Some players, often in their earlier years, prefer strings that were produced by guitar instrument manufacturers. After all, Gibson and Fender can produce a fantastic instrument, so it follows that their factory strings would also be of high quality. However, the truly great strings tend to be produced by companies that specialize solely in string production, such as the legendary GHS Strings. Founded in 1964, GHS has made quite a name for themselves in the guitar strings industry, and even today the company enjoys a great measure of popularity. The Silk and Steel Acoustics strings are just one of the many varieties GHS produces, but they are a real crowd pleaser and tend to be widely known and used. Some say they are some of the best guitar strings around for an acoustic guitar.
The aptly named Silk and Steel Acoustics attempt to find a balance between a warm, folksy tone and a more trebly, bright rock sound. Most players find the strings accomplish this goal quite admirably; they seem better suited towards softer, more delicate playing, but can take a beating up to a point. This tonal characteristic seems to be translated into the tactile realm; not only do the Silk and Steel’s sound warmer and delicate, most players tend to find that the strings literally feel softer in their hands than standard steel strings. When coupled with the fact that the Silk and Steel’s tend not to squeak when changing frets, it’s easy to see why GHS’s strings work so well for playing a ballad or a softer track.
Basic Construction and Durability
The name Silk and Steel is not simply a moniker or advertising ploy dreamed up by GHS. Instead, the interior core of these strings is actually composed of wound silk and steel strands. These are then wrapped in a silver-plated copper wire to produce the warm tone so characteristic of these strings. For the upper two strings in the series, one can expect the same bare steel strings available in most strings packs, but it’s the bottom four that make these GHS’s more special.
While these strings have an average lifespan for their price, one of their downfalls is their penchant for corrosion. This may not affect the sound quality of the strings too much in the short run, but it will definitely leave the player’s fingers coated in a black soot. Over the long run, the sound will degrade more quickly than a coated string, so these need replacement on a slightly more frequent basis. This tends to bother some guitarists, so be sure to keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to purchase the GHS Silk and Steels. If you replace your strings often anyways, then it’s no big deal.
During the earlier part of their lifespan, the GHS Silk and Steel’s have a rather average capacity to hold a tune. No, they won’t slide out of tune while you’re playing and they’ll still make excellent choices for a performance, but don’t surprised if you find yourself having to retune every once in a while. This problem tends to exasperate itself as time goes on; when the copper wire wound around the strings inevitably starts to decay around the tuning pegs, the strings won’t take nearly as long to fall out of tune. However, this quality is not unique to the GHS Silk and Steels and will be noticed in almost any comparable string.
Price and Availability
As previously mentioned, GHS enjoys a reputation as one of the leaders in guitar strings industry. Being a top dog, GHS has no problems getting their products in major music retailers and mom and pop shops alike, meaning that most readers will have no trouble getting their hands on a set of the GHS Silk and Steels. Furthermore, these strings are widely available online, both through GHS’s website and third party retailers like eBay and Amazon.com. There are usually options for international shipping through all of these websites.
For strings of this caliber, Silk and Steels are reasonably priced, typically retailing around $10 for a pack. Note that because these strings are so widely available, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a better deal. However, even at $10 a pop, the GHS Silk and Steels are a great value, and consumers will likely find themselves satisfied with their purchase. This is, after all, the manner in which GHS established their reputation: solid products, every time.