Acoustic Guitars Strings Review

When you play guitar, you are always on the hunt for just the right set of strings for your musical expression.  Now that I’m back in an acoustic guitar swing, I have been on the hunt for just the right acoustic guitar strings and I’ll share my limited, but varied, journey with you now.

I learned over the past few weeks you just can’t beat the John Pearse acoustic strings. I use both the 600L and 700M sets and they both have such a wonderful chimey, echoey, glistening, chorus when you play that once you put them on, you’ll never want to take them off your guitar — even to change strings to the same strings!

Somehow, the John Pearse strings start off sounding grand and then only build their greatness as the weeks pass by — a complete reversal of the normal aging strings progression.  There’s some sort of magic going on, and the bright is right for focused experimentation.

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2018 Historic Collection 1959 Les Paul Standard

I love a Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul guitar. The heavy guitar feels right in my hands. The strings vibration is nothing like any other guitar I’ve played. For the past decade, or so, I’ve collected four Les Pauls, and I reviewed two of them for you here: My valued ’57 Les Paul VOS and my beloved 56′ Goldtop.

In the image below, you can see all four of my Les Pauls, and the newest one, on the front left, is my 2018 Historic Collection 1959 Les Paul Standard “Dark Bourbon Fade” just purchased from Wildwood Guitars in Louisville, Colorado — and on the front right, is the first Les Paul Standard “Iced Tea Burst” I purchased back in 2008.

I find it wildly fascinating that the two guitars, built a decade apart from each other, so closely resemble each other, while also being alarmingly different in distinctive, yet charming, ways. 2008 was the first wacky year for “The New” Les Paul Standard that included “weight relief” holes carved out of the body, an asymmetrical neck and locking tuners. My new Les Paul is part of the Gibson Custom Shop Historic Collection, and it arrived yesterday, fresh from Wildwood.

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Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Signature Polished Roundwound Strings Review

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!

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Back to BeBops!

If you are a longtime reader of this Boles Blues blog, you know I have a wild history with changing strings.  My current World Record for keeping the same gauge strings stood for a good six months:  The nickel flat wound Thomastik-Infeld George Benson Jazz Strings GB114.  The Benson record fell this week when I gave them up for round wound Thomastik-Infeld Jazz BeBop BB114 strings.

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The Wegen Gypsy Jazz Pick Review

Over the past three years, my musical journey has been led by a string of guitars, and documented here for you in Boles Blues.  You’ve traveled with me from the Blues and the Black Cat Bone to Jimmy Bruno Jazz and now into the whole new realm of “Gypsy Jazz.”

The patriarch of Gypsy Jazz Guitar is Django Reinhardt who played his way into history despite a fire accident that crippled two fingers on his left hand.  Gypsy Jazz guitar uses a unique and athletic playing style and requires a special guitar, strings and even picks if you want to be historically correct!

I have done a lot of guitar pick reviews, and I know different picks create unique tones and influence playing style.  One thing I noticed studying Gypsy Jazz guitar videos on YouTube is that many of the performers use the same white guitar pick.  Deeper investigation led me to learn those picks are made by Wegen especially for Gypsy Jazz:

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The Yaakov Hoter Gypsy Jazz School Review

Gypsy Jazz is one of the niches of Jazz I have been exploring with great fascination and delight.  I love the dynamism of the Gypsy Jazz performance and the energetic specificity of the Gypsy Jazz guitars, Gypsy Jazz guitar picks and Gypsy Jazz guitar strings to make the mechanical bits become the encompassing human whole.

Gypsy Jazz is a whole ecosystem unto itself and that’s why I decided to try to find an online teacher to help me quickly navigate the rules and the peculiarities of the Gypsy Jazz performance method.

I was lucky to discover Yaakov Hoter’s outstanding Gypsy Jazz School teaching portal where you can learn with him in universal private lessons you download.  Yaakov is based in Israel, but due to the wonder of the internets, you can study with him right in your living room, in your own time, at your own will.  The beauty of web teaching is in its inherent asynchronous learning systems.

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Back to the Blues!

After a long and fulfilling experience playing fingerstyle Jazz chord harmonies on my Jazz guitars for the past few years, I have slowly been weaning my way back to the fingerstyle Blues that started me on this new musical journey in the first place.

I’m sure the Clapton Martin acoustic and Martin D-42 had something to do with this slow circling back to the center — but I do think it’s more than just that.

There’s a whole rush of intensity and emotion for me when I play the Blues.  I immediately feel connected back to a time of suffering and empathy that I do not always have while playing Rock or Jazz or Country music.

There is a deep and longing sadness in the Blues and it is in those marks of human sacrifice and resurrection that we learn to become kinder and more prescient human beings — at least during the melancholy life of a finger plucked Mississippi Delta Blues song.

So, I’m “Back to the Blues” — but not the “Boles Blues” started in 2009 — that great blog title and content will stay embedded here forever in Boles Blogs.

Continue reading → Back to the Blues!