The oddness of guitar strings

Hodgo88

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Not trying to hijack the thread, but your point about playing with the lightest possible touch hit home.

Unfortunately it was in a bad way. For my first 20+ years of playing, it was in a poorly set up acoustic. So I "learned" to crush the strings. Now I have guitars with great action and I still find myself crushing the neck.

How do I learn to stop?

Get a guitar with super jumbo frets and .007s and play it until you can play it in tune 😂

It has to start as a conscious thought before it can become second nature, so actually focus on your left hand. Play a piece you know by heart so there's no competing for brainpower and start thinking about lifting ever so slightly away from the fretboard as you play.
 

MickM

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Jimi used Fender .10's to .38's on his guitars...and he did tune down to Eb.

FWIW....all Collings electric's come with .011's on them.
I bought 3 (2 used semi-hollow and 1new hollow body) Collings in the last few years and love 'em all. They played well with the stock '011s due to the Gibson length scale. I was fighting to bend the wound G so I went to '010s with a .017 wound G and it's all good.
 
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Linkslover

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Get a guitar with super jumbo frets and .007s and play it until you can play it in tune 😂

It has to start as a conscious thought before it can become second nature, so actually focus on your left hand. Play a piece you know by heart so there's no competing for brainpower and start thinking about lifting ever so slightly away from the fretboard as you play.
Yeah. There are times I realize I'm crushing the neck (cramps and pain in my left hand are good clues about this) and consciously squeeze more gently. A few minutes later I've stopped thinking about it Xi I can remedy p remember what I'm supposed to be playing ABC I'm right back at it.
 

gitold

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I have quite a few guitars and over the years I’ve discovered that there are no set rules for what gauge string I use, I let the guitar decide. Most of my Gibson scaled guitars get 10 except hollow body’s get 10.5 or 11’s. PRS‘s usually get 10’s. Acoustic’s get 12’s. Some Fenders get 9.5’s some get 10’s depending on the neck. Gretsch’s feel right with 10.5. If a guitar feel’s too slinky or to stiff i’ll experiment with different gauges. I don’t have flatwounds on any of my guitars but I have tried them.
 

Chiogtr4x

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I have converted to lighter strings lately. Once I got used to them it's helped a lot. I use .0095-.044 now. It took a while to get used to them though.

My ( year old) Squier Tele Thinline, my Epi SG, and my fingers love D'Addario 9.5-44's that I tried a few months ago, after reading positive comments ( here!) for a few years.
They seem 'just right for both of these guitars- the bending/vibrato and tone is great - really does split the difference between 9's and 10's without ( IMO) a compromise of these 2 popular gauges. ( I have used both 9's and 10's on both guitars- which were fine, but 9.5's seem 'magic!')

My Strat ( because of floating bridge) still keeps only D'Addario 10's, as it was setup with these.

Danelectro gets Fender 10's ( slightly looser feel, more 'give') than the D'Addario's. ( probably in my head, but this was my impression when I used these on my 2004 Standard Tele- sold to buy aweome Thinline)
 

Gimble

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I’m obviously an outlier on this thread.

I started with EB Slinky .009 and after a while went down to Extra Slinky .008.

For no other reason that I wanted to make guitar playing as enjoyable as possible and what I perceived as “easier” was more enjoyable.

I do as a result have a very light touch, hardly any callouses on my finger tips despite nearly daily playing.

Tone wise I’ve always been happy with it and have on occasion gotten compliments on it without any negative ones that I can recall.

On my Tele I have .008, my Jackson with the shorter scale I left with .009 as they felt like the .008s on the Tele.

And I just don’t play acoustic guitar anymore.

Always, had a classical nylon string and a steel string until I noticed I never played them.

I had them because I was “supposed“ to have them…

But I fell in love with Rock guitar, electric guitar, that’s what I enjoy playing.

And in live situations I always played acoustic parts on clean electric anyways out of necessity.

So, those guitars have been long gone and I don’t miss them.

Never, GAS for one. Don’t even wander into the acoustic room at the music store.

