Similar guitars with different string tension?

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
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6,710
Was comparing my semi-hollows, it's crazy how different the string feel is between them considering they all have similar specs on paper. String brand and gauge (NYXL 11-49), scale length, radius, stop bar placement all the same:

- Guild Starfire IV (90's Westerly): Loose and bouncy, very easy to bend.

- Gibson ES-335 Dot RI: Two of them, both a little tighter and more snappy feeling than the Guild.

- Ibanez AS73: Very stiff feel, harder to bend and very tight feeling under the fingers.

All have mahogany necks, although the Guild has a maple pinstripe down the middle. Gibson is nitro finish but Guild and Ibanez are poly. I expect them all to sound different, but what is making them feel so different?
 

ckfoxtrot

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3,915
How do the relief, action, and stop bar height compare on the guitars? Minor differences there might make a big difference in feel.
 

gkoelling

Member
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17,155
I've had the same guitar with different string tension. Years ago I had tried 10s on one of my Strats a couple times, way too stiff. A luthier friend restrung it with 10s and set it up. It wasn't near as stiff. Now I have 10s on everything. A lot of it is in the setup.
 

GA20T

Member
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4,452
A few other factors to consider:

• nut slot height (are these exactly the same?)
• relief and string height (are these exactly the same?)
• string spacing at the nut and saddles (the same?)
• fret height & the relationship of the strings to the fingerboard (same?)
• angle & distance of strings post nut and saddles (same?)
• leverage, as in neck profile (likely not the same)
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
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6,710
A few other factors to consider:

• nut slot height (are these exactly the same?)
• relief and string height (are these exactly the same?)
• string spacing at the nut and saddles (the same?)
• fret height & the relationship of the strings to the fingerboard (same?)
• angle & distance of strings post nut and saddles (same?)
• leverage, as in neck profile (likely not the same)
I have a good tech who does my setups, we generally keep everything as similar as possible across guitars.

Of course there will be some differences, I've wondered how much fret size might play into this? The Guild is badly in need of a fret job, they are pretty flat. The Gibsons and Ibanez have what I would call medium frets, but the Gibsons are more squarish, Ibanez more rounded.

I will ask my tech about some of these points that I don't know the answer to, thanks!
 

atquinn

Silver Supporting Member
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9,750
I have a good tech who does my setups, we generally keep everything as similar as possible across guitars.

Of course there will be some differences, I've wondered how much fret size might play into this? The Guild is badly in need of a fret job, they are pretty flat. The Gibsons and Ibanez have what I would call medium frets, but the Gibsons are more squarish, Ibanez more rounded.

I will ask my tech about some of these points that I don't know the answer to, thanks!
I've found that fret size does play a role.

But more importantly, I find that each of my guitars has its own sweet spot. