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What are the electrical changes when string gague is increased?

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  • #31
    I'm used to medium strings because I play a lot of acoustic guitar. So .012 - .053 is what I'm used to.

    If I go lighter, I guarantee you there's a difference in sound on the acoustic guitar.

    There's the same difference in sound on the electric guitar going from a set that starts with a .010 or .011 E string to .009 or .008.

    You just don't notice it as much, because you're not hearing the guitar acoustically.

    You're hearing it through an amp, usually with an overdriven or distorted tone.

    Unplugged the difference is pretty obvious.
    “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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    • #32
      You get more fundamentals, but less harmonics. They start to sound like bass strings. Thicker strings are stiffer, which means the harmonic content tends to be out of tune. The string behaves like a metal rod and not a string.

      I use what’s comfortable on my various guitars. I have 8s on my Parker, and 10s on my backup guitar which I also play slide on. They all sound good regardless of string gauges.


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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      • #33
        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.
        Plus he’s tuned down. Hendrix used 9s turned down a half step. Then we have Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Alan Holdsworth, and Terry Kath, who use/d 8s in standard pitch, and Tony Iommi who uses 8s a half step down or 9s a whole step down.

        You don’t need thick strings for a big tone.


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        • #34
          Originally posted by zionstrat View Post
          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.

          Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
          String choice is a "career decision". Heavier strings can build up your strength, but they also put more wear on your joints.

          If I was a professional player, I would seriously consider using 8s to extend my career, even if I didn't think they sounded as good. I would make them work.

          Ive had injuries that have changed how I have to play the guitar, I think its important to focus on ergonomics from early on.

          When I've gone to 10s, I can get them to work within a few weeks, but using 11s changes my vibrato and bends too much. If I was using 11s, I think my style would evolve differently.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Top-L View Post

            String choice is a "career decision". Heavier strings can build up your strength, but they also put more wear on your joints.

            If I was a professional player, I would seriously consider using 8s to extend my career, even if I didn't think they sounded as good. I would make them work.

            Ive had injuries that have changed how I have to play the guitar, I think its important to focus on ergonomics from early on.

            When I've gone to 10s, I can get them to work within a few weeks, but using 11s changes my vibrato and bends too much. If I was using 11s, I think my style would evolve differently.
            This right here. I’ve been playing guitar for 51 years. I don’t need strong fingers. I already have that.

            But I’m also dealing with RSI and focal dystonia in both hands. This is from 51 years of practicing almost every day.

            Like BB King said to Billy Gibbons; “why you want to work so hard?”

            You see people playing 11s where they have to move their whole arm to bend a string and get vibrato. But they never quite reach the note and the vibrato is stunted. There’s a lack of nuance.

            Historically all the virtuoso players used banjo strings (an .008 for the high E) until Ernie Ball came out with Slinkies.


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            • #36
              Originally posted by DavidRavenMoon View Post



              You don’t need thick strings for a big tone.

              No. Not if you're playing electric, which is what this thread is about.

              But on acoustic? You definitely need bigger strings.

              And most jazz guitarists who play in the style of players like Wes Montgomery or Joe Pass, and play chord melody, use heavier strings with a wound G.

              But they are more interested in TONE...not bending strings.

              My electric guitars are strung with sets that start with .010 cuz like most of us here, I like to bend strings.

              I believe Hendrix used Fender Rock N Roll strings, now labeled 150R (R for regular) which are 10-13-17-26-36-46. These came out around 1966 or 67.

              When folks wanted them even lighter Fender started offering 150L (L for light). Those are 09-11-16-24-32-42.

              I use the lights sometimes, but usually my electrics are strung with 10-13-17-26-36-46 because they sound better to me.




              “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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              • #37
                I know bigger strings certainly sound better acoustically. But I don't play for people acoustically. So it was never a concern for me. Sometimes a deeply resonant guitar sounds the best plugged in, and I've heard resonant guitars that just sound strange plugged in. Even scientific studies on this don't take personal preference into account. And to me, that is the most important, over anything else. What do you like? Do your strings make you feel like you can play your best? Do they not cause pain? Great! Then you chose wisely.
                Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                • #38
                  Some of these answers are hilarious.
                  Seems SD forum has quite a few re-ac curing threads 2 of which are "cheap guitars vs expensive" and "heavy vs lights strings."
                  All one needs is common sense & a good set of ears.

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                  • #39
                    Ted Nugent asked SRV if he could try out SRV's Strat. Nugent plugged it in and said he couldn't play it at all! Action too high and strings too heavy for him.

                    But those heavy strings are part of the SRV tone, and one big reason his sound is hard to duplicate.

                    The other reason is there's only one SRV.
                    “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Lewguitar View Post
                      Ted Nugent asked SRV if he could try out SRV's Strat. Nugent plugged it in and said he couldn't play it at all! Action too high and strings too heavy for him.

                      But those heavy strings are part of the SRV tone, and one big reason his sound is hard to duplicate.

                      The other reason is there's only one SRV.
                      Yeah, that's the deal. There is only one SRV, and a lot of people point to some aspect of his rig holds his mojo. I'm good with there being only 1 SRV- we don't need any more. But his rig does not equal him.
                      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Lewguitar View Post
                        I'm used to medium strings because I play a lot of acoustic guitar. So .012 - .053 is what I'm used to.

                        If I go lighter, I guarantee you there's a difference in sound on the acoustic guitar.

                        There's the same difference in sound on the electric guitar going from a set that starts with a .010 or .011 E string to .009 or .008.

                        You just don't notice it as much, because you're not hearing the guitar acoustically.

                        You're hearing it through an amp, usually with an overdriven or distorted tone.

                        Unplugged the difference is pretty obvious.
                        i agree. you don't notice it as much as on an acoustic, but you still hear it, even through a heavy distorted amp.

                        what sounds better is subjective.

                        i use different tensions on different guitars.
                        but under 9 on gibson scale is too banjo for me. I can adjust my touch to the tension but the tone is obnoxious to my ears.

                        and a lot of those guitar greats like page have legendary tone, but not what i would call big.
                        the madison square garden performance sounds like very light strings for example.

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                        • #42


                          Originally posted by Top-L View Post

                          String choice is a "career decision". Heavier strings can build up your strength, but they also put more wear on your joints.

                          .
                          I'm a multi-instrumentalist and think that may have helped my fingers over the years. At this point I primarily play guitar, bass and keyboards but double bass and cello definitely required a lot more pressure than twelves on an electric because their action is considerably higher.

                          Another way to think about it is 12's are common on acoustics and nobody complains about them. I play medium and light bass strings on full scale bases and never think twice about the pressure.

                          Ironically I thought I was developing arthritis in my right hand but it turned out to be a medication. So I've got to say I have never had any challenges with my left hand at all.

                          I've been playing guitar for 40 odd years with 12s, 11s and 10s (and one strat that demands 9s for the last 15 years.



                          Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk

                          What's so Funny about Peace Love and Understanding?

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by zionstrat View Post



                            I'm a multi-instrumentalist and think that may have helped my fingers over the years. At this point I primarily play guitar, bass and keyboards but double bass and cello definitely required a lot more pressure than twelves on an electric because their action is considerably higher.

                            Another way to think about it is 12's are common on acoustics and nobody complains about them. I play medium and light bass strings on full scale bases and never think twice about the pressure.

                            Ironically I thought I was developing arthritis in my right hand but it turned out to be a medication. So I've got to say I have never had any challenges with my left hand at all.

                            I've been playing guitar for 40 odd years with 12s, 11s and 10s (and one strat that demands 9s for the last 15 years.



                            Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
                            You fingers are protected because you are dividing your playtime between multiple instruments with different movements.

                            A touring guitarist puts alot more miles.

                            And lets be honest. String gauge matters for bends and vibrato. Some styles don't do those.
                            Last edited by Top-L; 08-12-2020, 05:33 AM.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Top-L View Post

                              You fingers are protected because you are dividing your playtime between multiple instruments with different movements.

                              A touring guitarist puts alot more miles.

                              And lets be honest. String gauge matters for bends and vibrato. Some styles don't do those.
                              For me, using 9's or 10's with an unwound G is all about string bending and vibrato.

                              If I didn't bend strings I'd use the same gauge strings as I use on my acoustic guitars.
                              “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by zionstrat View Post
                                Thanks for the input... Anybody have more input about electronic side of the issue?
                                I'm not sure there is an "electronic" side, per se. The string on a guitar is effectively the armature of a small AC generator. The larger the string, the larger the magnetic field interference. I can't add much more beyond what's already been said.

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