Re-evaluating string gauge......

Buc McMaster

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Having played 10 gauge string sets since Moby Dick was a minnow on every guitar that's come down the pike, I, like most other folks have been resistant to change..........old habits die hard. The march of time has begun to show effects in my hands and 10s have been feeling stiff and a bit difficult at times on both short and long scale instruments. Last week I tried the .009 experiment on my CS '70 Stratocaster and was immediately put off by the loosey-goosey feel......just wimpy, ya know. Cut them off right away and went back to my beloved 10 gauge. Not surprisingly, the hands complained and demanded that I try again.......okay, okay.....

After some setup work (re-shim the neck, adjust the saddles, re-set intonation), it was time to give the lighter strings an honest trial. I've always considered myself heavy-handed on both sides and rather quickly I determined that a lighter touch was required......ease up with the pick and relax the death grip on the neck. This is good. The guitar is easier to play and has forced me to refine technique and attack.......I think this is a win-win. Reckon I'll be trading my 10 gauge back stock for 9s...........
 
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I have discovered for myself that I am fan of lighter gauge and shorter scales(looser string tension) especially on fender stuff. I like really low action and easy playing stuff . The response and sound of it is what I like. Dynamics is another ,as well just ease of getting out what you can out of it. Straight no relief in the neck.

It is weird sometimes I notice guitars unplugged that are really light/ resonate especially on the low strings very loudly unplugged can sound less great thru a amp.

I went thru heavy gauges for years first years starting then like 12-15 years ago discovered I like loose tension,low actions, smaller frets(non jumbo) and lighter strings . Takes time to get used to dynamic response like you mentioned but will never go back to heavier stuff for most general playing. Not to mention it is easier to respond quicker .

Whatever works you and makes you not overthink/getting in the way of what you have to say . The more relaxed I can be with a instrument the better. I don’t need a lag time and extreme pick attack to make 12/13 gauge work lol. I see lots of non Jazz ,S.R.V. type set up guys that have pretty horrible dynamics with picking the notes . Extreme pick attack that actually has less dynamics over all.
 
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I really actually like 24 but 22 1/2 believe it or not. Sounds super fat because scale length /string tension with single coils. Cool because you can stay in standard tuning with a fender and not tune down to get that looser/type tone thing. Kinda the same effect.

Probably also has to do with pickup positions and all that harmonic spot the pickup sits at. I am not smart enough to want to figure out that or how to explain

So I jump around with 22 1/2 scale thru 24 3/4 to 25 1/2.

Fun stuff to fool around with on guitars for different results. String gauge ,scale length and all that stuff.
 
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I did not mean to accidentally do all these replies . I did not mean to bomb out your thread . Probably just the old metal plate in my head to close to the microwave again. I’m out lol
 
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Leonard Neemoil

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I developed some hand/wrist injuries a little over a decade ago and was forced to go lower in string gauge. One gauge at a time, I ended up settling on 7-36 or 38 depending on scale length... it's the smallest made, otherwise I'd probably go lower.
 

MonstersOfTheMidway

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I have no problem using either .009 or .10 gauges. Some guitars seem to play better with either of those two, so I just go with what the guitar "likes" best.

Right now, I'm playing a 24 fret guitar with 25.5 scale length using .009 gauge strings. The fretboard is fairly flat radius of 13.75. The .009 gauge string feel fantastic, easy to bend, easy to hammer on/pull off, and get good sustain. But I know that it's the guitar that is dictating the gauge, which is why I'm not too eager to change all my guitars to .009.

I do favor certain things such as wrap wire (pure nickel, nickel plated steel, etc.), core wire (hex, round, flattened round, etc), coated/uncoated, etc. At this point, I pretty much found what I like and don't. Do what's right for you.
 

FutureProf88

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I prefer Gibson scale length (24 3/4) with .10-.46 strings. I think it's just because that's what I got used to.

Rick Beato and Rhett Shull did a video where they came to a pretty convincing conclusion that lighter strings actually sound punchier on an electric guitar.
 

mark123

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I've always used 10s or heavier because, in my experience, they hold their tune better. I used to use 13s with a wound G String but the G kept breaking because the core inside the winding is thinner than a blonde one. I could really beat on them and they'd stay in tune though.

Lately, I've stuck with 10s but I got a 6 pack of 9s to try. I'm not sure I'll like them but I'm keeping an open mind.
 

neikeel

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Bit like Monsters I think that the guitar determines best string gauge.

Les Pauls and the 335 for me a best with 10-46, Strat and Tele both seem right at 9-46
My Martyn Booths get 9.5-44 as I try to keep the feel of the Les Paul but it has longer scale (25" scale vs 24.75 and 25 1/2 of the strat). and the MB sig is my main gigging guitar.
I've got 11-52 on my Hummingbird copy (plain 3rd) and Jazz lights on my L5 (copy) which are 12-52 wound 3rd.
To remind me of what is on I keep the old empty packet in the case when replacement time comes!

My son however has 10-52 on his std/drop D Les Paul and 12-52 on the straight C tuned Les Paul.

This thread is of particular interest as we have just finished his PRS 22 type copy build with Hipshot trem (25" scale length) and have been playing around with intonation/truss rod relief, nut height etc. At the moment it has 9-42 'test set' which felt a bit thin and 'plinky' unplugged, but thank fully very good plugged. It is very lightweight (somesort of mahogany) solid guitar but obviously big hole in back for trem and at the moment deciding how big to go with strings to suit the relatively wide flat neck vs lightweight instrument (don't want to overdo the gauge and fat nut slots and end up having to cut and fit a new nut!)
 

Buc McMaster

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I do believe the 9s are here to stay. While the stratocaster still needs a bit of tweaking to be 100%, the short scale Collings 290 is magnificent with the lighter gauge. With a wrap around tail piece, string length is as short as possible and it has a very buttery feel all up and down the fretboard. Most excellent! And I will say the new D'Addario NYXL strings are quite impressive......think I've found my new go to string set.
 

Solid State

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String gauge really only needs to be heavier if you're a hard picker. I use 10s because I hit the strings hard. There's literally no reason not to use light gauge strings even at C#.
 

Matthews Guitars

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The difference in string tension between Gibson and Fender scales is about 5 percent.

My hands are pretty strong. I would sooner go to bigger 11s than go down to lighter 9 sets. But 10s give me the feel and sound I know, expect, and prefer.
 

Eric'45

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I don't like the loose feel of light gauges. My preferred Gauge for Gibson- Scale Instruments is 10- 46. Only my Epi LP, that is tuned to C# Standard, has a 11- Gauge Set. On my Fender- Scale Instruments, I have come to like some kind of Hybrid set with thicker Bass Strings: 010 - 013 - 017 - 028 - 042 - 050. But then again, I'm a young man, and the effects of aging are yet to come.
Another factor are the Frets. My 12-String, which is really old, has some incredibly narrow, flat Frets. I didn't like that with Heavy Strings.
 

Buc McMaster

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But then again, I'm a young man, and the effects of aging are yet to come.
Ah yes........the inevitable physical decline creeps upon us all eventually, though it can be difficult for some of us to admit it.
 

renips

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I use .008 - 38 on my Strat , Tele and Les Paul. I play with a light touch. I find the sound very articulate. I use D addario nyxl strings. I know most players would never play a light gauge like this. It’s all about playing style for me. I also tune to Eb which really gives it a slinky feel.
 


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