“In 1952, Alfred Dronge founded the Guild Guitar Company. In 1960, his son Mark (Founder of DR Strings) joined Guild. This picture captures a moment in Rock n’ Roll history. During the Beatles 1st trip to the United States (1964), Mark Dronge presents John Lennon with a Guild Starfire 12-string during a press conference at the Warwick Hotel in NYC.
Decades later, Mark Dronge is still passionate about creating quality products.
I just thought you may want to know the man behind the company.”
– Fred Bramonte
1. How did DR get started?
DR actually began as an idea that Al Dronge (the founder of Guild Guitars) passed along to his son Mark Dronge, founder of DR HandMade Strings.
2. Why make handmade strings?
At the time DR started production, computer assisted machinery and semi-automatic machinery for winding strings were becoming more and more common in string winding. At DR we were convinced that we could feel, and hear a difference between a machine-made string and a handmade string. The more we compared the two ideas, the more we preferred the handmade feel and sound. Also we thought a lot of other players would share our opinion and that has proved to be true.
3. What is the heritage of DR?
In the DR company, we now have a 4th generation of either guitar or string making family. Al Dronge founded Guild Guitars in New York City and Mark Dronge worked at Guild in the60’s and early 80’s. On the other side of the family, Herman Carlsson Levin founded Levin guitars, also in New York City. Levin then moved the growing company back to his home town of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Levin Guitars were quite well known in Europe. Django Reinhardt played an acoustic Levin “Deluxe” jazz guitar on his American tour.
Annika and Camilla Dronge, Mark’s daughters, with guitar roots on both sides of their family, have recently joined DR.
4. Who plays DR?
Among the many outstanding musicians who enjoy DR HandMade strings are Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Johnny Winter, Derek Trucks, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Sting, Trey Anastasio, Geezer Butler, Steve Kaufman, Bootsy Collins, Roy Clark, Alexi Laiho, Adam Clayton, Meshuggah, Coheed and Cambria, Verdine White, Jeff Berlin, Juanes, Jeff “Skunk’ Baxter, Peter Rowan. Plus, countless players who appreciate quality handmade strings!
5. Can you explain a little bit about your products?
At DR we consider the return to American made, old fashioned hand craftsmanship, combined with the very finest of American made high quality metals, a major part of our most innovative accomplishments. We believe we also re-established the importance of winding on round core wire. We started making ZEBRA strings, alternating phosphor bronze and nickel plated steel windings. DR introduced color coated strings in 2001 and then brought out NEON strings in 2010, using the world’s first high-performance guitar string coating…K3. DDT strings are completely unique in their patent pending construction as they are able to drop tune and stay in tune to an uncanny degree. We refer to K3 coating as a “Hi-Performance” coating, especially on the Dragon-Skin acoustic guitar strings because the coating does not detract from the sound. We believe the Dragon-Skin strings are louder than uncoated acoustic strings and have superb tonal characteristics.
6. Why are you known for your bass strings?
We believe that since there is more metal used in the construction of a bass string than an electric guitar string, the difference in hand winding becomes more apparent. Therefore the difference between DR and other brands seems clearer and more discernible with bass strings than with guitar strings.
7. Are handmade strings as accurate as machine-made strings?
Handmade strings may well be even more accurately made than strings produced on computer assisted machines. While the speed of those machines may be greater, and may produce several strings in one pass, they may not be as accurate as the human hand. The reason we believe is that wire coming off large spools is not 100% consistent in tensile strength and dimensions from the beginning of the spool to the end. The wire actually varies slightly throughout the spool. Machines do not adjust for inconsistencies. Trained string winders develop a feel or sweet spot and constantly adjust for minute differences they feel as wrap wire is wound around core wire. It is interesting to note that jet engines and communications satellites are handmade products.
8. Tell me about round core versus hex core.
The difference between round cores and hex cores is significant. In a guitar string, round cores feel more flexible and have a fatter, more balanced tonal character. Hex cores are a bit stiffer and are brighter. In bass strings, the hex cores are a bit stiffer and are deeper in sound than round cores. A round core bass string is brighter, while still remaining more flexible. At DR while we use both types of core wire over a wide range of strings, we do manufacture more strings with round cores.
9. What is K3 coating?
It is the first coating that not only helps prevent corrosion, it also adds to rather than takes away from the sound of a vibrating string. It is named K3 after the inventor, DR Strings Factory Manager, Tom Klukosky and his three children.