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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 4th string options


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/359525

DIV - Posted - 12/15/2019:  12:02:32


Hi guys

My first post in a very long time....nice to be back though!



It’s time to restock my string sets and I really prefer AMB’s cryogenic strings.

I see there are 4 choices for the type of 4th string and i’d like some advice please.

1) The phosphore bronze wound: when I tried them in the past, they were initially more brilliant, but they lost that brilliance pretty quickly...so I usually avoid these.

2) regular wound 4th string: standard stuff, what I usually use.

3) plain (unwound) string, 16 and 22 gauge being the heaviest gauge, which would mean, I would go with a 22 for the 4th string...I’m curious how these would work...I’m guessing less fret wear?

4) JD wound: which have been covered in other <mostly archived like this one: banjohangout.org/archive/152396 threads before.  Some said it’s got a different, “fiddle” wrap at the plain side which sometimes gets cut off anyway. Others have said that the JD wrap is a finer (smaller gauge?) wound string which feels smoother to the fingers and has more “growl”.



I’m curious about the plain and the JD for a change and was wondering if anyone with real experience with the either or both on their 4th string and could comment?


Edited by - DIV on 12/15/2019 12:25:41

mikehalloran - Posted - 12/15/2019:  12:56:07


You can try an unwound 4th. Many of us do — once — and then never again. If too thick, it goes “thunk”. If thin enough to make a sound, it will be flabby and weak.

I tried it in college and removed it after 5 minutes or so. Wound strings exist because they have enough mass to balance while remaining flexible.

I discovered that the chemical composition of my sweat made bronze/brass wound strings go dead quite quickly (phosphor bronze wound strings didn’t exist till I was out of college). Vega Earl Scruggs Light (plain G) and Mediums (wound G) were stainless steel and I never looked back.

Elixir 4th strings aren’t quite as brilliant as bronze or stainless when fresh but they’ll retain their tome till you wear through the windings — far longer than any uncharted strings. Other coated strings don’t retain their tone as long.

Zachary Hoyt - Posted - 12/15/2019:  13:41:21


I haven't noticed a big sound difference among the different winding metals, but I have tried the solid strings and found them quite unsatisfying, although I have had pretty good results using an unwound .022" as a 5th string on a cello banjo, tuned an octave below standard.
Zach

Bill Rogers - Posted - 12/15/2019:  13:47:04


I’ve always preferred bronze-wound 4ths—even when I was laughted at by most players. I think they have a richer tone, although they do not last as long as other windings. Best thing is to buy some singles of the windings you’re considering and try them out. A question to ask yourself—how many acoustic steel-string guitar players do you see using other than bronze-wound strings?


Edited by - Bill Rogers on 12/15/2019 13:47:56

RB-1 - Posted - 12/15/2019:  14:15:23


I once tried a set GHS PF-135 on my old Gibson and never looked back.



,020 JD it is for me.....

DIV - Posted - 12/15/2019:  14:33:16


Thanks guys.
Yeah, I would certainly consider the single string option, but at $2/ it’s a bit steep for experimentation.

Eric A - Posted - 12/15/2019:  14:50:47


I love a phosphor bronze 4th. True, they lose the magic quickly, but when the magic is on, it is ON.



And when they lose it, I don't think they are any worse than the regular ones.



 



 


Edited by - Eric A on 12/15/2019 14:51:51

rudy - Posted - 12/15/2019:  15:00:27


quote:

Originally posted by Bill Rogers

I’ve always preferred bronze-wound 4ths—even when I was laughted at by most players. I think they have a richer tone, although they do not last as long as other windings. Best thing is to buy some singles of the windings you’re considering and try them out. A question to ask yourself—how many acoustic steel-string guitar players do you see using other than bronze-wound strings?






Most of us acoustic guitar players do use bronze-wound strings in either bare or coated (my preference...) varieties.



Oddly enough, there's a large number of steel string players who are using the newer Monel acoustic guitar strings.  I tried a set and they were OK, but I prefer bronze.



I think the push for Monel comes from Tony Rice fans as that is what he uses.

rudy - Posted - 12/15/2019:  15:01:36


quote:

Originally posted by DIV

Thanks guys.

Yeah, I would certainly consider the single string option, but at $2/ it’s a bit steep for experimentation.






You are pulling our leg, right?  wink

DIV - Posted - 12/15/2019:  15:25:20


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

quote:

Originally posted by DIV

Thanks guys.

Yeah, I would certainly consider the single string option, but at $2/ it’s a bit steep for experimentation.






You are pulling our leg, right?  wink






Depending on which variety you’re after...



americanmadebanjo.com/index.ph...ath=28_40



and would anyone like to comment on the JD wound vs. regular wound?

