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Old 08-17-2012, 09:02 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Default James Taylor, Olson guitars and John Pearse strings

Yesterday when I logged onto the forum I read a thread about James Taylor, Olson guitars and Adamas strings. Since there was some conflicting information from different posters on the thread about the brand of strings that JT currently prefers, I decided that before I posted any response, I would call both the Breezy Ridge/John Pearse strings office and the custom guitar builder Jim Olson himself. I wanted to make sure I had the correct information before I posted anything. In the process, I spent about thirty minutes or so on the phone with Jim Olson. (We have several mutual friends and the conversation was wide-ranging, not just about JT's string preference.)

Okay, just for what it's worth, as a guitarist myself it doesn't matter much to me what strings any famous player happens to use. At most, if a guitarist whose playing I admire expresses a strong preference for a certain brand of strings, I might give them a try. I think most of us are like that.

Give 'em a try? Sure. Slavishly follow whatever preference the famous player expresses? Nah - not hardly.

As it happens, I have my own strong preference for strings - I'm a John Pearse artist endorser, but was using Pearse strings almost exclusively for years before achieving that status.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

First, the short version: James Taylor used Adamas strings for a brief period in the early 1990's, for two to three years maximum. Since then he has used, preferred and endorsed John Pearse strings.

Jim Olson is a little vague on the exact time frame of when JT had those Adamas strings, since he himself was not directly involved. But what happened was that around 1991 Adamas/Kaman Corporation made up several dozen sets of strings in the gauges JT prefers: .011, .015, .022, .030, .040, .050. JT liked the Adamas strings well enough, and those were what he happened to be using when he was interviewed for the 1992 magazine article that is quoted on Jim Olson's website.

But Jim introduced JT to John Pearse strings shortly thereafter, and JT loved them. Since at least 1995 JT has used John Pearse strings exclusively. I spoke to Todd at the Breezy Ridge office just before talking to Jim Olson, and Todd told me that they send shipments of 4 dozen sets of the John Pearse 550 Slightly Light phosphor bronze strings to JT's guitar tech every time JT and the band tour. Just the middle of last month Todd sent them another shipment of 48 sets.

Todd also mentioned that JT's brother Livingston Taylor uses the same set. As it happens, it was James Taylor's preference for that set of gauges that inspired the Pearse "Slightly Light" set in the first place. Another string company might market them as the "James Taylor" set, but Breezy Ridge doesn't do that.

I looked at the page on Jim Olson's website that was cited as the source for the information that JT uses Adamas strings:

http://www.olsonguitars.com/taylor.html

To be fair it's hard to read. Immediately after the mention of the Adamas strings there's another paragraph that says that the information is from an old magazine article and is out of date, but that disclaimer is not in another typeface or all that easy to see, much less read.

But in our phone conversation yesterday Jim repeatedly emphasized to me that JT is using John Pearse strings exclusively, and has been for at least the last 15-18 years.

Jim also repeatedly asked me to post the correct information in a public response on the forum. So here's that post.

I have no intention of giving the original poster of the Adamas thread any kind of hard time, either via personal message or in a post. He posted what he thought was correct information. It's just outdated, that's all.

Anyway, it's not a big deal, but I thought it might be worthwhile to double check, so I did.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:06 AM
JoeCharter JoeCharter is offline
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Thanks for posting this, Wade.

As you mentioned, no big deal, but good to have it straightened out.

I'll be playing an Olson with John Pearse strings very soon.

Joe
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:08 AM
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Hi Wade:

What a great post! Very informative, factual, and interesting. Thanks very much for sharing that info with us.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:12 AM
pitner pitner is offline
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I normally run the pearse strings on my SJ and it sounds great. But that guitar would sound great with rubber bands on it. I have very dry hands with no oils etc and can easily get a few weeks out of them so cost is not that big a deal to me. I do try different strings from time to time just to hear what's out there on the Olson but to my ear the pearse strings really do sound great in comparison.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:19 AM
Saguache Saguache is offline
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Wade, thx for going the extra mile on this info.

I'm really enjoying the JPs on my Olson and my Bourgeois OM.

Great strings at a very good price point.
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Old 08-17-2012, 09:40 AM
mchalebk mchalebk is offline
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Thanks for the interesting read, Wade. I also am a big fan of John Pearse PBs, so it's nice to read about big name artists (besides you, Wade, of course) that use them.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:48 AM
1FretLess 1FretLess is offline
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Talking Bluegrass

Just tossed on a set of Pearse BlueGrass

Gotta say they are "Different" strings and they
like to be picked hard and lean toward the "lead".

As a back porch picker I've found the inner flat-picker!

However as a more melodic player I'm thinking
to try a different offering perhaps phosphor.

Otherwise they are now a unique brand to me and
I intend on re-stringing a few more times with JP's
in different formats. They do ring and sound fine as
well as bend easy and slide well...

Perhaps I'm becoming a convert?!
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:46 PM
random works random works is offline
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Can anyone describe the difference between JP strings and say Martin or D'Addario of the same gauge, core shape, and wrapping alloy?

