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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Strings: JD versus normal wound. Opinions?

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

RB-1 - Posted - 07/09/2009:  17:49:15

What is the consensus here?

A .020 JD feels like a .020 normal wound. Yes/no?

A .020 JD has the same bass response as a .... normal wound. Gauge?

Your opinions, please!

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

Edited by - RB-1 on 07/09/2009 20:04:58

David Ward - Posted - 07/09/2009:  18:07:12

Hello,I've never used JD strings but I would say it would be hard to notice the difference if the gauge is the same. I use GHS 145s and the fourth is a 22,that I can notice the difference compaired to a 20 gauge. Take care!

"Blue Country Bluegrass"

Edited by - David Ward on 07/09/2009 18:08:40

RB-1 - Posted - 07/09/2009:  18:19:31

I'm asking, because I can hear a clear difference between .020, .021, .022 and .023.
Reason I'm using .023 ( together with .010, .011 and .013)

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

Jaminbanjo - Posted - 07/09/2009:  18:45:47

It might just be the name. And the same string.

Without music life would B-flat.

mike gregory - Posted - 07/09/2009:  19:11:20

For one panic-stricken micromoment, I thought somebody had inflicted a WOUND on J.D.!

Darn that English language, anyway!
Wy kant thA spel wurds fonetikle?

Oh, never mind!

Mike Casey - Posted - 07/09/2009:  19:39:36

I am told the JDs have more wraps per inch (mm?) giving these a bigger sound. I believe I can tell a positive difference in that the JDs have a more robust bass response to my ear. A set of GHS strings with a JD wound 4th should be on your list of strings to try.

Mike Casey
and The Uncleheads

desert rose - Posted - 07/09/2009:  19:57:12

The JD wrap is VERY different than a normal wrap

Its was refered to as a "violin wrap" for what ever thats worth and has a distinct effect on tone

To your fretting hand its the same as a normal wrap .020 but Id compare the tone to something in a .022 normal guage as far as power and depth of tone

Its not hype by any means


Desert Rose Musical Instruments

flake - Posted - 07/09/2009:  19:58:21

I use Arthur Hatfield's Custom Set, which uses a JD 20 and I don't feel like I've lost anything----tone, right hand response, left hand feel------to the 22 gauge I was using previously. If anything, I've gained more response and they're easier on my fingers.


Less is more. Unless you''re standing next to the one who has more. Then less just looks pathetic.

RB-1 - Posted - 07/09/2009:  20:10:27

Originally posted by flake

I've gained more response
Could you elaborate on that?

Seems though, I should try a .021 JD...

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

flake - Posted - 07/09/2009:  21:29:25

It's as if the 20 JD has as much "rebound" or "resistance", for the lack of better terms, as the 22s did, which might be the opposite of what you would expect considering the JD should have a lower tension than the 22. My pull-offs are just as crisp, hammer-ons still have authority and my thumb doesn't feel like I'm stroking through mush when I dig in. It could have something to do with the core of the JD string.

One of the things I worried about when I went to a 20 fourth was that I'd lose the solid feel of the 22s and the 23s that I'd been used to, but the 20 JD seems every bit as solid-----like my thumbpick has something to dig into. It's not like I'm playing fourth string licks on the third string.


Less is more. Unless you''re standing next to the one who has more. Then less just looks pathetic.

Ebanjo - Posted - 07/10/2009:  11:25:29

RB-1, the JD .020 is hand wound (the winding is guided onto the core by
hand instead of computer). The biggest difference i've noticed is they seem to last longer than the others to me. Most of the other brands ( Vega, Gibson, Mapes) had hand wound .020 's in them until the
late 70's or early 80's.
Eric Ellis

Forrest - Posted - 07/10/2009:  12:23:45

To answer your questions:

A .020JD has the same overall feel as a .020 regular wrap to me.

A 020JD has the same bass resonse to my ear as a .022 gauge string. The .020JD strings feel better on my left hand when doing 2-5 slides and also when pulling off at the 2nd fret. They are also a little easier on my right hand thumb.

"Run, Forrest, Run!"

Alex Z - Posted - 07/10/2009:  12:40:27

The below is from my posting in August of 2007:

Answer from GHS

I called GHS today and talked to Dave Cowles. (He is labeled as "Artist Relations / Technician" on the GHS web site.) He researched the differences betwee the JD and the regular ("non-JD) wrapped string, and called me back.

-- The only difference between the JD and the regular is not at the loop end (as I misinterpreted before) but at the plain end of the string. On the JD, the wrap wire is wound back over itself, called a "fiddle wrap." This was specified by JD Crowe [my note: does not mean that GHS invented it for Mr. Crowe, only that he specified that it be on his string]. GHS says that it "keeps the winding locked onto the core better", "tighter", "to maintain tone."

-- The materials for the two strings are the same.

