TTK NAMM Picks: Strung Out In Nashville

Put simply, if you don’t have strings you don’t have a guitar.  Invest in all of the fancy cables, boo-teem pedals, modelers with enough processing power to run a lunar mission, and shaman-blessed guitars you like (all of that stuff is fun, too), but if you ain’t got any strings to pluck, you ain’t got any tones to bask in.

During‘s first trip to Summer NAMM, we had a blast checking out a lot of cool stuff and showing it to you through the magic of the internet.  Here are three string makers that put great tone at your fingertips.


D’Addario Takes It To The People

D’Addarionyxl0942 made a huge splash last year with the introduction of it’s NYXL string line.  Built from a proprietary, high carbon wire and reformulated nickel-plated steel wrap and manufactured in D’Addario’s New York facility, NYXLs are built to bend further, keep tune longer, and sound fresher and cut better through the mix even after taking scads of abuse.  And there’s no sorcery or gimmickry involved here, just the combination of proven production processes and careful research into new ways a string can be built.

Prior to release, D’Addario sent out a number of pre-production sets to players of every style and level to gain feedback on the string (this writer was one of the lucky beta testers).  From that feedback, D’Addario built a string that is truly standing out in a crowded field and finding appeal among a wide variety of players; responsive, dynamic, durable, and stable.

On top of that, D’Addario knows how to throw a party.


DR Strings Keeps Things Hands-On…Literally

Head west over the Hudson River from D’Addario’s turf and you’ll end up in a land where you can’t 2b5af7_dd6f4b2994ae3a87fa74a25450797efe.png_srz_630_816_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzpump your own gas: New Jersey.  On an unassuming suburban street in the town of Emerson is DR’s string-making facility, where their strings are made the old-fashioned way: by hand.

But just because DR is using good, old-fashioned craftsmanship and technique doesn’t mean they’re stuck in the days of silent movies and rotary phones.  One of the cooler things to hit the string world are DR’s Neon series.  In addition to carrying on the DR’s tradition for awesome tone and feel, these coated, black light reactive strings can up your stage game and take people’s eyes off your lead singer for once (certainly to his or her dismay).  And yet, despite their radical departure from tradition, DR Neons still start out the way all DR strings do, in the hands (literally) of skilled, experienced craftsman.

If you want to bathe yourself in the traditional instead of the outrageous, DR also makes the killer Pure Blues series for those old school tones only a pure nickel wrap can deliver, the bright and modern Hi-Beam series, and the versatile Tite Fit line.


Cleartone: What You CAN’T See Can Make a Huge Difference

cleartoneCoated guitar strings have been around for a while now, and like nearly every other aspect of gear players have seen coated strings evolve from visible coating to anti-corrosion technology that is practically indistinguishable from an uncoated string.

Cleartone is a major innovator when it comes to the latter.  While players were still trying to wrap their heads around the flakey, shredded coatings that marked the start of the coated string craze, Cleartone introduced an innovative process that made the coating practically undetectable.  AT Summer NAMM TTK and I were given two identical guitars, one with Cleartones installed and the other with the same strings, only uncoated, and challenged to determine which guitar had the coated string and which didn’t.  After bashing out a few chords, we both guessed wrong.  As it turns out, the easiest way to pick out a Cleartone coated string is to rely on your ears.  Cleartones stay punchy and bright long after regular strings have “broken in” and lost a their freshness.

Guitar players have long known that a string change is the among the easiest and least expensive ways to tweak their foundational tones, alter the feel of their instruments, or simply liven up their entire rig.  A mere forty or fifty years ago, guitar players didn’t even have much to choose from when it came choices in string gauge, much less anything else.  Now manufacturers like D’Addario, DR, and Cleartone are giving us a lot more to think about when it comes to materials, manufacturing, and tone.  No matter what you’re looking to accomplish, we here at have no doubt you’ll enjoy checking out the possibilities.

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