Within the last year a local music store closed its doors forever. My daughter had been born recently and my wife and I were on our way back from dinner to the babysitter’s to pick her up when my wife remarked “I think I saw a guitar store back there.”
Being super tired like a new parent is, and the time being late enough to not want to inconvenience the babysitters anymore I pressed on to their place and picked up my baby.
However on the way back home I decided I was going to check the shop out. There aren’t that many local shops so a new one is a big deal to me.
They had not even officially opened yet either and what I thought was going to be me peeking through windows to see what stock they had turned out to be the owner inviting me in while he was painting and talking about how he hoped the shop would be a success, that he was going to be a dealer of ESP and LTD and was in the process of getting involved with some other brands and we started talking about strings. He mentioned a string company named Curt Mangan strings and I admitted to never hearing of them. He asked what gauge I play with and when I told him elevens he reached back and handed me a set saying he’s not just giving me a set of strings – he’s ensuring I would be a repeat customer.
He was right. I did come back, often to buy more Curt Mangan strings and for a while they were all I played.
The search of the perfect string is a very personal journey and it’s difficult to swallow the idea that someone would know what’s best for you, but I’ll tell you my experience and you can decide if you’re interested in checking them out.
According to the shop owner, Curt Mangan used to work for Ernie Ball as a string maker but was growing frustrated with the wire breaking as he was making the strings (someone mentioned that EB may buy wire from wherever’s cheapest at the time) and decided nuts to this, he’s going to make his own high quality strings with high quality wire and they won’t be that much more expensive than Ernie Balls.
As far as EBs go, I played them when I first started playing guitar and broke them constantly. I’m not saying they’re bad strings (I just want to get that out there right now) – after all, look at the back of the packages and read who plays them – it was probably my fault for playing with such a heavy hand since I was just learning. But over time I started to slide away from EBs looking at other string brands like various Dean Markleys including Blue Steels and Skullbusters (the signature string set of Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein) and eventually D’Addario. D’addarios broke far less often (though I never had a problem with the Skullbusters and recommend them to anyone who wants BIG bottoms with a not-nearly-as-big highs) than any other string company and I thought I had found MY strings.
Of course, over time I started to think I was wrong what with all these OTHER string companies out there so I experimented more and ended up going right back to D’Addario like some backsliding guy at the church of Guitar, just begging forgiveness.
A few years go by and I find two string companies that deserve attention and at least one try: Thomastik Infelds (who make the most amazing flat-wound strings I’ve ever played with the perfect level of volume balance and balance in feel) and Curt Mangans.
My Tele is known for breaking strings but the Mangans held on and did not break. I bought two sets to bring to Iraq with me on a deployment (because you KNOW one will break) but ended up leaving Iraq with the same set of strings on the Tele that I strung it up with when I got there. Now, I won’t say I was in the field, bullets flying, playing guitar to test the quality of the strings, but it isn’t like they were in the most friendly of situations either. The fact that they held up impressed me to no end.
So I bought Mangans ever since the shop opened until it closed and because I could no longer find them locally I bought sets of Ernie Balls and D’Addarios, neither of which felt as good to me (perhaps I had just gotten used to the feel of Mangans) and then while doing adjustments on my 6118T’s bridge not one but TWO strings from the D’Addarios broke. The EBs are hanging in there on my Tele but I still miss the feel of the Mangans.
When I put these strings on I realized I would just have to bite the bullet from now on and buy Mangans from a different place (their website says there’s a shop 13 miles from where I live) be it a regular store or on-line. Either way, I plan on buying Mangans for a long time and hope you consider them next time you’re in the market for strings. You may love them, you may not, but at least you’ll know.
For more information about Curt Mangan Strings, you can visit their website here: http://www.curtmangan.com/