This is the opposite of true. Heavier strings allow for lower action, slicker feel.It’s the opposite, actually. Heavier strings vibrate in a wider elliptical pattern. They need more room to move, so you’ll find yourself having to raise the action to avoid buzzing and rattling.
My experience matches Paul G's. (assuming that the relief, action height, etc. is adjusted properly after the string gauge change). Bigger strings buzz less, can have lower action, at least on my guitars.This is the opposite of true. Heavier strings allow for lower action, slicker feel.
I'm waiting for the mathematical equations requested, not that I would understand them. j/k. My experience has been the same as dsutton24's. When younger, I tried to move from 10s to 9s. My hands still being strong, I could not adjust and fretted out of tune every time. Over the last 2 years I have gradually gone from 10s to 8s with very little adjustment to bridges. Intonation of course but I have done that with each string change even using the same size. I used to really hit and fret the strings hard but has arthritis has become a factor, I don't hit them so hard any more. Lighter touch on the fretboard also and not by choice, by necessary adaptation. dsutton24 is correct You will need to make little if any adjustment to your guitar. To your playing technique? Maybe.
To the extent it's possible to generalize about something like this, is it normally thought that if you switch to a little heavier-gauge string set (say, moving from 10's to 11's), you may be able to lower your action at least a little bit without experiencing unwanted string "buzz" on the fretboard?
Thank you, A !! Very interesting analysis!When physicists think of a vibrating string they usually think of Mersenne’s laws.
Frequency = 1/2L * SQRT (T/u)
Where L is the length of the string, T is the tension on the string, and u is the linear density (mass/length) of the string (SQRT = square root).
It basically says that as the mass of the string goes up the string tension needs to go up to keep the same frequency. Nothing new here – 11’s are bigger and are used at a higher tension than 8’s for the same frequency.
Changing from a Gibson with a 24.75” scale length to a Telecaster with a 25.5” scale length is just a 3% change, but guitarists can easily detect a string height difference of a few thousands of an inch so 3% may sound like a a small change but it is meaningful. Some may use larger gauge strings on Gibson's over Tele's to keep the same string tension feel. That’s the key point, not that it is different but is it different enough to matter (to most people).
So what about string height? A higher tensioned string needs more force to vibrate than a lower tensioned string (all else being equal). Or, a heavy car is harder to push than a lighter car. The math is a bit more complicated, so consider this example. Using 8-38 strings for a while a friend sent me the biggest strings I’ve ever used (12-54?). I had to wack them so hard to make a sound my guitar could only buzz. So, yes, string gauge does impact string height. Smaller strings can go on a lower action than heavier strings.
But the key point is it’s different, but does it matter? If you play 8’s like 11’s – no. If you finesse 8’s and like to push with 11’s – yes.