Culloden - Posted - 12/15/2019:  15:25:29


I'm going to rock the boat a little bit here.
Try different strings until you find which type, wrapping, gauge, etc. your banjo sounds best with. I have long held the opinion that different banjos sound better with different strings, there is no one size fits all. I have six five-string banjos and use three different types of strings on them, bronze wound, stainless wound, and nickel wound.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 12/15/2019:  16:59:06


@ Zachary Hoyt: Your plain 5th is okay for two reasons; longer scale and lower tuning. This makes for less tension and more flexibility, which equals better tone.



@Mark Harper: I fully agree that different strings work better for different banjos. However, if the OP wishes to try several options, he should avoid a plain fourth. As Mike Halloran says, it will either be a clunk if too heavy a gauge, or will be flabby and weak if it's too thin (there ain't no happy medium, I'm afraid). A banjo's scale length just isn't long enough to allow proper tension combined with proper flexibilty for a plain 4th string to produce good tone and effective playability.



I think there are a number of people who don't know why wound strings were invented to begin with, and also have no idea that there are physical limits to what any given string can do. 

northernbelle - Posted - 12/15/2019:  19:00:20


I have settled on nickel wound 4th It's a 23...(d'addario mediums) for my banjo. I've tried phosphor bronze wound ( I play guitar also) and they were "too bright" at lst and then faded pretty quickly to dullsville. I tried stainless but that was too zingy.
Even if you don't play with mediums, maybe this gauge 4th will give you what you're looking for. You can order single strings from juststrings.com I believe at reasonable prices.

mikehalloran - Posted - 12/15/2019:  21:59:31


zingy” I like that.



When I was playing schools and fairs, 20–35 1 hour shows a week wasn't unusual. Coated and SS were the only wound strings that kept up and let me change every 10 days to two weeks. Coated weren't available in long neck sizes (I used a wound 3rd also), the banjos I played most often so it was SS GHS strings in bulk for me.



 

DIV - Posted - 12/16/2019:  05:49:45


Well I settled on a 3 pack each of 2 different standard string sets from AMB. One has a regular wound 20 gauge 4th string and the other has a JD wound 20 gauge 4th string. I will post comparison photos (and eventually playing feedback) on this thread.
Stay “tuned”...

mikehalloran - Posted - 12/16/2019:  19:38:29


quote:

Originally posted by DIV

Well I settled on a 3 pack each of 2 different standard string sets from AMB. One has a regular wound 20 gauge 4th string and the other has a JD wound 20 gauge 4th string. I will post comparison photos (and eventually playing feedback) on this thread.

Stay “tuned”...






Keep us informed. We're looking forward to it!

DIV - Posted - 12/24/2019:  10:15:49


Ok...first of all, Happiest Holidays/Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Next...thanks for you interest and help.

Here are the string sets I bought from AMB:


Edited by - DIV on 12/24/2019 10:16:38



 

DIV - Posted - 12/24/2019:  10:18:20


A closer look comparing the regular wound on the left and the JD wound on the right...

No perceptible difference....



 


Edited by - DIV on 12/24/2019 10:19:44




DIV - Posted - 12/24/2019:  10:22:55


....until you look at the straight end....



 


Edited by - DIV on 12/24/2019 10:23:31



 

DIV - Posted - 12/24/2019:  10:26:24


Ah, that’s the difference...you can see the winding over of the JD string. However, this gets cut off after I wind the string on the peg. Am I missing something here? or is there still something different about the wound string upstream from straight end after its cut off?
I can’t tell any difference in tone or feel so far....

(Sorry for the multiple posts, but I don’t know of any other way to arrange the order my text and the photos....)

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 12/24/2019:  12:15:38


If that extra winding has been cut off, and the trest is the same as a normal string, that extra can't possibly affect the tone.

What bothers me is what would happen if the winding hadn't been cut off. It would cause the string to vibrate unevenly because the end with the extra winding would be heavier than the end without it.

I think these strings have been mis-named. Instead of "JD" they should be called "BS."

DIV - Posted - 12/24/2019:  13:54:47


quote:

Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

If that extra winding has been cut off, and the trest is the same as a normal string, that extra can't possibly affect the tone.



What bothers me is what would happen if the winding hadn't been cut off. It would cause the string to vibrate unevenly because the end with the extra winding would be heavier than the end without it.



I think these strings have been mis-named. Instead of "JD" they should be called "BS."






Yeah, not sure....I don't want toake a judgement before I know all the facts about these JDW steings...anyone else?

steve davis - Posted - 12/24/2019:  17:23:24


I tried the cryos and went back to the deeper tone of 11 12 15 22pb 11 regular strings.
Brand doesn't matter to me,though I probably order more GHS than others.
That GHS 150 set is very nice with a big,full sounding .022 bronze.
I find bronze to be fuller sounding rather than brighter.
I feel that steel wound 4ths are brighter than their bronze counterpart.

