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Hands-On Review: Kerly Strings

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Forging a new string from fire and ice

Any guitar will sound better with a new set of strings—at first. But after playing awhile are the strings still a good fit? Does the guitar stay in tune? How is the action? How do those strings sound after just a little bit of usage? Generally speaking, electric guitarists want strings that are bright, have good magnetic response with the pickup, stay in tune, bend well, feel good, and resist breaking. To meet these requirements, most musicians prefer nickel-plated roundwound strings for their electric guitars.

A better string is out there

As a guitarist, Sean Kerly became dissatisfied with strings that were available—as he put it, "A new set would sound good for only a couple of hours and the high E-string would break too easily. Like me, most guitarists were using the same strings their older brother used, a kind of hand-me-down brand loyalty. Guitarists want to spend their time being creative, writing songs, practicing, and playing gigs, not taking off broken strings, putting on new ones, winding them, stretching them. Why do they need to be bogged down with changing strings more often than they should have to? Strings aren’t living up to expectations."

The PB&J blend

When Sean was working as a buyer in aerospace technology he began to, as he put it, "reload" his brain and his thinking began to go against the grain—the genesis of an innovator. He wanted strings that uniquely met the sound and performance needs of guitarists. To design new strings, Sean says it was a matter of combining aircraft technology with steel string technology—what he calls a PB&J approach. Just as the blending of peanut butter and jelly makes a great sandwich, the blending of aerospace technology with a working musician’s needs results in guitar strings made with a unique and innovative process: Kerly Kues and Sinister Strings.

Metal tempering has been used for centuries to improve the durability of metals. What Kerly came up with is the patented Cyclecoat process of tempering the steel used for guitar strings. Other string manufacturers use a cryogenic treatment that subjects the steel to extremely cold temperatures to improve the durability and tonal quality. Kerly Music’s Cyclecoat takes that thinking one step further to ensure greater durability and extra wear resistance by seasoning the steel with a fire-and-ice treatment: exposure to extreme heat of +350° Fahrenheit and the extreme cold of -320° Fahrenheit.

Kerly says it’s not merely a matter of putting the steel in an oven and then putting it in a freezer. Cyclecoat involves varying the temperature with multiple hot/cold cycles of carefully controlled temperature peaks between the two extremes for 24 hours. The repetitive expansion and contraction of the metal changes its structure, closing up microcracks in the steel—cracks that let in dirt and perspiration causing corrosion leading to tonal loss and premature breakage. With Cyclecoat-treated steel, strengthened at the molecular level, Kerly strings have added tonal crispness, and increased durability, while dramatically resisting corrosive elements that reduce their life and tone.

Kerly Kues

Kerly Kues Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings are designed for the guitarist who wants nickel-plated steel strings that are bright, crisp sounding, durable, and feel real to the touch—that is, without expensive coatings. Each string comes wrapped in a rust-inhibiting, moisture-free sealed pouch. No fumbling around trying to find the right string. Kerly Kues are available in Light gauge (.009-.042), Medium (.010-.046), and Heavy (.011-.048) as well as other gauges.

Kerly Kues Medium Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Kerly Kues

Sinister Strings

Sinister Strings Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings are designed for the demanding modern guitarist who wants strings that can stand up to the punishment of hard-driving rock guitar playing that includes extreme bending and whammy bar dive-bombing. For the 6-string guitarslinger, Sinister Strings come in Light (.010-.052), Medium (.011-.050), Heavy (.012-052) and Extra Heavy (.012-.056) for players who want more power from their strings. Typically, a heavy gauge set of strings has a wound D-string. Sinister Strings Extra Heavy includes a plain D-string at a beefy .024. For the ultra-modern sounds of the 7-string guitar, Sinister Strings gauges include Light (.009-.052), Medium (.010-.056), and Heavy (.011-.058).

Kerly Sinister Strings Medium Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Sinister Strings

Features & Specs

All Kerly Strings:

  • Cyclecoat tempering process
  • Individually wrapped in a rust-inhibiting, moisture-free sealed pouch

Kerly Kues - Nickel Plated Steel:

  • Light .009 .011 .016 .024 .032 .042
  • Medium .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046
  • Heavy .011 .014 .018 .028 .038 .048

Sinister Strings Nickel Plated:

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