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11's or 12's on Gibson SG's

jcs

Member
Messages
8,093
Be aware, that as the strings get thicker, the nut slots will be more likely to bind. This doesn't mean you should switch back to thinner strings. But it does mean that you may need your guitar tech to do a little work on the nut in your next setup. But in the mean time, some Big Bends Nut Sauce (or similar lubricant) might get you through.

As for the neck joint on an SG, my 68 SG was my slide guitar, so had 12's set up on it for years and years with no issue. It depends on the guitar, but I would be shocked if any SG couldn't handle 11's or ever 12's.

These days, it is no longer dedicated to slide, so I have 9's on it.
No issue with nut slot binding whatsoever and I am sure this is the original nut from 1965 on my SG Special and I am good at overall setups.

So far way less tuning issues with 11's vs. 10's.....my neck is thick past the first few frets.....if I have a problem with the neck joint, I will repair it.

I MUCH prefer the tone & feel on the wound strings with the 11's....maybe its the balanced tension D'Addadrio 11 set......I dunno.

I do intend to downtune which is partly why I made the switch from 10's to 11's.

I tried downtuning with 10's...sounded and felt like crap.
 

Peteyvee

Premium Platinum Member
Messages
56,014
9s help it open up. Yes it's loose on the action, but that neck joint is weak sauce and doesn't really take the stress of even heavy 10s well.

11s or 12s? It's not a Tele man, it can't handle that kinda tension...
SG's can have willowy necks and because of that, I always use nothing bigger than 10's. Light strings and a light touch/attack go a long way to keeping tuning stability with an SG IME.
Sure they can. Vivian Campbell and Joe Bonamassa both use 11s on their Gibsons...and neither has a particularly light touch or tuning issues.
 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,355
With 10s I've always found that SGs don't bloom the way I want them too. This is assuming standard tuning. 9s really open them up in terms of note bloom and dynamic responsiveness. As far as the neck joint, anecdotal but reliable evidence has pointed for decades to issues with the necks on SGs tending to de-stabilize when strung with heavier gauges than 10s at standard tuning. This is not just from my own experience, but from conversations with several legit techs and luthiers as well.

One particular tech told me a few years back he won't even take a job doing a reset on a SG if the owner says the use anything over 10s. Too risky as the joint just doesn't hold, and he doesn't want his name smeared by Gibby's design...

I'm a freak for SGs regardless. My main two are strung with 9s in standard, and my third one is strung with 11s tuned to C# Standard.
I've used .11s on my SG for over 20 years.

I don't even want to know what 9s feel like.

And my friend has a 58 LP JR (same kind of neck joint and construction) that has had .11s on it for ~45 years.
 

Sconnie

Member
Messages
300
9s help it open up. Yes it's loose on the action, but that neck joint is weak sauce and doesn't really take the stress of even heavy 10s well.

11s or 12s? It's not a Tele man, it can't handle that kinda tension...
This is funny to me, it may be true for vintage instruments, but if its an SG with the modern joint you have nothing to worry about. Wood is an remarkably strong material (and glued joints are stronger than a neck through design) and the tension in the strings isn't anywhere near enough to cause any issues.

Ive had 11s on my SG standard for ten years and the thing rings like a bell, no structural issues. I like the extra tension, the guitar resonates more and you get a 'bigger' sound out of it. Your fingers will get stronger very quickly and you wont even notice that there is more tension, but you may find you like the sound better. Try some different sizes but remember if you setup with 12s you cant put nut material back haha
 

gibsonES330

Senior Member
Messages
877
I used 9's on my SG's for many years, but switched to 10's on all my guitars maybe 10 years ago and have not looked back. I use 11's on Casino's or 330's, but they feel to stiff to me on other guitars (tried them on my SG Jr a couple years ago and it was too much - went back to 10's).

Didn't Townshend use 12's on his SG's???
 

jcs

Member
Messages
8,093
Thanks guys....I will stick with 11's on the 65 SG Special for now, no plans for 12's on this axe.

I will try 12's on the Epi SG 400....its the small guard cherry red version with a pretty hefty neck.....I might try a hybrid set.
 

Daka3

Member
Messages
2,179
Thread necro, yeah, but ... Just changed to 12-53 on the SGJ. Riiiiiiiiimg!!! And they're not hard to bend. Still plays smoothly. Going to keep these on for a while.
 
Messages
1,205
I have 11's on both of my SGs, feels great. I tend to go with the rule of 10s on Fender-scale lengths, 11s on Gibson scale lengths. Works for me anyhow.
 

kop1234

Member
Messages
43
Curious how many here use 11's or 12's on an SG?

I recently made the switch from 10's to 11's on my 65 SG Special with a wraparound bridge.......D'Addario 11 balanced tension set.

I am very happy now because with the 10's, the tension was just a bit loose especially on the low E.

The tuning seems a bit more stable with the 11's and the tone is just bigger.......nice!

So, I wonder how a 12 set would sound?

Particularly the wound strings on a 12 set.....don't know if I want an entire 12 set ....unless I decide to tune to E flat or D that is!

Anyhow, please share your findings after using 11's or 12's on an SG.
I use the nyxl balanced tension 12s on my sg wrapped around the tailpiece before it gets to the bridge and it works for me im used to 11s on fenders
 

PartoftheDark

Member
Messages
1,938
I use 11s on all of my 24.75 scale guitars, two of which are SGs. I use 10s on all of my 25.5 scale guitars. They play exactly how I want them to and intonate just fine. The most I'd ever had to do was tweak the truss rod just slightly after changing the factory strings out.
 

Seth L

Senior Member
Messages
24,303
Townshend strung his SG's with .012's, but they didn't last long enough to see any long term effects. If I were tuning down, I'd probably go with .011's, but I'm not so I use .010's, and go to .009's at times. Keeps my right hand action on the light side.
 

ryandfl

Member
Messages
1,543
I think 12s have more negatives than positives, coming up from 11s. Bending is pretty difficult
 

tonepolice

Member
Messages
412
I use D'addario .11's on all my guitars. My SG Classic with P-90 sounds great with 11's. Gives me that raw, edgy The Who Live at Leeds tone on the bridge and the neck P-90 sounds glorious! Arguably the best neck pickup tone out of all my guitars.

11's are the cats meow and like mentioned earlier up your hands will get used to it in no time.
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
9,002
While I don't have any SGs, all my electric guitars are 24.75" scale. I'm currently using 11-49 NYXLs on my Reverend for standard and drop D tunings. And a fairly recent change is I'm now using 12-60 NYXLs on my Les Paul tuned down to drop B.
 

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,445
A '65 SG would have come ftom the factory strung with a set of Gibson Sonomatic 340 running .012 -.056. Or 340L which ran .011-.056.
 




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