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C. Boyce (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
D'Addario EXP16 with NY Steel Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Coated, Light, 12-53
Offered by Sweet Tunes
Price: £12.81

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sacrificing sound and feel for longevity..., 22 Jan. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
By far the most important part of any guitar is surprisingly not the guitar body itself, but the strings. While a guitar can increase volume and modify the tone it cannot add anything to the strings vibration or make the notes and harmonics sound any clearer. In the same way that sending a poor signal to the most amazing speaker system in the world will sound bad, bad strings on the most amazingly crafted guitar in the world will still sound bad. It is therefore important that you get the highest quality guitar strings you can feasibly get your mits on, and at an affordable price. In my opinion D'addario is the best string brand that fulfills these requirements. Why am I rating these strings with 2 stars then?

I am a massive fan of D'addario uncoated strings, so much so that I struggle to play with any other brand. D'addario has become part of my sound. As soon as I tried them years and years ago I just knew that these were the strings for me. Strong, consistent, with great feel and above all else fantastically bright, clear tone and excellent sustain. You can see the strings vibrate forever when you pick them, and they produce beautiful tones as the vibration decays. In my opinion, D'addario gives a guitar player the full tonal and volume range of his or her instrument. I can never understand why players would ever want to buy "mellow" strings when all they have to do is play lightly, with a softer plectrum or with their fingers to get a mellow sound. Why not have those lovely high end frequencies and amplitudes for when you really need them? Granted some string types such as plain steel are too bright and so phosphor bronze is perhaps the most pleasing string to listen to. That aside, the biggest problem with uncoated strings is that you have to replace them quite frequently, which is why I decided to give coated strings another go. Elixir nanos do sound good for coated strings, but I find them incredibly slippy, which makes complicated chords and string bending/ vibrato harder. I like strings to have a good grip! The EXPs seemed like a good alternative, as the wound is coated before winding which preserves the feel of uncoated strings as best as possible. I also thought that the reduction in tone and sustain would be minimal, like the elixirs. Unfortunately this is not the case. Here are the problems I had:

- There is a significant reduction in tone, the coating seems to dampen the higher frequency overtones much more than the Elixirs, probably because it is coated throughout the entire string. The strings sound too mellow for phosphor bronze. Unbeknownst to me D'addario knew this and rated the strings as mellow on their website, when phosphor bronze is supposed to be bright? Why isn't this communicated to the customer on the packet or in the initial product description?
- There is a massive reduction in sustain and volume. Even when picking furiously hard (which is bad in itself as it sharpens the note you are trying to play), the strings still sound quite quiet, and cannot sustain notes any better. This is particularly disappointing on the high notes, which have a hard enough time sustaining their volume as it is when uncoated. When played on the EXPs the high notes die off almost instantly. Perhaps this loss of volume and sustain is advantageous for heavy handed players, chord strumming, and staccato arpeggios, but it is awful for lead playing, melody, and allowing chords to ring out particularly at the end of a song.
- The strings cannot resonate with each other due to the dampening, meaning I cannot achieve natural reverb when playing single notes; a lovely technique which only the acoustic guitar can really achieve.
- When finger picking, the strings tend to squeak against my skin as if they are coated in rubber (I do have very dry skin). It sounds awful! Lol
- the B and e string are coated in tin, a soft metal which mellows the high end. Not desirable.
- They are still a bit slippy, but not as bad as the elixirs.
- Controversial: they eliminate string noise as you slide up the wound strings. I personally like to hear this noise as it reminds me that a human being is playing the guitar, and scraping a pick against an uncoated wound string produces a nice percussive sound. The guitar is a percussive instrument as well as a melodic one!

So...lots of negatives for me. One thing I do really like about these strings is the NY steel. They hold their pitch incredibly well and seem to be much more flexible, meaning they are kinder on the wrist, fingers and forearm, and I imagine they will be very hard to break. D'addario strings have always been the strongest, most consistent strings. There is no differentiation between the harmonic frequencies. I would love to see D'addario put NY steel in the uncoated phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze range, as I will be reverting back to that range, and no doubt those would be incredibly popular with performing musicians who cannot compromise on sound quality. I am also sure that the tone the EXPs start with will be maintained indefinitely, but this doesn't matter to me anymore if the tone is completely unsatisfactory. The set is well balanced in that none of the strings overwhelm each other. I know D'addario mean well and many people love these strings so how are they to know where these strings fall flat from an objective level? Perhaps some stringent research and development is required at D'addario to improve the design of the EXP range. Taking this into account I can forgive them for misleading me slightly on how close these strings would be to uncoated phosphor bronze.

