Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Right Strings For Your Classical Guitar with Philippe Bertaud

Hey Folks!

That is like the question I get all the time:- Philippe, what strings do you put on your guitar?and, I know when I look in your eyes that you guys had… and maybe still have if you did not read this article yet, the same issue(s) I had. Finding the right strings! Honestly, if you get into a store and look at the brands, you really start feeling woozy, and then you start to try one set, and another, and another… and arrive on my blog – or come to one of my clinic – and anxiously ask me about strings.

Because I tried them all, and there is not a week that I do not receive a set from a string company. Some are okay… the first days of their life but, like the butterflies, they do not last a long time. Others – let’s be honest – most of the brands have intonation issues… you have to run to the store to buy other 1st or 3rd strings (no kidding! I live in Texas and the time I get to the store it’s pitch dark, that’s how far it is!!!) and you realize you have to go back to the store because the new ones you get still have intonation problems… Other sets have they basses dead in 2 or 3 days… or break.Seriously: do you want me to break in string during a show? I tour and play a lot and want to have reliable strings! And y’all know I bang the guitar and take all the guts out of the poor thing.

You never see me re-tuning the guitar when I perform (if you saw me, it’s because I was about to play open tuning… or it was when I did not have Alhambra Guitar… just buy the right stuffs guys) It’s not because I’m deaf … neither because I’m blond… it’s because the strings I use stay in tune, never break, last forever… are cheap and American. Read that well coming from a Frenchy: they are MADE IN ZE USA! Okay… Should I share more about the spirit? You want me to tell you I fence my Texas ranch with those strings?

So, what is the mystery? Well, I went to Africa to meet a wizard in Zambia and he gave me the answer… are you ready?

The basses are round and rich because they use the best wire, the highest quality. Not the cheap one that will rust in no time. Also for the "EXP" basses, they put the coating ON the wire, not just on the strings. See? Have you tried the other ones? The ones that have been made the "fast way"? Just the coating sprayed on the whole string... and what happenend after that? It's peeling off!!! Not only it looks nasty, like if your guitar contracted leprosy - or you which is worst! - and because of the peeling-off-fast-spayed-coating... your strings buzzes. Hey, you know what I'm talking about.

But not the strings I use... Did you hear my guitar buzzing? Peeling? Strings shredding away? Mais non!

I go great basses strings! The "Must", the "Best". They got the sustain you are looking for and the harmonic support.
What am I talking about?
- Go to the end of the concert hall next time you attend a classical guitar recital… you barely hear the basses. They are weak. But not the one I use!

And the trebles... no intonation issues. Why? Because they want to be so perfect they measure each string two hundred times.
How many times? 200 – TWO HUNDRED TIMES, dos cientos, zwei hundert, δύο εκατό!!! 200 times!
Those guys are so crazy about precision, they measure EACH string 200 times. It’s not only for fun .. or because they have time to kill… It’s because they have a vision:- They want to make the best products ever because they take pride into what they do.- One dissatisfied player will be talking to 8 people about how the strings caused them problems and they will talk to others who will talk to others… and so forth.

First, to measure the strings with such precision, they thought about hiring a bunch of elves, fairies and dwarves from the "Enchanted Forest" but, over the past 30 years, guitar strings have benefited from a wealth of engineering and manufacturing improvements and the brand I use are now made by utilizing automated computer-controlled winding machines. The result has been unprecedented quality and value for the guitarists. The trebles are sorted by a sophisticated computer-controlled laser machine which performs diameter/tension measurements and quality checks to insure precise intonation. They want to make you satisfied… And they are.

What do I play?The only real strings for pro… D’Addario.

I use the Pro-Arte and also, on my spruce top guitar the Composites to give my guitar a warm "touch".

D’Addario Composite wound strings exclusively feature Zyex(R) multi-filament stranded core material, which delivers gut-like tone with extremely long life and consistency. The trebles come with two 3rd strings, one from the regular Pro Arte line (clear nylon) and one made from composite polymer (coffee colored) which has a brighter tone (the 1st and 2nd are also from the regular Pro Arte line).