03 Dec 08 - Brett Bottomley (Connecticut, USA), to Stickist.com:
I had the same experience as Jim with a replacement string from a bass set. It sounded terrible. Kudos to SE for a great job of string selection.
15 January 08 - Glenn Poorman (Michigan, USA), to Stickwire:
The reason I originally used heavy bass was because I had this notion that I needed it in order to get good "beef" backing up a band. I've since decided that that was misguided and the light strings give me plenty of beef.
17 October 06 - John Edmonds (NM), to Stickwire:
I've gone Gumby! I just switched one of my twin Grands from heavy strings to lights. After all the setup tweaking, I'm having a blast. I'm amazed at the depth of expression that slinky strings add to a Stick. I used to use lights on a guitar, but I never appreciated their dynamics as much then.
To my ear, nothing sounds as good for pure, single-note tone as heavy strings. Their mass and stiffness sound thick and clear the way lighter strings cannot. Losing this bothered me for about ten minutes of playing on the lights. Then, as I got into their exhilarating Gumbiness, I forgot about the tone difference and could not stop playing.
My amp also loves the lights. At low volume, the strings sound a bit thin and nasally, but with the amp up about halfway, where its sweet spot begins, the light strings and the tubes interact in such surprising ways. The combined expressiveness is like that of no other instrument I've ever played.
Anyone else gone Gumby? If so, did you stick with lights or go back to heavies?
13 April 06 - Ark Durkee (WI), to Stickwire:
The other factor that affects tone is of course string gauge. Balancing length and gauge and all the other factors for even, consistent tone is something Emmett has worked very hard at, and in my opinion it's why tone is so consistent across most Sticks, and from Stick to Stick.
13 October 05 - Art Durkee (CA), to Stickwire:
As a bass player I prefer heavy gauge strings. As a Stick player I FAR prefer light gauge strings, now that I've gotten used to them. The biggest plus, a very light touch and quick responsiveness. I just played a gig where a local bass player of some renown thought my Stick bass sound was terrific-so, amp and EQ, indeed.
11 October 05 - Chris Merlo (NY), to Stickwire:
I'm a bass player, but I use light strings on the Stick. I feel they allow for a greater range of dynamic expression and make for easier tapping. EQ and amp the right way and you'll still get your thunderous bass approach.
11 October 05 - Sean Stirling (WA), to Stickwire:
Hi Paul, heavy is nice - very nice. Since you're used to them, I'd go with the heavies. I played my Grand Stick for years with the lighter strings and recently switched. It took a little time for my hands to adjust to them but now the tone is so-o-oh sweet. Go heavy! On the low end get the strings with the open core at the bridge screw and inquire about whether you need the extended bridge screws to accomodate those strings.
26 August 05 - Rob Martino (VA), to StickWire:
When I got my new Grand last year I had it set up with all heavy gauge, and didn't find there to be much problem with being able to tap softly. It's essential that the truss rod has the fretboard straight with no relief. Any bow will make tapping harder. I eventually switched to medium gauge melody but find the gauge has much more to do with bending and vibrato ease than ability to tap. I also think it helps to have preamp gain/amplification turned up higher than "normal" so that you get a solid sound when playing softly.
13 December 02 - Greg Howard (VA), to Stickwire:
If you can find unwound strings that are long enough, those usually work fine. The big difference in SE strings is that Emmett actually mixes and matches strings from different brands to get a consistent feel across the different gauges within a set. It's great comfort to know that every time I restring my instrument it will sound the same as it always has, (though hopefully, my playing will have progressed a little:).
13 December 02 - Henrik Thygesen Poulsen (Denmark), to Stickwire:
In Denmark I usually pay more money for a 5-set of bass strings than I pay for an entire set of strings for my 10 string at SE. So for me I have no gain in experimenting with putting sets together.
13 December 02 - Paul Frields (VA), to Stickwire:
Emmett has string sets custom made for Sticks, and not just the length and gauge is involved. There are also considerations of core thickness, wrap thickness (and number of wrappings), where the taper sits, and so forth. Not only that, but Emmett also tries numerous samples from the large batches he orders to ensure that there is a consistent tone across the entire set once installed on a Stick. Greg H. told me that when he was at S.E. for a while a few years ago, it was not uncommon for Emmett to send large batches of strings back for minor discrepancies, to insure that his customers were getting the very best sonic and material quality. There is simply no way to make bass and guitar strings (no matter what the length) work on Stick. Many people who are new to Stick try to do this (I even tried once just to satisfy my curiosity), and are unanimous in the verdict that these strings simply do not reproduce tapping sounds with either clarity or pleasant tone. Overtones are harsh, fundamentals get lost (especially on the bass strings), and the notes sound inconsistent from one string to another. If you only have your own Stick to listen to, it's easy to mistake "brightness" for "good tone." But when you hear it against a Stick with genuine Stick strings, the difference is pronounced and unmistakable.