Alex Z - Posted - 12/25/2019:  08:41:02


"I don't want to make a judgement before I know all the facts about these JDW strings...anyone else?"



That's an admirable perspective on the BHO.  smiley



A few years ago there was a discussion of the possible differences of the JD string.  Some responders "knew" an awful lot of "facts" about the string -- different tension of wrap, materials, etc.   I called the GHS company and spoke to one of the engineers there.  He double-checked with the manufacturing folks before giving me the final answer.



The only difference between the JD string and the non-JD string (both stainless) is that the JD string is overwrapped at the end, the non-loop end.  Mr.  JD prefers it that way.



The concept of an overwrapped string is that the winding is held tight until after the string is mounted on the post, and the purpose is to keep the winding from becoming loose.  Then the end of the string can be cut without affecting the tension of the winding.  Some other stringed instruments have an overwrap, such as violin strings.  Some other types of strings also have a common installation method of either making a kink in the end of the string before cutting and installing, or installing first then cutting.



 Now, whether or not a .020 GHS stainless steel banjo string winding would become loose without the overwrap I don't know.  Mr. JD prefers that feature and GHS makes it for him.

DIV - Posted - 01/02/2020:  08:01:14


quote:

Originally posted by Alex Z

"I don't want to make a judgement before I know all the facts about these JDW strings...anyone else?"



That's an admirable perspective on the BHO.  smiley



A few years ago there was a discussion of the possible differences of the JD string.  Some responders "knew" an awful lot of "facts" about the string -- different tension of wrap, materials, etc.   I called the GHS company and spoke to one of the engineers there.  He double-checked with the manufacturing folks before giving me the final answer.



The only difference between the JD string and the non-JD string (both stainless) is that the JD string is overwrapped at the end, the non-loop end.  Mr.  JD prefers it that way.



The concept of an overwrapped string is that the winding is held tight until after the string is mounted on the post, and the purpose is to keep the winding from becoming loose.  Then the end of the string can be cut without affecting the tension of the winding.  Some other stringed instruments have an overwrap, such as violin strings.  Some other types of strings also have a common installation method of either making a kink in the end of the string before cutting and installing, or installing first then cutting.



 Now, whether or not a .020 GHS stainless steel banjo string winding would become loose without the overwrap I don't know.  Mr. JD prefers that feature and GHS makes it for him.






Ah!  Now that's some good information.  OK, so maybe there's a small amount of benefit of the overwound string even though that side is cut off...it's wrapped tighter around the peg post before I cut off the excess....again, there's a big MAYBE.  But tone-wise, I'm not noticing anything ground-shaking.  



I will try an unwound 4th string next time even though it sounds like I will hate the tone.  It will be fun to see what it's like to slide up and down the neck and not hear the "zip" as my fingers ride along the wound 4th string...or maybe I'll miss that sound....who knows!?



 


Edited by - DIV on 01/02/2020 08:05:34

Quickstep192 - Posted - 01/02/2020:  08:19:25


I just put on a set of OME strings which have a nickel 4th. It was great at first, now it’s a little dull. I would switch to a phosphor bronze, but as others have noted, they can go dull quickly as well.

Has anyone ever tried 80/20 bronze?

Alex Z - Posted - 01/02/2020:  09:34:00


GHS (which looks like the supplier of the JD and other strings for AMB) makes two kinds of wound banjo strings that have a gray appearance -- nickel plated and stainless.  The JD wound .020 string is stainless.  All the plain strings are "plain steel" regardless of the 4th.



Myself, on my banjos, I hear the nickel plated as slightly duller than the stainless, and the phosphor bronze as slightly brighter, at least initially.  Have used the .020 JD for many years, and they seem to hold their tone pretty well.  But I change strings after 6 - 20 hours of playing anyway, and the stainless wound seems to hold its tone during that time.



 


Edited by - Alex Z on 01/02/2020 09:35:29

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/02/2020:  09:39:30


quote:

Originally posted by DIV

quote:

Originally posted by Alex Z

"I don't want to make a judgement before I know all the facts about these JDW strings...anyone else?"



That's an admirable perspective on the BHO.  smiley



A few years ago there was a discussion of the possible differences of the JD string.  Some responders "knew" an awful lot of "facts" about the string -- different tension of wrap, materials, etc.   I called the GHS company and spoke to one of the engineers there.  He double-checked with the manufacturing folks before giving me the final answer.



The only difference between the JD string and the non-JD string (both stainless) is that the JD string is overwrapped at the end, the non-loop end.  Mr.  JD prefers it that way.



The concept of an overwrapped string is that the winding is held tight until after the string is mounted on the post, and the purpose is to keep the winding from becoming loose.  Then the end of the string can be cut without affecting the tension of the winding.  Some other stringed instruments have an overwrap, such as violin strings.  Some other types of strings also have a common installation method of either making a kink in the end of the string before cutting and installing, or installing first then cutting.



