String Review: D’Addario EHR Half Round Electric Guitar Strings
Sometimes it can feel like you’ve been through every set of strings under the sun, but often there’s something just lurking outside your peripheral vision. Whilst half round strings are nothing new, there are few people that have heard of them, let alone tried them…
Lucky for you, our man on the ground, Professor Twang has given these a good going over to help give you an overview of what you can expect from the ‘third type of string.’
It’s fair to say that 90% of the guitar strings on the market fall under the category of ‘roundwound’. If you’re unfamiliar with this terminology, let us give you a quick run down.
The wound guitar strings of an electric guitar string set consist of an inner core wire and an outer winding that wraps tightly around that inner core. This outer winding usually comes in two forms; roundwound and flatwound. Roundwound strings feature a cylindrical piece of wire wrapped around the core. These strings feel great but they aren’t super smooth.
At the other end of the spectrum, flatwound strings are smooth to the touch as the outer wrap wire is shaped much more like a ribbon and each wrap around the core is butted up tightly next to one another.
So what’s the difference besides the feel? Well, tonally roundwound strings are much brighter with a bit more output, whereas flatwound strings are mellower and warmer. These are the main types of strings we see, however, there is another choice of string available and these are known as halfround strings (sometimes referred to as groundwound strings).
Admittedly, there aren’t a huge number of manufacturers that produce halfround strings so you’d be forgiven if this is your first exposure to this type of string.
Because of this, they feel just a little smoother and slicker to the touch than roundwound strings; and there’s a little less string noise (squeak) when executing slides along the wound strings. This makes them a really good choice for recording. If you take a look at the image below, you’ll see that the red arrow points to the outer edge of the string which has a slightly flattened surface and this helps to give that smoother feel.
So how do these compare tonally to the more common roundwound and flatwound offerings?
Well, the tone chart on the reverse of D’Addario’s packet shows them as being pretty warm sounding (darker sounding than nickel wound strings, but brighter than pure nickel).
On an S-style guitar fitted with Lace Alumitone pickups I found the EHR310 strings had a very neutral tone; neither too bright nor too dark, just a nicely balanced sound. D’Addario say that the tone of these strings are comparable to their roundwound offerings and in my opinion I felt they had more than adequate projection.
In fact, I think they’d be a suitable choice for a whole manner of playing styles and would be especially at home playing classic rock and blues.
It’s worth noting that these strings are wound with a stainless steel wrap wire making them a great option for those players with a nickel allergy.
From the outset these strings felt very wholesome and are balanced in terms of playability, responding well to all forms of articulation including legato (i.e., hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides and bending) and vibrato too.
It didn’t take long for these strings to bed in either. Over the years I’ve aways found D’Addario to be extremely consistent and these are no exception. As ever, in the minutes after installation, I performed some (quite extreme) bends and re-checked my tuning, and after a few repetitions, these strings settled down quickly. They even behaved themselves during a band rehearsal a few hours later!
Whilst they are uncoated, these strings are priced at the higher end of the market (purely because of the grinding process adding to the manufacturing cost). As with most uncoated sets, if played regularly (daily) they will lose their sparkle over time, particularly the wound strings. However, the dulling is very gradual with these strings, so there’s no sudden change in feel or tonality.
Overall the D’Addario Halfround sets are certainly slicker than most, with a pleasant warm yet crisp sound, which is what many of us want for general guitar playing duties in a variety of styles. If you’re yet to try groundwound / halfround strings then they’re certainly worth exploring. If you’ve ever been between a rock and a hard place when it comes to your choice of strings, they may be just the ticket and the best strings you’re yet to have tried… I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.