My First Santa Cruz – OM/PW – Which Strings?

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    • #1600

      Hello all! I purchased my first Santa Cruz Guitar this past summer – a 2015 OM/PW. I have changed the strings to my favorite John Pearse lights (both the 80/20s and PBs), tried various pick types, but have yet to find what I believe to be the tone this guitar is capable of. It just seems to lack the volume, sparkle in the highs and tone that I was expecting. My finger style playing is poor and I find I get better tone with a pick. I played a wonderful Ziricote OM model SCGC in Seattle earlier in the summer and was blown away. I thought this PW would measure up sonically. Any suggestions on what I should try next? I really want to love it…Thanks for your input!

    • #1602
      Frozen Rat

      Why not try Santa Cruz strings? I’d recommend their low tension set (opposed to the medium tension ones). They sound wonderful and last a long time.

      I loved how the JP lights sounded on my SCGC 00 when I had them on. I’ve tried several other types of strings too. I found I didn’t like monels on it and I had these copper-wrapped Cleartones (or was it Newtones? I can’t recall exactly) that were just too weird sounding. So far the JPs and the SCGCs have been best. I’d say third up would be Elixir PB nanowebs. If you wanter brighter, you might also try the 80/20 version of the Elixir nanowebs.

      Santa Cruz 00 — Goodall 000 — Martin 00-28

    • #1604

      WELCOME BlueRamble to the Santa Cruz Clan. A OM/PW is a wonderful guitar.
      I’m with Frozen Rat try the Lite tension SCGC Strings.
      They are long lasting and I don’t find them to be overly bright when new.

      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

    • #1605

      Good to have you with us here BlueRamble.. The OM/PW is an excellent choice..  As far as coxing the brightness and sparkle you should give The Elixir 80/20  12-53  nano a go.  These were the string of choice for most SCGC from the bench at the shop.  Sometimes a lighter gage can help with brilliance depending on your attack and of course pick of choice.

      What is the wood on your OM/PW?

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by indexless.
      • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by 09201381973.
    • #1610

      Howdy Ramble.

      Start by picking a string gauge you like to use as a rule (light or medium).  The SCGC strings are good place to start because you know SCGC guitars are meant to sound good with them.

      As you bought used, I would suggest taking the guitar in to a luthier/repair person who does acoustics well.  Have him or her look at it carefully and do a set up.  All guitars need set-ups from time to time. Consult with SCGC for the nearest suggested luthier.

      Never fear the sound is in there, it just may need some TLC to come out.


    • #1616

      BR, welcome to the forum.

      All of the suggestions above are worthy. I do not like Martin Monels, bang!  However, I have started using D’addario Nickel Bronze on one of my guitars that was very stiff sounding and bingo. Just have to try things, every guitar is different. best regards, bert

    • #1620

      Bert!  I don’t like the mongrels either……Have you seen this series for D’Addario, cool stuff check it out, you’ll have to turn your computer upside down to watch it 🙂

      John Oates – Squeaky Wheel (Raw Talent)

      We gave legendary songwriter John Oates nothing but the title “Squeaky Wheel,” and asked him to write a song to match it.See where he took it in this episode of #RawTalent. Click 'Watch More' to see the full episode.

      Posted by D'Addario and Co. on Tuesday, November 6, 2018



    • #1622

      Rich, thanks for the Oates link.  Unfortunately, I am not a facebook’er.

      I put on my first set of D’Ad PBs in the late 70s when I was living in Santa Cruz.  My playing buddy said, you’ve got to try these.  Always try diff brands but always come home to Jim D’Addario’s strings.  bert

    • #1623

      Bert,   I wish that they posted those videos someplace else but it looks like it’s only Facebook, It’s really a great series, they give the artist a topic and they have to make up a song right there, pretty amazing show of talent….give it a search

    • #1625
      Old 97

      Hey there Blue! Congrats on getting a Cruz. I found that fake nails consisting of plastic tips with acrylic overlay gave me tone that sounded like a tortoise shell pick on every finger.

      I generally prefer Elixir Nanoweb Strings, light gauge on my guitars.

      My Cruz Dread Cutaway came with Medium Tension SCGC Strings After factory refret. My aging hands and I decided to tune it down to C Standard and the C equivalent of DADGAD. It sings now. In the future, I will try the low tension strings.


    • #1626
      Matt Hayden

      I’m fond of the low tension SCGCs on an early 90s OM with straight bracing.  Very comfortable all round and remarkably good sound.

    • #1627

      I received a 2010 ompw about 3 weeks ago. I too had the same complaints regarding the tone as you do. It arrived freshly strung with John pearse lights. The current tone has really grown on me. It is darker sounding than I anticipated buy I am really enjoying it now. I have santa cruzlow tension on the way. When the jp strings go flat, I will give them a try. Also ordered a blue chip tp50 for tone purposes. Didn’t make sound any brighter but it definitely gives improvement overall.

    • #1638

      Thanks for all the great suggestions! The gentleman who sold me the guitar actually totally out of the blue sent me a brand new set of SC Medium Tension strings a couple weeks after the guitar arrived. He explained that MTs weren’t really his cup of tea. I had read that Medium Tensions worked best for larger body guitars, but after digging a little deeper, I found some owners of OMs who liked the medium tensions…a lot! So I went ahead this week and put them on… and oh man! The volume on my rosewood SC OMPW that I felt was lacking is now there, the tone is fuller and more resonant, if that makes any sense. The guitar seems brighter. I am no good at describing guitar tone, but suffice it to say, I am now a believer in SC strings on my OMPW! Can’t wait to spend more time with her this holiday weekend.

      Thanks again, gents! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #1646

      I REALLY like my OM EIR/Euro, but have had a tricky time dialing in my ideal tone. I like the SCGC strings, but find I get a percussive tone on the #3 G string that stands out against the ringing of the other strings that surround it when strumming or flatpicking. It’s not as noticeable playing with bare fingers/nails. Elixirs PB or 80/20 Nanos accentuate the unwanted tone. D’Addario EXP 80/20s are terrific and EXP PBs very good for my taste. I have an easier time finding the right strings for my OMG Cocobolo/Euro. For my awesome OMG, I prefer D’Addario EXP PBs, with SCGC low tension a close 2nd. I still get a hint of percussive tone on the G string, fretted or unfretted, but not terrible – just slightly recognizable.

      I should note that I find the SCGC strings produce best tone on all strings except the #3 G string. I have used power tools for woodworking my entire adult life; and for most of my life (especially the earlier years) I did not use ear protection. So I do wonder if I have ear damage in that tonal range that I am accommodating. I have used many other brands of strings on my SCGC guitars, but I have settled on the strings as described above.

      – Paul –

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by haasome.
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