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Since 1890, Black Diamond Strings have been faithfully providing musicians with reliable and great-sounding strings. While a lot has changed since then in guitar string manufacturing, Black Diamond Strings still preserve the very same dependable qualities that originally made them a hit. This year, Black Diamond Strings have partnered up with the Jimi Hendrix Foundation to offer a new series of signature strings to fund a praiseworthy cause.
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The brilliant partnership between Black Diamond Strings and the Jimi Hendrix Foundation aims to provide public schools with access to music education, with the program dubbed as Music for Life. The after-school classes will include lessons on basic music theory, history, general music appreciation and even an introduction to the recorder. A portion of the profits from each sale will go towards the Jimi Hendrix Foundation, which in turn will fuel the endeavours of its Music for Life program.
If the charitable fund and instantly recognisable packaging didn’t clue you in already, Jimi Hendrix often touted Black Diamond Strings on his guitars. Some of the most famous riffs we know and love today were once noodled out by Hendrix himself on these mystical strings. The three different sets available are each named after Hendrix’s most iconic and memorable performances: the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the Royal Albert hall show in 1969, and last but not least, the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
There are two types of acoustic strings here: the silver-plated Monterey pack, and the phosphor-bronze Royal Albert Hall set. Don’t fret if you’re an electric guitarist – the Woodstock batch is tailored to all Hendrix aficionados with its nickel-wound contents. The trio are available in three different string gauges: extra light, light, and medium. Set sizes are more or less traditional – the Woodstock set ranges from 9-42 to 11-50, while the two acoustic sets stretch from 10-46 to 13-56. As with all Black Diamond strings, these commemorative wires are constructed in the United States from a high carbon steel hex core, then subsequently wrapped with a high-quality alloy blend. Each set is visually inspected, hand-coiled and packed before shipping.
Tone-wise, they’re about as good as they come these days. Slipping the Woodstock set onto an old Stratocaster tuned a half step down instantly transported me to Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan territory. After some initial stretching and retuning, tuning stability remained as solid as a rock even through outrageous bends. They’re slinky, tonally balanced, and have a sweet, crisp top end.
This excellent performance carries on to the acoustic string sets. As expected, the silver-plated Monterey set was soft to the touch and sounded warmer than the Royal Albert Hall pack. It’s a perfect match for guitars that naturally have a hump in the top end. As for the phosphor-bronze wires, not much needs to be said about them – they sounded great, with a rich balance of crispness and warmth. Phosphor-bronze is a mix of the usual suspects – zinc, tin, iron and copper, with a pinch of phosphorous thrown in. This trades brightness (not a terrible amount) for string longevity, and is the most commonly used alloy for acoustic guitar strings today.
Okay, let’s be real. No, these strings won’t make you into the next Hendrix. But it’s hard to deny that there’s a little bit of mojo and history tucked away into each and every one of these string packets. Furthermore, the cause that Black Diamond Strings and the Jimi Hendrix Foundation is working towards is worth every cent. Oh, and you get a cool little retro collectable sticker with each pack too.