Many guitarists will spend thousands of dollars on a guitar and amp, only to buy the cheapest cables and strings they can find. As far as strings, this can be a big mistake. Carlos Santana — known the world around for his amazing guitar tone — appreciates this fact. Which is why, in conjunction with long-time string manufacturer GHS, he now offers the GHS Santana Big Core Guitar Strings.
History of GHS Strings
GHS is a handful of companies that have a reputation for making prime guitar strings. Centered in Battle Creek, Michigan, GHS was founded in 1965. But it was in 1972 that they made their mark, with the introduction of GHS Boomers: strings with a punchier tone and a longer life than many of the currently popular brands.
A couple of decades later, GHS collaborated with renowned guitar tech Rene Martinez (he’s worked for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, Prince, and John Mayer, among others). Based on his vast experience repairing, setting up, and maintaining guitars both on the road and in his Carrollton, Texas shop, Martinez had some groundbreaking ideas about how to improve guitar strings.
Rene Martinez, Carlos Santana, and GHS
Like Santana, Martinez is constantly questing for improved tone. While working for Stevie Ray Vaughan in the ’80s, he noticed that Vaughan’s strings would lose “oomph” after just a few shows. “I wish they’d make a half gauge, because you just stretched the heck out of that string. It’s something else now,” Rene remarked to Stevie.
Martinez also knew that the bigger the string (in terms of thickness, or “gauge”), the “fatter” the tone. But there’s a natural limit: thicker strings are more difficult to play, especially when bending. He imagined a string that would have a thicker core (on the inside) and narrower winding (on the outside). Enter GHS.
Working with the venerable guitar string company, Martinez helped to develop “Big Core Guitar” strings. Initially he sold them under his own name, and eventually he introduced them to Carlos Santana — who loved them. Santana was so impressed that he decided to lend his name to them, which is how the GHS Santana Big Core Guitar Strings came to be.
GHS Nickel Rockers Big Core Medium – click to BUY
GHS Strings BCCL Big Core Nickel Rockers, Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings, Custom Light (.009 1/2-.048) – click to BUY
GHS Santana Big Core Guitar Strings
Available in four different gauge combos (see chart), all of the sets feature “half gauges” for the “B” and high “E” strings — the ones that get the most wear, especially from bending. The Santana GHS Strings are also all nickel.
Ordinarily, all nickel strings are the “dullest” sounding of the three main types (the others are pure Stainless Steel for the brightest and longest lasting tone, and nickel-plated stainless steel, for an “in-between” sound). But with the bigger core and thinner winding, the GHS strings seem to be able to deliver a warm, full tone with a very long life.
At least Carlos thought enough of them to lend his name!