I also like D'Addarios, but also like Martin SPs. I use 12s on my smaller guitars (OM28V, Guild Gad 30E, Fairclough Parlour), and 13s on my dreads (D18VS, D16GT, '70s Yamaki) I tend to use the smaller guitars for fingerpicking (in my own self-taught way!), and the dreads for rhythm/strumming, I feel that the mediums give me a better feel for "digging in". Probably 'cos I'm a little bit heavy handed!
After playing with many string brands (always phosphor bronze). I had used Martin for a long time (Marquises, and more recently SPs), before I changed to Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze . So far, I haven't found better than Elixir strings : they last long, they are way resistant, sound good a very long time, and the coat is very fine and comfortable. Now everytime I take my guitar I feel like the strings are brand new! As a comparison, Martin SPs are supposed to be coated, but even if they last longer than regular ones, I noticed that the coat tends to go away with time. Which is not the case with Elixirs. Of course, this is just my opinion regarding my personnal tastes. Other brands should be good as well, obviously. The weak point about Elixirs is the price. But to my mind they are worth it.
My favorite gauge range is Light .012-.053. Currently I've put Custom Light .011-.052 for a try, but they don't sound as powerful as I'd like. So I'll be back to .012-.053 next time I change them. So I would say that this gauge should be the right for me.
I like best the D'Addario 12's (phosphor bronze wound) on my acoustic (a 1960 Gibson J-45). I've tried the John Pearse strings a few times, the 11's and 12's and liked them a lot, maybe even a bit more preferred for fingerstyle because the basses are a bit lighter - I think the set was .011-.050. I've also liked the Dean Markley 12's as well. I like the sound of the coated strings, but for now I find them a bit too slippery, all they're quiet for lateral slides across...hmmm, maybe that's what I'm not getting! Anyhow, I prefer the grippy phosphors, for now at least.
On my classical the D'Addario EJ46 hard tension are my favorite. I've tried other brands and tensions and always come back to them. For electric, its the nickel wound D'Addario 11's, on an 2000 Yamaha AEX 502 semi-hollow body with F-holes.
Hi Toby and all,
I'm somering of a jack of all trades acoustically (don't believe in electics - passing fad !)
I play dreadnoughts, archtops, Weissenborn, and (squareneck) dobro, and on all of those I use EJ17s but put a 16/12 on the dreads, 17/17 on my Weissenborn, 18/18 on the dobro.
I have a National Style "O" which stays in open D and I use Newtone nickel heavies on that - 59/17.
On smaller body flat-tops - L-0, couple of "00" and an "000" standard scale I use Ej16s.
I wander off to Newtones, Eixirs, and other makes occasionally but for me D'addario gernally are the best price and most consistent.
I have to say that I am suspicious of all the differnt "brands" and seriously wonder if there are as many makes as there are brands. I wouldn't be surpised to learn that many brands are, in fact all made in the same factory -anybody know anything about this ?
That is most intersting Florida, and so that leads us to suspect that D'addario might make strings for other makes as well !?
Whilst I'm sure that you are happy with the Ernie Balls (no reason why not) if you are seeking a string of standard light guage (12-53, but with lower tension, then might I suggest Newtone Strings from the UK. They are hand wound on round cores and from experience are very pleasing tonally and as long lasting as other big name strings.
I know that they are available in the USA - but check out : http://www.newtonestrings.com/