building up finger strength vs lighter gauge strings

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by geoangus, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. geoangus

    geoangus Member

    Messages:
    2,517
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Connecticut shore
    At 54, my fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be, some days they just plain hurt. But I'm trying to learn new material, and I notice that I'm having some difficulty with double stops and extreme bends. While I know I could go lighter on the string gauge, I play .010's. I know part of my struggle is due to the trem bridge on my guitar and I've contemplated picking up a Tele. But mentally, something just doesn't seem right about a Tele with .009's. Any exercises going to help me out, or should I just break out the .009s?
     
  2. Jason_77

    Jason_77 Member

    Messages:
    6,505
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2013
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Go with 9's or maybe 9.5's. You shouldn't have to fight the guitar. If you don't like them, you're out $5. Not really that big a deal.
     
    jrjones, bismark, Roe and 2 others like this.
  3. 71strat

    71strat Member

    Messages:
    7,562
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Hows about lightening up the top strings ? G-E

    Try the GHS 10-38s..

    Ive used this gauge for 46 years.

    Fender used to make this gauge, but stopped about 10 years ago. They still make them in Bullets, but I dont care for them.

    The gauges are.

    10-13-15-26-32-38.

    Danny Gatton also used the 1st 3 strings of this gauge, but used regular lights on top.

    But the G-E will really help reduce tension.

    Also you also may try this gauge, but replace the 1st string with an .009.

    Its rumored Hendrix often used the 009 in the studio.

    Also to build up finger strength I recommend practicing on an Acoustic.

    For Basic Practice of scales, chords ect. I would use an acoustic 80% of the time. Shelve the electric.

    Also don't just jump into playing.

    Do scales ect, to warm up. Many people suffer injury by just jumping in right off the bat doing bends ect, with guitars that may be harder to play, and cause injury/inflammation ect. They may have been able to get away with it when younger, but for many it may catch up. Some maybe never.

    But warming up would be tops on my list

    Its like lifting weights with No Warmup.

    I would also make use of squeezing tennis balls, and clay putty used in physical therapy.

    Also if youre having trouble with your hands/fingers, I would take a week off, and then Slowly Restart doing basic scales, and do limited amounts of time for practice, and build up over time, as to not keep assaulting your fingers.

    Not saying this will cure your finger pain, but it is a good 1st step.

    Also if you deck your bridge, it will make double stops much more doable. Im sure you know that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  4. s2y

    s2y Member

    Messages:
    17,413
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Location:
    Caught somewhere in time
    What about lowering the action? Sometimes looking at technique can maximize hand strength and reduce joint pain.
     
  5. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

    Messages:
    21,099
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2010
    Location:
    Stabekk, Norway
    Try 9-46, my favorite gauge. Feels really balanced.
     
    Phnurt, ibis and WesB like this.
  6. scott944

    scott944 Member

    Messages:
    3,558
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    9.5's may work - did for me on one guitar. Alternately, spend some time with an acoustic, or bass, and when you come back to your 10's they may feel slinky again.
     
  7. DRS

    DRS Member

    Messages:
    9,863
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    British Columbia
    D'addario makes a set called "Balanced Tension" 10-46 that feel like 10s but bend a bit easier. I found they worked well on a tele for big bends and pedal steel licks. I too am 55 and while I play an acoustic a lot for hand strength, I don't think you should hesitate to go down a gauge in order to play properly and be comfortable. If you ever overstarin your hand, it will take weeks and weeks or even months till you can play properly again. The whole machismo of string gauge never existed before SRV, as far as I know.
     
  8. DiPa

    DiPa Constant GAS Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,443
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    The best thing you can do is begin a dedicated excercise and gym workout. This is not rocket science, you can excercise daily, weight train and you will strengthen your body and endurance which ultimately helps you with the guitar playing- longevity. Add the finger and hand exercise as well, they sell a nice little finger/hand exercise tool at Guitar Center, I keep mine in the car and at stop lights I use it.
     
    CubanB and 71strat like this.
  9. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,804
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river
    I completely agree with this.

    I play Fender scaled guitars with 11s, but wouldn't hesitate to drop gauges if my hands hurt or I couldn't get the bends I wanted. You can likely eq out the difference in tone.
     
    Dale and songtalk like this.
  10. edsped

    edsped Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Those Gripmaster things are useless. Just go down a gauge.
     
    Roe likes this.
  11. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

    Messages:
    14,549
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Location:
    PNW
    I cant stand .009's. I use a 10-46 set with the G replaced with a .015.
     
  12. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

    Messages:
    29,579
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    Location:
    K7C 4K8
    How often do you play?

    I'm 69 and I use Mangan 10-48 strings. I've found for a few years that if I don't play EVERY day, that it gets harder to bend strings. Fortunately I'm retired and do play several hours a day.
     
    Buzzard Luck likes this.
  13. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

    Messages:
    15,696
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    In The Basement
    I have arthritis in my hands to the extent that people have asked me about it. They look that bad. I tried .009s a couple years ago but I hit too hard with my right hand so they sounded like crap. I went back to .010s and top load my Teles and top wrap the LP. It's still difficult but .009s aren't happening and I used them exclusively for about 35 years before switching to .010s. I don't know how I used .009s, but I did. Plinky, very plinky.
     
  14. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

    Messages:
    15,696
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Location:
    In The Basement
    I have to play every day, too. I don't do several hours (1-2) but if I miss time I notice immediately (pain) and it takes a while to get back to where I was.
     
    Flyin' Brian likes this.
  15. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,237
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Normally some trems should effectively lower the string resistance because the springs will give a bit as the strings are bent. That's been my experience with Strats at least. Strats with floating trems always seem to have easier bending than a Tele with a fixed bridge.

    I'm 55 and play a lot, and have no issues with bending with 10's, but do have an issue with speed. When I have to do metal dweedley-dwee I'll take a 24.75" scale guitar with a flat radius and put 9's on it.

    These days, with the strings and amps/effects we have available, the tone of thinner strings seem to make less of a difference. But it depends on your musical style; if you play stock vintage type Strats with Fender amps, and hit the guitar hard, you might need the big strings and high action to get the great tone. But if you use lots of distortion and have a light touch, thinner strings should work well. Billy Gibbons used 0.012" and up regularly with his Les Paul until BB King talked him into thinner strings, he now has a set that starts with a 0.007" and his tone is still mighty good.
     
    CubanB likes this.
  16. Sarutobi sasuke

    Sarutobi sasuke Member

    Messages:
    600
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    the best thing to do is string your guitar with bridge cables for a really fat tone. it's a myth that tons of famous players use light gauge strings and sound great. if you're not playing 13's you're just foolin around
     
    edsped likes this.
  17. memberzonly

    memberzonly Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    706
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2002
    Location:
    Cheshire, Connecticut
    Hopefully, this post is sarcasm.
     
    Roe likes this.
  18. TANFK

    TANFK Member

    Messages:
    446
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2016
    Whenever I hear anyone concerned about 9s I don't go BB King or Billy G... I go Jerry- The greatest Tele player of ALL TIME... 9s work for him OK LOL
     
    Phnurt likes this.
  19. Roe

    Roe Member

    Messages:
    7,142
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2005
    Location:
    tromsoe, norway
    nyxl 0940
     
  20. The Interceptor

    The Interceptor Member

    Messages:
    2,464
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    There's no shame in 9-42s on a 25.5" guitar. It shouldn't have to be a fight.
     
    Buzzard Luck likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice