Why did Martin decide to change their packaging?
We are always looking for ways to improve our products and how we deliver them to our customers. Dave Doll explains the new packaging in his Pro Tips series. The new “flow wrap” packaging with nitrogen flush better protects the metal strings from environmental concerns during the shipping process.
What is “flow wrap?”
“Flow wrap” has become common in food packaging - candy bars and breakfast toaster pastries - as well as other consumer products –baseball trading cards. The material we use has several layers that work together to form an air tight barrier that keeps moisture out. During the packaging process the multi-layer wrap material “flows” around the strings to make the pouch. We use a nitrogen purge system to replace the oxygen with nitrogen. The strings are then sealed up in the “flow wrap” to bring freshness to your playing.
Why did you move from the box to flow wrap?
Our flow wrap packaging includes a barrier film to protect the strings from oxygen and moisture while the strings remain in the packaging. We also use a nitrogen flush process during the packaging of the strings to reduce oxygen inside the sealed package.
Why is a barrier film so important in string packaging?
Metals commonly used in guitar string manufacturing react with oxygen to form metal oxide, known as corrosion/rust. The corrosion adds mass to the string, changes the vibration pattern, weakens the metal, and generally leads to a quick loss of tone. The barrier film prevents oxygen and moisture from entering the packaging.
Why do you use nitrogen in the packaging process?
The nitrogen flush process replaces naturally occurring oxygen with nitrogen in the package. The nitrogen does not react with the metals, increasing the shelf life of the packaged strings. Nitrogen is a colorless and odorless gas and exists in the air that we breathe. It is nonflammable and it will not support combustion. Nitrogen in commonly used for modified atmosphere packaging of foods, medical supplies, and electronic parts.
How much longer will the strings last in flow wrap compared to the box?
We recommend no more than a 3 to 5 year shelf life once they leave our factory.
Is the flow wrap environmentally friendly?
The flow wrap material is classified as Recycle #5 and is being accepted into more community recycling programs every year. The material is becoming more common in food and other consumer products packaging.
Are the envelopes recyclable?
Yes. In the near future we will also be sourcing recycled paper for the envelopes.
Why did you move from 2 strings per envelope to 1 string per envelope?
Quite simply, our customers have been asking for this change for quite some time. We agree that it makes for the absolute best string changing experience available at this time.
When will the new packaging hit the stores?
New product will be available in retail stores beginning April or May of 2015. Please check with your local authorized Martin dealer.
How long have you been developing the new packaging?
Our engineers worked on string packaging improvements for the past two years.
Will Martin raise their pricing due to the new packaging?
At this time we will not be increasing our prices in relation to the new packaging.
Why did Martin decide to redesign the art on all of the packages?
While all of our product artwork was fine on its own, the art had become inconsistent for the brand as a whole over the years. With the redesign of the art for the product families, all of our products are now consistent across the brand.
What do the colors mean? Martin’s packaging used to have color designations for gauge.
We still have color designations for gauge in the upper left hand corner of every package. The flag in the upper corner also includes the printed gauge. Red still indicates light, blue medium, etc., just as they always did. The color of the large center circle now indicates the product family. All SP Acoustic strings will have a large blue circle, all SP Lifespans will have a large red circle, all Marquis will have a large green circle, etc. View all products here.
We see you have a new product called SP Flexible Core. What is unique about this product family?
SP Flexible Core strings are actually not new. They used to be called “FX”. This product is actually built using our unique SP Core wire so we renamed them to bring them into the product family where they belong. SP Flexible Core strings have a thinner core wire and a thicker wrap wire making them flexible and easy on the fingers. These strings are great for experienced fingerstyle players like Tommy Emmanuel and also great for beginners because they are easier on the fingers.
Tell us about the new LJ’s Choice. What makes it different?
LJ’s Choice is part of our new Retro product line, which is made of a nickel/copper alloy blend. Retros are known for their warm, natural tone - the voice of your guitar. We worked with the incredibly talented Laurence Juber, guitar player for the band “Wings” with Paul McCartney, to develop these strings to his preferred playing style. They are a Medium/Light gauge (13-56) with the middle four strings being lighter than a typical “Medium” gauge.
