by Professor String
|Green Strings: Can the planet be saved by a set of guitar strings?||
Within recent years, there has once again, been an up tick in the interest of our planet’s environment. Many environmentalists and marketers have coined terms such as “The Green Movement” or “Green Politics” to describe the collective thinking behind the environmental interest. Some of the marketers in the musical instrument string industry have jumped on the bandwagon by offering “Green Strings”. What are green strings and how do they affect tone? We are going to investigate the answers in this article.
Let’s first clear up a couple of things. Green strings are not actually green in color or appearance. Not even the ball-end is green in color. The focus of green guitar strings is about recycling, conservation, and eliminating waste. Take another look at that last statement and repeat it to yourself. Notice words like tone, sustain, and performance are completely missing from that statement. In other words, these strings are designed to help save the planet and secure our environmental future for generations to come. Does this sound like a good thing, or is it a line of bullshit from the corporate marketers? The answer: It’s both.
Most people will agree on anything that helps the environment is always good. Without a doubt, we should all be doing our part to help recycle and reduce waste. In the guitar string world, the use of recycled alloys, biodegradable paper string envelopes, and reusable string packaging is a step in a positive direction for the environment.
I recently saw an ad for a guitar string company boasting the usage of 75,000 lbs of recycled wire. That sounds like a lot of metal. They want you to think it's a bunch. Let's put things in perspective with this number. How much is 75,000 lbs of wire? It's about 34 tons of metal. That's equivalent to about 15 Chevy TrailBlazers in weight. According to Automotive World, in 2006, there were 247,000,000 cars on the road in the U.S. alone. So, how much impact did that 75,000 lbs of wire have on the world?
Answer: Not much.
Let’s start thinking about some questions…
How big of a problem are guitar strings for the environment?
How much recycled metal are we really talking about?
How much packaging are we saving?
What is the tone difference between recycled alloy strings versus pure virgin alloy?
Which will perform better: recycled alloy or virgin alloy?
What is being sacrificed for tone and quality?
Unfortunately, the facts are not easily found. The majority of guitarist and bassist do not have, or cannot find the data. A simple Web search will come up empty. It leaves most of us guessing. Question: Why would a string company spend so much advertising dollars trying to sell something nobody has the facts about? This leads us to the next section…
Why market a set of green strings? Getting on the green bandwagon has become a politically correct thing to do. Marketing professionals in the guitar string market safely assume people in their right mind will say “Yes” to save the planet’s future. Therefore, buying their brand of strings is supporting the environment. If you don’t buy their strings, you are not supporting the environment. The marketing tactic here is a bit manipulative. The tactic leverages one’s principles about a politically charged topic. It has nothing to do with tone, performance, or music. In my opinion, this is often symptomatic of a company that is completely out of ideas for new products. Are green strings a real cutting edge product innovation, or just somebody jumping on the wagon to make another buck off of The Green Movement? You decide.
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