From a previous note regarding silk strings, you may have read a hint that NAGA had or was in the process of producing silk strings that were of a quality ‘on par with that of pre-Cult Revo silk strings.’ A big claim to make indeed. (Initially, I read that they _have_ pre-Cult Revo strings at hand; this sadly was not the case.)
So, should we all get excited? I was. Indeed, if they could make strings that trounced Fred Wong’s years of silk string research in but a year or so then I will be pretty amazed at what they can come up with. Did they trounce FW on traditional silk string production? Well, no actually. In fact, their production and manufacture of their silk strings are very far from traditional. It is certainly nothing like FW’s traditional method of making traditional silk strings. In fact, it is much closer to (in fact, more or less is) the method used to make our humble metal-nylon strings that we have all grown to love/hate.
You now have an image of what the strings look like after my description. Yes but not quite. Think m-n appearance but add a dash of brown-gold. Now that’s what they look like!
I was clearly surprised and intrigued once I opened the wrapper to discover something I wasn’t expecting. First the colour and then after careful examination the whole makeup of the string. The body was smooth just like the m-n ones and then I discovered why. The string was flatwound with the same nylon used for m-n! Very peculiar indeed. Now we know it is not 100% silk string but what is a hybrid. That of course assumes that the inner core *is* 100% pure silk (it is not metal I assure you). The only way to find out is to cut the string open but I will not do that of course. So is it silk or silk-nylon? I leave that to scrutiny in the future.
This now throws up several issues up concerning the playability and practicality as highlighted in my previous silk string note. First of all is that these strings eliminate several grievances spouted by the apathetic m-n brigade in that pure silk strings are sticky, make scratchy sounds, buzz, etc. But there are issues that I cannot answer at the moment such as how likely are they to break at high tension and whether they suffer more breakage than your average silk (or less). Also, because they are made to the same length and method as m-n, their re-usage is very limited and restricted to once at most. If these strings break as much as pure silk then that certainly makes the modern construction a liability (and for the stringing apathy brigade a reason to avoid since you’ll have to purchase more strings as opposed to re-using the same string off pure silk. A set of these strings retail at $120 USD). But, if they can stand up to high tension and break less than pure silk (but not to the extent of m-n) then the whole thing evens out with pure silk (but pure silk still takes pride of place in re-usability). Another advantage of modern construction is the elimination of the need to have to repair the string constantly with ‘string glue’ in the case of FW’s silk. It’s strength still remains an unanswered issue however and will prove crucial for the target market. Because they do not come with instructions (to warn you not to overdo it with the tension) maybe they are as strong as m-n?
The second issue regards sound quality. Since the core is not metal, the horrid metallic sound of the m-n will not be present. One assumes that the nylon will have little effect on the sound quality (whereas for m-n it helps to decrease the metallic sound slightly) since the silk core is similarly soft. I believe the nylon wrapping is there to make the strings smooth for the silk as well as give it more strength. One wonders if they had tried a silk wrapping. The sound would have to be compared to the true silk string to assess whether it embodies the sound qualities of silk (a main issue with the pro-silk brigade). If it indeed embodies this distinct silk sound then this can be considered a successful point and can help with the player’s crossover into pure silk strings. But, there is another concern: volume. The silk apathy brigade have complained that pure silk strings do not project loud enough to be of use in concert situations. I have already said that m-n still need help in amplification at proper concerts. However, if these s-n strings are louder than pure silk and have greater projection that is satisfactory enough, then this will be a big advantage to hook the punters in. Coupled with the ‘pre-Cult Revo’ sound (if this is true) then it would indeed be a very good set of strings.
Is it traditional? No.
Is it made entirely of pure silk? No.
Can one call it ‘silk strings’? Maybe.
But if the sound and volume is on par with or surpasses m-n (in the former case) then these strings will have succeeded and be a worthy addition to the world of qin playing. In this way, it can achieve a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario. That in itself is a huge achievement. Plus, if they do really come with pre-tied fly-knots (in the case of mines) then it will please the stringing apathy types.
NB: it has come to my attention that the strings are not made of any silk at all and that they are made from a ‘modern composite.’ Therefore, the designation of ‘silk-nylon’ is now incorrect and it shall henceforth be known as ‘artificalsilk-nylon’ or ‘artsilk-nylon’ for short.