Other than the guitar, the most important factor in creating a great Jazz guitar sound are the strings you wind up tuning on your box. I have reviewed many guitar string sets here on Boles Blues in order to find the best match for the style of music I want to play.
I have been partial to the Thomastik-Infeld strings because they last forever, but with the acquisition of my new Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Jazz guitar, I had another set of strings to try — The Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Signature Set 13-52 — and here’s what I initially said about setting up my Gibson L5 with the new Sadowsky Bruno Strings:
When I picked up my Sadowsky Bruno today to play it — the guitar had morphed into a deeper, richer, tone and the playability was just a bit keener. Was the guitar getting acclimated, or was I bending my ability to better match its setup? The guitar is already starting to come into tone and I’ve only had it since Friday.
Now my new 1998 L5 sits there gently weeping at me. I picked it up for the first time today — to install Sadowsky “Jimmy Bruno Set” 13s on it! I will report back in a week or so in a new strings review!
I’ve been playing the new Sadowsky Bruno strings on my Bruno Jazz guitar and on my Gibson L5 archtop for a week and the sound is just grand. The strings stay in tune and, like the Thomastik-Infeld strings, they grow warmer and richer the longer you play them!
First, a brief history of these genuine Jimmy Bruno strings from Sadowsky. As I understand it from reading the internets, La Bella were the original string maker for these Bruno strings from Sadowsky and then either Roger or Jimmy didn’t like how the strings played, so the strings were removed from being sold while they were reworked.
The Sadowsky Bruno strings are now back on the market and I don’t know if La Bella is the manufacturer of these new strings or not. I never had the chance to try the “old” strings, so I can only relate to these “new and improved” Sadowsky Bruno strings. I believe the Sadowsky Bruno strings are in the same genus as D’Addario “Half Rounds.”
I like the Sadowsky Bruno strings a lot. I have loved playing Thomastik-Infeld Benson flat wound strings because they have zero finger noise, but there is no bottom end to those strings — the bassline just sort of sits there like a lump. Thomastik-Infeld BeBops have a great bassy punch, but they are super noisy if you’re playing fingerstyle. At $15.00USD a set, the Sadowsky Bruno are $6-7.00USD cheaper than similar Thomastik-Infeld strings.
The Sadowsky Bruno strings — as “Polished Roundwound” strings — and as I understand it, are manufactured to be a magnificent compromise between traditional flat wound and round wound strings and I am glad to report they create a fascinating combination of “flatwound finger feel” with “round wound ear sound.” You play these Sadowsky Bruno strings and you immediately notice there is not much finger noise at all and yet you still have a really punchy bassline with all its rhythmic integrity intact.
When you first pull the Sadowsky Bruno strings from their packaging, they feel gritty in your fingers. String them up and they magically become smoother, but still “grabbable” for fingerstyle plucking.
I took my Wegen Gypsy Jazz pick to the Sadowsky Bruno strings, and while they sort of held up okay, I quickly saw some dull wear patterns beginning to show on the strings — so I stopped that. I don’t think the Sadowsky Bruno strings can abide a pick weight over 3.5mm.
Speaking of weights and sizes and string heft, the heavy Sadowsky Bruno string set runs: 13-17-24-32-42-52. Now, that wound third “G” string is pretty thick at 24 — the third wound string in TI Benson and TI Swings is 21; on my TI BeBops it is 22 — so beware that a thick Sadowsky Bruno third string means you might have a nut slot problem even on a traditional archtop guitar that expects a thicker wound third.
Even though Roger Sadowsky himself set up my guitar before it was shipped to me, I have a “G” string nut problem on my Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Jazz guitar — the Sadowsky string gets caught in the Sadowsky nut during tuning even though I’m using the same heavy Sadowsky string set Jimmy Bruno uses on his Sadowsky namesake guitar. I still find that a curiously odd and disappointing setup oversight as I mentioned, and Roger Sadowsky himself acknowledged, in my original Sadowsky Bruno Jazz guitar review.
That said, I do enjoy how my Sadowsky Bruno strings play in every musical condition — and time will tell if they last months-long like my Thomastik-Infeld strings — but if you want great string tone right now without the finger noise, then getting your hands on a set of these Sadowsky Bruno strings is a great and sound solution.