How are handmade guitar strings really made?
That’s a great question, because a lot of companies say their strings are ‘handmade’ and don’t actually define what they mean. So, modern guitar strings simply can’t be made without the help of some sort of machinery. No matter how some folks make it sound, nobody is out there making guitar strings with a hand crank.
String winding machines are kind of like a lathe. The core of the string is stretched between two points, and the outer winding is applied as the core spins. Typically, ‘handmade guitar strings’ refers to when there is one machine operator per winding machine, feeding the wrap wire to wind around the core wire.
Do handmade guitar strings have the same precision as machined strings?
From surgical equipment to artificial hearts to satellites to ultra-precise watches, you’d be surprised how many things that require the utmost precision are still made by hand. The reason is simple. A real human operator can oversee and account for any inconsistencies in materials and components to ensure that the final product is as accurate and precise as possible.
The wire that forms the winding of a guitar string comes in a spool, and inevitably the wire varies slightly at different points in the spool. While a machine is programmed to wind the wire the same way every time, a human operator can account and adjust based on the exact feel of the wire, to ensure that the string is as perfect and accurate as possible. Just like those artificial hearts and satellites, we believe that guitar strings that are made by hand are even more precise than their machined counterparts.
Do you use round cores or hex cores?
Both! A lot of companies show a clear bias to one type of core or the other, we use each core type in the situation that we think it works best.
Everyone has an opinion on the round core vs. hex core debate—and everyone you ask will tell you different reasons for why they like either one. To us, hex cores have better flexibility, hold tune better, break less often, and have a clearer, more natural top end. That’s why we use hex cores for all our electric & acoustic guitar strings.
Where we do like round cores is on bass. Round core strings have a smoother, deeper bottom end and seem to resonate better on a bass guitar, so that’s where we use them.
What else sets your strings apart?
Not only do we make all our guitar strings right here in the USA, we also source as much of our raw materials as possible from the USA. We obsess with the quality of our products—that’s why we relentlessly inspect every single string before it goes out. Even though we have strict quality controls at every step of the winding process, not every string makes it through this last step. We only want you to get the best strings, period. When somebody tries a set of Stringjoy strings for the first time, we only get one shot to impress them, so we want to make sure everything is as perfect as it can possibly be.
Why would I want to play a custom set of strings?
Every guitarist knows there’s a big difference between playing a set of 9s and a set of 10s (or 11s, 12s, or 13s, for that matter). But for most of history, only the pros had the luxury of designing their own string sets, optimized for their exact gear and playing style. We changed that.
Customizing your string sets opens up a whole world of possibilities:
- Every guitar is different. We’ve found that slightly increasing the tension on the bottom end of a Les Paul can bring out even more depth in the tone. Tele’s get even twangier with slightly lighter strings on the bottom end. Whatever your gear and your needs, we can design a set just for you.
- Have you been using standard strings to play in alternate tunings? Let us create a set that’s designed with that tuning in mind.
- Want a wound 3rd that you can bend like a plain string? What about a heavier 6th string that won’t feel floppy in Drop D? We’ll work with you to find the perfect set for how you play.
How does Stringjoy make the world a better place?
We turned out the way we did because we had teachers who dedicated their time and energy to us, and we believe that every kid should have that same opportunity.
To support that mission, we donate 5% of our annual net profits to support music education. We select a different organization to support every year.
Are you a corporate offshoot/part of the music industrial complex?
Most certainly not. We’re guitarists ourselves, and we strive to make Stringjoy about helping guitarists get the best quality products at a fair price.
We love music, playing guitar, and helping other guitarists find new ways to improve their playing and their tone.
What happens if a string breaks?
First of all, we should say that we do everything possible to ensure that our strings don’t suffer premature breakage. That said, when you stretch tens of thousands of wires to tension and hit them with a plectrum, inevitably a couple are going to break. That’s why we replace any Stringjoy string that breaks prematurely free of charge. Just shoot us an email: [email protected]
Shipping & Returns Questions?
We’ve got a whole separate page for those.