 Now, whether or not a .020 GHS stainless steel banjo string winding would become loose without the overwrap I don't know.  Mr. JD prefers that feature and GHS makes it for him.






Ah!  Now that's some good information.  OK, so maybe there's a small amount of benefit of the overwound string even though that side is cut off...it's wrapped tighter around the peg post before I cut off the excess....again, there's a big MAYBE.  But tone-wise, I'm not noticing anything ground-shaking.  



I will try an unwound 4th string next time even though it sounds like I will hate the tone.  It will be fun to see what it's like to slide up and down the neck and not hear the "zip" as my fingers ride along the wound 4th string...or maybe I'll miss that sound....who knows!?



 






Still sounds like BS to me, or at least someone's misunderstanding of the way banjo strings are made and the forces involved regarding un-winding. I would suggest that someone attempt to pull the string's windings off manually. I doubt they'll have a lot of success; they are on there pretty darned tight.  



It's been my understanding that a wound banjo string uses wire with a hexagonal cross-section, and it's this hex that actually keeps the winding in place. If the wire is round, anything slips off. I used to wind piano strings, which are wound on round wire, and I know this to be true (flat spots must be made on the piano's core wire at each end to hold the windings). 



If keeping the windings from coming loose with extra winding, then I have one other question: what is to prevent the extra windings from coming loose too? 

Alex Z - Posted - 01/02/2020:  10:36:43


"It's been my understanding that a wound banjo string uses wire with a hexagonal cross-section, and it's this hex that actually keeps the winding in place. If the wire is round, anything slips off. I used to wind piano strings, which are wound on round wire, and I know this to be true (flat spots must be made on the piano's core wire at each end to hold the windings). "



Not disputing this for a hex-core vs. round-core wound string.  Only explaining what GHS does and why they do it.  GHS isn't touting over-wrapped strings as being superior, but rather simply making a product that Mr. JD prefers and offering it to the general public for the same price and without claim of superiority.  In fact, all the varieties of GHS 5-string banjo strings at Elderly are the same price, cryogenic or not.  And, on the GHS site, all the varieties of 5 string banjo strings, except cryogenic, are presented with no description of differential superiority.



You pays your money, you takes your choice -- as the saying goes.  One person's "BS" may be another person's "psychological satisfaction."  smiley



GHS does differentiate the characteristics of round core vs hex core for its guitar strings, in its FAQ, and from this it can be inferred that the .020 JD string is hex core:



    "The bulk of the Guitar Boomers are wound over a round core, with exceptions being any wound Boomer at .024 or smaller, or .060 and higher. 



    As to why, there are many benefits of a round core. Comparatively, round core strings have a greater flexibility than hex core strings, and also have a slightly warmer tone. However, round core strings need larger core wire diameters to equal the same amount of stability and strength as hex. 



   Hex cores are able to remain stable at smaller diameters (which is why you'll notice we use hex on the .024 or smaller Boomer gauges). Compared to round core strings, hex strings have a slightly tighter attack and brighter tone. Also, as string gauges get thicker, the added stability that the hex core provides makes it ideal to retain clarity and definition on lower strings, specifically the B and F# strings found in our 7 String Boomers and 8 String Boomers."

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 01/02/2020:  15:00:24


I was assuming that these strings were priced differently, and I'm sorry about that. I can't fault GHS for doing this JD stuff, and even though I still believe that Mr. JD may be a bit ignorant about winding processes if he believes his idea is an improvement. It's possible that he has been around since the days of poor quality strings with different alloys for the windings. I know that some of the ancient Black Diamond strings were known to develop loose windings.

I suppose that GHS must sell enough of these to other people to make it a worthwhile venture, but I certainly can't help but think that buyers can be fools in many cases: they tend to follow their heroes and what their hero might do, no matter how ludicrous it might be to others. I certainly wouldn't bother with JD winding, despite they're being no more costly.

Oddly, in the piano business, there is an aftermarket item called the "Universal bass string," the purpose of which is for tuners to replace broken strings without having to get them specially made to match. They are wound on hex core and the windings can be unwound and cut off to the proper length. I never used them, myself, because their vibrational characteristics were so different from the usual round wire that it was impossible to get either good tone or a good tuning with them. What GHS says about the tone is certainly true; hex piano strings are twangy and rather nasal compared with the originals. Of course, in the sizes used for piano bass strings, hex core wire is not even remotely as flexable as round, and stiffness makes a huge difference in tone.

I do wonder how they keep the windings on those round "Boomers" from coming loose, though.

OldNavyGuy - Posted - 01/03/2020:  00:46:04


GHS PF170 Light Gauge Strings - 09, 11, 13, 20w, 09

AMB Cryo's - 10, 11, 13, 20w, 10

Like both.

No experience with bronze wound strings on banjo.

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