Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Thomastik Infeld Jazz Swings versus d' Addario Chromes



A few years ago the Thomastik Infeld company was so kind to send me a few packs of TI Jazz Swings so I could test and review them on my Blog. Well, as it happened I have strung all my guitars with them in the mean time (on some 012 and on some 011) and have been playing them ever since. So that review is long overdue. But here it is ...

Prior to my conversion to the TI Jazz swings in 2015 I had been using d'Addario Chromes for about 20 years. To great satisfaction I must add. I still think Chromes are great sounding strings for Jazz archtops. So why the conversion? Let's have a look. I'm going to focus on 3 variables: feel, sound and durability.

Feel
This is undoubtedly the main reason for my conversion. TI Jazz swings feel much more comfortable than Chromes due to the lower strings tension when using similar gauges. As a matter of fact, the string tension on a set of 0.12 TI will be more or less equal to a 0.11 set of Chromes and, consequently, a set of 013 TIs will feel like a set of 012 Chromes. That's partly because the string gauges are slightly different starting from the G string and partly because Chromes feel "stiffer" somehow. The TI's smoothly polished nickel winding on a round core versus the Chromes' stainless steel winding on a hex core will make the TIs way more flexible and therefore more comfortable to play. Steve Brauner sent me a string tension chart showing the differences in string tension on a guitar with a 25.5" scale and remarked how well balanced a TI Jazz Swing set is. If you look at the standard deviation of TI Jazz Swings it is clear that they have the most even tension between strings from all sets that were measured. This explains why they feel so comfortable.

Sound
TIs sound more mellow than Chromes. Chromes are brighter. This makes sense, because hex core strings like Chromes do tend to sound brighter than round core strings. In addition, it is argued that round core TIs will have more sustain than hex core Chromes and that TIs sound more vintage. For, in the old days simply all strings were round core ... The superior flexibility and sustain of round core strings is explained in this short vid:


Durability
Both brands will last a long time, that's for sure. Both TIs and Chromes will easily be on one of my guitars for at least a year. Sometimes the only reason I change a set is because the intonation finally goes bad.

Looks
This is only a minor advantage but I do like the TIs red wrapping on the wound string ends and the brass plated high e and b strings!

Conclusion
Though I have always liked Chromes, I will stick to TIs from now on. Over here in Europe they are cheaper than Chromes and I really prefer the superior feel of the TIs. Sound wise, I prefer the TIs too but the brands are not worlds apart. The TIs have more sustain and are more mellow and lively sounding. Heck, I finally found a guitar related advantage of living in Europe! I get the best strings for half the money but you guys in the US get the vintage Gibsons for 1-2 k cheaper and have way more to choose from ...

To sum up, the TI Jazz Swings are very reasonably priced in Europe, they sound great, are a joy to play and they last forever. End of story.

3 comments:

  1. Great review! Was needing some help about this

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  2. Great review Dick. I was also a d'Addario Chrome player for a very long time before changing to TI. I am now exclusively playing TI JS112 since I got my Tal and also what is on my 125. They are indeed much warmer and very comfortable. Being Canadian they are super expensive here and in USA so I order them from Germany many sets at a time for half the price they are sold here even considering the shipping. I still have 7 sets in front so good for a while

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