Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension Strings
When it comes to strings, it’s all about tension. While gauge is simply the measurement of the string’s diameter, the tension of a string determines its relative volume to the other strings (EQ). String tension is determined by its core to wrap ratio, which can vary greatly among manufacturers. This can create multi-pound differences between brands and an illogical EQ within any given set.
Santa Cruz Strings are engineered to do what others cannot, to put the exact tension on each individual string to create the appropriate download pressure. These calculated tensions determine the optimal relative volume between strings, or EQ, for your instrument. Santa Cruz Strings require precise core to wrap ratios and precision fit and finish for unprecedented tolerances of one half of one thousandths of an inch. This accurately determines the tension/volume of each string to the exact EQ that your guitar was designed for. State of the art metallurgy and micro-coating assures long life by preventing corrosive moisture from contacting the core of these nickel and lead-free strings.
This project has been a decade in the making; commercially available strings were never able to truly complement the complexity of overtones and sustain that SCGC achieves by individually tap tuning and hand voicing each guitar. SCGC, therefore, sought out the wisdom of their friends and colleagues within the audiological sciences to collaborate on a new design that will fully drive Santa Cruz Guitar Company’s complex acoustic tone.
All new SCGC guitars leaving our small shop in Santa Cruz will be set up with these new Santa Cruz Strings, and individual packages of both the Low Tension and Mid Tension sets can be purchased by clicking below. SCGC finds that most players prefer the Low Tension Strings for smaller bodied guitars, OOO, OM, H and F Models, and the Mid Tension Strings for dreadnought models. If you prefer to use Mid Tension Strings on smaller bodied guitars, it is recommended that the guitar be set up to accommodate the added tension.
Recent reviews of Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension Strings:
SCGC Parabolic Tension Strings Testimonials
I just wanted to let you know that I recently purchased a set of Santa Cruz Parabolic Mid Tension strings (from Chicago Music Exchange) for my Taylor 317e and all I can say is I have found the “Holy Grail” of guitar strings. The bass response in particular has improved and it no longer sounds “thuddy”. I wish I had better words to describe the transformation of this guitar but it is astounding. My son is ordering a couple of sets for his guitar also. I believe you have customers for life. Thanks and keep up the good work. – John Swope, Lutz, Florida
Just strung up my Huss & Dalton OOSP with your low tension strings, and it’s never sounded better. No more sympathetic buzz!!! All gone. I will be using your strings from now on. Again, thanks – Larry Lavallee 2/12/20
The parabolic strings are the best I’ve played in 35 years. I put them on my “beater” seagull S6, which always had woolly muffled bass. Now it sounds like a $2000 Taylor, even response bass mid treble. I will never use any other strings. Kudos to you. – Brad Bachrach 1/15/20
I just wanted to drop you a note regarding your low tension Santa Cruz Strings. I have been playing acoustic guitar badly for close to 50 years and i have tried every string imaginable. I have never taken the time to write to a manufacturer regarding the quality of their product. However, these strings are so amazing sounding and so easily played, that i had to take a moment to compliment you on succeeding in producing maybe the finest acoustic guitar string I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Not only do they play effortlessly, and with superior tone, but they last forever! I normally need to change strings every 2 to 3 weeks to keep the tone i like. These have been on for 2 months and sound as good as they day they were put on. They have definitely improved the tone and playing experience on all my guitars both wood And carbon fiber. I am now a lifelong convert. Thanks for listening. – Mark Stevens 12/9/19
I’ve been using your Low Tension Parabolic Strings on my Collings guitars for a couple of years now. I love them. They last forever and they bring out the best in those guitars.
Recently I purchased this weird Martin AltX guitar because I wanted a guitar that was unaffected by low humidity here in Montana, a guitar I could keep out of the case and pick up and play anytime.
I put on a set of Daddario Nickle Bronze and it made the guitar sound so awful — like metalic X 10! The next day I put a set of your low tension strings and it immediately sounded like a real guitar. Your strings are magic! They really are.
