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Thread: Strings for parlor guitar

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
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    Default Strings for parlor guitar

    Hi all

    Slightly embarassed to ask this as it is a frequent question on most guitar forums. My first guitar is a vintage (late 60s or early 70s) made in Japan laminate parlor. I am pretty sure it is a Kingston but it has a different label as part of a one off factory run and shipment to Australasia.

    The poor thing has had a rough life. It is the same age as me and may have nearly as much wear on the neck and body. I bought if from a bass player who was using it for slide. Being a beginner i needed easier strings and so have been playing silk and steel which has been great with finger style but terrible when strumming with a pick. Really terrible. I want to learn strumming with a pick at the moment as finger strumming was hurting my joint and i am not a great finger picker.

    Over the weekend i have replaced the nasty plastic bridge with a Nubone bridge and managed to lower the action a little. I also replaced the strings with 12-53 gauge d'addario coated phosphor-bronze.

    Now the top is muted and fretting on the 12s is hard work so i was planning on buying some lighter strings. I have accidentally bought both 10s and 11s on line so they are on their way to me. Which would you try first?

    I realise i may not have the ideal guitar for what i want to play, but at the moment it is what i have.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Kyoto Japan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davoravo View Post
    Now the top is muted and fretting on the 12s is hard work so i was planning on buying some lighter strings. I have accidentally bought both 10s and 11s on line so they are on their way to me. Which would you try first?
    I think 10s are first. And 8s may be better. You just need to get 008 electric guitar string. And you use 1st to 5th string of 12s.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    Lowering the action will sometimes lower the volume, but makes playing easier for sure. Going to a very light gauge string should make it sound brighter. The volume might go down with lighter gauge strings. You will need to experiment with different string materials 80/20 vs PB and gauges to get the sound and feel you like. Good luck
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Blaine, Washington
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    Best I've come across are the John Pearse 80/20's. My custom Thomas Parlor has on either lights or their Med/light bluegrass strings. On my 1893 Bay State Parlor I put on John Pearse Xlights. The coated phosphorus strings will produce a muted dull sound. For myself 80'20's are the way to go with a parlor guitar; for steel strings that is. Classical strings I have no idea what to go with but would probably go with DiAddarios or T-i-Infeld.

    If you use a pick; the type of material and thickness make a big difference. My big search, other than strings and capos, were picks. I've a drawer full of picks. For standard off the shelf I like the Dunlop, grey .075. For custom, right now I'm experimenting with Charmed Life picks; the brown triangle .075 and black 1.0 triangle. Really smooth and fast. And expensive but worth every penny.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 09-25-2019 at 07:02 AM.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2018
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    Thanks everybody, when i first got the guitar i tried to get some 10s but at the local shop they told me not to because i would get buzzing. It did not make sense to me at the time because the action was really really high, but i went with the expert's advice. Glad to hear it is a good choice.

    I am suprised about the 80/20s, i would have thought something warmer was better for a parlor but keen to try. I use Dunlop nylon picks, even thought they are the most ugly grey colour. Just graduated from soft 0.6 to 0.73mm for strumming. If i can keep a hold of them. Every time i put one down it goes on a little adventure, never to be seen again.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2011
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    Sounds like the first thing you want to do is get a good setup for it. It'll do wonders for sound and playability. In the older days, we called the guitars with such high action, "cheese cutters".

    Yep, I hear you on the picks growing feet and walking away. With the more expensive ones I keep them in my wallet or case pocket. I have a cat who'll dgo in the music room at night and steal them. I find them in the oddest places. Wonder if she is trying to tell me something.

    I pick bluegrass so like the bright sound of the 80/20's. If I want a warmer sound, I use a thicker pick or one made of a different material.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2018
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    Thanks everyone, the 10s are great, sound a little brassy but much better, and the instrument is much easier to play. Got no one to blame for bad tone now except myself. I will try the 80/20s when these phosphor bronzes wear out. EDIT - correction the current strings are bronze 80/20s

    I have actually adjusted the action quite a lot and it is as low as i am comfortable with without sanding or cutting grooves in the bridge. I have had to do some renovation as well, untwisting a warp in the neck and straightening out some excess relief which wasn't easy without a truss rod. I left the guitar in clamps for a week in my garage where i knew it was damp and the temperature would vary up and down enough that any work wouldn't be undone as soon as the clamps came off. Scary at the time, but very satisfying result.

    Anyway, loving this guitar again instead of hating it. Amazing what the wrong strings will do.
    Last edited by Davoravo; 10-03-2019 at 09:59 PM.

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