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The Bridge, Volume 1, Issue 2
October 31, 2006
Start-Playing-Guitar.com's The Bridge
Volume 1, Issue 2: "Coated Strings?"
Notes From Steve:
The leaves are falling, the wind is blowing, and it's getting cold outside. That may bring higher heating bills, but it also means the lawn has stopped growing along with the weeds in the garden.
Woo-Hoo! More time to practice...
...and more time to develop new content for Start-Playing-Guitar.com!
New! New! New!
If you haven't been to the web-site for a while, you've missed lots of new content.
Beginner Lessons - The best place to go once you have your guitar. First Things First tells you what to do after you get home from the store with your shiny new rig. Proper Mechanics helps by describing and showing you the right form, avoiding bad habits. Essential Music Theory is just that, enough music theory to get you going... not too much to weigh you down. Easy Songs: the beginning of what I hope will become a good collection of songs for the beginner.
Plus... for all that new material... a discussion of that essential accessory, the Music Stand.
And... for those of you who want to support the web-site... our own little on-line Store.
Work In Progress:
Coming to the web-site!
More articles for the beginner guitarist on topics such as:
Hot Topic: Why Use Coated Strings?
Let's start with 'full-disclosure.'
I use and recommend Elixir Strings... I don't work for them.
Are they right for you?
Let's look at what they are, the advantages, and (yes) disadvantages.
What are Coated Strings?
The folks at Elixir recognized, and most guitarists agree, that there's nothing like the sound of new strings. The tone, the sustain, the stability for remaining in-tune. That's why traveling and professional musicians tend to change strings every single day.
If new strings are so great, why do they need to be changed? Because every time you play your guitar, you damage them.
The amount of damage you inflict depends on a number of factors: how wildly you tune them; how clean your hands are; how much you sweat; the oils your hands naturally produce; the contaminants in the air around you; and how well you clean your strings after you play. In short, the more skin, sweat, dirt, and debris you leave on your strings, the faster they wear out.
Elixir decided to help you by putting a barrier between your strings and all these contaminants. What they came up with, after lots of testing and customer feedback, is a very thin tube of material around each string. The tube creates a 'skin' to protect the string. It's tough enough to hold up to fingers and picks, without interfering with the ability of the string to vibrate and create great tone.
Advantages: Tone, Longevity, Reduced Squeek
Most people think the only advantage of coated strings is the extended life they provide. But if they don't sound great, long-life is just a long time you spend with annoying strings. For me, an advantage of Elixir strings is the great tone they provide.
Elixir estimates that their strings should last 3 to 5 times longer than non-coated strings. Do they? Unfortunately, that depends on how you play.
For me they easily provide the promised life expectancy. However, a friend of mine who tried Elixir's and found that the coating became shredded in about the same amount of time that his other strings wore out.
So, they are cost effective for me, but not for him (although he did like the tone).
Finally, the coating significantly reduces the squeeking sound you get as you run your fingers up and down the strings when you change chords or play a riff. Some people like this sound, others don't. If you want to minimize the sound (which, to me, is like fingernails on a chalk board!) coated strings will restore your sanity! (Well, maybe.)
Cost is the primary disadvantage of coated strings. Elixir's cost $12-14 per set (although I've found them on sale for as little as $7). Similar uncoated strings cost $3-5.
Are they right for you? I encourage you to try them and see for yourself.
Reminder: Regardless of which strings you use, clean them after every use for the longest possible life.
Read more about guitar maintenance and how to protect your investment, on the Guitar Maintenance page.
Use my Contact Me form to tell me that you read this issue of "The Bridge." If you're the first to reply, I'll send you a set of Elixir Nanoweb Extra Light Acoustic Guitar Strings absolutely free!
The Big Finish
I hope you've enjoyed this issue of The Bridge. See you next month!
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