Strings

From Allan Holdsworth Information Center
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Player Of The Month (Beat Instrumental 1978)

Strings? "Well I like D’Addario the best, but I can’t always get them. They’re really good, but they don’t last very long. The core is thinner, and the winding’s thicker, so it vibrates more. But also because the core is thinner it stretches, and then you lose the tone." And picks even? "I always use the same ones. I don’t know where they come from, but they’re called Heriba. I like nylon picks because they’re silent when you hit the string with them. Those plastics one clack something awful."

Allan Holdsworth (Beat Instrumental 1979)

Strings fitted to the electrics, by the way, are D’addario 9-42 or 8-38 depending on which of the two Strats he’s using.

No Record Contract, No Big Hoopla, But The Fans Have Kept The Faith For Allan Holdsworth (Guitar World 1982)

And Allan is very particular about his strings: "I use singles, custom gauged strings, not packets ‘cause I never get a packet of strings that feels right. I use D’Addario strings ‘cause I think they’re the best. I like the thin core and the flexible feel they have. The reason for the lightness is the sound. Actually, for the most comfort I’d probably have to go with at. least one gauge higher to get the strings to feel as I’d like them to. The most comfortable strings for me to use for chords and balance are .009s, but I prefer the sound of the .008s - they’ve got that zing, that little ping."

The Innocent Abroad (Musician 1984)

Holdsworth’s current lead work is especially unusual because although his tone is as fluid and nimble as a synthesizer, he uses virtually no signal processing at all (he did use a Scholz Rockman for the sax-like bite of "Three Sheets To The Wind"). "I’ve noticed for a long time that lighter bodied guitars always seemed to sound better. [Charvel’s] Grover Jackson was unbelievable, going to all lengths experimenting with different woods. We finished up using bass wood; it’s a little bit like alder, but it’s lighter, very resonant. Grover made four Charvel guitars for me. He also widened the neck dimensions, more like a Gibson. The bridge is an aluminium DiMarzio and the pickups are Seymour Duncans, similar to a PAF but with two rows of pole pieces so that both bobbins are absolutely symmetrical; it makes the magnetic field more uniform." For strings, Allan uses .009 Kaman Performers. His favorite amp for lead playing has been a Hartley-Thompson with an occasional Fender.

Mike Pachelli Show (video transcript 1991)

MP: Great-sounding guitar…And then you got into Steinberger, recently how did that come about?

AH: Well this guy kept saying Hey have you checked out those little plastic things you know and I go I don’t think I’m gonna like that, and a friend of mine just took me up to the booth at one of those NAMM shows and I played one and I just fell in love with it. I couldn’t believe it. It was totally unexpected. And turned me inside out with the guitar. It was so consistent, had the right neck width, everything about it was great. And now when I go back to playing wood guitar they feel kind of dinosaur-like. I think it was the only significant thing that anybody did with electric guitar for like 20 years.

MP: What sort of pickup is on there?

AH: It’s the same one, a Seymour Duncan.

MP: How about string gauge? What sort of string gauge do you use?

AH: Well I do vary those but for the last, well I do use very thin strings, 8, I usually go from anywhere between a 10 and an 8 …at the moment I’m using 8’s.

MP: What’s the low E?

AH: 36.

No Secret (Guitar Extra 1992)

Q: In soloing, you seem to prefer to stay on the top four strings, and do a lot of moving up and down the neck.

Allan: That’s because the sound is important as well. If you play the note in the A string, and then play the same note on the D string, it sounds a lot better on the D.

Q: It sounds more lively.

Allan: Yeah because the scale length of the guitar, the A and E become a little short, and the tone of the E on the low E string or the A string isn’t as nice sounding. The D string definitely sings a lot more.