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JeremyDr

Does string brand/freshness affect modelled tone?

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I normally keep my guitar strings reasonably fresh, because I like that bright tone. Is string freshness (and brand) relevant with Variax models? My JTV 59 reproduces every other external nuance affecting tone, so this seems reasonable. I know I could test this by simply putting on some fresh strings, but knowing me, I'd be wondering if I was succumbing to confirmation bias/wishful hearing.

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Yes, I think the modeling sounds quite a bit brighter with new strings compared to old one. It makes sense considering that unlike magnetic pickups, the piezos work by having direct contact with the strings.

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1 hour ago, JeremyDr said:

I normally keep my guitar strings reasonably fresh, because I like that bright tone. Is string freshness (and brand) relevant with Variax models? My JTV 59 reproduces every other external nuance affecting tone, so this seems reasonable. I know I could test this by simply putting on some fresh strings, but knowing me, I'd be wondering if I was succumbing to confirmation bias/wishful hearing.

 

String age matters, yes. Gauge matters. Brand? Impossible to prove one way or the other. It's like asking what the best beer in the world is. I would be willing to bet a large sum of money that the average guitar player, no matter how "golden eared" or tone obsessed, probably wouldn't be able to distinguish one brand of strings from another, merely by listening. Feel is another matter...especially with coated vs non- coated strings, but that's about it.  Honestly I'd probably laugh at anyone who claimed to be able to distinguish D'Adarrio from Ernie Ball, merely by listening to somebody play.

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So, I proved it to myself by going ahead and changing the strings. And of course, the change of tone in the models is exactly as it would be on the real guitars. The ones I'd had on – D'Addario 10-52 – were getting really worn out.

 

I replaced them with GHS Boomers, which I find are brighter than D'Addario or Ernie Ball. Interestingly, the models react differently to the new strings; the change of tone is far more dramatic with the Fender models than with the Gibson ones. And greater still with the acoustic models. Which I reckon is about what you'd get with the real guitars.

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2 hours ago, JeremyDr said:

And of course, the change of tone in the models is exactly as it would be on the real guitars.

 

Exactly.... 

 

I also found a big change on the "acoustic models" when I tried a set of "bronze wound" with a wound "G" just like an acoustic would have. It didn't work so well with the electric models (as I expected) but it did make a positive difference on the acoustic models. There is always a compromise... find what works best in your situation and go with it. 

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Given that the Variax modeling is in simple terms a make-up applied to the pure signal coming from each single string (ie each string is processed separately), obviously if the pure sound (still make-up free) darkens due to string wear, even the "make-up" applied will have a somewhat different effect on it.

In particular the models (both electric and acoustic) in the Variax were constructed and applied over the pure (piezo-transduced) signals coming from each of the "10-46 nickel wound D'Addario EXL110BT Balanced Tension" strings.

 

If you change brand/gauge/type obviously the make-up free pure tone will change, and conseguently also the results of the applied modeling, which thing can be good or bad depending on your taste and needs.

 

Similarly if you change the piezo transducers with a different type it will affect the results of the applied modeling too.

 

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I’ve conducted some experiments with string type/condition and all the above does influence modeling tones.  One of my favorites for something unique and different is to use flat wounds D’Adarrio Chromes on electric Variax.  

 

Simply buy medium set 13-56, toss out the 56 add a 10 string’er up.  Works out to 10-45 IIRC?  Sticking close to OEM gauge seems to be fairly important.  Possibly more so than string type.    

 

Broken in, flat wounds reduced plinks, finger noises and other artifacts playing at high preamp gain settings.  But of course the wound strings sounded like flat wounds too.  Weird but kinda cool in many situations.  

 

Acoustic models take on a funky D-18 with decade old strings tone/texture under the Dread model.  Reminded me of Norman Blake flat picking tone.  

 

Currently using Elixir 10-46 but I prefer the thicker poly wrap as opposed to the thinner coatings for Variax.  Splitting hairs but they seem to be somewhat quieter in regard to finger noise.  

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