I have never tried them..
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:15 PM
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Hmm...you are a Pearse endorser, I see.
Anyway, is James Taylor now endorsing them as well ?
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:43 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Wade,

Thank you for all the time you put into chasing this issue down. Very interesting information.

- Glenn
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:56 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Bern wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bern View Post
Hmm...you are a Pearse endorser, I see.
Anyway, is James Taylor now endorsing them as well ?
Bern, I try to make it a point to mention that I'm a John Pearse artist endorser in every post relating to strings that I write. If you search the archives for my posts you'll find that I've always been completely upfront about this.

Which is how it should be.

As for James Taylor being an artist endorser, yes, it's been official for quite some time. He and his brother Livingston both are artist endorsers for John Pearse strings, and you can find their names here:

http://www.jpstrings.com/brend.htm

I'm listed under "M" and James and Livingston Taylor are listed under "T."

Random Works asked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by random works View Post
Can anyone describe the difference between JP strings and say Martin or D'Addario of the same gauge, core shape, and wrapping alloy?

I have never tried them..
Well, they sound a bit different. It's been long enough since I used any Martin strings that I'd be on shaky ground trying to give you any accurate tonal comparisons. I do recall that I don't get as long a usable lifespan out of the Martins as I do out of the Pearses, but that won't necessarily be the case for everyone.

The greatest tonal contrast I can give you is between the D'Addario phosphors and the Pearse phosphors. The D'Addario phosphors have a much more noticeable and prominent treble response than the Pearse phosphors have. The Pearse phosphors have a more complex tonal profile than the D'Addario phosphors.

Trying to explain tonal differences in words "is like dancing about architecture," to use the phrase attributed to Frank Zappa. But as a general rule those players who are really used to D'Addario phosphors will find the Pearse phosphors dark by comparison, while to Pearse phosphor users the D'Addarios might seem overly bright.

So much does truly depend on how any individual instrument responds that it's basically impossible to get any more specific than that.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller

Last edited by Wade Hampton; 08-17-2012 at 02:30 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:17 PM
mchalebk mchalebk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
... as a general rule those players who are really used to D'Addario phosphors will find the Pearse phosphors dark by comparison, while to Pearse phosphor users the D'Addarios might seem overly bright.
Yep. I love JP PBs and find D'Addario PBs annoying bright. Might be my guitars or my right hand attack, don't know. So many people really like D'Addario PBs and I have read many comments about how dark JPs are (which I don't hear at all).
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:22 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by random works View Post
Can anyone describe the difference between JP strings and say Martin or D'Addario of the same gauge, core shape, and wrapping alloy?

I have never tried them..
I use D'Addario EJ16 and Martin SP 80/20 light strings a lot and I also use John Pearse strings. In 80/20 I find John Pearse strings to be very pleasant sounding and a little more "rolled off" on the treble end compared to Martin SP 80/20. That is, the JP 80/20 are slightly less bright compared to Martin SP 80/20. Martin Marquis 80/20 have a treble closer to the JP 80/20, but the JP strings sound richer to my ears in the lower frequencies than Martin Marquis 80/20.

In PB strings, D'Addario EJ16 strings are way brighter and the JP PB strings are fairly dark to my ears. The JP PB strings are so dark to my ears that I just don't use them because I like a little more treble in my guitars and for my style of playing. On the other hand, I use JP 80/20 fairly often.

- Glenn
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:47 PM
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Thanks for your efforts on this Wade.

I like the combination of warmth and articulation I hear with the JP PB's though even those sound a bit too bright to me when brand new. Takes about a week for them to "settle in" to my ears. They last as long as anything for me.

EJ16's are too bright for me but I keep some on hand to use on my project Songbird or if I'm working on someone's all lam starter guitar I'll throw a set on that to liven it up some.

I'm still planning on trying Adamas though. You never know

Ray
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glennwillow View Post
I use D'Addario EJ16 and Martin SP 80/20 light strings a lot and I also use John Pearse strings. In 80/20 I find John Pearse strings to be very pleasant sounding and a little more "rolled off" on the treble end compared to Martin SP 80/20. That is, the JP 80/20 are slightly less bright compared to Martin SP 80/20. Martin Marquis 80/20 have a treble closer to the JP 80/20, but the JP strings sound richer to my ears in the lower frequencies than Martin Marquis 80/20.

In PB strings, D'Addario EJ16 strings are way brighter and the JP PB strings are fairly dark to my ears. The JP PB strings are so dark to my ears that I just don't use them because I like a little more treble in my guitars and for my style of playing. On the other hand, I use JP 80/20 fairly often.

- Glenn
I had used Martin Marquis exclusively for a long time before being introduced to JP strings by Griff Jones in 88 or 89. My first impression was that the
JP strings sounded quite similar to the Marquis but they lasted MUCH longer.

I've enough sets of JP strings here now to last me 2 James
Taylor tours if he needs me. Somehow I don't think......
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