Guitar strings are tools and not body building weights

Chad

Member
Messages
843
Regarding Billy Gibbons, hasn't he been known to throw a lot of curveballs over the years regarding his gear in order to keep people confused? Part of me wonders if he actually uses 7 gauge strings....or if it's just another curveball. I'd like to check some of his guitars with dial calipers. :)
 

Alton

Member
Messages
1,200
I don't concern myself with what others are using for strings outside of just general interest like other brands, which brands are durable or seem to offer tone or other qualities. I might like to try some of these to see if they will work for me.

In a way, I agree with the OP. Certain of my guitars are strung with different gauges. I'm a dedicated Gibson fanboy but I have guitars that definitely NOT Gibson designs. My Kramer and my Ibanez both get 9s. My Fenders have ALL had 10's except for one which I put 11s on. My Washburn and my Gibsons all have 10's except for one LP Special with p90s which wears 11's which makes it a blues/jazz monster. My PRS wears 10s for now but I will soon put on a set of 9s to see how well they will perform for me. I have an old Electra X410 (like a 335) that also wears 10s.

10s are pretty much a starting point for me and I will change gauges if deemed appropriate for that particular guitar. That decision is based on the tonal characteristics and playability of the guitar. So I guess, for me at least, strings are something more of a tool but they are, in the end, much more than a mere tool. They are part of each guitar much like the bridge or nut or any other hardware.

Playing 11's like I do has nothing to do with any "competition" or "muscle building". I no longer have the strength of my youth and years of dealing with that Arthur Itis guy have taken their toll. String gauge is simply a matter of tone and playability for any given guitar. I can still bend the 11s up a whole step and further in standard tuning when needed, so there's no need to disregard them due to their stiffness or mine. Just play what works the best for you and your guitar(s).
 

peskypesky

Member
Messages
5,618
I'm not demeaning your reasoning, but is it important how we gain our sound?
When it comes to electric guitar the amp is half the instrument.
I'd say more than half.
A Custom Shop Strat through a Fender Frontman 10 isn't going to sound nearly as good as a Fender Bullet through a Bassman 4x10.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,523
I don't think that's it, look at guys like Carl V or EVH, they can play a ton and still use .009's. When I play a lot, so much my hands hurt and sometimes I feel like a gauge lighter. Yngwie says he uses heavier strings for recording but for touring he plays lighter because of playing so much and wear and tear on the joints.
My observation was about my own general comfort level between light and heavy gauge strings (action height, too), chops up, and chops down.
It is what it is. .

The Carl V and EVH examples and/or your own personal experience are apples and oranges comparisons if they concern single gauge use as a starting point.

I play a relative ton myself, and still use light strings too, but also favor much heavier strings on those instruments that work better with heavy strings.

There's a school of playing that's pretty popular these days where you use one or two almost identically set-up guitars and a bunch of pedals for your basic palette.
Most of the guys with that schtick tend to the higher gain soloing side of things, because that's the direction the pedals take you.
Processing basically, which is great, but that's not what I do.

If I want a different sound, a different approach, I pick up a different guitar.
So I'll have neck-thru, light gauge, guitars for some stuff, full box acoustic archtops strung heavy enough to drive them properly, planks with 14's, fretless with a 16 on top, stuff set-up for open tuning slide, stuff with plain 4th strings, whatever. .

Get the guitar set-up to DO something, and then go to the guitar.
None of it's any easier or harder than anything else.
The "easy" thing is a mistake, a mental error, imho, it doesn't matter how you string an instrument, it's NEVER going to come to you.
You still have to go to IT.

I have a break for ten days.
I'm not gonna play that much, school's out.
I'm gonna splash in the creek and throw the frisbee with the kids, try to clean out the barn, just have a life. .

When I get back on the road, there's no doubt I'll lean on the "normal" stuff for a couple of days until I'm back in fighting shape and as the tour progresses I'll always ramp up into more aggressive big string playing.

I know the conventional wisdom here is the "the strings are for the player", but I don't see that across the range of instruments available.
The strings are for the guitar.
You string the guitar to take best advantage of that instrument, and then you go to it.

I would find it very limiting to insist on any single gauge.
 

buddastrat

Member
Messages
14,691
My observation was about my own general comfort level between light and heavy gauge strings (action height, too), chops up, and chops down.
It is what it is. .

The Carl V and EVH examples and/or your own personal experience are apples and oranges comparisons if they concern single gauge use as a starting point.

I play a relative ton myself, and still use light strings too, but also favor much heavier strings on those instruments that work better with heavy strings.

There's a school of playing that's pretty popular these days where you use one or two almost identically set-up guitars and a bunch of pedals for your basic palette.
Most of the guys with that schtick tend to the higher gain soloing side of things, because that's the direction the pedals take you.
Processing basically, which is great, but that's not what I do.

If I want a different sound, a different approach, I pick up a different guitar.
So I'll have neck-thru, light gauge, guitars for some stuff, full box acoustic archtops strung heavy enough to drive them properly, planks with 14's, fretless with a 16 on top, stuff set-up for open tuning slide, stuff with plain 4th strings, whatever. .

Get the guitar set-up to DO something, and then go to the guitar.
None of it's any easier or harder than anything else.
The "easy" thing is a mistake, a mental error, imho, it doesn't matter how you string an instrument, it's NEVER going to come to you.
You still have to go to IT.

I have a break for ten days.
I'm not gonna play that much, school's out.
I'm gonna splash in the creek and throw the frisbee with the kids, try to clean out the barn, just have a life. .

When I get back on the road, there's no doubt I'll lean on the "normal" stuff for a couple of days until I'm back in fighting shape and as the tour progresses I'll always ramp up into more aggressive big string playing.

