Author Topic: String gauge  (Read 12234 times)

RichR

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String gauge
« on: May 03, 2013, 03:18:28 PM »
I've been playing quite a bit of slide.   And have chronic problem with the small E string sounding weaker than the rest.  Seems to be consistent over several guitars, and even when being very careful about technique-- not bottoming out; regardless of the amount of pressure/contact.

So, I started thinking about setting up a guitar for slide.  I've been playing my old (sorta) tele.  The Musicians Friend special with set neck, thin body, DiMarzio humbuckers with coil tap switch.

To make it a better slide guitar, I raised the action a bit, especially on the high E side.   And put on a set of 11-50 (DR) on.  I've been using a 10-46 set for a long time.   Jury is still out on whether this helped/solve the weak E string issue.

But I am surprised to find very little difference in bending and vibrato difficulty.   Checked and adjusted intonation.   Didn't seem to bow the neck noticeably, so left the truss rod alone for now.   Nut slots may not be big enough, but leaving them alone for now, as this is just an experiment, so far.

(Overthinking this, but...) I guess the difference, as a percentage, is less going from 10 to 11; than 9 to 10.   For me the difference between 9 and 10 was substantial.  But from 10 to 11, is almost not noticeable from a playing standpoint.

DannyDV8

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 03:32:49 PM »
I used to throw the 10 away and use a 13 in the E position.  That got things pretty live!  You could feel the difference when bending though!
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KenBJammen

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 04:11:14 PM »
String gauge used to be a serious weak point for me. 

When I started playing electric I would play 8's all the time.  Went up to 9's because I could never find 8's and have graduated from 9's to 10's and now everything I have has 11's or 12's.  (Had 15 flats on the jazz box and that was tight!)

The biggest jump was from the 9's to the 10's.   I don't play slide but was seriously looking at a lap steel to add to my collection.

Does anyone ever read these things.  I have some guitars, some amps and some effects but none of them play the guitar for me.... Yet.

RichR

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 04:27:43 PM »
I used to throw the 10 away and use a 13 in the E position.  That got things pretty live!  You could feel the difference when bending though!

So, the same size for E and B strings?   Probably great for a slide-only guitar.  Probably a bear to bend/vibrato, unless you tuned down.

RichR

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2013, 04:37:04 PM »
String gauge used to be a serious weak point for me. 

When I started playing electric I would play 8's all the time.  Went up to 9's because I could never find 8's and have graduated from 9's to 10's and now everything I have has 11's or 12's.  (Had 15 flats on the jazz box and that was tight!)

The biggest jump was from the 9's to the 10's.   I don't play slide but was seriously looking at a lap steel to add to my collection.

I expected a serious difference in feel going from 10 to 11.  But in practice, not so much.  Like Ken mentioned, when I went from 9s to 10s, it took some getting used to.   It was awhile before I felt like I could bend and vibrato as well on the 10 set.  Now a 9 set just feels flimsy compared to what I'm used to.   I think most new guitars on the rack are strung with 9s, and they always feel weird and flimsy to me now.

Might try a set of 11s on the les paul, and could go even go to 12s for a mostly-slide guitar.

My acoustic set has 12 E string.   And I don't notice a big difference between E and B strings on it, with the slide.   So, I 'm thinking the solution might be in heavier strings.  If you search on "slide guitar" and "weak E string" you find others that have been down this path.   FWIW, Derek Trucks uses a custom set of DR Nickel: .011, .014, .017, .026, .036, .046.


DannyDV8

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 06:24:14 PM »
I used to throw the 10 away and use a 13 in the E position.  That got things pretty live!  You could feel the difference when bending though!

So, the same size for E and B strings?   Probably great for a slide-only guitar.  Probably a bear to bend/vibrato, unless you tuned down.
I didn't tune down, and it took soome time to get used to, but it was doable.  It actually evened out the tension on the other strings a bit.  Back in those days I used to play a lot of hours every day.
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yosoytudios

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 06:35:34 PM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

DannyDV8

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 07:10:23 PM »
Pretty much the same here.  10s feel like rubber bands on a Les Paul.
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RichR

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2013, 08:05:36 PM »
I might give the 11s set a go on the LP.   Definitely surprised at the small difference in feel on the tele.  A little stiffer, but not much.

DannyDV8

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2013, 08:33:07 PM »
With a short scale neck like you find on a Les Paul, the 11s really make it come alive!
They call it the Blues, but the shit makes me SMILE!

BH

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2013, 11:41:32 PM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

I thought you played 9's ?
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Jooj

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2013, 01:04:44 PM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

I thought you played 9's ?

I thought 8s.

RichR

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 03:00:36 PM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

I thought you played 9's ?

I thought 8s.

Hey Jooj (why am I thinking of that Beatles song, now?)

You got into slide quite a bit, and set up 1 or 2 guitars for slide.   What gauge strings have you used?   I've been trying to improve the sound of the high E string.  Kind of anemic compared to the rest.   I've developed a habit of moving to the B string whenever possible.   But it would be great to get near equal tone from the top string.

yosoytudios

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 08:14:20 PM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

I thought you played 9's ?

I thought 8s.

did both of those long ago. i have been playing 10's for a few years now, and 10-50 thomastic powerbrights for over a year.

Jooj

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Re: String gauge
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2013, 03:28:54 AM »
i use 10-50 on the strat and 11-52 on the paul. 10's seem too flimsy on les pauls.

I thought you played 9's ?

I thought 8s.

Hey Jooj (why am I thinking of that Beatles song, now?)

You got into slide quite a bit, and set up 1 or 2 guitars for slide.   What gauge strings have you used?   I've been trying to improve the sound of the high E string.  Kind of anemic compared to the rest.   I've developed a habit of moving to the B string whenever possible.   But it would be great to get near equal tone from the top string.

I thought the same thing - it was tough to get a strong high e in comparison to the rest of the strings. What I settled on was:
.13
.16
.24p
.32
.44
.56

It's the Ernie Ball Not Even Slinky nickel wound set with a .13 instead of a .12 - the strings sound good to my ears.