round core strings, demystified round core strings, demystified

The most common question we get asked from players interested in trying strings is, How come these sets are more expensive than others out there? It is a very fair question, especially in a guitar world where there is a lot of 'mystique' thrown around about the quest for great guitar tone, rather than nice details and firm facts. So I hope this blog post today will help with this! There's no magic here, just quality and a lifetime's knowledge. So let's dive in.
Project Offset - Phase two, modding & tackling common Import obstacles.

Project Offset - Phase two, modding & tackling common Import obstacles.

If you have a guitar you're planning on modifying, chances are that it will be an import instrument. There's good reason for that, they offer great quality bang for buck resulting in a great base for tweaks here and there than perhaps a more premium, pricier American made equivalent would. Let's face it, not everyone who's just spend £1500+ on a USA made instrument wants to go at it replacing bridges or pickups, so the import market offers great scope for DIY tweaking.
Refining tone & feel, a string gauge at a time - Gabriel Tenorio String Co explained - Pt.2

Refining tone & feel, a string gauge at a time - Gabriel Tenorio String Co explained - Pt.2

With Part.1 of the blog series spotlighting Gabriel Tenorio Strings that we released earlier this week, you'll have a good idea now on why the twists are so important. One detail you may have noticed if you've browsed the store looking at, is the more refined gauge choices available. With half gauges, refined specs and names like 'Super 10s', it's understandably easy to be lost amongst the choice, but it's all very much within reason, stick with it.
TREM Twist, SHORT twist, what does it even mean?! - Gabriel Tenorio String Co explained - Pt.1

TREM 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? 
Round Core, Hex Core & why should it matter?! - Strings Pt.1

Round Core, Hex Core & why should it matter?! - Strings Pt.1

Strings are a pivotal part of our interaction with an instrument. First & foremost they're what our fingers come in contact with, they're what our pick strikes & what our pickups, well, pick-up! Therefore it's very important to think about what set you choose for you & your guitar, as they can affect the playing feel feel & in many players ears, the tone significantly. 

Gabriel Tenorio Strings 1

I've experimented quite a bit with various brands and types over the years. From the usual 'Off the Shelf' brands from my local guitar shops growing up like Ernie Ball, Rotosound or D'Addario for example. To importing brands myself like Pyramid or DR which were harder to get hold of (albeit much easier now with some large online retailers stocking them in more recent years). Strings have always been one of the main details I would continue to experiment with to try and refine the feel of my guitar & longevity too.
Hex vs Round - Google image sourced
Diagram sourced from Google -

Most brands offer what's known as hex core strings, these are an industry standard really due to it's ease of mass production & lower manufacturing costs. I actually first became aware of the more traditionally made round core strings around 2010 and used them on my non-locking tuner guitars a great deal!
So, what's the difference? It's quite a simple one really & refers to the 'core' of the wound string. You can see this in the diagram above. Hex core has a hex shaped central wire, it has 6 edges and as the wire is wound around the core, it crimps the wire on those edges. That makes them easier to produce & there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But the downsides of hex is that It can gather grime, dust & dirt in the gaps between the core and the wind, meaning the strings can go dead much quicker. It's a reason why 'coated' strings exist, to help the dirt stop building up in those gaps by having a coating barrier.

Round core is as it says on the tin, the central core is completely round in construction meaning the wind evenly wraps around it. It's harder to make, usually meaning to get the best result they need to be wound by hand. As there are no crimps in the wind, there are no gaps for dirt to rest meaning they can often last longer than an un-coated hex core, retaining a consistent tone right across their lifespan. No need for coating! That's handy for some players, but these coated sets are definitely 'Marmite' as some players are against coated strings, some love them. As with anything, it's all personal taste. There are many factors to this, such as acidity of sweat when playing, particularly oily skin etc, we're all human after all huh. But these Round Core/hex core/coated details might be one thing to bare in mind if you've experimented with a few different types already.

Gabriel Tenorio Strings 2

One thing to note though, is if you use locking tuners on your guitars, round core may not be the best option for you. Locking tuners tend not to grip onto the core of a round core string as well as it does with a locking tuner.

Gabriel Tenorio Strings 3

I'm going to talk more about The strings in detail in future blog posts, but I hope this one today helps those that perhaps haven't come across round core strings prior and what makes them different to hex core strings.


14 March, 2016 by James P Gascoigne