Thanks for everything you do. – Bill Jar 9/20/10
I own an Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-45me. I didn’t like it. It sounded dead, and I’ve been trying to sell it. Absolutely hated it. Then I took out the under saddle piezo figuring a direct contact with the sound board would liven it up. Nope. Tried 2 types of strings recommended for more tone on dead sounding guitars. Nope. Then I was at a guitar show in Melbourne, and saw some of your parabolic tension strings. I remembered seeing them on Tony Polecastro’s site. So I took a punt and bought some. WOW! I can’t believe how good these strings are. It totally changed my mind about this guitar, and I now love it. I have another dread which sounds insanely good with Martin phosphor bronze on it, but I’m thinking I’ll get some for it as well. Thanks so much. – Tony Dennis 9/3/19
I have been using you Parabolic strings for a while now.. I love them. I have some on my Taylor 322 and my Breedlove premier auditorium.. I had used Thomastik Infeld for years and your parabolics are now my go to strings!!! Well done. – Chuck Patrick 8/17/19
Hello! I put medium tension parabolic strings on my Santa Cruz D a couple days ago and I can really tell a difference! My other strings sounded “thin” or “plinky” compared to these, especially in the higher strings. I agree that the overall response is more balanced in volume between the strings. Is resonance a term for this? definitely a more complex sound, especially with fingerpicking. Single note picking with a pick sounds more full, especially higher up on the guitar. It really sounds like I have a new guitar, not just new strings. It also feels easier to play, but that’s probably because it just sounds better! Thanks again! – Alex Walsh 5/10/19
Just wanted to let you know I’ve been using these strings for about a month and they are hands down the best I have ever used. The string balance and tone is amazing. I was a dedicated fan of Martin Lifespan strings for many years, but no longer. I usually don’t provide a lot of feedback but I am so impressed. It even helps the string balance when I plug the guitar in. – Jeff Ward 3/25/19
I am sending a note to give you feedback on the Parabolic tension strings. I put them on right away and was extremely impressed, I was looking for a more even feel across the fretboard as I noticed standard medium sets were more difficult to play on the inner strings in the middle area of neck. This was alleviated right away with your strings and as a studio engineer I think the claim of it providing EQ is actually accurate, the sound of the balance is definitely more even across strings and the fretboard. I have since bought several more sets, put them on my three acoustic guitars and just placed an order from your website. – Steve Greenberg 3/17/19
The strings arrived this week. I started with the Voyage Air Premier series VAOM-2C, Sitka spruce top with rosewood back and sides. The Elixir HD lights on it were last changed in August 2018 so well overdue for a change out. The guitar has some koa-like chimi-ness to it already so I didn’t know what to expect with the SC strings. I was absolutely blown away on 2 fronts: the installation was different in that the strings came to tone way faster than I was used to, not to mention that they were less lively out of the packaging. The tone can only be described as unbelievable! More of everything: more bass, mid and treble, more chime. I found I had to dig into a little harder to form a solid chord and strum a lot lighter or the volume and resonance became a little too large and overpowering. I can’t tell you how impressed I’m with them but if you could see my smile…..
Next to the Taylors. Tough call to change the strings over as the Elixirs HD Lights are only a month old. Played them back and forth against the Voyage Air and then changed the K24CE and 614CE over. K24CE, absolutely crazy chime, tone and resonance. I thought it was good before but now know what good is! 614CE, more bass and mid with a little less brightness. Still freaking amazing!
First impressions are that the SC’s are well worth the cost. Looking to see how long they last as compared to Elixirs. Glad to have made the switch and very thankful to have found Blue Dog Guitars as a local supplier. – Terrence Howell 3/2/19
Well I’m almost 64 years old and have been playing guitar since i was 10. I believe I contacted you in October ’17 about purchasing your new parabolic strings that were released in my search for the ultimate string. Well i just can’t believe how great your strings are!!! I put your low tension parabolic set on my Taylor 714ce on 10/6/17 to test its longevity, intonation, and ability to keep in tune. The strings have been on this guitar for a bit over FOUR MONTHS now!
