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Medium Strings: tell me i'll get used to this (update and cautionary tale)

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Feb 18, 2020 - 7:45:06 AM
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85 posts since 4/13/2015

First the good news. The medium strings feel great, feel natural; and that's after only a month-long "adjustment" period. Now the cautionary tale.

I switched to medium strings because I tune down two steps to E, and I heard a buzz (or, at least I thought I did.) My luthier suggested that mediums would be more appropriate for that tuning--and he was right. But when I first got the medium strings, I still thought I heard a buzz. The weird things was that my banjo had been completely checked out and no reason was found. Also, it wasn't constant--it came and went.

It was my wife who finally diagnosed it. She said she did not hear any buzz. Then, after a moment's thought, she suggested that I take out my hearing aids (a fairly new addition that I'm still getting used to.) Voila! It wasn't the strings or the banjo. It was the sound as altered by the hearing aids! Like most modern, expensive hearing aids, mine have several adjustments for volume, tone, and ambient environment. I found that by fiddling with the adjustments (selecting, not the "music" setting, but the "large room" setting, and turning down the volume) I could have the best of both worlds: the clarity of hearing aids, with a wonderful, buzz-free tone. That explains why the "buzz" came and went. I tended to not use the adjustment settings too much, so If my hearing aids happened to be set right, no buzz. If wrong, buzz. I hope my experience will save someone else some grief. (I think it was Kate Hepburn who said: "Growing old is not for sissies!")

On the bright side, I'm really glad I switched to medium gauge strings.


Feb 18, 2020 - 8:59:22 AM
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633 posts since 11/7/2003

Glad you got it figured out. I use hearing aids as well and they're designed to help with speech, not music. Like you I did get 'em dialed in ok, just have to trim the volume back quite a bit.

Reminds me of the old guy who went to his audiologist and said "Doc I can't hear a thing with this hearing aid you sold me. Doc takes a look and said "no wonder you can't hear, you've got a suppository in your ear! Old guy said "uh oh, I know where my hearing aid is".

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