1. The Gear Page is run by musicians for musicians. We listen, we learn and if we misstep we are not afraid to do the right thing. We proposed some changes to the Emporiums. Based on feedback from members, we have decided to not go ahead with those changes. However, it has also highlighted that we need some community input into what is working and what is not working for members here. Primarily focused on the Emporiums, we'd like input on your thoughts about TGP and how things work in the Emporiums for you and how you'd improve them. The discussion thread on the is here!

    Dismiss Notice

Lighter strings for country players???

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by MGT, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. MGT

    MGT Member

    Messages:
    1,692
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2006
    Location:
    Halifax, NS Canada
    I've just recently started to try hybrid picking, etc and am enjoying Greg Koch's Guitar Gristle DVD. I normally use 10's on my guitars but am wondering if guys like Koch, Brent Mason, etc go lighter than that. I put .009's on one of my teles last night and it's easier to yank the strings but they feel like noodles compared to the 10s.

    Any thoughts on string guages for this style of music or am I making something out of nothing?

    As always, thanks for your input!
     
  2. GtrWiz

    GtrWiz Member

    Messages:
    3,648
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Location:
    ATX
    well, I used 11's back in my country days, and a good friend of mine used 12's, so I think it's all what you are comfortable with. I know some country players that stick with 9's but it's due to the tone that they want. Lighter strings give a spankier tone and thicker strings give a fuller tone. Niether is better, just personal preference. Go with what works for you.:BEER


    FWIW, I use 10's now, coz I found that I like the tone better. I'm not one of those guys that automatically thinks that warmer is better.
     
  3. drolling

    drolling Member

    Messages:
    6,099
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    Well, James Burton was the original guy that started making up his own custom gauges by throwing away the regular wound low E & A, moving the remaining strings up & replacing the missing high B & E with real skinny banjo strings (something like a .008 on top, IIRC..).

    Sure makes those huuuge bends a lot easier, but I can't keep my guitar in tune w/strings that light. James doesn't seem to have that problem tho' - and nobody ever complains about his tone, either..

    Big, fat strings often have more to do with macho posturing than they do with good tone, and I like to keep things as easy as possible for myself - and that means I've got to use different gauges from guitar to guitar in order to achieve a consistent feel from one instrument to the next.

    Unless I'm going for a *special effect* - Like those heavy flatwounds that I use on the Jazzmaster I play in my surf trio.

    But I've used 9s on all my teles for years (Ernie Balls - the fluorescent pink package) Pretty much the Nashville industry standard for tight, punchy lows & sparkling, twinkling highs. I need 'em that light to comfortably execute those wide faux-pedal-steel licks and to pull off those funky behind-the-nut bends without slicing my fingertips to ribbons..
     
  4. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

    Messages:
    25,923
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    Albert Lee used 8's on his Tele during the Emmy Lou years... and those are some of the greatest, innovative & most copied country solos of all time...

    So it's just up to you... stick with the 9's you put on your axe & you'll get used to them in no time...

    You would be surprised about how many classic solos, by many a great player in all genre's, that were performed with extremely light strings ...
     
  5. scottlr

    scottlr Member

    Messages:
    23,109
    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Location:
    Born & raised in Texas; stranded in Iowa
    I went to 9s on my Tele, 10s on everything else. It does seem to make the country stuff easier to me. But I am new to that style. Been playing 40 years, but just started trying to pick up on some country style playing. It seems 9s are much easier for me.
     
  6. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,205
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    James Burton and Albert Lee use very light strings. Ray Flacke and Redd Volkaert use .011's. There's no consensus - use what feels right to you.
     
  7. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

    Messages:
    2,232
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Location:
    CA
    Try 9.5's. D'Addario and Snake Oil make them. They're a nice compromise between 9's and 10's.

    I used 9's for many years, but tone and intonation forced me to consider 10's. I currently use 10's on short scale guitars, and 9.5's on my strat. Both guitars feel similar when bending, and stay in tune better.

    Another thought; Try 11's on your practice guitar, and 10's when you gig.
     
