Sunday, 24 January 2016

D'Addario EJ45FF strings

A few months ago when stocking up on strings (I'm sorry Local Music Shop, but I buy my strings online, because I always get exactly what I want and it is half the price even with delivery) I noticed my normal string of choice - D'Addario EJ45 - now come in a "Carbon" version. I finally wound them on and observed a few points:
  • The trebles are transparent. For some reason I thought they be non-transparent!
  • The trebles are thinner. In fact the 3rd string is about the same thickness as a normal 2nd string. But then on the basses, the 4th string is a tiny bit thinner, the 6th string is a tiny bit thicker, neither enough to notice, the 5th string remains the same:
String     | Nylon  | Carbon
1st string | 0.71mm | 0.61mm
2nd string | 0.82mm | 0.69mm
3rd string | 1.02mm | 0.84mm
4th string | 0.74mm | 0.71mm
5th string | 0.89mm | 0.89mm
6th string | 1.09mm | 1.12mm
  • The thinner trebles are noticeable, but did not cause me any issues.
  • The trebles a brighter tone than nylon. Note the "carbon" in carbon strings means that the filament is made from fluorocarbon, which is essentially a hydrocarbon where all the hydrogens have been replaced with Fluorine. The Carbon-Fluorine bond is apparently the second strongest bond known next to Silicone-Fluorine. Interesting. Nylon on the other hand is a synthetic long-chain polymer which makes more sense as a fibre, but we've just run out of my chemistry knowledge.
  • The basses are about the same tone as the standard EJ45's. Maybe slightly brighter, hard to say, you'd have to do a control test.
  • The trebles feel "silkier", maybe "slipperier" might even be a better way to describe them. The basses have the same touch and feel as nylon wound, I didn't detect any difference.
  • The trebles bedded in faster than nylon, as in, they stopped stretching and held their tune[1] in less time. The basses maybe the same too, I find the nylon wound basses bed in reasonably quickly anyway. Note that I have been re-stringing the same way for a while - basses one twist at the bridge, 2nd/3rd treble two twists, 1st treble three twists. At the tuner I pull the string tight and loop it over itself so a minimum amount of turns to reach tune. This has always been the best way to get a fast bed-in for me.
  • The tone lasted long enough, not double the time considering the double the price.
I played a few long gigs on this set of strings which deadened them quicker than if they were just in a practise rotation.  So the dynacore basses have a slightly better tone than the standard basses, and the tone hangs in there a little bit longer.  The carbon trebles have a nice bright tone that lasts but over time I found I disliked the thinner strings.  Will I use them again?  No, but in the future I will try the "dynacore" and the EXP coated sets. There's a web page showing all the D'Addario string variants here
[1] No classical guitar ever holds its tune. Just you holding the guitar for a few minutes is enough to put a bit of body heat into it which changes the tuning...which you re-tune compensate...and then when done pack away...and then next time it is out of tune again because it is cold again...


Sunday, 10 January 2016

What's happening January 2016

Warm wishes for 2016, and warm it certainly is, summer is sure heating up Western Australia.  This year is my 10th year anniversary of being on Youtube, how times flies. Youtube had been around for around for about a year when I created my account in May 2006, so I felt like a late comer, but it seems now like I'm an early adopter.

Meanwhile, whilst practising one of my latest songs I injured my hand again. Argh. Same as last time, left pinky. It's some sort of strain, only hurts when I use it...I've mentioned before that when you are practising it's not a good idea to do the same movements over and over again.  I should listen to my own advice.

I stopped playing for a week or two which coincided with Chrismas so it was not too bad, but I was very disappointed with my boo boo.  I started doing some research into what it is, and what I can do about it. It seems that it is an over-use injury, somewhere between tendonitis and carpal tunnel but not arthritis...nothing Dr Google could fully diagnose.  I did however come across much interesting and useful stuff.

Did you know your ulnar nerve is the "largest unprotected nerve in the human body (meaning unprotected by muscle or bone), so injury is common" (Wikipedia).  The reason I mention this is because it is connected primarily to your pinky, via your elbow.  It is your "funny bone" - when you whack your funny bone it is your ulnar nerve you are whacking. Since both my pinkies suffer from the same problem I'm pretty sure my left hand pinky is only aggravating an existing issue at my elbow.  Cubital tunnel syndrome is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome except rather at the wrist it is at the elbow, entrapment of the ulnar nerve.  I don't think that is what it is, except it made me realise I've had elbow issues for years.

Anyway, what was the most enlightening was what to do about all these finger, wrist and arm issues - stretching!  After watching a few Youtube videos, I couldn't believe how flexible some people's hands are - and how stiff I am.  In fact, I sat down with my wife and we did a ten minute video doing a bunch of different hand stretches, and my wife's hands are far more flexible than mine!

So I've been doing a bunch of stretches daily, or more, things like bending my hands back and forward, stretching fingers apart, pushing thumb against the wrist and backwards. Very quickly I noticed my hand flexibility improved. It didn't make my problem go away, but it's early days, I'll report back with findings.