String gauge - does size matter?

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String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Bollix »

I was referred to this vid by Kiwiaxe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGXj_NQONYM
Really enlightening.
I have always used 9s on my Stat and 10s on my tele.
1050s on the Duesenberg, and the LP has 1052s on it.
So a _wide_ range of gauges.
Kiwiavxe and Rick Beato reckon that 942s (or even 838s) are the go.
Thoughts?
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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Mini Forklift »

For me it's a combination of what feels good under the fingers first and foremost. I literally can't play strings lighter than .010's as I'm quite an agressive player, I find they flab all over the place and I overbend. I've been told I have my action quite high and slightly bigger strings just feel 'normal' to me; for probably the best part of a decade I had .013-.056's on my Strat but I'm a little more sensible these days with .010's on my LP and .011's on my Strat

I think you should experiment with different gauges, work out what feels good under the fingers for you and don't be afraid to create your own 'set' (bear in mind that's usually a more expensive way to do it as you're buying strings singly rather than pre-packed). FWIW I thought this was an interesting episode, touch longer that Rick's video mind :crazy:


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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by willow13 »

yes for me it is what feels good to me fingers/hand. In a perfect world I would go up a gauge on a shorter scale guitar because 942 feel a little bit to loose on a 24.75 scale compared to 25.5 ... but that looser feel also makes me play slightly different so I get a bit more "bendy" with riffs I write when holding a shorter scale

So yeah I guess to sum up I go for string feel not sound :rofl:
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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Molly »

As above. I presently have 11s on my Strat (tuned-down a semitone) and it's just too light. However, I need nut files to go any bigger. About 12 - 52/58, something like that, on a tuned-down 25.5" guitar.

Billy Gibbons uses a 7 as his top E (I think he said Ernie Ball made it specially) and Brian May uses super light strings too, and Malmsteen too come to think of it. They all have monster tone so it's not about that. I find I can pick with more accuracy too on heavy strings as I'm not pushing the string before plucking it.

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by rickenbackerkid »

I just can't play super light strings - you have to balance your pick attack and even the pick with the gauge, and if you are naturally a heavy handed player, light strings can sound like a wobbly out of tune mess.

I play 11's, which is heavy enough that I can give it some beef like I do on acoustic guitar with 13's, but I can still bend and play fast-ish on electric guitar. I use NYXL strings too, which feel slightly softer and more flexible that the ernie balls I used to use.

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Danger Mouse »

I use 12s-52s on my C standard tuned guitars to offset the less tension compared to the 9s-42s I use on my E standard guitars. It works to a point, but whenever I play one of my E standard guitars, the strings feel like cheese wire.
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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Mini Forklift »

Playing style needs to be considered. As Molly mentioned above Brian May uses .008’s (or at least he used to). But watch him play and apart from the odd power chord here and there he’s a pretty light player with regards to his attack

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by dayl »

Girth matters
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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by sizzlingbadger »

I put '9s on my Tele after watching that video a couple of weeks back. I will go back to 10's, I keep pushing too hard on the fatter strings and sounding out of tune. I also find that although it is easier to bend lighter strings, you have to push them further to hit pitch. They also just feel a bit floppy under my fingers.
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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by codedog »

sizzlingbadger wrote:I put '9s on my Tele after watching that video a couple of weeks back. I will go back to 10's, I keep pushing too hard on the fatter strings and sounding out of tune. I also find that although it is easier to bend lighter strings, you have to push them further to hit pitch. They also just feel a bit floppy under my fingers.
I have never played 9s until I tried my current Strat in a shop, on a Tone King Imperial. It was 10am on a weekday so the shop was nearly empty... thankfully. On top of my totally shit playing I simply could not play a single note in tune. They were flopping all over the place. What a waste of a great amp. Later that afternoon I realised my fingertips were sore, yes, how weird was that? I think I must've pressed down super hard on the board, looking to "feel" the strings.

Having said that, I do wonder if learning on lighter strings may have been beneficial. I never realised how unsteady my fretting fingers were until I played on 9s.

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Voxshall »

I totally agree with what has been said, I don't see the point and stating one particular gauge sounds best for everybody. But I think it starts with playing style, type of music you play and the way you play. I played 11's most of my life but now I don't have the time to play as often I'm happy with 10's.The low E needs a bit of tension to stay tight and clear with the way I attack the string with my right hand, I tried Hendrix gauge down tuned and it was fun and inspiring but on my set up it felt to floppy, if you have an aggressive touch and tall frets it would feel like your walking on ice.

Guitar setup also matters, I like the way a strat sounds with 5 low tension springs and the bridge floating, I can't get this set up with anything less than 10's. I'm sure the amp you play has a big effect as well some vintage fenders can get out of control in the bass when cranked and a 52 Low E might make things worse, low watt amps don't have the large transformer that can handle bass, like a big 150 watt SSS or something, so it all comes down to balancing your rig and getting it tuned in.

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Molly »

Mini Forklift Ⓥ wrote:Playing style needs to be considered. As Molly mentioned above Brian May uses .008’s (or at least he used to). But watch him play and apart from the odd power chord here and there he’s a pretty light player with regards to his attack
The Red Special is, it's hard to believe, still on its original frets! Well, according to that Guitarist magazine 'Red Special' issue from a couple of years ago.

Worth noting that the scale length and other factors affect string tension too. This has always confused me so I'll ask it here. It can't simply be the scale length but must in fact be the overall string length??? A reverse headstock Strat would surely have a slacker-feeling low E and a more taut high E?

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Bollix »

That was a great resource for me.
And good comments from you guys, thank you!
B

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by KNNZ »

Molly wrote: Worth noting that the scale length and other factors affect string tension too. This has always confused me so I'll ask it here. It can't simply be the scale length but must in fact be the overall string length??? A reverse headstock Strat would surely have a slacker-feeling low E and a more taut high E?
I watched a YT vid of Neil Schon and he was talking about his guitars, one of which was a reverse headstock Strat that he did not just copy Hendrix just to look like or be a "Hendrix" but because Hendrix had a reason for doing that, he then mentioned one of the reasons would be it was much easier to bend the high strings (E string for example) something like that

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Re: String gauge - does size matter?

Post by Molly »

KNNZ wrote:
Molly wrote: Worth noting that the scale length and other factors affect string tension too. This has always confused me so I'll ask it here. It can't simply be the scale length but must in fact be the overall string length??? A reverse headstock Strat would surely have a slacker-feeling low E and a more taut high E?
I watched a YT vid of Neil Schon and he was talking about his guitars, one of which was a reverse headstock Strat that he did not just copy Hendrix just to look like or be a "Hendrix" but because Hendrix had a reason for doing that, he then mentioned one of the reasons would be it was much easier to bend the high strings (E string for example) something like that
Intuitively you'd think the opposite would apply. If the string has to achieve the same pitch but across a greater length then it must have to be tighter.

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