Thomastiks vs Chromes

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Synchro, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Recently installed a set of Thomastik Infield JS111 strings on my Duo Jet and had some thoughts regarding the differences between them and the D'Addario Chromes I have been using. IMO, either string is good sounding and a good choice for many Gretsch guitars. The TIs tend to have less diameter on the lower strings versus the Chromes. A set of Chromes with an .011 on top will have an .050 on the low E where the Thomastiks will have an.047 on the low E. This results in a lower tension set overall. However, my approach differs because I ordered a set of TIs that was closest to the gauge of the lower strings and substituted lighter strings on the upper three positions. This results in higher tension on the bass strings without compromising the bend-ability of the upper strings. The results are pleasing, at least to me.

    My little Duo Jet feels a lot tighter now and higher string tension somewhat improves the timbre of the instrument. I wouldn't say that there is a dramatic difference in the sound but I would say that there is a significant difference in the feel and the responsiveness of the instrument.

    Comparing the tension charts employed by both manufacturers is revealing. The string tension on most of the Thomastik sets is very even while in the D'Addario sets the tension on the low E is usually at least 2 lbs less than that on the A string. This is almost certainly a huge factor in the difference I feel in the guitar since rest ringing with TIs.

    No hate for Chromes here, they work great on my Club and my 6120 DC but I will be experimenting with TIs.
     
  2. Bionic Muffins

    Bionic Muffins Synchromatic

    513
    Feb 22, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    i had TI 12s on my gent for a while. now im using chrome 10-48.

    i vastly prefer the chromes, but i kind of wish i would have tried the TI in 11s. i like the tone and stability of the chromes and the guages. the light (20) wound G is something i enjoy and for whatever reason d'addario strings must agree with my body chemistry because they last forever. the TIs are outstanding strings, but i find the chromes just agreeing with me better all around. i would certainly say that i find the chromes to have way more "cut" and "bite" to their tone than the TIs. i remember with the TIs wishing they had more of that, but never feel wanting of anything else out of the chromes.
     
  3. big kenny

    big kenny Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Nov 2, 2010
    Wi
    I use TI's on all my Gretsch's , love the rich tone and consistent quality.
     
  4. TeeDub

    TeeDub Synchromatic

    625
    Jun 21, 2011
    Colorado
    Appreciate the review Synchro. I have been wondering if it would be worth trying the TIs, even though I am quite happy with the .10 - .48 Chromes on my Tele. Eventually I'll have to give the TIs a try to see if they feel or sound that much different. From your review I gather it's more of a subtle difference. I guess a lot depends on your playing style.

    I also use the top three strings (.10, .13, .17) from a regular set along with the bottom three Chromes. Seems to even out the response, especially the G string, which used to overpower the other strings when I used round wounds. Now the G sits nicely in the mix with the punchy (but surprisingly twangy) flats.
     
  5. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Wound G strings just don't work for me either. You have to bend them halfway to the moon to get a half-step bend outta a wound G. :)

    I find Chromes fairly bright and like the sound. Thomastiks don't sound much different to my ear but I do think that they are better balanced string-to-string.

    The sound of flat wounds, especially youthful flat wounds, does not necessarily equate to dullness. I find that flats nail the sound of vintage Surf music and can be pretty good for Duane Eddy stuff. The only thing I wouldn't want to do with them would be Heavy Metal. I think that they'd turn to mud in that application.

    I have a question submitted to TI customer service hoping that they will tell me the core diameters of their strings. The core diameter has a huge influence on string sound and feel. "Slinkies", as I understand it, are strings with a smaller core and thicker windings. conversely, a thicker core is going to be more punchy. The pickup senses the ferritic material in the string is what the pickup senses and in most cases that is confined to the core with the windings being non-ferrous metals. I find it interesting that the sizes of the lower strings are so different between Chromes and TIs yet both sets intonate properly with a bar bridge.
     
  6. Michiel

    Michiel Friend of Fred

    Age:
    46
    Jul 29, 2009
    The Netherlands
    In my experience the chromes die considerably faster than TIs. This was before I took to wiping them down after every time I play them.

