Guitar Players: A Minor Guitar String Tutorial

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Guitar Players

The design basics of round core guitar strings evolved from the violin family of instruments, including piano and harp strings. The instruments mentioned above always used round core wires instead of hex shaped cores. There is a sonic difference that is ‘very likely’ noticeable to most guitar players. Most experienced guitar players already have a brand of choice. Realistically speaking, not all of us have perfect hearing anymore.

Typically, electric guitar strings, and most steel string acoustic guitar strings use core wires (for the wound strings) that are Hexagon in cross section. Simply put, the wire is not Round but it is hex shaped with six (hence hex) corners. The idea behind the hex shape core wire is that the corners of the hex shaped wire grabs the winding wire which is then wrapped around the core. That mild grab helps to lock the winding to the core.

There are some strings, both electric and acoustic, that use Round Core Wires Rather Than hex shape cores. DR Strings PHR9 Pure Blues Nickel Light Electric Guitar Strings DR Strings
are the ones I’m most familiar with that use round cores. Some of the artists that use DR Strings are Bootsy Collins and many more familiar guitar players. I use them on my Clapton Stratocaster.

Round Core Guitar Strings Construction consists of using a Round Wire Core, instead of a hex core, which is then wound with a round outer wire under ‘compression’, or tension.

For instance, I use ‘light weight’ strings guaged at .09″ thru .042″, because they are light and easy to bend. As an example, Stevie Ray Vaughan used railroad guage strings .013″ thru .056″ strings. The .042″(or in Stevie Ray’s case .056″) string is the low E string on a guitar. It actually starts out at .043″, during the process of winding it under ‘tension’, it narrows down to .042″ during the ‘compression’ process. In essence the string has more metal in it than you think. Therefore achieving longer life, increased sustain, easy bending and generally sounding brighter than other methods of producing strings. Even your harmonic overtones have a purity of sound not associated with the hex core strings.

Installing Round Core Strings is pretty much the same as any string, except for a minor suggestion.

DR suggests, when you install these roundcores, be sure you have more than a wrap or two around the
tuning post before you cut off the excess (I prefer 4 to 5 wraps to prevent slippage). The reasoning is that round core strings, at least ones made by DR have an anchor at the end of the string, just past the nut, which keeps the string from unwinding after you measure and cut it to length. Especially if you need to cut it first and make a 90 degree bend. In essence, cutting a round core wrapped string before the anchor can cause it to unwind.

I install them the way DR suggests, not cutting them until I’ve got them locked to the tuner posts, just to be safe. The instructions on the box are clear and to the point.

As confusing as this sounds, and maybe trivial in essence, Guitar Players Center brings the most unusual and hard to find subjects of interest.

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Thanks and Enjoy.

2 Responses to Guitar Players: A Minor Guitar String Tutorial

  1. Interesting stuff! How do you know so much?

  2. I agree that with DJW person. This is such interesting material!! I love reading what you have to teach us! Thanks

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