Scott Marquart recently got in touch with me about the upstart guitar string company he founded called Stringjoy.I've long been particularly interested music-related small businesses, so I'm excited to draw some attention to this Nashville-based company. Plus, it's always nice to see a review of a product or company that isn't stemming from a major retailer.
So what's so unique and interesting about Stringjoy other than the fact that they sell guitar strings?
Let's look at the highlights.
Good Stuff About StringjoyFirst, Stringjoy is not an offshoot of a larger corporation. They're an entirely autonomous organization without any ties to big retailers; not that there's anything wrong with big retailers, but it's nice to buy gear with a more local feel.
They're made up of guitar players and enthusiasts like me and you, Scott being one of them.
Stringjoy also sells their own brand of guitar strings, which are produced by a supplier who builds them by hand.
More specifically, their niche is custom strings, where they allow the consumer to choose a set based on a specific gauges for all six strings. While they certainly have competitors in this area, combining this customization with their own string brand makes them a fairly compelling option (more on the quality of these strings below).
Most major retailers (Ernie Ball, Elixir, etc) sell individual string packets, so Stringjoy is by no means alone in this market.
But where I think they could really have some appeal is with guitar players who want to try a different string that isn't tied to a major retailer.
And instead of buying packs of single strings (which are usually priced individually) you buy an entire set that can be customized upfront.
Gauge CustomizationWhen you go to the Choose Your Strings page and select your guitar type (electric, acoustic, etc.) you'll be met with a page that allows you to choose each individual gauge.
56 - 44 - 32 -18 - 14 - 10Basically I told him to go with a bigger gauge for the bottom three and a lighter gauge for the top. I could have been even more specific and requested a unique number for all six.
The strings came in the mail within a couple days in a hand-addressed envelope.
Quality of the StringsThere was a part of me that thought this company's only claim to fame was offering a high level of customization for each string.
While that is a big part of their pitch, the hand-made strings themselves (customized or not) were impressively well-built.
I had originally asked for a coated string, since I'm pretty spoiled by Elixirs, but they don't offer them yet. So I was hopeful, but also skeptical as to whether or not they could live up to the same quality that I got from my $10 packs of Elixirs.
First, they didn't stretch at all while being wound or throughout the first few tunings. They also wound really "tight," which is hard to describe, but basically means they held the tuning peg in place really well.
The strings all just felt snug and sturdy from the beginning which isn't something I've ever really experienced with another set.
Tunings also held firmly right out of the gate, lasting several hours of playing on Sunday morning (two church services).
Having brand new strings hold a tuning that well isn't typical.
Sound QualitySound quality is yet another area where Stringjoy get high marks.
Not only did the strings resonate well and sound full, they didn't feel like an unbroken-in set of new strings. You know how a lot of news strings will just feel different and sound almost too bright? That wasn't a problem with this set.
They sounded perfect from the beginning.
There was no buzzing or "breaking-in period" needed. The strings bent well, had good sustain and played easy on the higher frets.
I have zero complaints when it comes to sound quality and would be willing to compare them with the quality I get from my 52-gauge Elixir sets.
Other OptionsThere are a couple things about Stringjoy that stand to improve, being exclusively related to their product selection.
Like I said, they don't offer a coated string. At this point I can't say whether the strings they sent me will last as long as Elixirs or other coated options, but since the strings are handmade and seem to be pretty tough, a coated option might not be necessary to compete.
Only time will tell.
Still, it's something you'd like to have available.
I also asked Scott about colored strings, which is something they don't offer yet either. Since they're a string company making customization a big part of their brand, it would have been nice to have a few more options that go beyond just the gauge.
But product selection is something that grows as a company does, so it should be noted that this is in no way a deal-breaker, considering what Stringjoy has already been able to do.
PricingPricing is straightforward and pretty good considering the strings are made by hand.
Sets of six are $7 while seven-string options are $8. For 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, you'll pay $13 per pack. When you buy individual strings from say, Ernie Ball , you'll pay somewhere between $1.25 and $1.75 per string depending on the size.
Elixirs can cost upwards of $4 per string.
So Stringjoy is keeping costs low, especially when you consider that they aren't mass-producing their strings.
They even offer free shipping in the United States.
OverallThe only area I would dock points is product selection. Though again, it's a small complaint and more so an encouragement for future growth.
However, the customization of the product they already offer needs to take center stage.
While there are retailers that sell single strings, Stringjoy has a unique opportunity to tap into the world of custom guitar strings; something they've done well so far. Seeing more options and products would help set them apart from the larger companies.
The fact that they're not linked to a larger retailer helps too, giving them a solid foundation to build on for the future.
So you get the customization to go along with great-sounding, well-built strings that are priced a little below what you'll pay in most other places. This all makes Stringjoy's product competitive and worth your investigation.
Options is to grade their overall product availability and variety.
In the latter, they get points for offering seven-string packs, acoustic/electric strings and 12-string options. However I've docked a few points for a lack of coated and colored strings.
Personally, I'd recommend Stringjoy primarily on the raw quality of their product.
The gauge-by-gauge customization is just a bonus.
Your TurnDo you have any experience with Stringjoy or other companies that offer custom-gauge strings? Do you use a custom set?
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