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 String gauge discussion 
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Post String gauge discussion
Only for mature players :wink: (no sissy remarks, please)

I started out guitar with 8s, now I play 10s. I'm seriously thinking of going back to 8s.

I remembered that I switched to to 9s then to 10s cause it gave me a thicker tone on my old guitar (the RG custom with evos). Then I realized, I never really had a guitar to compare the tone with. I never really knew how drastic the tone changed with the gauge? Maybe 8s VS 13s, sure. But 8s to 9s or 8s to 10s? Is there really a big difference in tone? Please educate me on this, cause I really need a comparison.

Anyway, there was this lesson I made a while ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFfwdjKHR_A

I was tuned down to Eb cause I just switched strings and I figured since the backing track was in F, I might as well play in F# physically to make the shapes better (that'll give me the low E for F#s 7th). I noticed that it was hella easier to do vibratos (yes, I know my vibrato isn't phenomenal, but it was easier).

Levi and I had this talk that it was good to focus on what you can do easily (for me legato and short sweeps) because it's difficult especially for me (as a medical student) to do all the gym work (ie petrucci exercises) cause I don't have the time for it. I am now thinking of the same thing with vibrato and just the general knowledge that I have weak fingers and maybe I shouldn't make it too hard on myself.

Now I ask you, brothers, is it worth it? Is the tone change drastic? Do the strings break easily? Am I gonna regret it when I realize it's difficult and when I go back to 10s I've the worst vibrato evaaaar again?

(No need for a poll, I think your in depth explanations would matter more)

Thanks, guys 8)


Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:51 am
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Viking Kong
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
To start, I use 12's in standard tuning.

I tend not to use them primarily for tone, but I definitely do find that they get a thicker (for the lack of a better word) than thinner strings.

My main reasons for using thicker strings is I like the way they feel, both for picking, bends, and vibrato. This probably sounds a little too picky, but thinner strings seem to wobble too much for my liking when picked. I also prefer strings to resist when I bend them, I find it makes me concentrate more on bends and vibrato. And it just plain old feels better to me.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:06 am
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Ah that's true. Lesser tension = harder to pick.

But for the record, I barely pick now. Is it a drastic change though?


Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:21 am
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Dr. X
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
When i first started out i was brain washed with the myth that thicker strings gives you fatter tone too. It was backed with SRV playing some crazy 13s and doing huge bends.
Over the years, i think it's more of how you like the feel of the strings. I don't like floppy strings on the lower end so i opted for gauge 10s. It's a very personal preference business i suppose.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:07 am
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God Of The Sun
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
It DEFINITELY makes a massive difference to your tone. MASSIVE difference.

Play a 5th fret E (b string) - now 9th fret E (G string). Definitely sounds different right? I cant play a guitar with 9s now, my bends are all over the place, i go to bend a b3 and i get a 4th....

8s are most definitely easier to play fast, but its a compromise on tone, but tone is key if you ask me, so much im considering going up to 11s

@Zesty - what guitar is that on? I had 12s on my les paul for a bit and it wasnt TOO bad for bending a minor 3rd, but on a 25.5 its a no no for me (and i bend 10s up a 4th!)

@Pao - its work trying out man, but if possible set two guitars up with two different gauges and see what you like, or record a cover on 10s, restring then do it on 8s, then blinfold test to see which one you like the sound of.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:16 am
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Dr. X
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
In the end, I strongly agree with what Levi instructed you to do. In the end, who cares about a little difference in tone, so long as you can pull a monster solo while feeling comfortable on your guitar, and also making the best rock and roll faces, just because you'r not worrying about dealing with beefier strings.

It all comes down to what makes you comfortable and makes it enjoyable for YOU in the end, so no worries :D


Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:24 am
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Viking Kong
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Used Roto 10s, nice sound. Went to Super Slinky 10s, smooth, then to Slinky 9s, a lot smoother and less resist. Was fun to try out.... But here I am back on Roto 10s. I need some kind of resist. I feel like going up one...


I think 10s are fine for me though. For my guitar's scale length, and neck thickness, I'll deal with 10s.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:03 pm
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I've also considered switching to 11s then dropping down to Eb.

I don't know how BB King and Alex Hutchings can get a thick tone with 8s. I mean, not as thick as like 13s or whatever, but they definitely don't sound like 8s.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:27 pm
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Viking Kong
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Well, do remember that tone isn't just affected by strings.

They have guitars that the strings are attached to. What wood is used? What kind of neck profiling, what amp is plugged in to? Is it hollow-body, is it a semi-hollow? Are there cavities routed into the body etc


Loadsa things that could make a guitar sound different.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:32 pm
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Yeah I know, but based on what's going on in my head, I do know what part of tone is going to be compromised with the string change. I just don't know HOW they can make it sound like that even with 8s. By that, it really is just a matter of comfortability than tone. Cause if they can create a thick tone even with 8s, then why bother going for the thicker string? Only if you like the tension, right?

If that was the case, then I wouldn't even hesitate switching! :lol:


Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:44 pm
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I practice on 11's. Play 9's on guitars with floyds and on F-style tremolos or Tune-O-Matics I use 10's.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:03 pm
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Dr. X
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I used to use 8's when i first started mainly because a friend of mine did and he could play fast and i wanted to as well lol.
But after a while i switched to 9's because it got too embarrassing when i tried to play someone else's guitar with a higher gauge and i just couldn't cos my fingers weren't strong enough due the 8's.

A lot of good players use 8's though Yngwie, Alex hutchings and think even hendrix did for a while.
It's not a drastic decision to make, i mean you can change back if it's not for you, do it for a week and take it from there.

