Flamenco Guitar Strings Opinions

In response to so many requests that I receive to recommend a make of flamenco guitar strings I offer some guidance below:

 

First everything I write here is my own personal opinion and the result of my own personal experiences.

There are no absolute truths and I advise each guitarist to try out all the available strings and try to decide which strings suit them, their own particular playing style and their guitar best.

At present I am using Luthier set 30 in the blue package and D’Addario Pro Arte set EJ 45 normal tension; in both cases silver wound basses and standard trebles.

Before going on to all the other guitar strings that I have used I would like to discuss these two in a little detail.

Luthier set 30 Classical Guitar strings:

Pros:

Endless life: Make sure you check and change them when needed because they will continue to sound and feel very good almost for ever. I run a finger nail under the bass strings and if I feel the string is beginning to break up at the frets it might be time to think about changing. I do the same for the treble strings but these have less obvious wear to the touch. If the treble strings are beginning to feel a little too inflexible this might also mean the tone is not quite as lovely as it was when they were first put on the guitar, although time on guitar does not seem to dull their brightness at all.

Feel on the fingers: For me these stings are perfect in terms of string tension. They are neither too stiff nor too floppy. The last thing you want is a string that you have to do battle with or conversely a string that seems to not stay in its place. Although of course as guitarists know this has a lot to do with the guitar itself and I have absolutely fabulous guitars but that is a subject for another blog post.

I find these Luthier strings are exactly where I want them and they help all techniques.

Tone: Very bright, very flamenco, somewhat percussive.

They are labelled as classical guitar strings and I do hope that they work well for classical guitarists. Their tone is very flamenco and I find that these strings can help to brighten up some of the entry level guitars that people usually play when they are starting off.

Affecting the inherent tone of the guitar: They do not colour the tone of the guitar. I mean to say that they do not change the way the guitar sounds; they just bring that sound out, helping volume and sustain.

Cons: Expensive: I am finding these strings somewhat more expensive than say some others but as indicated above one changes then much more seldom and they sound and feel great.

Luthier Sets 20 and 50.

I have tried both of these sets but they did not work for me and my guitars. I found the 20 to be too soft and the 50 to be too hard and in the case of the latter the sound was much more rounded, less percussive, less flamenco.

D’Addario EJ45 Normal Tension Classical Guitar Strings:

Pros:

Tone: Rich and deep and satisfying, especially good for serious ‘cante jondo palos’. Very good sustain and warmth.

Feel on fingers: Very comfortable, a little thicker than the Luthier above, but never lumpy.

Affecting the inherent tone of the guitar: They do not do this at all. They are absolutely neutral and this is exactly what I want.

Price: Consistently very reasonable priced. I hope that the manufacturers will not read this and then increase the price.

Cons: These strings last well but not as long as the aforementioned brand. This is especially the case with the basses and I think it is possible or has been possible to buy sets with the three extra basses. Having said this, I think the frequent changing of strings is more associated with giving concerts where of course we need our to guitar to sound at its absolute best.

Other D’Addario Guitar Strings

I won’t list them all here. I think I have tried every string in just about every string tension that they have ever produced as they came out.

They were all good, all slightly different although I am aware that some guitarist think that the same string can be provided in different sets with different identities. For example, you might get the same treble strings across different set names but with the different basses or perhaps vice versa.

The feel and tone can be different to the standard

It was fun to try them all out and I would advise anyone to try them, give it a go and see what works for you.

Savarez Classical Guitar Strings

This is where I started when I was still a child and got my first guitar.

Savarez were the standard and one was almost always  recommended to use Carta Roja, Red Card. That is how we called them. We identified them by the colour of the packaging. Red was kind of firm but not too hard but you could get harder by going for Yellow Card.

In those days it was quite typical to combine either different Savarez tensions or Savarez basses with La Bella trebles. In theory, the idea was that the Savarez made treble strings using a system called rectified nylon which perhaps felt just a tiny bit rough or shall we say not absolutely smooth to  the touch.

Personally I loved that feel but the idea around was that La Bella was smoother and gave a more flamenco tone. Perhaps the guitarists of the day were right but I suspect that a good few of them loved the Black or Red trebles that you could readily get from La Bella.

These black and red strings looked cool and of course looked “muy flamenco”!

I always loved Savarez the moment I put them on. They had a kind of well, very Spanish tone, they made ligado very easy, they were both bright and warm. But they did not last very long at all. I found that the basses especially lost their brightness and strength quite quickly.

I have tried most of the other strings that Savarez have produced and liked them all but found pretty much the same characteristics as described above.

Perhaps they are different nowadays. When I get time I may well try them again and see if they have been modified or developed.