When will LJ’s Choice be available in stores?
LJ’s Choice will be available in May 2015.
Why do you treat strings?
Oxygen and moisture accelerate the natural corrosion that can happen with the more common metals used in string manufacturing. Our Lifespan treatment protects the surfaces of the metal from contact with oxygen and moisture. The build-up of dirt and grime on the surfaces and in the windings of strings can also lead to premature deadening of the strings. Our Lifespan treatment acts as a repellant to dirt and grime to help keep the strings cleaner.
How do you treat strings?
We have developed a proprietary process for the treatment of strings that starts with the processes used in drawing the wire. We ensure that wire received in our facility is properly cleaned and prepared for our proprietary treatment. We then apply a process to create a chemical reaction that protects the surface of the metal at the molecular level. Strings are treated in a vacuum process to ensure thorough treatment of the windings and core.
How is a treatment different from a coating?
A treatment is designed to interact with the surface of the metal at the molecular level and not add mass to the metal. A coating is generally considered a barrier over the surface of the metal. A treatment generally does not affect the vibration pattern of a string in the same way that a coating might. Treatments will generally not flake or peel as the treatment is a modification of the surface at the molecular level.
How much longer does a treated string last?
Generally Lifespan treated strings will last 3 to 4 times longer than an untreated SP strings; however many conditions affect the life of a string. To maximize string life we recommend always washing your hands before playing, wipe down the strings with a dry cloth after playing, and store your guitar in your case when not in use.
How is Lifespan different from Cleartone?
Both are treatments designed to protect the surface of the metal. To develop our proprietary treatment we started with the process used to draw the wire. By taking the process of manufacturing a string back to the beginning, we were able to develop a more consistent application for our specific products.
Will I notice any difference between the old SP Lifespan and the new SP Lifespan?
We believe we have achieved greater consistency in the treatment process as well as a cleaner finished string and therefore you will notice improved performance in the life of your strings. We believe treatments provide a more natural feeling to the string as well as a more natural vibration pattern.
Did you change the price or any product information as a result?
Our Manufacturers Suggested Retail Pricing remains the same for now. We have not changed the UPC or stock keeping unit numbers. We have however changed the description as we no longer use the Cleartone treatment process on the strings.
How do you know when to change a Lifespan string?
Strings usually require changing every few weeks; however playing style, desired sound and environmental conditions can impact the decision to change the strings. As a general rule, when strings require re-tuning often, it is time to change the strings.
How are Martin Strings different from other brands?
We still make our own strings as we believe strings are important to the sound of the guitar. We put the same care and craftsmanship into the design, sourcing, and manufacturing of the strings as we do our guitars. We set the highest industry standards of quality and design for our SP core wire. All of our metals are sourced to our specifications. We design and build our string winding equipment. And each and every day we test our strings when we string up our guitars in the Martin factory. Discover the entire family of Martin Strings.
What is the difference between 92/8 phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze?
92/8 Phosphor bronze strings have a higher composition of copper blended into the metal than 80/20 bronze. Generally 80/20 bronze starts out with a bright attack and will mellow quickly while phosphor bronze maintains a warmer more consistent tone and with greater complexity. We generally string Martin Guitars with 92/8 phosphor bronze strings due to the consistency of the strings, however some models will ship with 80/20 bronze.
What is a silk and steel string/silk and phosphor string?
Traditional wound acoustic strings are based on a hex –shaped core wire with a single wrap of metal. We start with a round core wire and wrap it first with a soft material. We then wrap the modified core with the silver-plated copper (silk & steel) or 92/8 phosphor bronze (Silk & Phosphor). This process provides a subtle softness to the tone and creates a pleasant-feeling string under the finger. These strings are commonly used in folk and singer/songwriter genres.
Why do you offer so many gauges of strings?