I know the conventional wisdom here is the "the strings are for the player", but I don't see that across the range of instruments available.
The strings are for the guitar.
You string the guitar to take best advantage of that instrument, and then you go to it.

I would find it very limiting to insist on any single gauge.
I agree. I like to use the gauge that best fits the sound or feel, I'm going for. But sometimes my hands tell me otherwise.
 

TB72

Member
Messages
1,452
Regarding Billy Gibbons, hasn't he been known to throw a lot of curveballs over the years regarding his gear in order to keep people confused? Part of me wonders if he actually uses 7 gauge strings....or if it's just another curveball. I'd like to check some of his guitars with dial calipers. :)
That's actually legit. I've had the opportunity to play a few of his guitars. I had to really lighten up my touch just to play in tune (I play .010s in standard tuning for the most part).

So, while BFG enjoys telling tall tales and "fishing stories" from time to time, the light strings thing isn't one of those.
 

guitguy28

Member
Messages
1,163
In the last few months I have tried every gauge on my Strat… 11s, then 12s, then down to 8s..

Honestly I don't think 8s lack tone. You do have to play very differently with them. A MUCH lighter touch.. so much so that it's almost ridiculous. But IMO they sounded fine. Whatever you use, you're not lacking tone.
 

kombi1976

Member
Messages
634
Well known Aussie guitarist Bob Spencer (of The Skyhooks & The Angels) said while playing for the Angels he tried everything from 8s to 13s in search of tone. He said it made no difference and heavy strings on served to hurt his hands when on tour.
 

dallasblues

Member
Messages
1,853
The OP insists that fluidity can only be achieved by light gauge strings. He even uses Jimmy Page, and his light strings, as an example of such fluidity and SRV, and his heavy strings, as an apparent lack thereof. Really? I'm afraid I just don't see it. While brilliant and raw, the solo break of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" is hardly what I call fluid. At the same time, the last few seconds of SRV's "Rude Mood" simply flow like water. Sure, we could probably find examples from each to support such a short sided and illogical statement given by the OP. However, I'm sure that that there would be just as many more that would contradict. To also assume that Robert Cray would sound better if he just followed such advice is arrogant. Cray is doing just fine on his own. I'm sure he picked out his gear because it works for him and it helps him to achieve the sound to best express HIS ideas, not the way you, the OP, or me thinks is the better choice for his creativity.

Now here's the kicker... If we're simply talking about fluidity, string height, frets, and action play a FAR bigger role than gauge.
 

colinesquire

Member
Messages
1,120
I think you made a good post OP. I like 10 gauge on gibson scale. I play aggressively with lots of bigsby so 10s are needed. I like the bendy feeling of 9s but I break and put out of tune too easily. It really is what is most comfortable to you.
 

Blindjoedeath

Member
Messages
629
I think it's a little crazy to limit yourself to "your" gauge string. I own a bunch of guitars. Each one has a set of strings that it likes. My arch top is strung a lot differently than my les Paul which is different from my Martin or any acoustic. All my acoustics are strung differently. I go with what sounds best I any given instrument. To let my personal string bias rule would do a disservice to the instruments I have. They all have their own voice. They all do certain things really well and other things really badly. They're like people. Except they don't want to borrow my truck.
 

Ladera

Senior Member
Messages
1,114
The OP insists that fluidity can only be achieved by light gauge strings. He even uses Jimmy Page, and his light strings, as an example of such fluidity and SRV, and his heavy strings, as an apparent lack thereof. Really? I'm afraid I just don't see it. While brilliant and raw, the solo break of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" is hardly what I call fluid. At the same time, the last few seconds of SRV's "Rude Mood" simply flow like water. Sure, we could probably find examples from each to support such a short sided and illogical statement given by the OP. However, I'm sure that that there would be just as many more that would contradict. To also assume that Robert Cray would sound better if he just followed such advice is arrogant. Cray is doing just fine on his own. I'm sure he picked out his gear because it works for him and it helps him to achieve the sound to best express HIS ideas, not the way you, the OP, or me thinks is the better choice for his creativity.

Now here's the kicker... If we're simply talking about fluidity, string height, frets, and action play a FAR bigger role than gauge.
This is pretty simple stuff here.

Jimmy Page's solo in Whole Lotta Love was played with 8's.

Play it with 9's and it gets a little bit stiffer.

Play it with 10's and it gets more stiffer.

Play it with 11's and it gets more stiffer.

Play it with 12's and it gets more stiffer.

I can play the solo with 16's, but I'm not going to be able to do those bends. The solo won't be flexible like Page did.

See, if you want to sound like Page use super light strings and if you want to sound like Cray uses 11's and so on.
 

Polynitro

Member
Messages
23,618
maybe fluid is the wrong word.
there is a certain slinkyness to james burtons playing you cant get with anything but 8s or 9s-38 or whatever he plays
 

soundchaser59

Thank You Great Spirit!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,721
Well known Aussie guitarist Bob Spencer (of The Skyhooks & The Angels) said while playing for the Angels he tried everything from 8s to 13s in search of tone. He said it made no difference and heavy strings on served to hurt his hands when on tour.
He said that, doesn't mean nobody else will notice any difference. I noticed the difference, although it is subtle. I suppose some players just won't notice. It's probably more noticeable on acoustic, although I would still describe it as subtle, but not as subtle as it is on electric. Some people don't notice if my guitar is even turned on or not. It takes all levels and degrees.
 

jdel77

Member
Messages
9,956
This thread is exactly the kind of wankery I like to avoid.
I've tried lots and always come back to D'Addario 10-52's.
Now some anorak is gonna tell me "hey man, that's no good for Stevie Van Hendrix!".
Whatever. Play what feels good.
Bigger strings? Bend harder.
 




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