-- The loop end construction is the same.

-- The core and wrap diameters are the same.

-- The manufacturing techniques are the same (but for the fiddle wrap).

-- The plain strings in the JD sets and non-JD sets are the same.

GHS believes that the effect of the fiddle wrap on holding the winding tightly maintains the tone of the string.

The findings:

-- There is one difference in the JD versus regular string -- fiddle wrap on plain end -- the end opposite the loop end.

-- GHS offers a technical reason why the difference affects the tone -- maintains tightness of winding.

-- Mr. Crowe has specified his preference for the difference.

I'm going to try the JD string at my next string change, to see if I can hear the difference on my instrument, as others on the Hangout have.

Hope this helps all.

So at least according to GHS, the current JD string is not wound tighter than the regular string. (But some have said it was wound tighter in the past.)

The only difference is the "fiddle wrap", which is intended to maintain tightness. Note that this is the part of the string that is cut off after installation.

end of quote

Hope this helps clear things up. There is a lot of folklore associated with this string. Some of it is even true.

Alex Z

RB-1 - Posted - 07/10/2009:  13:02:15

Thank you all for your replies.

This puts things in perspective.

Indeed, if a .020 JD is comparable to a .022 normal, then I'd need a .021 JD

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

snakeherd - Posted - 07/10/2009:  13:24:56

Sorry, I'm not buying the loop end/plain end story. The strings even feel different to me when sliding with the left hand. Either Alex's GHS contact was misinformed or I'm a victim of the placebo effect - which is quite possible, so no offence to Alex - I've been wrong before and I'm no expert.


Edited by - snakeherd on 07/10/2009 13:25:27

snakeherd - Posted - 07/10/2009:  13:29:16

And another thing - I cut a few inches off the non-loop end of my strings right after I first install them(as I'm sure most of you do). Does this turn the string into a non-JD string at this moment?


Dan-O - Posted - 07/10/2009:  17:29:05

Maybe the point of it is that the wrap on the string doesn't relax, for lack of a better term, while the string is in storage, waiting to be strung up. I would imagine that tightness of wrap is relative, after a string has been strung. Just guessing, though.


"A lie goes half-way around the world while the truth is still tying its shoes."

Alex Z - Posted - 07/11/2009:  07:49:03

snakeheard, I think your point about cutting off the top of the string is very relevant. That's the mystery of the JD string.

What GHS said is a fact, not a story. However, if what they actually do with the string is different from what they said, then that's a factor to be considered, although at this point there is no evidence that how they actually make the string is different from what they said. I talked to the GHS rep twice. He was knowledgeable about string making, and then took the time to double check the actual manufacturing process for the JD string, and call me back.

Others in the past have said that they were informed (I don't recall by whom) that there had been manufacturing differences - in the PAST - such as for tensioning of the wrap on the JD, etc.

If GHS were making the JD strings with other differences, I can't think of any reason why they would not say so -- it would be to their benefit to communicate how special the JD strings were.

From the evidence at hand, the fiddle wrap is done because Mr. JD likes it that way. It is quite possible that everything else that is being perceived now -- not in the past -- as different about the JD string is affected by a predisposition that these strings are supposed to be different. It is also quite possible that there is a true difference in sound or feel, due solely to the wrap staying tighter in storage, which is the intent of the fiddle wrap.

If the JD string feels or sounds better to a player, that in itself is reason enough to choose that string.

Alex Z

banjer5 - Posted - 07/11/2009:  13:11:31

For my money, the .20 J.D. fourth has more volume and is my preferance. I've used the .22 gauge also but prefer the .20s.

Fast Freddy the engineer says: Throttle in RUN 8 and highball, then don''t look back, something might be gainin'' on ya. 73,s de K5BGZ

RB-1 - Posted - 07/11/2009:  15:44:36

OK, JD .020 replaces normal .022.
So far so good.

I already mentioned it: What about my .023?

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

1935tb-11 - Posted - 07/11/2009:  15:49:05

i have used GHS 10-11-13-20-10 for years , but i always
buy a dozen or 2 JD20s to run in the 4th string place.
it seems to get more whoooomp out of the banjo then the normal
20s or 22s.

terry m

Timendi causa est nescire

4 longs and 1 short=banjer ring

Mike Casey - Posted - 07/11/2009:  18:45:59

RB-1 did ask for opinions and I believe he got what he asked for. Keeping the windings tight against the core is a good enough answer for me as regards tonal differences. I don't think J.D. went to GHS and told them to put his name on a set of strings with a feature that didn't actually serve a good purpose. I think these strings sound better on my banjos. They are probably not for everyone, but I certainly like them. I suggest that if one is curious they do an A/B test using a set with the J.D. 4th and a set without. Of course it would be a better test if you had someone string your banjo without telling you which was which.