We offer a broad selection of gauges and string types so you can find the best string for your style of play, instrument, and desired tone. In general, lighter gauge strings put less pressure on a top and will produce a lighter softer sound as well as reduce finger fatigue. Light gauges are often chosen by fingerstyle players and singer/songwriters. Heavier gauge strings will drive more energy to the top and therefore create more complex and louder sounds. Bluegrass, rock, and blues players tend to use heavier gauge strings. Our SP Flexible Core strings use a unique construction method to reduce finger fatigue, increase strings response, and maintain equivalent tension on the top as standard sets. SP Flexible Core strings are played by masters like Tommy Emmanuel yet are highly recommended for beginners.
What is a Marquis string?
We created our Marquis line to pamper your guitar by adding a soft wrap to the area near the ball-ends. This protective layer helps to prevent wear and tear on the bridge and end plate as you play. The added soft layer can also help seat loose bridge pins. Marquis strings put a comforting layer of protection in place every time you change your strings.
I don’t own a Martin guitar. Can I still use Martin strings?
Yes. We have designed our strings such that they will fit on most brands and styles of acoustic guitars.
What type of strings came on my Martin Guitar?
From time to time we changed the type of strings used on new Martin guitars. We are currently stringing most new Martin guitars with Martin SP Lifespan acoustic guitars strings. Martin SP Lifespan strings use an exclusive high-tensile strength core wire to better hold tunings and resist breaking; all six strings are treated with our proprietary treatment to enhance the life of the string. In general, all non-cutaway dreadnoughts and jumbo guitars get medium gauge strings. Most X-series, cutaways, and smaller models such as the OOO and the OO get light gauge strings. Most 12 string guitars get extra light gauge. Guitars designed for nylon strings will be strung with our Martin Classic strings. For the most current information of what type of strings came on your Martin, please refer to the model specifications for your guitar.
Where can I find tension information?
Tension varies by gauge and guitar style. However, we include general tension information based on a 25.4” scale length on each string product page and in our catalog.
Why do steel strings tarnish?
Many of the traditional metals used in acoustic strings are subject to the corrosive effects of oxygen and moisture. Body chemistry can influence the longevity of a string as well; if a player has high acid content in his/her perspiration, strings may tarnish more quickly as well. We recommend always washing hands before playing, wiping down the strings when done, and storing the guitar in its case to increase the longevity of the strings.
Is it safe to use medium gauged Strings on my scallop braced guitar?
Yes, it is safe. All of our six string guitars designed for steel strings have been tested to withstand the tension of a medium gauge string. However, since each top is unique, take note if the top starts to rise abnormally. If this happens, go back to the lighter gauge strings.
I keep breaking strings. How can I prevent this from happening?
Your string breakage problem may not be the result of the strings you are using. Strings often break due to an excessively sharp break angle or rough area at the saddle, or a rough area at the nut. Analyze the frequency you break strings and the location of the break, and then discuss with an authorized Martin Warranty Repair Center. If you are a heavy strummer, a medium gauge string may be preferable.
Can I just change the gauges or types of strings that I use?
You can switch easily between types of wrap material, or types of strings - Marquis, SP, SP Flexible Core, etc. If you are changing more than one step in string gauge we recommend that you have the first change done professionally to ensure the set up remains comfortable, intonation accurate, and tone correct. For example, you if normally play lights you should be able to change to a custom light or medium light without issues. However a jump from light to medium or to extra light could affect playability or intonation.
How often or when do I change strings?
Strings usually require changing every few weeks depending upon playing style, desired sound and environmental conditions. As a general rule, when strings require re-tuning often, it is time to change the strings. Changing strings provides a great opportunity to clean and service the guitar, including cleaning and dressing the fret board, polishing or cleaning the top and body, checking the nut and saddle for issues, and possibly changing the battery on a pre-amp if mounted inside the sound hole.
How do I change my strings?
String changing does not have to be complicated. Watch our resident expert Dave Doll explain how to change strings on your guitar in our video Restringing Your Acoustic Guitar. Easy to follow, step by step diagrams can also be found in our mobile app, the Martin Guitar Tuner.