In the summer of 2018, Matt The Riff Master sat down for an acoustic string shootout. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out the videos at the end of this blog. He came to some very interesting conclusions.
We recently caught up with Matt to find out what he learned and how he feels now.
Why did you want to do an acoustic string shootout?
“I’ve been playing electric guitar for years but I’ve only recently started to get more interested in acoustic. I bought a new Sigma SG200 which I absolutely love, it made me want to play more acoustic and learn more about the differences from playing electric.
Strings play a huge part in that.”
So you consider strings are an important decision for acoustic players?
“I totally do now.
I’m not sure I appreciated how important it was before I sat down and started doing the comparison. I always understood why it was important for electric guitar, how the different types of metals worked with the pickup. But I appreciate much more now how different strings work with work an acoustic guitar, when there’s no pickups. Just wood.”
What were you hoping to get out of the shootouts?
“I guess all I wanted out of it was to find a set of strings that I felt worked well with my guitar and my playing style.
I tried to approach this without any pre-conceptions or agenda but I’ll admit to thinking the 80/20 bronze would come out top as it’s a hugely popular acoustic string.”
What surprised you most?
“That each set of strings had its own personality and uniqueness. It sounds weird but I was totally surprised at being surprised. I didn’t think that I’d be able to hear that much difference in the room.”
What set left the biggest impact?
“Aluminum Bronze. I was blown away with these strings. They were bright, warm, and the sound just filled the room. And just as importantly, they felt great.
They ticked all the boxes.”
So you’d recommend Aluminum Bronze?
“For me, they worked great. I really got in to in the shimmering tone and enjoyed soft, finger style playing.
But after comparing the Paradigm sets, I’ve got to say that having extra confidence to do harder strumming and further bends, I’d always put them on if I was doing that kind of playing.
I could see myself using all the different types, depending on what I was trying to do.”
What do you have on your guitar now?
“I’ve still got the Paradigm Phosphor Bronze on. Over a month old and they still feel fresh and good to go. I’ve never experienced that before.”
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
“I don’t think so. It was a simple approach to testing the strings and it got the results. I was happy recording without any EQ as that got across the truest sound of the strings. But as there’s a lot I can do in the future as I continue to explore and keep on learning.”
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out with acoustic strings, or someone more experienced looking for a change?
“My advice for people new to acoustic playing is to start out with a “basic set”, something like the Phosphor Bronze which give a nice and warm tone, last well and give a nice feel to the fingers. Also, go for a lighter gauge to not destroy the fingers because the feel of acoustic strings is a lot different to electric.
For more experienced players, I would recommend doing what I did, get a bunch of different sets and try them out and find what will work for their ears. They’ll have a better idea of what they’re trying to achieve and need to experience the differences for themselves.
Whether you’re new to guitar or a veteran, or hobbyist to professional, my advice, as always, is to rock out and be awesome!”