Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Martin Tony Rice monel strings

I just installed a set of the TR strings (set MTR13). Initial impression… they are different. It’s much warmer (and less bright) than my typical PBs (or 80/20s). They are on my D18 and it makes it sound like a cross between a D28 and a D18. I think I like them on mahogany (I am doubting I would like them on Indian rosewood… on Madagascar it might be an interesting combo). I will say if I needed to change strings on the same day as recording, these wouldn’t be a bad choice. I like to get 3 hours or so on PBs before recording, but these sound pretty usable right out of the gate (grain of salt alert, I haven’t recorded them… I am just guessing)

I have all of 10 minutes time spent with them, so take this initial review for what it’s worth. I’ll post more as I live with them over the following weeks. I’ll say this much, if you want to get a different tone, these are worth a shot. I think they were under $7.00 from Elderly.

I was curious about these when they first started marketing them, but your post was more than I could take. I had to order some for myself.

Larry, based on your reaction to the PB Lifespans being pretty bright to start (which is true) I think you will like these. Let me know what you think.

Yeah, I used the Lifespans for a while, but eventually drifted back to EJ17’s. I’m curious to see how the nickel strings sound.

I played them for about 2 months on a loaner guitar when waiting for mine to be fixed. They are definitely a different than the Martin Lifespans that I usually use. Not better or worse, just different. It took me a few days to get used to them, but once I did I enjoyed them. They seemed to last a long time too, as do most strings for me … I am generally not too critical of string tonal change … I like the variance in sounds that I get with different strings brands and their age.

My order shipped today and I’m about ready for a string change, so I’ll try 'em out as soon as they get here.

I installed a set of PB on a different guitar the day before I installed the TRs. They should have a fairly similar amount of play time. If I get some time in the next couple of days I might record a bit for comparison sake to post. The guitars are far from being identical, but the strings are different enough I still think it would be interesting to hear them recorded back to back.

I can’t remember where I first saw these strings advertised, but it was a reputable higher end store. I called about them and asked how they sound and was quickly influenced not to waste my money. He must have been an hourly employee. :open_mouth:

I’m interested in hearing what you think of them Larry. What kind of guitar are you putting them on? I have rosewood and Mike kinda thought they might not be the best choice for Rosewood. I’ll probably end up ordering a set just to see for myself.

— Begin quote from "AlexNC"

I played them for about 2 months on a loaner guitar when waiting for mine to be fixed.

— End quote

How long ago was that Alex, because I thought these were something new that just recently came out? I like to expirement with different strings too. I tried a set of “Red” brand copper bronze strings on my Collings. They were somewhat expensive and a disappointment for me. They really are red, just like a shiny penny. Someone else may love them.


Does anyone have any feedback on Cleartone strings? I’ve been tempted to buy some on the recent buy two get one free I’ve seen lately. Seems like they are quite expensive unless you get them on a sale or special offer.

I haven’t tried the Cleartones so I can’t comment.

I’m putting the TRs on my D-18.

Yeah I probably broke an unwritten posting rule by asking about cleartones during a TR string subject. :smiley:

If straying off topic broke a rule, I’d have been kicked out of here a long time ago. :smiley:

Nah, no worries on the topic shift. We are more of a stream of consciousness type of thread :smiley:

I bought some Cleartone 80/20s on super sale for $5 a set. They were fine, but I prefer the Martin Lifespans (which oddly enough use Cleartone’s process). To be fair, it might be my chemistry, but 80/20s don’t last near as long as PBs from the same brand. In short, I didn’t hear anything to make me want to get more of them at regular pricing, but if they were on super sale again, I’d probably grab a few sets.

Then all is good! Thanks for the info. I truly didn’t know anything about Cleartones. Who knows, I might try them.

I’ve been using Lifespans exclusively since I read a positive review that Mike posted about them a while back. Being a tight-wad, I used EJ17’s for years but the higher cost of the Lifespans are worth it to me, in tone and longevity. Anxious to see what Larry thinks about the TR monels. Never tried them myself.

I spent some time comparing the TRs with some PBs. Here’s some impressions… they may be way off, but here they are:
The TRs are still warmer
The PBs are punchier
The TRs seem significantly less loud
The TRs have a slightly looser feel
The PBs accentuate that Martin honk… when you get on them they show attitude(in a good way). When you get on the TRs they just get a bit louder.

I seem to like whichever guitar is in my hands. I think if I were playing in a picking circle and trying to get a solo heard, I would much prefer the PBs. They just have more volume, cut and punch. If I were playing backup and wanted to blend in more, the TRs get the nod.

Thus far, I think I am leaning towards PBs as my primary, but I do like the TRs and I could see myself preferring them at some point.

I recorded a little bit to see how they would do. I also did some recording of another guitar with phosphor bronze strings with about the same amount of play. The comparison is admittedly terrible. The monels are on a D18 (adi/mahogany) and the PBs are on a 0000 (adi/madagascar rosewood). As a result, you can’t gain much from the comparison unless you know how the guitars typically record. I also probably messed up my location a bit on my first strum. I think the 0000 was a bit louder, but not that much. recording was done with a single mic, located in front of the 12th fret. I probably should have played with the location a bit… some of it sounds pretty crappy (the strumming really sounds bad). I’m not real proud of it, but I figured I’d post it anyway. There is no processing on the sound clips.
FWIW, here it is:
[attachment=0]String Test.mp3[/attachment]

My thoughts on listening: the monels don’t record as easy as I hoped. I suspect one could get a good recorded sound from them, but it might take some fiddling. I think because they are warmer, they have more going on in overtones and will be more picky about mic placement (but I could be way out in left field on that).

Thanks for the comparison. I thought the Phophor Bronze sounded better in every comparison. The comparison with the scale up the neck sounded very good with both. It seems like the higher individual notes sound really good with the Monels. I still like the PB’s. I’ll probably order a set jof the Monels ust to see for myself. Hearing live compared to recording can be a world apart.

Nice Pickin!


They definitely sound different, but I’ll reserve judgment since I’m not certain how much of the difference is due to the guitars and how much to the strings.

My monels arrived today but I haven’t had a chance to restring yet. I’ll get to it later tonight.

Larry, I think your impression of them live may well be different from what you hear on my recording. If nothing else they are a fun change of pace. It’s kind of like when my wife has me dress up like the quarterback from her high school. Just in case anyone is wondering, that last sentence is a joke.