page/15/Curt.jpgQ: What led to your decision to become a string manufacturer and when did you begin to get involved in that business?

Curt: I have a long history with strings having played, installed, sold and now building them. In 2004, after 17-years as Director of Sales and Marketing at Ernie Ball, I thought there might be a little room for a small string manufacturer and decided to try it.

Q: Could you give a brief history of strings and the major differences between the early strings and modern strings?

Curt: String making became more automated in the 1950’s due to advances in machinery. Gaining more control of the string making process continues and each improvement increases consistent quality. However, the process still remains labor intensive.

Q: What are the most important factors in making quality strings?

Curt: Developing a balanced recipe that includes, core-to wrap ratios, tension on the core wire while winding the string, selecting and obtaining the best raw materials, pride in craftsmanship, attention to details and testing each batch.

Q: Could you explain the differences between your various guitar strings and the sound and feel of each type?

Curt: It is difficult to describe tone, but I will go with this. 

Nickel-Plated Steel commonly called nickelwound has become the most popular wrap alloy for electric guitars and basses. It has nice highs, mids and lows. 

Pure nickel still has plenty of twang, but has a slightly warmer sound and many players think they feel smoother than nickel-plated steel. 

Stainless steel is somewhat brighter and some players think the feel is a little less smooth than nickel-plated steel. 80/20 bronze (80% copper/20% zinc) for acoustic instruments seems to have a flat response with maybe a slight boost in the mid-range. 

Phosphor bronze (92% copper /7% zinc / 1% phosphor) seems to have enhanced highs and lows with a touch less mid-range. Some say it’s like pushing the loudness button on your stereo. Some also say phosphor feels a little smoother than 80/20 bronze.

Q: What goes into creating strings that are balanced in tension and volume?

Curt: We used a lot of trial and error until we found what we liked and then we hoped other players would like it as well as we did.

Q: There seem to be differences in the industry regarding what kinds of cores to use. What are the differences you have experienced between using a hex core or a round core? How did you select your core type and why did you decide on it?

Curt: We experimented with round core and found that intonation was very inconsistent. If the wrap slips at all, the string will not intonate and sounds odd. So we decided to only use hex core. Some people swear by round core and that’s fine. There’s no right or wrong, it’s what works for you as a player.

Q: Some companies' strings seem to last longer than others. What makes a string retain its tone for a longer than typical time period?

Curt: It’s the quality of raw materials and workmanship.

Q: What are some tips that would help musicians keep their strings toneful for longer?

Curt: The two most common causes for strings to lose tone and feel is dirt and grime getting in between the wraps and metal fatigue. Washing your hands before playing and wiping your strings down when you’re done can help on dirt and grime. Some player’s even use a little alcohol to wipe the strings down. Metal fatigue is a law of nature and varies by how aggressive the player is.

Q: A lot of players tend to purchase mass-produced strings, preferring to pay as little as possible. What reasons would you give to convince them that paying more for strings would be worthwhile?

Curt: Nothing happens until a player’s fingers touch the strings and every player has a unique touch that causes the string to vibrate differently. That’s why string choice including alloy and gauge is so important and part of the pursuit of finding your own personal sweet spot. What price to pay for strings is the same as deciding what beer you like. There are many who prefer the best deal they can find on a case Bud, Miller, Coors, etc and there are many who prefer a craft beer. There’s no right or wrong, it’s personal choice. No matter how much marketing is used to convince a customer to use a product it still always comes down to the point when product must speak for itself. In our case we hope the player hears and feels what we heard and felt making the product and if so, will recommend them to their friends.