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What are the electrical changes when string gague is increased?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by chadd View Post
    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.
    Yep some guitars prefer light strings. Either way is definitely a different timber.

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    • #17
      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.
      I think bigger strings have come into vogue because SRV used them. What a lousy tone he got. Yeah...right! lol
      “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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      • #18
        i am used to different string gauges although i never went below 9s.
        each gauge has their purpose.

        also i play some western and classical guitar. so i am quite used to switch.

        for funkier stuff on the neck i tend to 9s.
        for a heavy beefed up the bridge sound i go to thicker strings.

        ac/dc is a good example to keep an open mind:
        you have malcolm with his 12s and his heavy touch (and a cleaner sound)
        than angus with his 8 and 9s and more of a soft touch (and more dirty sound.)
        the combination is what makes it so brilliant.

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        • #19
          Billy Gibbons 7s on my short sale A standard guitar.
          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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          • #20
            Originally posted by Top-L View Post

            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.
            SUBJECTIVE ...

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            • #21
              Originally posted by chadd View Post
              Great video comparing string gauge with as few variables as possible.
              Seen that & other vids. Not my experience in 45 years. I used 9's & 9.5's for 30+ years. Last 7 years ive used .011 to .056 and nothing beats it. I even tried a lighter gauge last month thinking i was missing something. NOPE. They sounded like total crap. Never going back to frail strings. All those videos are marketing ploys to sell strings. Piano cable is where its at. And there is little difference in the pull/action for me.
              inB4.007billYgibBonsisAtOan.gaWd
              Last edited by JMP/HBE; 08-10-2020, 05:09 AM.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Lewguitar View Post

                I think bigger strings have come into vogue because SRV used them. What a lousy tone he got. Yeah...right! lol
                The latter part is a strawman. And SRV was definitely a part of the reason, but the idea has got traction far beyond people who care about white eighties blues, so it is unlikely to be the only explanation.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Sirion View Post

                  The latter part is a strawman. And SRV was definitely a part of the reason, but the idea has got traction far beyond people who care about white eighties blues, so it is unlikely to be the only explanation.
                  SRV used hybrid gauges as there was limited string availability back then and in his later years actually went to lighter gauges as he was having hand troubles.

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                  • #24
                    I would like to know actual a scientific experiment that compares the tone with larger strings vs smaller strings with a boost pedal. Providing the music being played is your bag (it might not be preferable for certain kinds of music for a 'bigger' tone), I can't imagine there is much difference.
                    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan
                    Gear pics and more on my Instagram.

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                    • #25
                      Thicker gauge strings put more mass at more tension. The electrical part is about the movement of mass over the pickup window, across the field lines. Empirically, thicker strings are louder especially so in the midrange where the wood vibes wake up with more tension and as the pickups' frequency graphs dictate. They do drive the amp harder but modern preamp circuits hardly require this. In ADSR terms, the "rounder" description indicates a longer, bell like decay in the midrange for thick wires vs. lighter gauge that have decidedly shorter decay. There is no one size fit all but I find it smart when people leave nothing to chance in defining their setups. Thicker gauge doesn't give you more bass but rather make it tighter and the low gain high dynamic range amps like a Fender Twin are undoubtedly going to be more sensitive to string gauge than a 5150. You can have a massive low frequency wave happening in a slack low gauge string but excess amplitude becomes hard to control and doubly so if you like low action. Two thumbs up to anyone who has the guitar set up exactly as they want it, whichever feels most comfortable rather than the question of string gauge being some kind of macho pissing contest. I might find elevens perfect for jazz and nines for floyd rose but ymmv

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by vinta9e View Post
                        Thicker gauge strings put more mass at more tension. The electrical part is about the movement of mass over the pickup window, across the field lines. Empirically, thicker strings are louder especially so in the midrange where the wood vibes wake up with more tension and as the pickups' frequency graphs dictate. They do drive the amp harder but modern preamp circuits hardly require this. In ADSR terms, the "rounder" description indicates a longer, bell like decay in the midrange for thick wires vs. lighter gauge that have decidedly shorter decay. There is no one size fit all but I find it smart when people leave nothing to chance in defining their setups. Thicker gauge doesn't give you more bass but rather make it tighter and the low gain high dynamic range amps like a Fender Twin are undoubtedly going to be more sensitive to string gauge than a 5150. You can have a massive low frequency wave happening in a slack low gauge string but excess amplitude becomes hard to control and doubly so if you like low action. Two thumbs up to anyone who has the guitar set up exactly as they want it, whichever feels most comfortable rather than the question of string gauge being some kind of macho pissing contest. I might find elevens perfect for jazz and nines for floyd rose but ymmv
                        I have 2 Floyd trems & Strat Trem with .011 to .056 as well as 2 Les Pauls and not a problem at all. One Floyd has 4 springs and the other Floyd & Fender have 5 springs. Again not a problem. Can do everything i need.

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                        • #27
                          When riffing metal, thicker bass strings are tighter and "recover" faster. its just easier to chug faster and tighter with heavy strings. They also have a more positive snap. and because they put more voltage out, you can run with less gain, so the whole thing sounds more open.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                            I would like to know actual a scientific experiment that compares the tone with larger strings vs smaller strings with a boost pedal. Providing the music being played is your bag (it might not be preferable for certain kinds of music for a 'bigger' tone), I can't imagine there is much difference.
                            Yep, that's exactly what I would like to see. What are the electrical differences? Of course that would be one heck of a difficult experiment to set up if someone hasn't already done this.

                            Kind of a sidebar, I bumped into heavier strings kind of as an accident. I added my Parker nightfly primarily to replace live acoustics and strung it with 12s to get the sound and feel of the acoustics I was replacing.

                            One night, I broke a string on my primary electric so I switched out of piezo mode in the Parker and immediately realized that it sounded 'beefier' than my other electric.

                            Because I liked that sound so much, I started playing the Parker a lot more for electric and acoustic sounds and my fingers got much tougher. Within 6 months or so I was bending the 12s about 90% of where I would bend a 10 and that was more than good enough for me.

                            One thing that is certain is you don't get the benefits out of 12's until your fingers are strong enough and you've adjusted your right hand to playing much harder.

                            So it was a bit of a surprise and a challenge when I found one of my strats far prefers nines. It was kind of hard to go back that direction... I was hitting the strings way way too hard.

                            So now I keep moving between my nine, 10 and 12 guitars so that I can stay up to date on all of them.

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                            • #29
                              I totally get using bigger strings because you like the way they feel. Nothing wrong with that...that's why I use 9s. But it is a hard argument, especially for my music, that any size sounds uniquely better than what I use.
                              Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan
                              Gear pics and more on my Instagram.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                                I totally get using bigger strings because you like the way they feel. Nothing wrong with that...that's why I use 9s. But it is a hard argument, especially for my music, that any size sounds uniquely better than what I use.
                                Yep, always go with what works. In my mind it's just like tubes and modeling or 24 and 3/4 and 25 and a half or split or parallel pups. There are so many variables that everyone has to find what works for them.

                                BTW, I forgot to mention something that heavy strings aren't good for. They are so stiff that tapping is nearly impossible, at least with my setup, So that's a good excuse to have other guitars :-)

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