Mike Casey
and The Uncleheads

Hotrodtruck - Posted - 07/12/2009:  06:14:17

As a related subject, I recall reading that some luthier or musician twisted the winding on a wrapped string by hand before installing it, so that it would be tight. Anyone else remember where that came from? I have never remembered to try it myself.


"I thought I was dancing, until someone stepped on my hand!"

silvioferretti - Posted - 07/12/2009:  06:36:35

I remember somebody suggesting that on Frets magazine, ages ago. What he suggested, though, was to twist the strings as many turns as one could before threading and locking them on the tuner's post, which is not exactly like making the winding tighter, but it would be aimed at that same purpose.

I started using the GHS Crowe set around 1981, and became aware of the "fiddle wrap" .020 (which was only available on special order from GHS at the time, mainly for endorsers) around 1991. I'm not sure the first Crowe sets had a fiddle wrap .020, but I remember - years later - getting the same left hand feeling as with the .020 that was in the Crowe set as I started being more discriminate about strings, i.e. a smoother winding that felt less bumpy than every other wound string, and a fuller and tighter sound.

My impression is that the first Crowe sets were just based on the gauges that Crowe liked at the time, the ones of Bell Brand strings with a Gibson would 3rd for a 4th (Crowe still has plenty of them, says he uses them on recordings quite often). Later on they started putting that fiddle wrap .020 in the set, but I don't know when this turning point happened (if there was one, of course). Maybe David could ask Dad and let us know... At any rate I wouldn't use any other 4th string, to me it's got the power and fullness of a .024 and the clarity of a .020 with the right tension feel.

"If you''re gonna have a vice, try to find one that will keep you outta jail and maybe alive a little longer" - Alvin Youngblood Hart.

Silvio Ferretti

strang - Posted - 07/12/2009:  06:51:55

Originally posted by silvioferretti... At any rate I wouldn't use any other 4th string, to me it's got the power and fullness of a .024 and the clarity of a .020 with the right tension feel.


I buy a dozen or two at a time.

- = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = -
Bluegrass -- THE Original Country Music!

RB-1 - Posted - 07/13/2009:  08:10:38

Originally posted by silvioferretti

At any rate I wouldn't use any other 4th string, to me it's got the power and fullness of a .024 and the clarity of a .020 with the right tension feel.
OK, I'll try one!

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

RB-1 - Posted - 08/04/2009:  16:25:51

Now then, where to get one?

And not paying $25 postage plus 25 Euro's customs and custom handling by the dispatcher, I still feel sick about that rip off happening the last time I got strings from the US.
US mail probably thinks they can get away with this, because no American will notice and complain.
A custom gauge set cost me about $ 10 each that way.....

Such a pity, for I have nothing but good experiences with the shop I always got my strings from (they always went out of their way to accomodate my needs), their sales must be affected by this raise in expenses that hits their foreign customers....

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

Edited by - RB-1 on 08/05/2009 10:23:59

Hotrodtruck - Posted - 08/05/2009:  07:29:44

I would love to try a set of 22s that are fiddle wrapped. I bet they would be killer! I wonder if GHS would consider it?


"I thought I was dancing, until someone stepped on my hand!"

silvioferretti - Posted - 08/05/2009:  12:32:53

Truck, I don't think GHS is going to make a fiddle wrap .022, or at least not for less than $2.00 apiece... Just my opinion though, you might want to ask them

Bruno, what's your favorite set these days? We're GHS endorsers so strings don't cost a hell of a lot to us, I can send you string to try, no custom duties, no red tape. Just let me know the gauges.

"If you''re gonna have a vice, try to find one that will keep you outta jail and maybe alive a little longer" - Alvin Youngblood Hart.

Silvio Ferretti

RB-1 - Posted - 08/06/2009:  02:20:00

PM being sent.

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

RB-1 - Posted - 09/02/2009:  08:31:10

The verdict:
A .020JD gives more bang when playing halfway the neck even compared to an D'Addario ,023 nickel.
The vamp/slide (5th>9th fret and back) type of back up has more bottom end. The open string however doesn't seem to have more power, but that's OK.

But something very strange happened to the other strings.
the .010, and .011 GHS don't sound as brilliant and 'clean' as the similar D'Addarios. Definitely a no go.
I thought all other strings were the same....
Edit: I just remembered how happy I was, years ago, after first trying D'Addarios. They had more brilliance, sustain and overall solid tone than anything else I tried before.
Although the difference with GHS is minimal, I can hear that I'm missing something.

Another question: where are .020 JD singles available?
Seems that I'll have to mix and match....

RB-1 plays with Half A Turn & Heartstrings

Edited by - RB-1 on 09/02/2009 09:48:44

strang - Posted - 09/02/2009:  08:53:25

First Quality has the JD single strings.

You'll have to call and ask for them.

- = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = -
Bluegrass -- THE Original Country Music!

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