Though if you do make it a permanent thing maybe play some gauge 13 acoustic every now and so your fingers don't turn to mush... :)


Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:14 pm
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Viking Kong
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Pao wrote:
But for the record, I barely pick now. Is it a drastic change though?


I find it to be pretty drastic, when ever I go to a music and play something there, it really throws off my picking.

MissMisstreater wrote:
@Zesty - what guitar is that on? I had 12s on my les paul for a bit and it wasnt TOO bad for bending a minor 3rd, but on a 25.5 its a no no for me (and i bend 10s up a 4th!)


Ibanez SZR 520, 24.5, that helps a lot.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:22 pm
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Godzilla

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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I recently changed from Standard 10's to Heavy Tops. I didn't even know they made 8's, I always found 9's WAY too loose and floppy for bending. 8's must be horrible >.<

But basically just play what you like and what sounds good to you. If you like the tone and playability you're getting off 8's then stick with 8's. Only reason I changed was cause I wanted a slightly more meaty bass sound on the low end without compromising the tension I was used to for bends on the high end.

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:56 pm
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God Of The Sun
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
compromise!

http://www.amazon.com/DAddario-Single-A ... 556&sr=1-1

a .0085!

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:37 pm
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Viking Kong

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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Thicker strings does give you a much fatter tone. I'd say if you aren't playing live often, or at all, just go with the 8s. Tone isn't that big of a deal if you aren't performing.

You could try the 9.5 gauge that D'addario offers. See if you like those. They're almost 9s, but not quite.

There is a point though of string gauge where I'm just like..."okay, fuck that". I don't feel like 13's will grant you THAT much more tone than 12's, much less 11s. At loud ass ear piercing levels, almost no one will notice, until they actually play your guitar. If your hands have a good touch/nuance when you play (Alex Hutchings), then you'll get good tone regardless. I'd rather not destroy my hands trying to bend up a minor 3rd with 12 gauge thank you very much (unless you're playing a Les Paul of course). This opinion is based on distorted tones... Still, 8's to 10s will have a difference. Unless you are a pro and have an amazing touch, 8s will sound very thin compared to 10s. If you have weak hands though, you probably won't be able to make 10s sound as good as 8's or 9's. Kind of a weird back and forth but that's just how it is.


I had 11's on my Ibanez Artcore, and that sounded GREAT. Especially clean, you could really hear the fatness of the strings. Every note had more "weight". I think the biggest difference in sting gauge tone is when you do play on a clean channel. In that case, I could almost definitely hear a difference between 11's and 12's (has to be in person). My Ibanez laughs at 335s loaded with 9s (seriously?). There's just no contest. If you play with a cleaner tone, it'd probably be better to go with thicker strings. If you don't at all, don't bother. That's only my opinion though.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:35 pm
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Viking Kong

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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I also forgot to mention, your pick also dictates how your strings will sound too. If you switch to a more blunt fatter pick and go down in string gauge it might sound a little better. You might have to pick a little lighter but whateves

I tried A/Bing picks....the Jazz III XLs versus a 2mm Dunlop Gator pick...The Dunlop gator sounded way fatter and had a sweeter/rounder pick attack. The Jazz III is a much sharper/quicker pick attack. Tested on the same string gauge...so that's something to consider if you are moving down a gauge. Since you don't alternate pick too much, I don't think that'd be too big a problem.


Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:41 pm
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God Of The Sun
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I've been using .11's for 4 years now (on all my axes) and I've just switched back to 10's and my vibrato sounds more developed, and I can do vibrato seemingly effortlessly. although I miss that mass under the fingers while playing. but I'd recommend .11's

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Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:43 pm
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Dr. X

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Post Re: String gauge discussion
I think things get trickier with the plain strings, more so than the wound ones, when it comes to tone.

Overall, I think there's less tonal difference in plain string gauges and you a player can go more on feel when it comes to those. The only wild card is the plain G string. I think thicker plain Gs intonate better than thinner ones, which make the guitar more "musical" sounding, if that makes any sense. The tone may not change noticeably between a .017, .018 or .019 plain G, but if it intonates better the notes across the fretboard sound more in tune and the guitar sounds better. Get what I'm saying?

As for the wound strings, I think there are major tonal differences to be had there, not necessarily because of difference in gauge but mostly because of the variety of materials and design (thick core wire versus thin core wire, flatwound versus roundwound, etc) available on the market. I do think thicker wound strings (the ones found in a standard .011 set and up) play, feel and respond better than thinner ones, regardless of the material they happen to be wound with, but I don't think that .010 or .009 sets sound bad either. It's all a matter of taste.

I also think that some guitars, despite being non-sentient beings, have preferences. My Strat plays and sounds best with .011s. Interestingly enough, when I strung it with .012s one time it played and sounded worse (less sustain, mushier attack, no sparkle), even after making all the proper truss rod and intonation adjustments. It just "likes" .011s.

Conversely, I have a Telecaster that sounds it's best when I string it with .012s with a wound G. Another Telecaster I have rocks with pretty much any gauge set on it.


Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:14 am
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Viking Kong
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Post Re: String gauge discussion
Really depends on the tone you're looking for. I've played with everything from 9 to 12 in standard tuning (now having settled on 10's and 11's), I can say that I prefer the tone I got for metal playing when using thinner strings (10's as opposed to 12's). When I played with 12's through a high-gain amp, the tone became fatter, but didn't make the guitar sound good. :lol:

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Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:40 am
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