JVB Pre­mium Poly­mer Coated Strings

AUS­TRALIA’S JVB PUTS ITS OWN SPIN ON THE COATED GUI­TAR STRING, AND THEY’RE NOT A-FRAYED TO BE DIF­FER­ENT. WORDS BY

Australian Guitar - - Contents - PETER HODG­SON.

What would you pre­fer: a gui­tar string that sounds great, or a gui­tar string that lasts a long time? In an ideal world, the per­fect an­swer would be, “Both, please” and we’d all go about our busi­ness. But that’s not re­ally the way it is.

Gui­tar strings usu­ally sound great in that magic zone where they’ve been played in for a few hours (long enough to be stretched in) but there’s usu­ally a grad­ual drop-off in clar­ity, playa­bil­ity and tun­ing sta­bil­ity. Over the years, many string com­pa­nies have at­tempted dif­fer­ent meth­ods of pro­long­ing the life of the string. One pop­u­lar method in­volves a poly­mer coat­ing, which def­i­nitely main­tains treble bril­liance over long pe­ri­ods, but also re­sults in fray­ing as the string comes to the end of its nat­u­ral life.

Aus­tralia’s JVB has en­tered the fray – pun in­tended – with a new poly­mer-coated string that prom­ises not to fray and, there­fore, not sound like arse and feel like fur af­ter a few months of ca­sual strum­ming.

STRING THE­ORY

JVB Pre­mium Poly­mer Coated Elec­tric strings are avail­able in all the com­mon gauges: Light (.009-.042), Cus­tom Light (.009-.046), Reg­u­lar (.010-.046), Lt Top H. Bot­tom (.010-.052), H. Top Lt. Bot­tom (.011-.050) and Medium Rock (.011-.052).

They’re made by JVB’s part­ners in the USA to JVB’s specs, cov­ered in a very thin, mi­cro­scopic layer of poly­mer, uni­formly ap­plied across the en­tire length of the string. This coat­ing is de­signed to be more re­sis­tant to tonal changes over the life of the string, and also more trans­par­ent in tone. In other words, it’s de­signed to sound more like a reg­u­lar gui­tar string, and for longer.

The poly­mer is ap­plied as a liq­uid that evap­o­rates quickly, leav­ing be­hind just the per­fect amount of coat­ing and pro­tect­ing against pre­ma­ture ox­i­di­s­a­tion and cor­ro­sion. And be­cause it’s not a plas­tic coat­ing, it sim­ply will not fray. In JVB’s tests, th­ese strings lasted three to four times longer than reg­u­lar strings.

STRING ‘EM UP

JVB sent along two sets to re­view: the Reg­u­lar set (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046) for my 2011 Gib­son Les Paul Tra­di­tional, and the Light set (.009, .011, .016, .024, .032, .042) for my Ibanez RG550 20th An­niver­sary.

The first thing you’re go­ing to no­tice about th­ese strings is that they don’t feel like coated strings. There’s none of that give­away un­nat­u­ral smooth­ness or that weird stick­i­ness that coated strings of­ten have. Again, this is down to the fact that this is not a plas­tic c oat­ing, so it’s not molec­u­larly bound to it­self in the same way.

String­ing up was nice and easy, es­pe­cially thanks to JVB’s help­ful in­struc­tions on the back of

each string en­ve­lope. The strings set­tled in pretty quickly (es­pe­cially on my Ibanez, where I could use the Orig­i­nal Edge tremolo sys­tem to yank them into be­hav­ing), and as of writ­ing, they’ve been on both gui­tars for a month, each with heavy use.

The Stan­dard gauge set on my Les Paul has a full, but tight bot­tom end – of­ten a prob­lem with coated strings – and crisp highs which re­ally sit nicely against the gui­tar’s nat­u­ral voic­ing. Sus­tain is never go­ing to be a prob­lem with this gui­tar, but the coat­ing cer­tainly didn’t in­ter­fere with notes ring­ing out for­ever. The play­ing feel is quite smooth too, com­pared to the grindy, raspy feel you of­ten experience with plas­tic-coated strings.

On the Ibanez, th­ese strings sounded some­what more tonally neu­tral, no doubt thanks to the gui­tar’s even-toned bass­wood body. This par­tic­u­lar gui­tar is very har­mon­i­cally ac­tive – just one of those lucky ones where the body and neck woods work per­fectly to­gether to coax all sorts of over­tones and har­monic squeakies.

And th­ese strings def­i­nitely be­haved more like reg­u­lar un­coated strings than the plas­tic ones that tend to deaden this gui­tar’s har­monic bril­liance.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

JVB has re­ally hit it out of the park with th­ese strings, not just in tonal­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity, but also in the range of gauges of­fered. There’s some­thing there for ev­ery player, whether they’re a wid­dly-wid­dly shred­der, a down-tuner, a blues player whose fin­ger­tips must be pun­ished with heavy strings, or just the av­er­age player with an av­er­age gui­tar who is happy to play what­ever string gauge their gui­tar came with from the fac­tory.

The fact that JVB is an Aus­tralian com­pany with an understanding of Aus­tralian play­ers makes all the dif­fer­ence here. Th­ese strings feel like they want to be played on in a cramped, sweaty pub reek­ing of beer.

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