What strings does Norman Blake use

What Strings Does Norman Blake Use? Full Guitar Guide 2022

What strings does Norman Blake use? – If you are a big fan of guitar and follow many famous guitarists, Norman Blake must be one of the tops of the list. His flicking-water-with-fingers skill rocked the world and became iconic over decades. Here’s where we discussed his early life, his solo works, and of course, what strings does Norman Black use?

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Early life of Norman Blake

Before his family moved to Sulphur Springs, Georgia, in 1938, Norman Blake was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he was a child, his family used a battery-operated radio to listen to the Grand Ole Opry and other shows, and it was there that he first heard Roy Acuff, Maybelle Carter, and Riley Puckett, three performers that would have a major impact on him during the course of his entire career.

Around the time he was 12 years old, he purchased a cheap Stella guitar and began learning the mandolin and dobro.

What strings does Norman Blake use

Blake left school at the age of 16 to pursue a career as a mandolin player, and by the age of 19, he was playing session work, touring with June Carter’s band, and working with the bluegrass and country artist Hylo Brown.

After being conscripted in 1961, he served in Panama for two years before coming home in 1963 to restart his career as a touring musician and guitar teacher.

Blake was introduced to Doc Watson’s music by one of his students. Astounded by Watson’s method, Blake started honing his own flatpicking abilities on the guitar after transferring his mandolin-to-guitar abilities.

Norman Blake’s guitar experiments following Cliff Hall – Martin & Co.

What strings does Norman Blake use

A key component of Blake’s recording career and a means of his musical expression has been experimenting with various guitars. In “D-18 Song (Thank You, Mr. Martin),” one of his famous compositions, he expressed his enduring love of Martin guitars.

As he sings, “Cause once again this old guitar got me through the night/I’m awfully glad to you, you know how to make ’em right/I said thank you, Mr. Martin,” he tells the tale of a man who finds serenity in a mahogany dreadnought. I’m doing fine.

Blake has more searching to do even though the character in this song appears to have the situation resolved. Blake, who is well known for his love of dreadnoughts, eventually discovered smaller-bodied instruments like his serene 1928 00-45 to provide comfort.

In 2002, Blake started working with Martin Guitar on the 000-28 Norman Blake Signature Model after enlisting renowned luthier Wayne Henderson to build him an extra-deep 000 body with a 12-fret (to the body) neck a few years earlier.

What strings does Norman Blake use

The final product of this partnership with Martin was an instrument with classic styling built to previously unheard-of specs (much like Blake himself).

Norman’s iconic work: D-18 Song (Thank You, Mr. Martin).

Norman Blake and the flicking water from the fingers

Blake’s playing is particularly renowned for its loose right-hand style, which results in a calm and fluid feel even at extremely quick tempos. He claimed that while learning to play the mandolin, he developed this method and compares it to “flicking water off the fingers.”

Both for strumming and single-string picking, his hand movement generally involves a rotation from the forearm. His pinky and ring fingers are draped over the pickguard and are allowed to brush across the top while he picks, rather than bracing his hand against the guitar at any moment.

Blake has never employed a striking technique; instead, he emphasizes the melody and vibe of the song. The guitarist never imitates other musicians’ playing and doesn’t use memorized licks.

Instead, he claims that his approach is to capture “the emotion, the overall vibe, and the feel” of a song. Since there aren’t any distinguishing Norman Blake licks, analyzing his articulation, feel, and technique is a better way to grasp his style.

What strings does Norman Blake use

What strings does Norman Blake use?

Blake rarely uses traditional string setups when playing his musical instrument; instead, he likes to switch up the gauges based on the guitar, the circumstance, and his mood. And on acoustic guitars, he occasionally uses electric strings.

Although he occasionally uses different gauges, he refers. to .012,.015,.024,.032,.042, and.054 or.056 for strings 1-6. His three main sets are Martin Retro, GHS White Bronze, and GHS Boomers Dynamite Alloy (electric).

Additionally, he uses the rear edge rather than the point of his 1.5 mm D’Andrea Pro Plec Teardrop picks, though occasionally he may use a triangle pick and round the corner to more closely resemble a teardrop’s back.

What strings does Norman Blake use

Norman Blake’s used string information from The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum

@Watsonfan asked:     

“Dug out Norman Blake’s “Whiskey Before Breakfast” the other day to transfer to CD — reminded of how great that album is. In the liner notes by Nancy, comments on Norman’s strings –“.060 low E” rings my memory.

Are there any commercial sets with a tad bigger low E (.060) vs .056, as typical for Martin 4200’s? I know that that phenomenal base on the album comes primarily from his ’34 Martin, but the slightly bigger low E might help with that robust sound. Thanks.”

@TerryB responded:

“There are a couple of sets that come with a .057 big E…D’Aquisto, Vinci. Yes, you’d assume that a bigger E would get you more bass but sometimes it’s not true. Depends on how the guitar handles the larger string’s vibration.

I’ve tried these .057’s a couple of times and just heard a big “thud” when I hit it. Usually, the smaller the bass string, the more musical it sounds, although less powerful. I’d stick with the .056 if it were me. Plus, the nut slot would most likely have to be enlarged to cleanly accept the bigger string.”


This article is an answer to What strings does Norman Blake use in his hit songs and other related information about his life and his legacy. Thanks for reading at whatdoesuse.com and see you next time at articles on what items famous people use.