AXOLOGY: Rotosound Turns 50, Gets Face Lift

Rotosound has redesigned the packaging on its major guitar string lines to emphasize its British history and make each style of string easier to identify on store shelves.

  • The new packages feature a distressed Union Jack motif on a color-coded backdrop featuring a silhouetted guitarist: silver for British Steel, bronze for Tru Bronze and blue for Pure Nickel.

Rotosound was founded in 1958 by James How, a British engineer who became obsessed with zithers after viewing the 1949 film The Third Man, which featured the instrument on its soundtrack. Having amassed some 250 broken or stringless zithers, How repaired and sold them, and with the proceeds developed a semi-automated string-winding machine, the first in England.

Named Top Strings, and later Rotop Strings, the brand was eventually called Rotosound and became the choice of many players during the electric guitar boom of the early Sixties. Over years, the brand has been used by the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin, the Buzzcocks, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Oasis, among many others.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.