Opinions vary on what kind of strings are best for Dobro, or resophonic, guitars. Some players want brightness, while others value cleanness and warmth. Choosing the best strings also depends on what tuning you want to play in. While resonators generally are played in open G or open A, many players opt for the standard acoustic guitar tuning.
Most professional musicians prefer heavy-gauge strings on their resonators. Heavy-gauge strings maximize the amount of pressure applied to the bridge, which gives you better tone and more volume. The pressure also helps to cut down on the amount of buzz coming from the bridge. Since they are simply heavier and more tense, heavy-gauge strings are harder to play, so beginning players or those used to light-gauge strings might want to exercise caution.
Many players prefer lighter-gauge acoustic guitar strings for a number of reasons. First of all, heavier-gauge strings will put too much tension on the neck if you try to play your resonator in standard tuning. With normal acoustic strings, you can play in standard tuning without damaging your instrument. The problem with these lighter strings is that you will probably lose some volume and hear an increase in buzz and rattle, but you can counteract this if you amplify your instrument and shim the nut.
Bronze and Nickel-Wound Strings
Acoustic guitar strings are most commonly bronze-wound, which tends to produce medium brightness. Phosphor-bronze delivers more volume and brighter sound, though some players complain about the brightness of these strings and the loudness of scraping against the neck. GHS has a Phil Ledbetter signature series of Dobro strings, and D'Addario's Phosphor Bronze Resophonic strings are also popular.
Nickel-wound strings are the most common type of electric guitar strings and, according to some purists, will give your resonator the most "authentic" sound. Martin's Nickel Wound Dobro Strings and the GHS Pure Nickle Rollerwound Resonator Strings typically receive positive reviews.
Flatwound strings are a more expensive alternative. Since they're flatter than regular strings, they create less scraping and sliding noises against the frets, make for better playability and will last longer than your average normal strings. GHS's Phosphor Bronze Semi Flat Dobro Strings and its Bright Bronze G Tuning Rollerwound are popular flatwound sets for resonators.
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