Thursday, December 19, 2013

Martin MSP4100 SP Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings Review


Every now and then I experiment with different acoustic guitar strings, but so far I have always gone back to my favorites, the Martin Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Strings. Depending upon the instrument I use either the light or medium gauge sets. Today we are going to take a look at the light gauges set (part number MSP4100) that I use on my old Takamine dreadnought.

The light set includes the following gauges: 0.012, 0.016, 0.025, 0.032, 0.042 and 0.054. They have a high-quality steel core with a bronze coating, which is a great combination. The steel helps keep the strings from breaking (I cannot remember the last time I broke a Martin string), and the bronze helps the strings sound brighter for a longer period of time. Plus the bronze color looks really snazzy!

After installing a set of these strings it takes an hour of two of playing to get them to over their initial overly bright and crisp tone. They do not stretch very much, and once they settle in they have a beautifully even and sweet tone across all of the strings. This tone translates well for both recording and live performances.

The tone of these Martin strings holds up for a surprisingly long time. I play every day, and end up changing them out about once per month. As I said earlier, I never break these strings, even though I change to different tunings fairly often.

Some of my friends swear by the coated Elixir strings, and they do hold their tone around twice as long as the Martin strings, but they also cost twice as much. Plus I do not care for the feel of the Elixirs, and their tone does not fit in with my style of playing. Don’t get me wrong, Elixirs are very nice, but the Martins just work better for me.

Martin makes their Phosphor Bronze strings in Mexico, and right out of the package I have never had a bad string from them. But I have to point out that the one thing I do not care for is their packaging. The strings come in paper envelopes inside a cardboard box. I would prefer that they were in an airtight package, as I never know how long these strings have been sitting around at the store, and I believe that exposure to air and moisture degrades string performance over time.

Though the Martin MSP4100 Phosphor Bronze Light Acoustic Strings have a rather high list price of $16.79, you will find that the street price is about $5.50 per pack, which is comparable to other makers’ wares. They sound great and hold up well, so if you do not currently use them you should give them a try.


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