High-tech treatment extends string life without coating
New technologies adapted from other industries have driven many music products innovations over the years. Most instances involve a player who is not only dissatisfied with the status quo but also possesses a unique vision for bringing the disparate worlds of music and science or engineering together. Case in point, Michael Connolly, founder of the recently launched guitar string manufacturer MJC Ironworks. A lifelong musician, Connolly is also an alum of one of the industry’s major guitar string manufacturers, where he worked on virtually every string project and, as its director of artist relations, collaborated with numerous artists on the creation of custom strings, pickups, and other new technologies.
More than 35 years of manufacturing and musical experience convinced Connolly that pure, un-treated metal makes the best guitar strings, but moisture, salt, and “all the bad stuff in air” quickly degrade them. Coatings designed to prevent this corrosion, he believes, “compromise the ideal sound that a metal string can make.”
His quest for a new solution ultimately led him to technology developed for the extreme military applications, a metal-seeking vapor phase inhibitor system used to seal and protect metals. MJC Ironworks’ version, RNProtects, works by bonding electrochemically with metal surfaces to create a molecular “umbrella” that seals out the air and moisture that cause corrosion. RNProtects also migrates onto any nearby metal surface through a naturally occurring static charge, yet with no build-up. Non-toxic, user-safe, and derived from natural organic sources, it also won’t harm plastics, elastomers, or painted surfaces. To further protect MJC Ironworks strings from exposure to the elements, they are shipped in a special tin container, where an additional foam strip of RNProtects preserves the string in its case for up to two years.
The exceptional sound of MJC strings is also due to their extensively researched core-to-wrap ratios and a proprietary precision manufacturing process. Combined with RNProtects, MJC’s approach is attracting a growing number of artists representing a wide range of musical styles and headed up by the inimitable Tower of Power bassist Rocco Prestia.
Connolly and his team, which includes Owensboro Music Center’s Gordy Wilcher, have begun R&D on strings for guitar, banjo, mandolin, orchestral, and other acoustic instruments. However, MJC currently applies its “geek-like intensity to detail and how things can work better for musicians” exclusively to the manufacture of bass strings. The line currently includes several gauges of high-performance stainless steel and nickel-plated bass strings in four-, five-, six-, and seven-string sets. All are offered to dealers in beautiful countertop or slatwall/peg displays with a drawer for fifth, sixth, and seventh strings that allow customers to customize their string gauge combinations.
A restless innovator, Connolly has numerous new products planned for MJC including several accessories and a new line of acoustic guitar strings whose unique new production process will allow “affordable strings to compete performance-wise with all the high-end strings on the market. Clearly, we do things like no one else in our industry,” he says. “We’re always looking for new ways to help our dealers be competitive and profitable.” He’s so confident in his strings, in fact, that he invites dealers to call him on his cell phone at (408) 483-5547.
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