I now know that coated strings just aren't for me, and will now make an extra effort to maintain uncoated strings better. I have recently purchased some micro mesh abrasive cloths which may work wonders for cleaning uncoated strings along with some rubbing alcohol (they are also excellent for cleaning the fretboard and the frets but don't use alcohol on the fretboard!!!) Perhaps you should try this first before buying coated strings. Then if you're incredibly frustrated with string maintenance, try these strings out to see if they are for you but only buy one packet or you may be wasting your money. If you are just starting out on your guitar playing journey, DO NOT start with Elixirs or EXPs. You won't know what you're missing! Ignorance is not bliss in this instance. Elixirs are shipped with new guitars so that the strings don't corrode in the shop, not because they necessarily sound the best. DO start with standard D'addario phosphor bronze as I highly recommend those. Also use the gauge and tuning your guitar was designed for to preserve the intonation. Hope this review is helpful!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2017 2:40 PM GMT

How to Draw
How to Draw
by Scott Robertson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best book on drawing ever!, 8 Jan. 2014
This review is from: How to Draw (Paperback)
I have been through a number of drawing books and this is by far the best in terms of its depth, relevance to industry and its accessibility. This book will easily teach and inspire both beginners and experts on the craft of technical drawing and sketching. It is so clearly laid out, with diagrams, beautiful examples and in depth explanations on how to draw in perspective. Not only that but the book features a large amount of video content you can access on line using the password and url provided in the book. Scott and Thomas take you through all the major concepts covered in the book which really helped me to understand things better.
If you love the craft of drawing or you want to be a designer then this book is invaluable. Who'd have thought drawing construction boxes could be so exciting?

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £13.98

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Example of Quality and Passion Destroyed by Utter Design Failure. It is a Failure that CAN be Fixed, 11 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I first started playing the game a week ago I couldn't understand why everyone else was so upset with it. I fell in love with Mass Effect 3 and remained there for the next 30 hours. Engaging game play and riveting story, dialogue, and mind bending choices. I was overwhelmed at how good it was. Then I got to the last 10 minutes. I will try to explain why everyone is so upset without spoiling anything, even though there is nothing good to here spoil. The situation really is that bad.

"A rich, branching storyline: Experience a sci-fi epic with multiple endings determined by your choices and actions throughout the game."

This is identified as the first KEY GAME FEATURE. But it is unfortunately a lie. The colour of an explosion does not function as a differentiating plot device. Therefore, this is NOT a sci-fi epic with multiple endings determined by your choices and actions. It has only one ending determined by NONE of your choices and actions. If that sounds like fun to you then you should buy this game. It pains me to say this, but I urge you, do not buy this game until Bioware have confirmed that they will re-write the ending from scratch. The confirmed extended cut DLC will not accomplish this. It will only make the situation worse. If you buy it, I think you will only be left feeling frustrated, saddened and confused, as I am.

I love Bioware and I love Mass Effect. But as it stands this is not a Mass Effect game. This is an unfinished product. What's worse is that Bioware are refusing to admit it. This is a sad time for people who love great stories, and who recognise the importance in telling them.

Bioware has proven throughout its history and for 99% of ME3 that it is so much better than this. Their publishers, EA, are likely the ones to blame for this catastrophe. I sincerely hope Bioware will put an end to this disaster and listen to their customers.
Mass Effect 3 needs a proper set of different endings that make sense, like we were promised when we opted to buy the game.

Origin of Symmetry
Origin of Symmetry
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable - A Masterpiece, 31 Jan. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Origin of Symmetry (Audio CD)
Are you a Muse Fan? If you're thinking of buying this album then you are either a Muse fanatic already, or you will be very soon, and if you haven't heard any of these songs already then I envy you - you are in for one crazy audio thrill-ride.
What's so great about this album is it's originality - it takes our usual idea of what rock music is and turns it on its head, electrocutes it, sticks it in a blender and then stuffs it down your throat, much to your masochistic glee. The music is dark, vicious and incredibly addictive, and by the time you've heard Bliss, with its ethereal arpeggios and super high voltage riffs, you will be hooked to the end. It's super badass.
Pretty much every song is unbelievable in its own right. Muse pull no stops when it comes to rocking out, and I recommend that you check out their live performances of these songs as well (they've won best live act at countless award ceremonies for a good reason). Plug In Baby is easily one of the greatest songs of all time. I remember seeing the video for it and I just couldn't belive it! It blew my mind. Citizen Erased, Newborn and Space Dementia are also fantastic. Muse even did a cover of Feeling Good by Nina Simone, and it's insane.
Its hard to believe that this is a three piece set (lead singer Matt Bellamy completely outdoes himself with amazing super high falsetto vocals, incredible guitar work and outstanding piano sections that seamlessly blend into every song). Chris Wolstenhome provides some of the craziest bass playing ever recorded, and Dominic Howard is sensational on drums. By the time you finish listening you will probably flick back to the start of Newborn and listen to it all over again, it really is that good.
Unmissable. You must buy this album!

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