The G,D,A, and low E strings have ALWAYS kept in tune since every last playing session! The 1st string E & B were ever so slightly flat. The crazy thing is……..the sound at 4 months is not that much different than a new set!! CRISP…..BRIGHT……it’s ALL THERE! Intonation is phenomenal! When playing a chord…….the whole guitar sounds unbelievable and every note of that chord is identifiable!
I am extremely grateful that you have brought this technology to us! I am also grateful that i do not need to pack 4 different brands of strings anymore…..I will donate all my other ones to a school music program…or just give them away. One day I will buy the ultimate guitar…a Santa Cruz….. to go with these incredible strings. I can’t imagine what that will be like!! Thank you!! – John Kozlowski 2/17/19
I put your parabolic strings on 5 high quality guitars. These strings are awesome. These are definitely the finest available. What an improvement. I’m hooked. – Denny Holtzapple 1/1/19
This is my first experience with your strings and I now have 2 SC sets on my 2 favorite guitars and completely loving the sound and feel. I look forward to the continued experience over the coming months. Your strings are living up to everything I’ve heard about and I’m thinking they’re becoming my “go to” strings not only for their quality but because of your outstanding service for me. THANK YOU!! – Bob Garrity 9/26/18
I just wanted to let you know I received the strings and I LOVE them! They are everything I hoped for. They have a great tone and nice slinky feel. I have already picked up two more packs. I’m on my fourth gig with them and they have put up with a lot of punishment and held up wonderfully. I shall be recommending them to all my colleagues. Thank you again! – Darin Ames 8/24/18
Richard and company,
Attached for your consideration is my Lombard arch top guitar… bought it at the Philly show maybe 10 years ago ( couldn’t leave without it). Experts suggest it was made for the Lombard Department Store in Chicago somewhere between 1934-1939, probably by Kay for sale as a student model. So almost 90 years later there’s not a crack in it. The neck is warped a little, so when it was re fretted by Billy Penn of 300 Guitars in toms river, he set the new frets level with the string action, so it plays “pretty well.” This week I put your new strings on it, low tension… now, with those on, the guitar has come alive, the sound is so rich, your strings bring out the best of this instrument. also, the finish is so slick, the guitar plays faster !!!
So keep making these new strings..
Thanks, Ed 12/22/18
I just finished putting a set of your low tension strings on my guitar for the first time and I am stunned. As soon as I picked it up to play I instantly felt the the back and sides of the guitar vibrating in a way they never have before. I change strings regularly and have used all sorts of high quality makes but yours are obviously better than the others. I can’t get over it. My guitar has come to life! The tone is sweet and musical too. Just thought you’d like to know. Thanks!!!! – Guy
I tried the strings and all I can say is wow! These strings transformed my guitar. Everything is so much better! I don’t know too much about the theory behind different tensions and everything so I can’t really comment on that, but concerning the general tone of the guitar, just WOW! I don’t know how I will ever go back to other strings now until these are released! They are truly amazing!! Thanks again!! Met vriendelijke groet/Kind regards – Maurice Gregoire
I play mostly fingerstyle, and the first thing I noticed was how even the feel was from string to string. Second, the volume across the strings was even as well. Third, they sound great! I’m looking forward to changing to the medium tension set, as I suspect they will sound even better (at least louder). My previous strings for comparison were the D’Addario EXP 19’s, which are their bluegrass coated PB set. Job well done! – Gary L.
WOW! I feel like a have a new guitar! My D-PW with the Medium Tension strings sound simply amazing! It raised my action a bit and it was what I needed. I had lowered the action too much and the Mediums make it feel better and the sound makes me all emotional :-)! I want to order a few sets as soon as you have them! Cheers! – Bobby S.
I got the strings yesterday. I put them on my National El Trovador. Please, pass my appreciation to Richard. The sound is significantly better on the National even if I put by mistake the low tension ones. Like one of your reviewers mentioned, not a crackle from the cone when setting up. The sound is the best so far. He should license them to National… I tried many strings but these are the best. Also I changed them on OM Grand. Very good. – Pasi Niemistö
Tuesday, I put on the mid tension strings you sent. They replaced two week old Elixir Nanoweb .012 – .056 Phosphor Bronze. I played some scales and riffs but did not initially notice much difference except for more acoustic squeak. I put the 00-SKYE down and nocked a couple items off my “to do.” list. Then I pick up the guitar again and started playing some pieces I am working on. Several times, I had to just stop as the SKYE sung like I had never heard before!! Chords sound fuller, increased sustain, more alive, with unbelievable clarity. I then picked up my 20 year old 910 and it sounded dead to me. The SKYE alway sounded strikingly better but not “night & day” better as it does now. I am amazed by the difference these strings have made. Also, I don’t know if I am playing more carefully or the acoustic squeak has subsided but I don’t seem to notice it anymore.
