Which strings for my Triumph?

MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
edited April 2014 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 131
I have a '51 Epiphone Triumph with a floating Bartolini pickup that I play through a Polytone. In the past I've used Thomastik-Infeld flatwounds (.11 Lights, I think). It's been quite a while since I've played it so I was wondering if Thomastiks were still the move. I like them; I'm just curious to know what experience other GJ players have had with archtop strings.



  • MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 131
    Oops! I'm thinking maybe this thread would make more sense in the Archtop Eddie forum. Michael, if you want to move it there that's fine with me.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    Hi Boze, On all of my archtops (I have 13 of them), including my 1946 Epiphone Triumph, I use Thomastic flatwound 13's. I play through either a Polytone, Acoustic Image/Raezer's Edge or a Fender Tube amp, though once in awhile I will also use my AER Compact 60 (If I have to walk quite a ways with my gear). I have tried Bronze strings on my acoustic archtops, but do not like the tone. I have tried Chromes, but find the hex cores too stiff and the stainless steel too bright. I have tried Thomasic roundwounds, but they just do not give me that warm jazz guitar tone that I love. On my Gypsy guitars, I use Argie 10's.


    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    edited April 2014 Posts: 440
    Its a pretty open field.
    Some players go for feel over tone.
    Plenty of folks use any round wound string.
    D'Add 12's or 13's work, not everyone is into the dark flat wound sound.
    11's with a wound G work for some.
    Its a personal preference really.
    Thomastic strings are excellent. Great feel great sound.
    If your guitar is set up well you can't go wrong.
    Strings are pretty cheap.
  • MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 131
    Thanks guys! I do prefer heavier strings on archtops. Is the pressure on the top a lot greater with 12's or 13's than the light 11's? If I change to heavier strings is a shop setup recommended?
  • JSantaJSanta NY✭✭✭ Dupont, Gaffiero, AJL
    edited April 2014 Posts: 262
    The pressure on the top of the guitar is not going to be significant to the point that I would worry about expediting the top sinking in to be honest. These guitars were built fantastically, as evidence by you playing one 60+ years after it was built.

    My Eastman required a bit of filing on the nut and a fret level when I upped the gauge of strings, but that is not going to be the case for everyone. Being in the DC Metro area, we have some fantastic luthiers and techs around to take care of any problems.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    You should not need to get a set up every time you change strings.
    Just get different string sets on there till you find a set you like.
    Then get the guitar set up for that string set it you need to.
    Most arch tops are very forgiving and well built.
    Especially the older ones.
    Just get the bridge where it needs to be. Ball park the E strings and experiment. As long as you have a wound G you should be just fine.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    Oh, just as an aside and to press my favorite button on this arch top topic.
    I just set up a D'Aquisto Excel with a set of Phosphor Bronze strings and essentially an acoustic action.
    Sounds GREAT ! Just like Jimmy would want it.
    Acoustic strings work well on Archtops if you want to get the maximum sound out of them and you have the strength.
    The are not that bright after a few days. They break in and sound very good!
    Also don't over look LaBella Flats. They are a bit less smooth than D'Adds or Thomastics and put out a bit more acoustic tone.
    You need to decide if your playing the instrument as an electric or an acoustic and set up accordingly .
    Have fun and experiment. Its the only way to know and learn.
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 356
    As much as I would generally defer to Marc on these matters, I've never been happy with the sound of flatwounds or nickels. But then, I favor acoustic over electric sound and often play my archtops sans-amp. (And I'm a rhythm player, which also is a factor--I don't have to worry about that classic jazz tone so much.) My archtops (one '46 Broadway and three modern instruments) generally wear whatever phosphor bronze mediums I have in the string inventory at the moment (most often GHS, but I'm not very brand-sensitive on this matter), though I have put on "flat-tops" or ground-wounds and found them pretty reasonable-sounding. The one exception is a guitar that I almost always play plugged in, and it happens to have a conventional nickel electric set at the moment. But I suspect I'd be as content with my usual PB-mediums on it.

    BTW, to my ear an acoustic archtop, especially an older one, doesn't sound like itself with lights. Some stores string their older archtops that way, and I find that it makes it hard to judge exactly what the guitar's voice really is.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    Al is quite correct that string choice is a matter of taste. If I was not a lead player, I might prefer the sound of acoustic strings for more crunch.

    On an electric archtop, 11's can sound fine, but on an older acoustic archtop, I think you need to run 12's or better to properly drive the top. Russell is correct that when stores put 10's on the old archtops, you really do not know what the guitar will sound like....
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 131
    Great advice, guys, thanks for taking the time. I think I'll get some Thomastik medium (13s) to start with and take it from there.
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