Hi fellow pickers! I'm trying to decide on a new set of strings to try. On my guitars over the years I've always used light or extra light guage strings, particlularly because that is what my idols used. Without knowing the how or why behind it, I just simply used light guage strings for my banjos also. Well, now as I mature, I think I may be ready for something different. And I'm wondering the differences between light gauge and medium guage strings for classic banjo, specifically feel and sound? Theres so many different sets and makers, lets just use Aquila nylguts, say their 1B set vs. the 2B set? I think both have the red nylgut 4th?

Will a heavier tension string like the 1B for instance, give greater volume and a crisper tone perhaps, but be a little harder on the fingers, example: bending, plucking, pull-offs, all requiring greater effort, vs. the 2B? I'd really like to experience a snappy set of strings with clear crisp tone and optimum volume! I know the instrument itself and how it is set-up makes tremendous difference in sound, but I figure if the banjo is he body, the strings have to be the blood...and one needs proper blood flow. What sayeth thou fellow banjoists?

 

Many Thanks,

 

Dow

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The Aquila sets with the wound 4th strings are better in my opinion. The fat nylgut fourths don't respond as I'd like them to. I've only tried the milky colored unwound fourths however, not the red,  No matter what set you chose no strings of gut, nylon, silk, pfv, fluorocarbon or nylgut is going to bend. That is strictly a steel string thing.  Heavier gauge gives more volume and body but not more crispiness,  but what set to use depends on how hard you play.

Hey thanks a lot Jody...that helps! I need crispness...I think I will pursue the starchy lighter gauge sets! I will let you know how that red 4th performs.

 

Dow

The lighter ones aren't crisper either!  

Texican65 said:

Hey thanks a lot Jody...that helps! I need crispness...I think I will pursue the starchy lighter gauge sets! I will let you know how that red 4th performs.

 

Dow

Well what the heck? I'm sitting here thinking...well then where does that crisp piercing twang come from, a person's technique, how forceful they pluck the string...and banjo set-up? Is there a more favorable string style proper for this sound, that I may not know about...I am a youngster, so there's lots I dont know about yet. :)

 

Dow

yup! all those things. A two footed bridge with not much mass, a tight head, a forceful technique. these all have an effect. Some downward pressure caused by some tailpieces can also help. Also high tension strings (they can feel  thin but they don't feel light. Some fluorocarbon fishing line strings are like this. Plucking close to the bridge gives crispness too.  So many factors. If you play hard, like T R N M,  light gauge nylon might be too light. On the other hand if the scale is 28 inches, medium gauge might be too heavy. It all depends. Merry Crispness!  

Texican65 said:

Well what the heck? I'm sitting here thinking...well then where does that crisp piercing twang come from, a person's technique, how forceful they pluck the string...and banjo set-up? Is there a more favorable string style proper for this sound, that I may not know about...I am a youngster, so there's lots I dont know about yet. :)

 

Dow

Hi Dave. to a certain extent it depends on how hard you play. I've got hands like navvies' shovels and a touch like an Irish midwife consequently I find that Clifford Essex heavy gauge better suit my style. It's really a case of suck it and see. Another issue is your individual perception of tone quality, what sounds good to you may not sound as good to someone else. My ears are now 66 years old and I wear two hearing aids so my tone appreciation isn't the same as it was when I was younger. Come to think of it, with all my issues, maybe I should admit defeat and give up?.....Steve.  

Giving up is not an option, Steve. Dude, it only gets better. :-)

Never, never, give up.

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