when recording i always used an unwound base string .
The Gauges of the Strings
I personally try to use the heaviest gauge strings that sound OK on a particular instrument. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find out what that is. Heavier strings sound less tinny rounder. They might require heavier callouses, but I find the improved tone to be worth it. Also, if you like to bend strings, you have more control with heavier strings since there is more resistance. Also, because heavier strings are louder, you can play more delicately and still get decent volume, so they allow a greater dynamic range.
It never occurred to me to swap out wound strings for plain steel. Maybe I'll give that a try.
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
I'd like to mention that when i got my Keith Young teardrop dulcimer almost 20 years ago, he explained to me that he favored stringing his dulcimers with heavy unwound bass strings. Also, quite a few minstrel style banjo players favor unwound gut or nylon bass strings.
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
I tend not to worry about VSL so much when choosing strings as I do about what sounds good on a given instrument. For the most part, I buy bulk banjo strings in .012, .014 and a wrapped .024 gauge. However, I sometimes use .010s or .011s for melody strings if that's all I have on hand.
On a beautiful Modern Mountain dulcimer I had (gee, I wish I hadn't sold that to a student a few years ago!) made of poplar, spruce and Osage orange wood, I used .011, .014, and a nickle-wrapped .022 because it was just to bright sounding with a .024.
As always, my recommendation is that you experiment with different strings, different winding materials and see what works best for you. Strings are inexpensive and only take a few minutes to change.