You have sold me. I just signed up for a subscription. Thanks again. – Dan Griffith
I should have said, too– I really really like the strings. I have had three sets now, and they are indeed something different. Warm and fat tone, to my ear, and they certainly feel great too. They are expensive, but so far seem worth it. They are recording really well, too. Forgot to mention that– good job on those!! – Eric Stracener
“I bought a set of SCGC mid-tension parabolic strings for my 2010 Vintage Jumbo. MAN, OH MAN!! The first impression once tuned up to pitch was the feel when fretting with my right hand fingers. The pressure is more equal and even across all strings than normal strings like EJ-16 and EJ-17 by D’Addario. The second impression is how balanced each string’s notes articulate and blend with all of the other strings and notes. It takes no extra effort to “pull out” volume from one string to another. There is no bass or treble or midrange bias. Third “aha” is the crispness of each string, unlike many other coated strings like Elixir. Fourth, I noticed that these coated strings are not forgiving of sloppy fingerings and can squeak like uncoated strings. I had to clean up my act. Fifth impression is that each note on all strings is more “rounded” and whole, not metallic or tinny. I have no idea how long they will last, but I know I love the improvement in tone and feel already. I also changed out the previous strings before they were old so I would not be influenced by an old set verse a new set, which typically yields more chime. These are a big improvement and I plan to continue using them on this guitar and will try them on a couple of my other guitars as well. I am impressed, especially since I have excellent hearing and am very picky about tone and intonation. – Chris Caddy
I didn’t want to like your new strings. I was happy with what I was using: medium-gauge phosphor-bronze, a good brand, good reputation, very consistent, nice multi-colored ball-ends, not expensive, and they sound good on my Brozman Baritones, tuned D-to-d. Your new strings cost three times as much as my old favorites, and I didn’t want to like them because I didn’t want to have to re-engineer my string budget. So I ordered a few sets of the Mid Tension, just to try them out. They arrived yesterday and I strung up my best Brozman, Old Number 6585, the one with the most beautiful voice, and I said, “There; I dare you to sound better just because it says Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension Strings on the package.” And I played it, and it sounded better! Quite a bit better, in fact. I didn’t think that was possible – this guitar has a gorgeous voice, and I’d have sworn it couldn’t get any better with just a string change. And it feels better too; the string feel is amazing. And I swear it’s easier to tune, and tune more accurately, than with the other strings. I’ve been playing guitar for more than fifty years, and I’ve played just about everything there is out there, and I’ve tried just about every brand of string, and I’ve never had a string change – new set for new set – make that much of an improvement in the sound and feel of an instrument. Richard and friends, you did it – my hat’s off to ya! – John Frink
I just want to say to Richard Hoover, Bravo for inventing these Low Tension Santa Cruz Guitar Strings. I have a vintage Martin 00-18 and I was at Sylvan Music today despairing over buying another “big” brand of strings I usually become disappointed in within a few days. They suggested these strings from you guys. I put these strings on tonight and was absolutely delighted with them. I’ve had a long day and have to go to bed but can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and play it again. – Dan Frechette
Having now played with your strings for about a week now, I am very impressed with the wonderful sound they generate. The volume is amazingly uniform from string to string and the brightness is just so spot on that I feel that the strings were made for my guitar (Martin OM28-V). Thank you – Rick Oliveira
I placed the low tension set on my Santa Cruz 35th Anniversary Cowgirl Guitar. A very rapid acclimation from brassy newness of playing upon first tune up for about 20 minutes – to the following morning; that was all it took. Very complementary to the Clementine. I listen to the bell tone and it was there in spades. I did listen for the EQ improvement – volume between strings – and I do think it was attained in this set. I removed Elixir lights 80-20 nano. Physically, the string wind appearance was uniform and regular, down to the wrap at the nut. I placed the medium tension set on my Santa Cruz 1934D. Acclimation same as above set. the onset of this test coincides with this guitar going through a great opening up phase. So I am loving any and all styles of playing on this guitar at the moment – however leaning heavily on thumping folk and blues fingerstyle. I removed Tony Rice Monels to put this set on. I believe that this set is at least equal to that set if not better. This new Santa Cruz set will get the vote if they last as long with the sound they currently have, that the Monel’s had lasted up to that point. All in all, equal if not better to the sets I took off. And I buy the EQ improvement in what I hear. Are they sets of keys that unlock the full potential of the Santa Cruz guitar? Quite possibly!!! I’m sold. Great work. Best Regards – Craig Lemieux
I usually use John Pearce 80/20 lights on this guitar and I’m very happy with them. Over the past 20 years I have tried most brands of strings, don’t like coated strings and usually end up back with Pearce or d’addario ej16’s strings. I’m also a finger style player using nails and flesh no picks or thumb pics.
