Sarasota man strings together 200 years of music history

Black Diamond Strings have been the standard in the music industry for more than a century. The brand is cemented in legend through songs by artists like Florida native Tom Petty.

"Going down to Lillian's Music Store, to buy a Black Diamond String," are the lyrics to his song Dreamville.

Eighteen years ago, Jim Cavanaugh made the purchase that secured his company's place in music history. 

"Charlie Daniels, Jimi Hendrix used them. Brett Michaels, he uses our acoustic strings. Roy Blackstone, he's played with Justin Timberlake," said Jim. 

In his ordinary warehouse in Sarasota, Jim preserves music history. He owns Black Diamond Strings along with the Super Sensitive String Company, another legendary string.   "Super Sensitive has been around since 1930. It's the number-one student string in America," continued Jim.

If you learned to play a string instrument in school, chances are you played a Super Sensitive. It's the go-to string for educators. "It's durable, it plays in tune. They don't want to worry about tuning it, they want it in tune, so they can teach."

It was also the string of choice for icons like the Grand Ole Opry’s Roy Acuff. It was the only product he ever endorsed.

Two companies under one roof with more than 200 years of history between them. "We bring quality that musicians are looking for. They want consistency and reliability. They want a product they can rely on night after night," Jim said. 

What's the secret to keeping two brands thriving for decades, in an industry that pivots with every new star? Jim says the answer is change. 

"Throughout the decades we've adapted to what musicians want. When Jimmy Hendrix was coming up and playing his style music, he wanted to have thinner strings, so Black Diamond adapted."

They’ve adapted and endured over time, from the school music room to concert halls and stadiums.