What Strings Do You Use?

Question: What kind of strings did you use on your Pure Magic and In Heavenly Peace CDs and what do you recommend in general?

Answer: Let me first say that the best strings are the strings that YOUR GUITAR LIKES BEST. The strings that make YOUR guitar when YOU are playing it sound the best are the strings for you.

I used Savarez 540Js on my CDs, Pure Magic and In Heavenly Piece.


Prior to recording Pure Magic (in 2001), I purchased every available set of guitar string—eighty-seven sets! I then recorded portions of four pieces (each on a separate track) with each set of strings (a total of 348 tracks!) Each recording session was carefully controlled using, of course, the exact same mics (Neumann 170Rs) set up exactly the same way each time. After recording I listened to every track in A-B tests. It took several weeks to A-B test 348 tracks!


In general, here is what I found. ALL the D'Addario sets are excellent high quality strings with near flawless intonation. But they are a bit on the bright side in tone quality for my taste.

I like Augustine Red Regals very much, but the trebles fray after a few hours of playing making them unusable for recording (noise is produced from the nails on the frayed string surface).

I used Savarez 540Js for my recordings and currently use them in my concerts because the tone is very warm and singing in the trebles and the basses are clear without being thin. I was surprised that such a thin diameter string could be played on with the aggressive touch I often use. A subtle characteristic I found was that these strings sustain in the trebles markedly longer than any other brand. A single note hit on any other brand died away far sooner than the Savarez.

BUT, and this is important: the downside of Savarez is that their intonation is often off. Sometimes I have to put on four to twelve of say the high E string before finding one that plays in tune! Even though I like their tone, it is definitely a hassle to deal with their intonation problems.


But remember, these tests were with MY guitar (1973 Ramirez) with my touch, my fingernails. Strings can sound VERY different on different guitars with different players. Experiment but be sure to try a lot of strings in a short span of time (unless you can record them as I did) so you can truthfully compare them to each other. The type of auditory memory required to compare strings is very fleeting and unreliable.