When you take a trip to your local music shop and examine the string section, it should become obvious that there are dozens of different styles of strings, each of which is best suited for a certain playing style and lends itself nicely to a specific genre. It can be a confusing world at times, but don’t fret (get it?). Today we’ll be entering the world of folk music. In fact, we have specifically chosen to review a string that was designed with folk music in mind: the Martin M1400 Silk and Steels.
With that in mind, we’ll begin at a rather logical place: the sound. After all, isn’t sound the most important of all aspects of a string? Fortunately, sound is one area where the Martin M1400’s excel. The strings tend to have a more trebly, thinner sound than many comparable strings. For players of folk or acoustic rock, the emphasis on the high end can actually help to balance the guitar into the overall mix of the sound. Furthermore, the balance between the strings is actually quite well constructed; none of the strings particularly stick out during a strum which provides extremely even tone. Again, this is a quality that lends itself well to folk music (there’s a reason the strings are marketed as “folk” strings). The silk in the low strings softens the bass a little bit which is how this sound is achieved.
Like basically all packs of acoustic guitar strings, the upper two strings of the Martin M1400’s are not constructed any differently than most other sets of guitar strings. However, the bottom strings are where the M1400’s are quite unique. You see, the name Silk and Steel isn’t just a branding strategy; these strings are literally constructed with silk cores wrapped with steel windings, which gives them the unique tone. Furthermore, this changes the feel of the strings, making them feel softer and easier on the fingers than regular guitar strings.
Unfortunately, the durability of the M1400’s is one of the weaker points. Perhaps it is because of the silk core, but most consumers report that these strings do not last as long as other strings. However, this doesn’t mean players won’t get a few weeks or months worth of playtime out of these strings, and the shorter lifespan definitely shouldn’t deter consumers from testing out the Silk and Steels.
As far as the tuning ability of the Martin M1400’s goes, these strings would probably rank as average. The strings tend to stay in tune after they’ve been properly stretched, but it would be an exaggeration to say that these strings stay in tune longer than comparable brands. Be sure to properly stretch all of the strings before heavy usage in order to ascertain that the strings stay in tune properly.
Price and Availability
Like most Martin products, these strings are basically ubiquitous. Music stores of all calibers, from mom and pop to big box, will be likely to carry these strings. Furthermore, the Martin M1400’s are widely available online, both through specialized music retailers and through more general stores such as Amazon. Suffice it to say, it shouldn’t be too big of an issue for an interested guitarist to get their hands on a set of these strings. Furthermore, customers ordering online will have the ability to buy in bulk, saving additional money in the long run.
One of the strongest points of the M1400’s are their pricing and value. Consumers should expect to pay approximately $6 for a pack of these strings. Of course, better deals can be found if one is willing to look hard enough. These low prices should assure guitar players that the value they are getting with these strings is fantastic.