  8. mikeo2

    mikeo2 Member

    Messages:
    168
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    Paducah, KY
    If I'm playing country, its going to be on a tele. Personally, I think teles just feel right with 10-46. I'm sure you could get used to something else, but that's what I play. I acutally use different strings on ALL my guitars:

    strat - 9 - 46
    tele - 10 - 46
    ibanez - 9 - 42
    Taylor 310 - 12 - 56
    Martin 00 - 11 - 53
     
  9. MGT

    MGT Member

    Messages:
    1,692
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2006
    Location:
    Halifax, NS Canada
    I have D'Addario 10's on my Nashville Tele & it feels fine but the frets seem a bit taller than on the American Series Tele - I'll keep the 009's on it for now but will go to 9.5's & see if that is the right balance for me.

    Thank you all for your input!
     
  10. RomanS

    RomanS Member

    Messages:
    2,197
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    I use a GHS Boomers 10-52 set - fat strings for those punchy bass lines (think Ghost Riders in the Sky, or Folsom Prison Blues - that bend on the 2nd fret low E, 1/2 step up - then release and then low E - open string - just does not sound right with skinnier strings), and relatively skinny ones (as 10s are for me - 9s feel like overcooked spaghetti, but then I used to play bass in a band for most of the '90s...) on top for those pedal-steel type bends.
     
  11. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

    Messages:
    18,648
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Location:
    Dude Ranch Above The Sea
    I'm a country picker and after going back and forth between 9's and 10's I've decided to put 10's on my Esquire and 9's on my tele.

    10's stay in tune better, but my fingers are killing me after a night of the big pedal steel bends so I need a guitar with the 9's.

    I think the reason country is harder on bigger strings is because we are doing mechanical bends and not the blues/rock type bends where you hit the bend slower and then vibrato it.

    Country bending has to go from one note to the other now like a pedal on a steel and this precision tends to rip the holy heck out of your fingers.

    Mine throb for days sometimes.
     
  12. 900

    900 Member

    Messages:
    427
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    you have my unreserved approval :dude
     
  13. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

    Messages:
    4,607
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2005
    Location:
    Kansas City
    The following comments are for 25-1/2" scale guitars:
    I disagree about macho posturing. On the high E alone, it's easy to hear the difference between a .010, a .0105 and a .011. It just gets thicker and more full sounding. I personally prefer the .010 thru .052 sets but I change the .010 for an .011. The .052 lets you smack that open low E and it doesn't go sharp first, at least not near as much as a .048 or thinner. A .050 is not bad for me either. To do much bending with these guages requires a tall fret. The shorter the fret the lighter guage strings I have to use. Finally I would say that although I hear a big improvement in the sound of thicker strings if you can't get used to them then don't bother. I doubt anyone out front would know the difference.
     
  14. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

    Messages:
    25,923
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    Nice informative post ...

    It just comes down to works best with the player ...

    9's are a different tone then anything heavier ... that's all ...

    I feel the tone which I prefer for funk playing ...
    Becomes too muted with heavier strings (i.e. lacks spank-y-ness ...)
    Wrong or right, that's how it feels and sounds to moi' ...
     
  15. mbetter

    mbetter Member

    Messages:
    714
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    My high strings are .015 .013 .011. Pretty weird, but that's what seems right.
     
  16. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Messages:
    14,728
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Besides making all those pedal steel licks easy, .009's give that snappy thin tone that works so well with that stuff.

    heavier strings do have a thicker, bigger sound, it's not a macho thing and it's not better/worse. It depends on what kind of tone you're wanting.
     
  17. davya

    davya Member

    Messages:
    187
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Location:
    Longmont, Colorade
    I went to a Greg Koch seminar and he said he uses .10's
     
  18. guildchild

    guildchild Member

    Messages:
    534
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    i've been running my tele on 9's while working up my country licks vocabulary. doing the 2 and 3 string bends were just killing my fingers on 10's. i figured that it is better to learn this stuff on 9's since i can practice longer without injuring my hands as much, and it will be easier to bend in tune (which is the key imho). once i learn a new lick or solo, i jump onto a guitar with 10's and play it there. my hands are strenthening quickly and i'll make the move back to 10's when i can. i'd probably be ok to switch now, but the whole note bends on the G string with my index finger just aren't happening on 10's.

    i would stay at 9's, but i'm noticing that i'm using excessive pressure sometimes on the standard open chords. so, my bending is in tune, but my chording sounds terrible sometimes if i'm not paying attention.
     

Share This Page