Switching guitar string brands, and why I sometimes do it
Sometimes it's necessary to switch guitar string brands. I just did.
Dunlop's VCI stopped working
VCI means Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor. In every pack of Dunlop DEN strings there's this little silica packet that's supposed to prevent corrosion so every new set of strings has no rust on them.
As of recent, every pack of strings no matter where I buy a Dunlop set from has had rust on the strings, namely on the unwound B and G.
Fender Super 250's also use VCI. No silica packet is involved, but I've not seen any rust on them yet.
Dunlop availability is a problem
It's really annoying to want to buy a new pack of strings, only to find it's not only difficult to find in local guitar stores, but also difficult to find online. Dunlop has this problem with their DEN strings.
Does Dunlop have this problem all the time? No. It seems to be a month-to-month problem. On some months, DEN strings are available pretty much everywhere, and on other months, available pretty much nowhere.
Fender (finally) fixed their guitar string quality problems
I don't know what company manufactures Fender guitar strings these days, but whatever company is doing it does a far better job compared to how Fender strings used to be.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when Fender guitar strings were bad. And I mean bad. As in "snaps in less than a week" bad. As in "rusted right out of the pack" bad. As in "never stays in tune" bad. As in wrecks-your-frets bad. Fender guitar strings used to be all those things.
I was hesitant to try the Super 250's again for all of these reasons. But fortunately, the quality of the string has greatly improved pretty much across the board.
Now again, I don't know who makes the Super 250's for Fender. For all I know, Dunlop could be making them. Or maybe D'Addario. Maybe some other company. I don't know.
What I do know is that I now consider the Super 250's good.
Even though the 250's don't break in as fast as the Dunlop strings do, they are a lot easier to come by (availability is never a problem,) they're affordable and the build quality has gone up several notches.
Sometimes it's necessary to revisit a string
I stayed away from Super 250's for years because of the problems I mentioned above. But because of the problems the Dunlop strings were having, I decided to give the 250's another go, and things ended up all right. (If they hadn't, Dean Markley NickelSteel would have been my next choice.)
What I notice with guitar string brands is that they have good and bad years.
During the good years, the strings are always great for every pack you use.
During the bad years, something happens in the string manufacturing process, the string starts to not feel right, build quality declines, and you know it's not you but rather the string that's the problem. That's when you switch brands.
My tips for guitar string shopping when seeking out a new brand to use
1. Go cheap; stay cheap.
Spending more on guitar strings only does one thing, and that's make you poorer faster. Purposely use cheap strings. One brand will stand out above the rest that will work for you.
2. Buy what's readily available.
Whatever is always available in the guitar store and/or always available online is the brand you go with. If you buy one of those boutique brands that are tough to locate, not only are you spending more but waiting more just for them to show up in the mail.
3. Hop between as many brands as you need to before you find the right one.
I got lucky with the Fender Super 250's and came across a brand that worked for me. But I was ready to hop over to another brand if they had not worked out, and I would have kept on doing it until I found the right strings.
Trust what your eyes and fingers tell you
When you look at strings you usually buy brand new out of the pack and say to yourself, "That doesn't look right...", that's not you that's the problem. Or if the strings look right, but when you play they don't feel right (maybe too loose or too tight?), again, that's not you that's the problem there either. Something changed in the way the string was made. Something bad.
If your eyes or your fingers are telling you something is wrong with the string, then something is wrong with the string - especially if the problem keeps happening from pack to pack of whatever brand you use.
Switch string brands if you have to. And don't be afraid to revisit a brand you've not tried in a while, because that brand might have improved since you last used it.
Here's a quick video I did using the Super 250's. I think these will work out just fine for me.
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