MICHAEL JAMES ADAMS, PAIRINGS
What Gabriel Does
When Gabriel first invited me to his East LA shop space back in early 2015, I wasn't sure what to expect. Like myself, I think many of us take for granted the origins of the gear we use. I mean, the thought of one guy winding guitar strings by himself––is that even possible? Yet, from the moment I entered that shop space I knew I was in the presence of a master.
Gabriel understands string construction like no other; his formula is the sum of many parts, from materials and core gauges to the more abstract concepts of tone and feel. I've always felt that a good craftsman can take the ramblings of the uninformed and turn them alchemy-like into gold. If you tell him about your guitar, your playing style, and what might be missing from your sound, he can make you a set of strings that will blow your mind. That's what Gabriel does.
If you know me, you know that Jazzmasters and Jaguars are my favorite guitars ever produced––easily Leo Fender's most brilliant yet misunderstood designs. In order to address the issues some players face with these models, Gabriel and I spent an evening discussing setup techniques, concerns with functionality, and ultimately, the problem of string-to-string tension with the floating bridge design. So Gabriel wound strings before my very eyes, handing me set after set and demanding nothing short of honesty after installation.
We started with the E strings, choosing gauges that felt taut but not stiff; from the outer strings, we worked inward, matching the tension and overall volume of each string set to its position. And with Gabriel's uniquely balanced feel and long-twist finish wrap design, we were able to address some of the more common complaints with the offset guitar design. No longer will your high E strings snap from rubbing against the pivot plate screw directly beneath it on the trem, and the tension of ELGTSCO strings means your strings will never feel splashy or lacking volume. When you install a set of these strings, your guitar will be louder, you intonation truer, your tone fuller and more compelling. Gabriel makes the only set of strings specifically formulated for offset guitars, and I can say with certainty that they are the best strings you will ever install on your Jazzmaster or Jaguar.
Ready to take the plunge? Start with his 11-50 Long Twist set for Jazzmaster or the 11-52 Long Twist set for Jaguar, created to enhance the feel and response of the 24" scale. You won't regret it!
Acoustic Steel Guitar
I don't know about you, but my acoustic seems to be extremely picky when it comes to strings. When I bought my '64 Gibson J-50, it had the oldest, rustiest, smelliest strings I've ever encountered, but it sounded like a dream. Deep and warm, yet defined––exactly the way I like them. So, I took it home and cleaned it, throwing a new set of [NAME BRAND REDACTED] strings on in the process. Believe it or not, everything I loved about the guitar when it was on the wall at Instrument Hub™ was gone from the first strum. These strings, which I'd used on every acoustic I'd ever owned before, suddenly did nothing for me. It was such a drastic change that within the hour I was fishing the old set out of my apartment complex dumpster. True story.
From then on, I purchased every set of acoustic strings I could find. If it meant I could have that sound without the need to wash my hands after each chord, I was game for anything, even coated strings! Sadly, nothing satisfied. Eventually, the search for my new standard set lead me to Gabriel, and his 13-56 Brass set brought my old guitar back to life in a big, big way. All of the warmth and low-end roundness had returned, the midrange was exactly as defined as I remembered but never boxy. Even when they were fresh from the pack, Gabriel's strings were never too bright or tinny, always clear and cutting in all of the best ways. And for such a heavy set of strings, I have never once felt as though they were difficult to play or unyielding when I needed them to bend.
I know what you're thinking: if I'm going to spend that much money, they had better last! Let me tell you, I used Gabriel's strings during a 30+ performance run of Godspell at Seattle's Taproot Theater in 2015. From opening night to the emotional closing performance, I did not change strings once. Same set from curtain to final bow every night, without a string breaking or losing the tone or feel that I'd come to expect from these strings. ELGTSCO strings are simply unparalleled.
I'm lucky enough to own what I think is the best bass I've ever played, a beat-up 1973 Fender Precision. When it comes to strings, I think I've always taken for granted that my bass sounds good no matter what I throw on there, but one thing that I've always wished to improve is the tension of the low E in particular.
For one reason or another, some 34" scale basses can feel a little sloppy on the low string. Some blame the top-loading bridge, others think the scale length is an inch too short. Many of us simply step up a gauge, which can certainly tighten things up but also makes things a bit more difficult if you're used to the standard 45-105 set. When I brought this up with Gabriel, he immediately knew what to do: use thicker core wire.
By varying the thickness of the core and wrap, he was able to wind a string that felt familiar yet had all of the tension and resistance I'd always wanted without making the string too tough to play. No more floppy E string. All of the strings ring out true and loud, and the set is perfectly balanced from E to G. And if you're like me and you enjoy a good dropped D or tuning to Eb to play along with your favorite records, these strings hold that glorious tension even when slackened.
My favorite bass has never sounded or felt better, and my strings have never lasted longer! If you've ever felt like you could love your bass a little bit more, try out the ELGTSCO 46-108 set!
When the Fender Bass VI entered my life, it was as if a new world of musical possibilities had opened. Ubiquitous in soundtracks and popular music in the 1960s (including Star Trek!) the VI is great when used as a lead instrument, but also carries some serious weight as a rhythm section mainstay. But when the VI reissues first started appearing, something felt different, Then it hit me: the Bass VI string set had changed!
From the time the VI hit Fender's catalog in 1961 through the 1990s, the standard set started with a .026" string for the high E and a .095" string for the low E. Over the years, these sets have gotten progressively lighter, with most sets ranging from .024"-.084", and that .084" gauge is far too light to be used as a low E at a 30" scale.
This is why ELGTSCO makes a set that uses a .099" string for the low E. The thicker cores and enhanced tension of this VI set makes it the ultimate roundwound set for enhanced low end while keeping that springy lead tone we all know and love. Give the VI set a try and love your quirky favorite even more!
Nashville Tuning Guitar
One of my favorite 'secret weapon' instruments is my '08 Martin LX1-S, which I keep in "Nashville Tuning" which is a term that describes a guitar strung with only the octave strings from a 12-string set. This pitches the low E, A, D, and G strings one octave higher, with the high B and E strings as they are on any other guitar. The name comes from its popularity in––you guessed it––Nashville where one of these instruments is recorded alongside a normally-tuned acoustic, then panned each hard to either side to create a sort of stereo 12-string guitar. The trouble is, because most 12-string sets are light-gauge, the instrument lacks volume and doesn't hold up against heavy pick attack.
Enter Gabriel, the hero we both need and deserve. He asked me what I needed from my instrument, and the simple answer was volume. We tried numerous combinations of strings and landed on heavier, sturdier plain strings for the A, D, and G strings that finally gave my guitar the powerful voice I knew I could have, as well as a thicker wound low E to balance with them. My little guitar sounds louder and fuller than it ever has, with a distinctive voice all its own.
If you're planning on using a Nashville-tuned instrument, Gabriel's Nashville set is the only set you need.