Changing String Gauge

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by unixfish, Oct 27, 2021.

  1. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    For years in the past, when I only had my Strat, I read guitar magazine and early internet posts about string gauge. Bigger strings mean a bigger sound. Gotta go big. SRV used 13s, ferchrissake! As a result, I put 11s on my Strat, and used 11s for years.

    In 2015, I bought my Baja. At that point, I was getting back into playing after years of playing intermittently at best. I got a set of 10s on my Baja and put 10s on my Strat.

    After playing a few guitars in shops that had 9s, I wanted to try 9s on my Baja, so I put a set on. No go. It was then that I noticed the Baja’s neck was very flat with almost no relief, and the truss was all the way loose. 9s just rattled too much with my heavy-handed playing, which I was / am also addressing. How did I fix this? I put 11s on the Baja for a couple years to help “pull some relief” into the neck. I probably should have gotten a fret level and crown and maybe a neck shim, but the 11s seemed to work well enough to resolve the neck issue. I then went back to 10s.

    The 11s were not bad; I could lower the action a bit, and they felt very similar to 10s until you did bends.

    I recently bought a new Tele – an American Professional II. It came with 9s. I like the 9s. Sure, I am adjusting a bit to not pulling them sharp, but the feel is so much easier. I have also been seeing a lot of internet examples of how lighter strings “sound bigger”; I don’t think the string gauge makes that big of a difference (at least for me) in sound, so no big deal. Bends are so much easier, and easier to control.

    I just ordered a three pack of 9s; I am going to put 9s on my Strat as well; the setup changes will be easy. I will leave 10s on the Baja and decide if I am going to keep it.

    I think I'm a 9s guy now. I have to drop that association of myself with big strings and old internet blather.
     
  2. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    You can find anything on inter web to justify your thoughts. I have been a 9s guy on all guitars forever. Now when it comes to mfg and types long life etc that is another issue. Gibbons tone always sounded pretty fat to me with 8s.
     
  3. jackal

    jackal Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    I've been through this. Started with 12-50, now playing 8.5-38, but with a lot of stops along the way.
     
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  4. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Friend of Leo's

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    I bought the SRV hype for a minute, tried 11s. Didn't know about setting up a guitar that was sold with 9s to play good with 11s, so hated it.

    I'd heard of famous people mixing sets, didn't like the roto blues, went with 9-46s. It's like 9s, but the strings I wanted to fight more and not feel like spaghetti got more girth to them. But my Mustang and later duosonic didn't feel quite as good, so I discovered 10-48s.
    I know my hands like those, I run them.

    My first guitar came with thin picks and extra light strings. Both broke often. Strings got thicker, picks got thicker then I stopped using them all together.
    To this day I have no idea why the store sold extra light strings and thin picks with a squire for a 10 year old kid. Bad idea all around. Maybe a deliberate life lesson rolled into garunteed future sales?
     
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  5. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe I'm just lucky, but typically I can switch any where from 9s to 11s on electric guitars without having to get the nut slots adjusted. But I do have to adjust the truss rod tension.

    Right now all my guitars have 10s except two. My JM has 009s on it and my PRS has 9.5s on it. I think 9.5s are actually my personal sweet spot. 9s feel a hair too slinky on most guitars, and while 10s feel just fine, 9.5s are just a tad more comfortable.
    Over time I can see myself switching more and more of my guitars to 9.5s.

    Due to the short scale length my Gibson and PRS feel just a bit slinkier. But I kind of like that. I used to think-- "OK, I like 10s on my Fenders so I'll put 11s on my Gibson/PRS scale length guitars to get the same feel. But later on I realized that I actually like to just put the same gauges on both and have the shorter scale length guitars feel a bit slinkier.

    The reason for 009s on the JM is that due to the design-- long distance from bridge to vibrato tailpiece-- it seems that the JM has more overall string tension. I find that 9s on a JM feel like 10s on a Strat or Tele. YMMV and all that.
     
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  6. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Billy Gibbons, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, and BB King are among those who have been using light gauge strings for decades. Nobody has complained about their toanz.
     
  7. Billy3

    Billy3 Tele-Holic

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    Some guitars just need certain strings. I do tend to use as light as possible. I have 9 or 10s on my electric guitars, depending on scale length, nut, and set up. Acoustic guitars get much heavier. 12 or 13 usually.
     
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  8. Happy Enchilada

    Happy Enchilada Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    ^^^^Heartily agree! After years of religiously using nothing but 10s, I put 9s on my G&L Legacy Tribute (Strat) and I really like 'em. Teles and Hamer Special K (LP Special) are all happy with 9.5s.

    Legend has it Rev. Billy borrowed BB's Lucille for a quick spin around the block, and noticed he was running 8s that were way lighter than he was used to. BB replied that heavy strings = working too hard. BB was diabetic and I'm sure had some arthritis, so I can relate. And Rev. Billy's no spring chicken.

    At the same time I was going to lighter strings, I started using HEAVIER picks. And big triangular ones that are easier to keep ahold of. Dunlop makes some Tortex textured jobs that are perfect for my old hands. And they make a Flex pick that is heavy but still has some natural give to it. I keep an assortment of a half dozen around all the time because - like with strings - certain guitars prefer certain gages of picks, even for different styles and songs as well. I encourage you to experiment and see what works best for you with your specific instruments.

    TDPRI John, OTOH, gots to have him 11s or 12s because he also heard SRV used 'em and besides they last longer, and TDPRI John doesn't have that much time left to waste it changing strings ... So he puts some heavy duty boat-towing-gage strings on his baseball bat neck, grabs a Fender medium pick, and keeps on stumblin'.
     
  9. ChicknPickn

    ChicknPickn Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    You’ve pretty much told my story.
     
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  10. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    In a video interview, I heard B.B. King say he played 10s.
     
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  11. Mike_LA

    Mike_LA Tele-Afflicted

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    It's funny, I put some Rev Willy's 7s on a guitar and for the life of me, it dosen't seem to play all that different than usual with 10s.
    Guess i need to spend more time with it...



     
  12. 3fngrs

    3fngrs Friend of Leo's

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    I've been using .008s in my Telecaster for a while now. Thinking about trying the Rev Billy's .007s one of these days just for gits and shiggles.
     
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