about the D'Addario flat-wounds that are on the guitar, but it sounds like there are better options out there for flat-wounds. I guess in my dreams I was hoping that there was a "best set" for the Country Club, but I really knew better.

I have only ever had one set of quasi flat-wounds on a guitar in my life, a set of those tape-wound things on a '53 Es-175 back in the early 70s. They were awful strings, but not really proper flat-wounds.

The Fender Nickel strings intrique me as well. Would I be right to say they are not as bright-sounding as steel cores? That might be a plus for me.

My only "must" is a wound G. It sounds to me like I need to buy a few sets and try things out. I hate changing strings, and tend to leave them on a long time. I like most strings best when they get a little "dead" and lose their brightness.

Seadevil, is there something different about the Thomasik flats that make them feel better than the others?

One last question: are flat-wounds less "twangy" than round-wounds? If so, what exactly do flat-wounds bring to the party that makes them more desirable?

14

I don't have Dynasonics on my 6193 and but I always use Rotosound Blues.....(these are the heaviest gauge but I use a metal thumb pick to strum with)...very good strings in my opinion.

15

"One last question: are flat-wounds less "twangy" than round-wounds? If so, what exactly do flat-wounds bring to the party that makes them more desirable?"

Hmmm... less twangy? Depends.

The bottom two (sometimes three if an unwound G is involved) are exactly the same as roudnwounds. So, no, they are not less twangy, they're the same.

The bass strings on the other hand, are not as bitey in open positions. They are a little thumpier... Maybe that's giving it too much, but that would be my description. On my 5127 with Dearmond 2000's, I can get that low string twangy grind... It doesn't sound like my Tele, but it's close enough. It get's Duane Eddy twang. But, not Luther Perkins Esquire twang.

I tried D'Adarrio Chromes a couple of times and didn't really care for them. i found they sounded a touch dull. I had been using pure nickel strings for about four or five years and the Chromes... I dunno, they didn't do it for me. I know a lotta guys like 'em. Maybe it's just their rig?

After hemming and hawing I tried a set of Thomastik-Infelds and really dug them a lot! They sound a lot like my old DR Pure Blues... but a touch creamier up around the fifth fret and above. I liked them so much, I put them on most of my guitars. It seemed wrong to put them on the Tele, but I've been contemplating it recently trying to get some smoother tones out of the neck pickup.

One thing I love about flatwounds? No more finger scraping noises.. I can slide all over the neck without that extra ringing. Let's me be a little faster by keeping my fingers closer to the fretboard. They feel silkier under my fingers and my fingertips will not get sore as fast as when playing roundwounds.

I play Blues... I really like that West Coast/Jump sound. The T-I's get me there without trying too hard. They get that smooth Wes Montgomery Jazzy tone. But, at the same time, push my guitars with them through some dirt and they grind with the best of them!

I have had several sets now on several different guitars, that get played a lot, for a year now. I've never had a set last anywhere near that long. Usually it's four weeks, maybe six if I'm really lucky. I am not a corrosive sweat kinda guy, in fact, probably quite the opposite. My strings don't really get dirty or funky. But most roundwound strings lost their zing and really started feeling flat or going out of tune often. That's when it was time to change them. Not so with the T-I's!

16

I get as much twang as I need out of flatwounds simply by picking a bit closer to the bridge. I also have my bridge pickup dimed, tone control dimed, master volume dimed and the neck pickup backed down slightly. You are correct in that you'll never get that Luther Perkins twang though. One of the reasons I like Gretsch guitars and Dynas is twang. I use the same tone settings for blues, rock or whatever else...I vary my tone by playing further from the bridge for a mellow sound and closer to the bridge for more bite and twang.


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