In an effort to find the “prefect” strings for my new Yamaha CG171, I anted up $80 and chose 8 candidates for the (less than) scientific test. I hoped the choice would be obvious but it certainly was not. The differences between a $3 set of strings and a $30 set are far more subtle than the average ear can hear. But I did end up making a choice.
The following comments are exactly as I wrote them down and were mostly just “feelings” I had while using the strings. My perceptions may conflict with those of others and in fact conflict with my own in a couple cases. I’m not an expert.
Stringing – I liked the little molded balls on the end of Savarez 520R (my normal strings) but didn’t seem to need them here. The bridge knots stayed in place while winding the slack in the strings
Would have preferred individual envelopes.
First Impressions – Trebles seemed a little dull at first but brightened up the 2nd night.
They tune up better (quicker) than the S-520R’s
I like the feel of the smooth trebles (520R’s are ground)
The sound is very similar to Savarez.
2 – 3 Days later – They hold pitch very well. Nice mellow sound.
HB 728 MT
Stringing – Pretty much the same as the 728 HT’s
First Impressions –
Tuned up well
Very similar to 728 HT’s. Hard to tell the difference
Smooth trebs. Trebs seem brighter than 728HT’s at first.
2 – 3 Days Later –
Holding pitch well
Don’t seem to sound much different than 728 HT’s but feel softer.
I like the “elastic” feel on my right (picking) hand.
Galli Genius GR60 HT
Stringing – Annoying – B string pulled out of bridge twice. Had to double-knot it.
Took much longer to pull up to pitch. I like the individual envelopes.
First Impressions – G (3rd) string is brighter. Nice sound. Definitely have firmer right hand feel than the 728 MT’s.
2 – 3 Days - #1 & 2 strings very bright and crisp. #3 a bit dull, much like the other sets. They definitely recorded cleaner. No mid-range boomyness.
These have been my regular strings for the last 25 years so they are here as a basis for comparison.
Stringing - #3 & 4 are too short. But I like the little balls molded on the trebs. Had trouble pulling #1 up to pitch. My last set was still dropping severely after 3 – 4 weeks. Maybe a bad batch? I don’t remember it happening before. These were purchased from Musician’s Friend.
First Impressions – Don’t know. They won’t stay in tune long enough to play anything. Trebs clearly “duller” than Galli’s
2 – 3 Days - #1 seemed to come up ok but was 2 whole tones low. #2 & 3 were only ½ tone low. I still think there’s a quality problem with this batch of #1 strings. They sounded normal to me but I had trouble recording. (details later)
HB Goldins (gold plated)
Stringing – Sure are pretty but really not much different (looking) than bronze strings. Wound strings are significantly stiffer than other sets. Trebs are much thinner than usual. 3rd slipped out of double knot, had to triple. Seems like a LOT of tension to bring up to pitch. Neat colors for the trebs (dyed gold)
First Impressions – Can’t get them to hold pitch long enough to play.
2 – 3 Days – Sound very good. Recorded well. Trebs not as bright as Savarez but basses more bright.
Savarez Corum Med
Stringing – Strings seem to be an inch or so shorter than the others but not really a problem. I miss the little balls on the 520R’s
First Impressions – I like the thicker trebs. Definitely brighter than the Goldins. Pulled up to pitch quickly. Nice “twangy” sound. I like the feel of med tension strings but wonder if I’m sacrificing brightness?
2 – 3 Days – Seem to be brighter. Excellent feel, I love the softer touch.
3 Days – After 3 days, the basses seem to have a “bite” that wasn’t there before. Really GREAT new sound.
Galli Genius Med
Stringing – Really slippery. #2 slipped out with double knot. Had to triple. Tuned up fairly good.
First Impressions – Not as bright as Savarez Corum’s but may brighten up later like they did. Not as “elastic” as Savarez or Hannabach mediums.
2 – 3 Days – Tuned up well. Basses still not as bright as Savarez Corum’s. Recording seemed ok with only a little mid range overload.
3 – Days – Trebs may have brightened a little but basses have not changed.
HB 815 MT with wound 3rd.
Stringing – Went well. Difference in wound 3rd can be heard right away – Sounds good but 33% more finger squeak. I like the individual wrappers.
First Impressions – Trebs seem “icey”. I like that. I LOVE the sound of the wound 3rd. Holding pitch well after only a few minutes. (rare)
2 – 3 Days
Wound 3rd sounds great by itself but is sometimes louder than the strings around it. Even the #4 string. The excessive finger squeak is bothering me A LOT! Recorded well. No overload at all.
Each of the sets were recorded 2 to 3 days after being installed. I hoped for a clear cut choice but of course it didn’t happen that way. Except for the boomy mid range overload on three of the sets, the tone was nearly identical from all the sets. I eliminated the following sets due to the recording difficulties:
Hannabach 728 Med
That left 5 sets in the running that pretty much all sounded and recorded the same. I then made the decision that I preferred medium tension rather than hard because I liked the feel and could not distinguish any sound quality difference. That eliminated the following two:
Hannabach 728 Hard
Galli Genius GR60 HT
Even though I loved the sound of the wound 3rd in the HB 815’s I had to eliminate them due to the annoying extra finger squeak.
So it’s down to the last two which for my preference in sound and playing style seem to be absolutely identical. I would defy anyone to tell which is which by listening to the recordings. My final choice was the Savarez Corum’s because they seemed to be a tiny bit more “elastic” feeling to my picking hand.