    I'm curious what your experience is going to be when you reach your regular string-changing-interval.:)
     
  7. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I've had Chromes last for years on my less often played guitars so theses TIs might outlive me. :)
     
  8. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Also, FWIW, I always wipe down strings every time I play and it improves string life dramatically.
     
  9. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Country Gent

    Age:
    56
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I concur. TIs last a hell of a lot longer than Chromes-- which helps to offset the additional cost of the TIs. To me it's worth it.
     
  10. Bionic Muffins

    Bionic Muffins Synchromatic

    513
    Feb 22, 2011
    Dallas, TX
  11. Michiel

    Michiel Friend of Fred

    Age:
    46
    Jul 29, 2009
    The Netherlands
    The egyptians did... Didn't work for them in the end.

    (sry couldn't resist:eek:).
     
  12. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Age:
    63
    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    Do you just wipe them off with a rag, or do you use something else on them?

    I use a rag on my 5120 after I play it, but not so much on my acoustic. And the acoustic's strings die faster than the Gretch's do. Maybe it's just the difference in the string types (D'Addario EJ16 lights, vs. D'Addario EXL 110s).

    Or, maybe I should start wiping down any guitar after I've played it.
     
  13. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I keep a polish cloth in every guitar case and I keep several around the house. Every time I so much as touch a guitar I wipe down the strings. Skin leaves a light residue of oil on anything it touches (AKA a fingerprint) and this oil attracts dust and other abrasives. Just a 5 second rub down from a polish cloth does wonders in extending string life. I've been doing this for at least 20 years now and would say that it has at least tripled the life of my strings.
     
  14. TeeDub

    TeeDub Synchromatic

    625
    Jun 21, 2011
    Colorado
    Hmm...in looking at the TIs, the guages are a bit lighter than the Chromes and the tension is more balanced overall. For example they use a .044 on the low E as compared to .048 for the Chromes. I think that might be more comfortable. The only issue I had with the Chromes was the low E seems quite thick, though not a deal killer. If they last a year then $20 a set is about the same as I would pay for a year's worth of rounds.
     
  15. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Age:
    63
    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    Thanks for the information. I can surely stand to triple the life of all my strings!

    So much to learn... >sigh<
     
  16. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    You might want to go to both D'Addario and Thomastik's web sites and compare individual string tensions. I found it revealing.

    That's the secret that the guitar string cartels don't want you to learn. OMG, they're coming for me now. :)
     
  17. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    I played both my Duo Jet and my 6120 DC yesterday, both being 24.6" scale guitars. The Duo Jet has Thomastiks with an 047, an 035, and a 025 on the bottom three while the 6120 has Chomes in 050, 040 and 030. The Duo seemed a bit more comfortable In terms of LH fatigue so for grins I tried some Thomastiks on the 6120. It seems like they improved the feel of the guitar and the lower notes seem a bit more crisp. The Chromes had only been on it a week so they weren't dead by any means but the TIs seemed brighter and they had a positive effect on the balance of the guitar between the upper and lower strings.

    The 6120 DC is darker than the single cut 6120 and until I put the TIs on it I had a hard time getting a sound I liked with both pickups selected. It was quite similar to the sound of the neck pickup alone. The TIs seemed to have brightened things a bit and now the pickup switch gives me three distinct timbres.
     
  18. brooklyngretsch

    brooklyngretsch Electromatic

    26
    Dec 13, 2011
    United States
    I've been wiping down the neck and strings on all my guitars for many years. About 25 years ago I read somewhere that an untreated cloth is best because it will not leave anything behind. The recommendation was a cloth diaper. I had a heck of a time finding cloth diapers even back then. Finally located some at a ToysRus. Bought a multi pack and keep one in each case. I definitely believe that wiping down after playing adds life to your strings and keeps the neck from getting tacky.
     
  19. big kenny

    big kenny Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Nov 2, 2010
    Wi
    NICE!
     
  20. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Age:
    63
    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    A cloth diaper would be perfect. I have started using old 100% cotton T-shirts.
     
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