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What are the electrical changes when string gague is increased?

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  • What are the electrical changes when string gague is increased?

    Increasing string gague by 1 or 2 levels has given many of my clients a significantly thicker/more articulate tone (if you are an unbeliever in this effect, please do not respond.

    The physics side seems pretty simple... Increased gague increases mass, which means you have to hit the strings harder... This increases the signal and provides a broader dynamic range, which can provide a wider range of tones driving the amp. There's more physical resistance, so you have more
    variation for tremelo, etc.

    However, I don't know anything about the electrical side. I'm assuming increased voltage drives the amp harder? What about induction and dca... Is there measurable change?

    As always, thanks for any and all input.

    Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk


    Last edited by zionstrat; 08-08-2020, 08:35 PM.
    What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

  • #2
    My understanding is that voltage is induced in a pickup when a steel string is plucked and the vibrations of the string interacts with the pickup's magnetic field. Then voltage is induced.

    I picture a thicker set of steel strings interacting more strongly with that magnetic field than a lighter gauge of strings.

    Something like that.
    “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Lewguitar View Post
      My understanding is that voltage is induced in a pickup when a steel string is plucked and the vibrations of the string interacts with the pickup's magnetic field. Then voltage is induced.

      I picture a thicker set of steel strings interacting more strongly with that magnetic field than a lighter gauge of strings.

      Something like that.
      Thanks Lew... Sounds like we're in the same ball park...I had searched for a more electrical description, but most threads i have found pretty much say what we have said.

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      What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

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      • #4
        Simply put, more output, and everything that it causes:

        More compression.

        Less clarity/articulation.

        Less dynamic range at a given amp setting.

        Again...at a given amp setting. Make adjustments, and you're equalized again.

        I play thick strings because they feel right to me. Tone, I can make identical from set to set, as long as the amp has good controls.
        Originally posted by LesStrat
        Yogi Berra was correct.
        Originally posted by JOLLY
        I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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        • #5
          More mass, more sustain, more signal, more tone, simple physics.

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          • #6
            Larger size but with near equal tension doesn't result in much change of tone, sustain, ect,. (like E with 9-42 vs Eb with 9.5-44)
            Increased tension with the same size strings (like E vs D tuning with the same 10-46 set) makes for more of a change in the factors.
            IMO
            Last edited by dave74; 08-09-2020, 12:34 AM.

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            • #7
              My experience is that there is more fundamental tone, but harmonics are relatively less.

              For high gain soloing, lighter strings sound more alive, they have more air, more presence.

              The output of heavier strings will be higher, but ime the tone is less desirable.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Top-L View Post
                My experience is that there is more fundamental tone, but harmonics are relatively less.

                For high gain soloing, lighter strings sound more alive, they have more air, more presence.

                The output of heavier strings will be higher, but ime the tone is less desirable.
                Yep, this sounds pretty much like it. In more immediate terms, the change in harmonic content means that the bass is going to be stronger but the top end less alive. To me this is not an improvement, at least not in a rock context.
                Last edited by Sirion; 08-09-2020, 04:48 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sirion View Post

                  Yep, this sounds pretty much like it. In more immediate terms, the change in harmonic content means that the bass is going to be stronger but the top end less alive. To me this is not an improvement, at least not in a rock context.
                  EVH used 9s, and he has some of the most vaunted rock tones in history. That should be the end of the argument right there for rock players.

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                  • #10
                    Great video comparing string gauge with as few variables as possible.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chadd View Post
                      Great video comparing string gauge with as few variables as possible.
                      It's funny that you posted this vid. I actually emailed Rick to talk about the following and he was kind enough to respond.

                      Bottom line, is I think his experiment was interesting but had a major design flaw. The musicians that tried to get tone from heavy strings are musicians who traditionally play lighter strings.

                      As a result, hey don't have the experience of playing harder and taking advantage of the timbre that comes with heavier strings.

                      If you really wanted to do this experiment correctly, you would need musicians who play heavier strings. To get a real apples to apples comparison, you could create a couple of riffs and cord patterns and get a musician who plays 12s and one who plays 11's and one who plays tens and one who plays nines and one who plays eights to record those segments to the best of their ability.