I put them on my guitar on Sunday and straight away the tone and feel was excellent, for new strings these bend very well and they sit somewhere between 80/20 and phosphorus bronze which I prefer on my rosewood guitars. Nothing is better than new strings on an acoustic I change strings regularly on my guitars and am not a fan of dead strings. They have been on my guitar now 5 days and still sound very fresh, I’ve tried to play every day after work. .. – Russell Lewis
I have never had strings last this long while still sounding so good in my 45 years of playing acoustic guitar. – Chris Caddy
I put this on my (gasp) Martin 12 fret D and I’m in love! Right out of the box they sound broken in and I don’t hear strings at all. I hear my woody guitar. I’m absolutely in love with them. Hopefully they prove to be long lasting, but count me in as a fan! I’ve always found strings that I like the best on any of my guitars, but it takes time and in a lot of cases I still feel like I’m settling in a sense. I think I”ll be using them regularly on almost all of my guitars. I should never be shocked by you guys doing good work, but you’ve done it again! Please pass on my praise to the appropriate parties involved in this venture. – Mark Bennett
I’ve been playing a lot of electric guitar lately, set up with 9’s. I realized in some moment of really bad judgement that I’d put 10’s on my resonator, I tried to make like I didn’t notice how lifeless the thing sounded… I replaced them with SCGC Med tension….from the first string winding on I could tell a noticeable difference in the pressure and compression of the cone, like there wasn’t any…… with all my EJ16-17 years, I remember hearing the cone crunch and crackle as the sting tuned up, there was nothing with the SCGC’s…huh…what’s different…tension….all six strings in place. not a peep from the cone. Now the sound, rich, harmonic, sustaining, chimey, harmonic over tones from the brass slide….end result….never putting a different brand of string on the reso again, I’m done..friend for life. – Richard N.
While I believe there is no guitar builder on planet earth as gifted as Mr. Hoover (and crew), I must admit that I believed the SCGC strings would disappoint me like all the other strings before. Honestly, I just figured SCGC saw an opportunity to make more money by selling strings. Perhaps that’s true in part – but these strings have brought balance and that “wet tone” that was missing in my 34D. In my opinion, the difference between this string and all others I have tried is like the difference between a Sears and Roebuck guitar and a TR. Hands down the best I have ever heard, and they are amazingly easy on the fingers and I now have extremely accurate intonation from nut to bridge and beyond.. Hats off to all involved in the SCGC string project. Thank you. For the first time in nearly 2yrs I do not feel that I made a bad investment in purchasing the 34D. I can’t wait to try these strings on my TR. – David Cross
I started with the low tension set and very much enjoy how they sound…and feel! Easier on my hand without losing any discernible tone at all. This guitar just sings! I’m going to test the other ones out this week….. Thanks again! – David Ross
A month on and the strings still really sound good.
Normally I would have another new set on the guitar by now. – Russell Lewis