But, I digress… 😉
 
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jrblue

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I consider the OPs experience to be pretty understandable. I played acoustic exclusively for a stretch of numerous years, largely aggressive bluegrass, and my return to electric was like ice skating for the first time -- every move was out of control because my habits were tuned to what I had been doing. But we adjust to what we do, and now I play light (9.5s) to very light (9s) on electric, though with no change on acoustic. I haven't learned any special new skill; I've just gained practice on the different platforms. I feel the differences greatly, but rather than being a source of difficulty, I find this a source of enjoyment. On acoustic, I find that string gauge (therefore, tension) is directly connected to the generation of volume and tone, but on electric I disagree that gauge is all that critical to sound, since there are so many ways to modify your signal. I don't grasp the concept of fighting your strings. I know what people mean; I just don't get why you would want that.
 

tubedude

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I just started playing my new Tele (see my NGD post here) and just like every other electric guitar I own and play, the default strings are just way too light for me.

Now, I don't have meathooks for hands. In fact, I have small hands and narrow fingers. But perhaps because I've been playing acoustic guitar for decades longer than I have been playing electric guitar, I tend to "crush" the strings, which results in a lot of out-of-tune sounding chords and inadvertent bends when soloing.

I note with a touch of irony that acoustic guitars tend to weigh a lot less than electric guitars, but they are usually played with heavier gauge strings (I run .012 - .054, usually). But electrics seem to ship with .009 - .042 (at least that's what came on my new Tele) and they're usually heavier (solid wood versus hollow body).

So, I've found that if I follow in the footsteps of some of my guitar heroes, I put 12's (sometimes even 13's) on my electric, I have better control over my playing. I've heard Hendrix did this. I know that Robin Trower does. Trower usually tunes down a half or whole step so he can still get the bends, but I find that I cannot go into a guitar store and comfortably play a floor model because of my "idiosyncrasy."

This certainly has to be my issue. Otherwise, more electric guitars would ship with heavier gauge strings. What's your issue with strings?
I play 13-56 on my acoustic and electrics. I have large hands but have lost sensitivity in my fingers. I can't even feel 10's or smaller. That Thomastic Infeld set of 14's was sweet, but I can't afford them regularly, so 13's it is. Now that some companies are making 7 string sets I can usually use those and throw away the high E.
 

Recalcitrant

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A Strat trem allows anywhere from a little to a lot of give. Try bending one string while plucking another and listen to what happens. Not to shade anybody, but putting on 12s and tuning down while playing a Strat isn't that hard.

Hendrix, I've read, played a heavy-top, light-bottom sort of balanced-tension set. I think the chatter and chuckle of his sound owes something to this.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Played a double-cut LP Standard with 10s for a couple decades.
Started playing Teles and switched to 9.5s. Goldilocks!
Now I put 'em on all my electrics.
Acoustics I go 11s. I'm a wimp. And I like to bend.

Manufacturers probably put 9s on instruments because they are trying NOT to anger the first-time players who don't have the muscle yet to play 10s.
Plus the first thing most experienced players do with a new instrument is swap out the strings for what they prefer and intonate accordingly.
 

AndrewG

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9-42 on electrics, both Fender and Gibson scales, for as long as I can remember. 12-53 on my acoustics. I play with a light touch. I tried heavier strings but they just made playing more of a chore, with no perceivable benefit. Horses for courses I guess.
 

TheCheapGuitarist

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I've been playing 7's for a couple of years now. At first, the obvious problem of notes in chords going sharp was an issue, but it resolved itself over time. I tried to intentionally apply less downward pressure but it was impossible for me to do that all the time. Eventually I guess my technique slowly adapted to the light gauge and it's not a problem anymore.
 

CCK1

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My ( year old) Squier Tele Thinline, my Epi SG, and my fingers love D'Addario 9.5-44's that I tried a few months ago, after reading positive comments ( here!) for a few years.
They seem 'just right for both of these guitars- the bending/vibrato and tone is great - really does split the difference between 9's and 10's without ( IMO) a compromise of these 2 popular gauges. ( I have used both 9's and 10's on both guitars- which were fine, but 9.5's seem 'magic!')

My Strat ( because of floating bridge) still keeps only D'Addario 10's, as it was setup with these.

Danelectro gets Fender 10's ( slightly looser feel, more 'give') than the D'Addario's. ( probably in my head, but this was my impression when I used these on my 2004 Standard Tele- sold to buy
I use the EXL-120+ set too, the only problem with them is that so few people buy them, you rarely see 'em on sale. I call my Sweetwater rep, and usually get a dozen sets for around $4.00 per set.
 

thunderbyrd

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I agree that big strings give bigger sound, but I had to face up that they were hurting my hands, so it 9-46 for me.
 




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