                      Of course it would be a challenge to get all of those people together to play with the same rig under the same circumstances... plus individual guitars and the whole chain are such a personal thing that everybody would probably feel a little out of their element.

                      On the other hand, from a physics perspective we should see taller way forms with the 12s, right?

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                      What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by zionstrat View Post
                        It's funny that you posted this vid. I actually emailed Rick to talk about the following and he was kind enough to respond.

                        Bottom line, is I think his experiment was interesting but had a major design flaw. The musicians that tried to get tone from heavy strings are musicians who traditionally play lighter strings.

                        As a result, hey don't have the experience of playing harder and taking advantage of the timbre that comes with heavier strings.

                        If you really wanted to do this experiment correctly, you would need musicians who play heavier strings. To get a real apples to apples comparison, you could create a couple of riffs and cord patterns and get a musician who plays 12s and one who plays 11's and one who plays tens and one who plays nines and one who plays eights to record those segments to the best of their ability.

                        Of course it would be a challenge to get all of those people together to play with the same rig under the same circumstances... plus individual guitars and the whole chain are such a personal thing that everybody would probably feel a little out of their element.

                        On the other hand, from a physics perspective we should see taller way forms with the 12s, right?

                        Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
                        Well, Rhett made a follow-up video where he said that he had been using .011 strings in the past, and whereas he had come to use .010s as a compromise he both had experience with playing heavier strings and the belief that thicker = better. So there were certainly people there with more experience playing heavier strings than lighter strings, and who also believed that they were superior tonewise.

                        I think a much bigger problem with the test is that non of the clips feature a band mix where a guitar tone like that is likely to be heard. My pet theory is that a big part of why thicker strings has gained such traction is that people primarily practice alone, and thicker strings provide a stronger bass foundation for the tone. Once you have a proper bass this fullness is likely to play a smaller role, and the upper harmonics a larger one.

                        As far as the dynamics go, I think you are theoretically correct (even though squeezing a range of dynamics out of thinner strings is an art unto itself), but I question whether it actually matters in practice, seeing that there to the best of my knowledge is no tone, emotion or sound you can't squeeze effectively out of light strings.

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                        • #13
                          Take a typical 9 gauge set of strings, tune the B up to an E and compare the difference in tone. The 11 gauge string sounds slightly more "round" to my ear. For some it will sound more "full" and others will say it has "more tone", but the reality is that it's just a different tone. You'll never get a set of 13s to "jangle" or "sparkle" the same way 9s will do it. Strings are just like the guitars you put them on, tools that help you do a job. Get the right tool (and combination of tools) and you'll get the job done a lot easier.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sirion View Post

                            Well, Rhett made a follow-up video where he said that he had been using .011 strings in the past, and whereas he had come to use .010s as a compromise he both had experience with playing heavier strings and the belief that thicker = better. So there were certainly people there with more experience playing heavier strings than lighter strings, and who also believed that they were superior tonewise.

                            I think a much bigger problem with the test is that non of the clips feature a band mix where a guitar tone like that is likely to be heard. My pet theory is that a big part of why thicker strings has gained such traction is that people primarily practice alone, and thicker strings provide a stronger bass foundation for the tone. Once you have a proper bass this fullness is likely to play a smaller role, and the upper harmonics a larger one.

                            As far as the dynamics go, I think you are theoretically correct (even though squeezing a range of dynamics out of thinner strings is an art unto itself), but I question whether it actually matters in practice, seeing that there to the best of my knowledge is no tone, emotion or sound you can't squeeze effectively out of light strings.
                            Originally posted by Sirion View Post

                            .

                            As far as the dynamics go, I think you are theoretically correct (even though squeezing a range of dynamics out of thinner strings is an art unto itself), but I question whether it actually matters in practice, seeing that there to the best of my knowledge is no tone, emotion or sound you can't squeeze effectively out of light strings.
                            One of my favorite guitar mods is bass roll off... If you use a mix of clean and crunch tones, you can use the bass roll off to drive or clean up your tone... Want more crunch... Dial the bass in... Want cleans? Roll the bass off.

                            What's interesting about this mod is that its much more effective with light strings... The dynamic range of heavy strings can do the same thing.

                            Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

                            What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the input... Anybody have more input about electronic side of the issue?

                              Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

                              What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

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