Long Twist, short twist, what does it even mean?! - Gabriel Tenorio String Co explained - Pt.1
We all stroll into our local guitar stores every few weeks or so, have a browse around lusting after new gear and end up just grabbing a fresh set of strings whilst you're in there. We know the gauge we like, perhaps the brand too if it's something we're used to and off we go to the counter to part with our pennies and treat out beloved guitar to a freshen up. These guitar strings are ready for any guitar, straight off the peg making life a little simpler. But is this simpler way the best way?
Most 'off the shelf' strings are absolutely fine of course, and they serve almost the entire guitar world very well, the core (no pun intended) of the guitar string industry is summed up this way. Many of these strings sound great, perhaps have a long life too, but not one to settle for conformity, string maker Gabriel Tenorio started to think more about this.
As a matter of example, let's say two buddies go to the guitar shop one Saturday to hang out and grab a few sets of strings before leaving. Both like 10s, it's what they're used to, but one has a Les Paul and the other a Jazzmaster. They both grab the same brand, same gauge and head home to string up their respective instruments. Both of these guitars have characteristics that make their sound & their playing feel very different. There's of course a number of reasons why that is, be it because of it's scale length, bridge type or general body build design. So, here's the bit that I'd say was a part of Gabriel's thinking, will those generic strings get the very best from each of those instruments, thus reflecting in their playing experience? I think it's fair to say that they wouldn't.
So why not refine that?
Each guitar model is different, after all, it's what makes a Tele feel different to a Strat right? Despite the technical details being similar i.e scale length, string through trem/bridge, they simply feel different to play. The body construction plays a part in that too, how the strings resonate through the body, across the bridge and tailpieces and all of these details go into consideration when Gabriel develops and winds strings for every guitar model.
Photo sourced from - http://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2015/09/04/44349/guitar-players-happily-find-a-revived-tradition-at/
One thing you'll notice with gts.co strings is the reference to Long, short and standard 'Twists'. What this refers to is the twist down by the ball end of the string, believe it or not, this section does indeed effect the string more than just holding the ball end on! For example, with a Jazzmaster or Jaguar, they have a very long gap between the floating trem tailpiece and the adjustable bridge. This creates a few problems with standard off the shelf strings usually, such as tuning stability issues as well as notorious string break issues right by the ferrules. Introducing a tighter, longer twist at the ball end helps stabilise the string for improved tuning and gives the string more strength so to speak helping reduce string breakages in a problematic area. This is a similar issue for Bigsby equipped guitars, due to the strings weaving in and around bars on the trem and over the bridge, this long twist really helps resolve tuning and stability issues. It is in fact the main benefit of ensuring the correct 'twist' length for the given guitar. Stability is key here.
So which 'twist' is right for my guitar?
Strats & Teles with through body trems/fixed bridges
With string through bridges like a Strat trem, or a Tele fixed bridge for example, you're looking at the 'Standard Twist'. This provides strength at the ball end as it comes through the body/trem of the guitar. These standard long twists are longer than any available on the market, but don't step over the bridge and saddles.
Les Pauls, ES-335s and SGs or similar with Tune-o-matic and Stoptail bridges
For this style of bridge, the 'Standard Long' Twist is your weapon of choice, ensuring stability at the tailpiece and string break angle as it reaches the bridge.
Bigsby, floating trem and tailpieces
Here you get to enjoy the beauty of a gts.co Long Twist! It's more than just classy looks though, these are much stronger and more resilient, which is needed on the distance and tension this style of bridge/trem encounters.
Top Loading bridges (Telecaster styles)
Many players prefer to top load their strings on a Telecaster, here you'll require the 'Short Twist' strings due to the smaller distance from the bridge casing and the saddles.
Acoustic Fixed Bridge
Here the Short twist is required, due to the bridge pins sitting so close to the bridge saddle.
Acoustic Tailpiece (resonator for example)
Due to the longer spacing between tailpiece and bridge, like on a resonator, you will benefit using Long Twists.
If you're like me, and in your love of the guitar you aim to get the most from it, both in tone and play-ability. Then it's truly worth looking closer at the item that connects you to it, the component that creates the notes alongside your fingers; The strings. Gabriel Tenorio's work is a reflection of a lifetimes (so far!) research and passions for improving and refining tone, playing feel and of course bringing out the very best in this incredibly diverse instrument we all love.
In Part two I'll look at how Gts.co looked at refining the gauges and finding the 'optimal' sets for each guitar model, making sure the very best is brought out of each style of guitar. Even going as far as to decimal point gauges and slightly finer core wrapping to ensure the best balance. Believe me, it's worth it!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for part II.
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UK and EU you're more than welcome to browse our very own store and see a selection of the gts.co range right here! www.homeoftone.co.uk