Strings.ie is excited to announce the world's first graphene guitar strings.
Located in the bog lands of Mayo, Ireland, the Strings.ie development team have been hard at work on their latest innovation following on from last year's Wifi Guitar Tuner.
We caught up with April Thurst, head of Strings.ie product development, to get the low down on this most exciting development for Guitar Strings.
April, what the hell is Graphene?
April Thurst: This is the wonder material of the future. It's 100 times stronger than the strongest steel and is so thin it's almost transparent! At Strings.ie we knew there had to be a use for this in Guitar Strings so we have been working in secret for the last 2 years to make our secret formula of Graphene and other metals to forge the ultimate Guitar String.
How has a micro company in Ireland beat the giants of the guitar string world to be first to market?
April Thurst: It's been a tough challenge. We've had to deal with some rather dubious characters trying to infiltrate our research lab in Mayo. I'm not going to name names but let me just say, the market leader of strings with an Italian name has been going through our rubbish looking for clues! The trouble with the big corporate companies is they don't know their ass from their elbow. They're too busy fussing over their marketing to be truly innovative. I mean every year they come out with a new string that is supposed to be the best thing since slice bread and their marketing team go into overdrive. Players tell us the only thing that is any greater is the price!
We see this behaviour from all the top brands, they're all about numbers. We're about music and musicians which is why we keep our team small and fluid. Quality not quantity!
So what's so great about Graphene Guitar Strings?
April Thurst: Well, firstly they do not break. The weakest point on the string is now the ball end which we are also developing a Graphene version of. Put simply, a typical .009 plain guitar string made of Graphene could hold the weight of me and my entire team! What we have done is combine the graphene with our secret formula of other base metals to make the core of the string. This essential allows the string to have the tone we all expect. The cores are then wound in a typical winding such as Bronze or Nickel. This means the string looks and feels the same. It plays the same and behaves the same. The only different is it will not break, ever!
So these strings are unbreakable?
April Thurst: That's correct. We're having to also design a new tool to cut excess off because standard wire cutters cannot cut it.
I should add that although our strings do not break, in order for them to sound like a guitar strings, we have used industry standard windings which as we all know do wear and are prone to rust.
We're now testing our new graphene strings with a proprietary coating. Living in the west of Ireland we are surrounded by bog and we noticed that bog water contains some interesting compounds. We've managed to extract and formulate these compounds into a treatment that is baked on. It's a bit like a ceramic non stick frying pan only a micron thickness that protects the windings to prolong string tone. It will put an end to dandruff market leaders of coated strings and more importantly create many manufacturing jobs in the west of Ireland using this vital natural resource.
What's the release date and price of your Graphene strings?
April Thurst: Well as I mentioned, we're just finalising our coating material and the ball end but the string is ready. I'd say we should be ready for market by Summer Namm. As for price; it is a premium string and with our coating we are expecting tone life of up to 2000+ hours, the string core of course will last for decades, it's the windings that will fail long before the core. The guitar set should retail for around $60, that's where we're aiming.
Isn't this going to destroy the competition?
April Thurst: Perhaps. We're waiting on our patents. Personally I think there will always be a market for standard steel core strings. They are cheap to make but our premium strings are aimed more at professional musicians who demand a level of reliability far beyond what most players expect. Having said that, as our technology takes off, our manufacturing costs will lower and I suppose it's possible that Graphene Strings will become the norm and so will changing strings only every few years!