12 July 02 - Paul Frields (VA), to Stickwire:
Emmett is very choosy about his strings, and it is practically impossible to find better ones at the prices he offers. There are peculiarities about the core size and the winding gauge that are not going to be apparent, except possibly to an actual string maker -- if you were lucky enough to find such a person in your backyard. Therefore, strings made by other sources typically will suffer by comparison, and will be missing *a lot* of the fundamental frequencies when you tap a note, most noticeably in the lower bass strings. The difference is immediately apparent if you A/B a Stick with genuine strings against one with knockoffs. Other folks before us have tried to obtain The Stick sound by using bulk strings, custom length strings, going directly to string makers, tying strings together, the list goes on and on.... I had some "custom-made" strings on a Stick and after comparison with my other Stick, then restringing it with genuine SE strings -- well, there just *wasn't* any comparison. Also, on the note of gauge, in the spirit of constant improvement I am pretty sure Emmett has moved some gauges around slightly, while working with the string manufacturers from whom he orders the genuine articles. Greg H. told me once that he's seen Emmett send back entire runs of strings to the manufacturer, because of marginal quality issues on a fraction of the lot.
10 October 01 - Kevin Ramsey (Japan), to Stickwire:
I put new strings on my SB8 last night for the first time. The old strings had been on for about 10 months. The top string finally snapped about a week ago from old age. I always liked the sound of old strings on my basses, so I would often go for more than a year without changing them. But, after I finally got the new ones on last night---wow---I had forgotten how great brand new Stick strings sound. I got absorbed in playing on them, and suddenly it was 4 AM. Ack! My band has a concert this weekend?and I have new strings! Wooohoo!
20 September 01 - Jaap Kramer (Holland), to Stickwire:
Here's my two cents:
- Light strings are very cool for distorted lead lines with wilder kinds of vibrato and string bending.
- Maybe there's more dynamic range with light strings, but I don't notice a big difference.
- Light strings have this nice "rubbery" feel and sound. To my ears it sounds a bit more "compressed" than heavy strings.
- Heavy strings have a very direct, solid tone, a bit fatter than light strings.
- If you use a light touch, both heavy and light strings play well, but with light strings I find it harder to play right hand arpeggios on the higher frets without accidentally "squeezing" a string out of tune.
- I have the impression that heavy strings last longer. I play regularly and change strings once a year (changed strings last week. Boy, do they sound GREAT!)
28 March 01 - Kevin Ramsey (Japan), to Stickwire:
As I understand it, Emmett has his strings manufactured to special specifications. One problem that you'll have is getting guitar strings to fit on your Stick, which has the scale length of a bass guitar. I've heard of people tying two guitar strings together to get the required length. Personally, I figure why go through the hassle? Stick strings are priced reasonably, and it's easy enough to buy an extra set or two whenever you place an order with SE. By the way, the only time I've heard of a Stick string breaking is when somebody tries to tune his/her 1st string higher than it wants to go. If you are careful when you tune, chances are good that you won't break a string for many years.
5 November 00 - Don Schiff (CA), to Stickwire:
I usually (99%) of the time get called to begin with (filling in) the bass role, and then I expand on that. I like the heavy gauge SE strings on both the Stick and the NS/Stick. Though I give up the easier ability to "finesse" the strings due to the lighter gauge, I feel that the heavier provides the tone and feel I want plus it isn't so much heavier that they wont' "budge" when I want a little expression out of them. It's all personal preference in the end. All is good, depending on what you want to say. Coming from the bass role, heavy gauge suits me.
24 October 00 - Harold Rost (Germany), on Bottom Line:
You might come close to the Chapman Stick but you will never get the tapping feeling and the sound because the main difference is that the strings for the Chapman Stick are totally different than bass strings. They are more flexible and therefore the amplitude of oscillation differs from bass strings.
17 October 00 - Tony Bowler (UK), to Stickwire:
I would agree with Richard Gunn. I too live in UK and have ordered strings from Stick Enterprises direct - usually arrived in a couple of weeks. I bought a second Stick recently which had guitar/bass strings on and it just did not sound right. Plus guitar strings aren't long enough for the treble side so the previous owner had tied extensions on the strings (really). Go for the proper thing - it works out cheaper in the end and they last for ages.
17 October 00 - Richard Gunn (UK), to Stickwire:
Order direct from Stick Enterprises, then you are guaranteed to get strings that fit and sound good. I would certainly NOT recommend buying cheap strings - it would be like buying a Ferrari and putting cheap tyres on it! I bought several spare sets when I bought my Stick and even though I live in the UK, would not buy them from anywhere else. If you order a few sets, then the postage should not be too much either.
17 October 00 - Greg Howard (VA), to Stickwire:
SE's strings are not just made from one manufacturer. Emmett assembles a selection of strings from different brands so that each gauge matches the others for sound and feel. He tests each batch of strings he gets, because strings can vary even from the same manufacturer. I had never imagined someone would put so much time into something like strings. I don't think many other instrument builders would. As far as I know he's the only one who mixes and matches strings. This is one area where having an experienced player provide you with the things you need really pays off. I changed my strings recently (first time in a couple of months), and I just love the way a new set sounds. Thanks, Emmett, for taking the time.
21 August 00 - Simmon Keith (CO), to Stickwire:
I just changed the strings on my Stick for the first time. I've had it for over a year now, and I finally got around to getting new strings. And I have to say - I should have done it sooner! As I started to get them in tune, I realized they felt so smooth and light to the touch. And they sounded really nice! Especially the high bass strings and the lowest melody string. The 5th string always had a lower volume than the other melody strings, and I thought it was because the pickup only has one "hole" under that string. But with the sharp, crisp attack of a new (clean) string, that isn't so. After listening to Bob Culbertson's "Romantica I" (with three of my four favorite classical songs on it: Moonlight Sonata, Turkish Rondo and Toccata & Fuge) I envied the sound of his instrument. I still envy his skill?but my Stick sounds 10 times better than it did with old decrepit strings. It's like a new instrument!