String Dampers


The treble strings on a steel string guitar have always sounded funny to me, especially the first string. I find the sound pretty harsh compared to nylon strings. I guess that's why I waited 30 years before buying my first 6-string steel stringed instrument. Its a nice Taylor and only the second steel string that really sounded good to me (the other was an old Martin D-28).

Anyway, I was reading Stover's biography of Augustin Barrios and got an idea. Barrios lived in Paraguay and toured most of Latin America, in a very humid climate back when gut strings were the normal thing (nylon hadn't been developed yet). Gut strings are notorious for going out of tune with changes in humidity. Either because of this or to get more volume, he used steel treble strings with 'rubber dampers' on his instruments. So I tried using ordinary rubber bands (I assume that's probably what he used) looped under the strings as close to the saddle as possible. It really cleans up the sound if the rubber bands are not stretched too tight. No big loss of volume either.

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