Big strings = BIG TONE!

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by ToneRanger, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Tried something this weekend that I've thought about for quite some time...

    I put 12-54 strings on my AV57RI Strat and oh boy! What a difference it made. I've been playing 10-52 for 10 years now. I made the progress from 9's really early on and haven't looked back since. Every time I go to a guitar store to check some guitars out all of them feel really cheap & weak 'cause of the thin strings.

    Anyway, recently I've been thinking about going up in gauge, and grow up, basically ;) I've been playing the 10-52's for too long, I think it's time for new challenges. I bought the heavy set for just to try it out and am totally excited! I loved my guitar before but now it's a totally different monster again! I think the volume acoustically went up like 25 %! Just amazing. And I just love the feel of the strings. Yes, it's a bit hard to play but it's possible, not as hard as I'd thought. And a year from now I wont even notice it I think, the 10-52's will feel like 9's feel now I guess, totally weak & useless. I guess this is a great way to improve the strength of your hands..

    Bigger strings mean bigger tone. I guess there's no doubt about it. Acoustically and plugged in, the guitar just sounds MUCH bigger. And I loved the sound before so yes, I'm a happy man right now. Gotta to try out the thicker strings with my tele as well...
     
  2. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Heh...I just went the other way and am SOOO happy.

    My hands are strong, playing lots of acoustic (and electric style on acoustic as well as fingerstyle) and using 12's for a while on my strat.

    So I went to 11's which didn't seem that different. Just lately my local music store was out of 11's and I took a pack of 10's.

    I gotta say, HUGE difference. My tone is as good or better than before, and my playing just got so much easier, yet I still have enough "fight" on the strings that I am not overbending, no problems with chords getting unwanted vibrato.

    It just suddenly clicked for me, and I am playing faster, cleaner, easier, yet the bends are so much better. I also reverted (after over 10 years) back to thin picks. The only thing is, strings break a little more often, and the picks develop cracks where when I used to use harder picks I only had to throw them away when they had worn down too much.

    Maybe it's cyclical? Maybe in a few years I'll go up again in string size and have that revelation again :)

    I sure like the change going to 10s did for me though.
     
  3. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    I don't know if I'm into S/M, but I want to fight the guitar a bit.. If it's too comfy, I don't like it. Feels like driving a Cadillac, too soft you know ;)
     
  4. Stew

    Stew Member

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    I think that's great if you can make bends cleanly with the heavy strings, but overall, for me, I sound better with lighter strings. The guitar might not sound quite as good but my overall sound is better because I can really manipulate the strings. Plus, sometimes after a long night when my hands are tiring even those light strings start feeling heavier.
     
  5. derek_32999

    derek_32999 Member

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    My snake oil brand stings made my guitar sound so much louder it is amazing.
     
  6. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Stew, good point about the control. I think it all depends on your hand "muscles" and stamina. If you can work those up, I think you're fine. Ofcourse a problem with a hobbyist like me is that if there are times when I won't be able to rehearse/play that much, picking the guitar and trying to play it will be hard after a pause..

    But anyway, I think SRV and Dick Dale and those guys had some pretty good results with heavy strings..
     
  7. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I think it is a good thing for guitarists to try different gauges. I know, I got strong hands from them...but like I said, lower it a little, I still have to "fight" it a little but I am much more "myself" on them. The tone difference didn't change anything for me.

    But as you point out SRV got great results with heavy strings, BUT you didn't add, he tuned down to Eb, so there was more slack in the strings.

    I think (not sure mind you) Hendrix played fairly light strings, also down to Eb! He got some pretty good sounds too :)
     
  8. ToneRanger

    ToneRanger Member

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    Yes, I guess Jimi did quite alright ;)

    I guess the optimal set for me would be 11-52... I've looked around and haven't found anybody making those. I'm so used to 10-52's that 10-46's feel too flabby and even 11-50, which is quite normal, don't do it. I have to have the resistance in the bass strings. Getting a custom set doesn't appeal to me that much, since I buy my strings from Thomann, for under 4 €:s per set. I think it's a good philosophy, buy decent (d'addario, ghs) strings super cheap and change them relatively often..
     
  9. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Oh yeah - no doubt about it. String gauge makes a huge difference in your tone, and can even completely change the way you approach the guitar.

    I like all my guitars to *feel* as similar as possible, but I also have very specific applications for most of them, so I have to use many different gauges- took me years to work this all out, but I think I've finally arrived at a happy compromise.

    I like 9s on my teles- they need to sound bright & snappy and I also have to be able to execute those huge bends (sometimes BEHIND the nut!)- so they really do have to feel as slinky as possible.

    My 50s style strat has to have 10s, minimum, or she won't come back in tune when I use the whammy.

    The Gretsch hollowbodies need 11s for two reasons - tuning stability w/the Bigsby vibrato, and the short, Gibson style scale length really makes em feel like 9s.

    Then there's the oddballs, like my Jazzmaster. I like flatwound 12s on my JM. I only play it clean, and those big strings sound just massive. I do a lot of tremolo picking on this guitar, and have found that the stiffer the strings, the faster I can accurately pull of those glisses and other *surf* tricks. Only use the bar for subtle shimmer, no dive bombs and on this guitar I tend to slide the notes, rather than bend them.

    And then there's the acoustics, which is a whole 'nother story...
     
  10. Big Bob

    Big Bob Guest

    I've played 12s for years.....sounded great for massive clean sounds. I really didn't notice much difference with dirtier sounds. I finally got tired of trying to locate 12s on the road and went with 11s or 10s. They sound just fine after getting used to them.
    It seems that 12s really tore up my frets!

    Bob
     
  11. JPenn

    JPenn Member

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    There's definitely a difference between 10's & 11's to me in tone, it gets fuller but I miss the zing that lighter strings have. I use 10's for standard tuning, but if tune down a half I like 11's with the .15 changed out for a .14. I have a comfort zone with "just enough" fight, anymore or anyless throws me off.
     
  12. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    Tonally, I like .10s and 11's. I've found that except in the case of really short scale guitars like Mustangs, R325 Rickenbackers etc, there is a point where the really thick strings at standard pitch actually becomes counter-productive. I have no idea why. You seem to get a big initial note but a really quick decay. My perception is there is a point where they ring less. Maybe the really high tension removes a certain elastic quality.I've got no physics to back me up-it's just just my observation.

    The rock/country style I play in where I like to do some pedal-steel type bends requires pulling down strings with the strength of the first finger only and also bending two strings simultaneously to different pitches. I find that the thickest I can handle for this stuff is .10 sets. Maybe one day I'll try one of those D'Addario ten and a half sets.
     
  13. threm

    threm Member

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    Reminds me of the problem trying to get a classic strat belltone from thicker wound pickups.
     
  14. asdf

    asdf Member

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    I also use .10s or .11s I was using what felt like really heavy .11s for a while, then went back to .10s and I could just play sooo much better. In general I keep on a backup guitar heavier strings to strengthen my hands, and on my main guitar I keep a little bit lighter set because I then just play better.
     
  15. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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    I went from 9s to 12s (dick dale/srv phase)... then played a Guild archtop wtih 12s and about a million pounds of tension. Now I'm back to 10s on my PRS. Billy Gibbons and B.B. King both use .008s, so go figure.
     
  16. eric-d

    eric-d Member

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    I've been playing 11-52 for years.... I have to have high tension on that low E or it's too floppy and sounds like poop...Sometimes I have a 54 on there... The hardest string to find for me is the 19 plain.... I'm ALWAYS overbending the G.
     

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