The instrument I play the most these days is my Godin Glissentar. Since it’s fretless, and the positions are so much closer together than on bass, it requires much more precision and attentiveness from me to get good intonation; and frequent playing. I REALLY love playing it though. Getting the glissentar was the best thing I ever did. I wish I’d heard of this wonderful invention of Robert Godin’s sooner! It is perfectly suited for the exact styles I’ve been trying to incorporate into my more electric playing over the past decade: Indian stylings, middle eastern influences, delta blues bits like I often use my resonator with a ceramic slide to get. And the glissentar sounds very much like a guitar with a slide. The only thing I’m not real thrilled about on the glissentar is how with the standard glissentar strings the top 2 courses are a bit dull sounding and don’t sustain NEARLY enough. It’s like they are getting muted out ½ second after sounding, like the slots in the the nut are perhaps too deep. I adapted my playing to this by using the top 2 courses for staccato notes. One other annoying thing about the standard Glissentar strings is the incessant stretching – the Glissentar strings never seem to break in; classical strings do tend to be this way: stretch stretch stretch [hence go out of tune, out of tune, out of tune] but it’s WAY worse with the standard Glissentar strings.
But I saw something about a month back on Unfretted.com , and I saw that some Glissentar players just SWEAR by Thomastik-Infeld KR116 Classic S Series classical strings rather than standard glissentar strings. These are unusual classical strings, the bass strings have: a rope core (nylon with steel fibers) with flat silver windings over the core; and the treble strings have: a rope core (nylon with steel fibers) with flat nylon windings over that. These are $34 a set, so to string a glissentar (since it has 11 strings) with these take 2 sets = $68. That’s not cheap! But I like the sound of the standard strings just fine except for the top 4 . So…. I tried swapping out the top 2 courses for an .016 and .024 KR116 and these sounded GREAT. They sound like steel strings – like an oud, or sitar, or sarod should, and they sustained and didn’t deaden out. But I did find that after a couple days the top 2 strings did begin to deaden out (not sustaining) a bit. Nothing bad though. The neck could use a hair more relief in it, or the slots in the nut for string 1&2 not being quite so deep. But before I do that I want to try using an .024 for string 1&2 and .025 for 3&4, so I ordered a couple more KR116s from the good folks at Strings By Mail . These will sit a bit higher in the nut slot. I don’t think the little bit more tension will be a problem. But all in all – even with the .016s and .024s these are still a GREAT improvement and I’m very pleased. and are just what the Dr. ordered, I’m just trying to optimize that a bit now. Updates to follow.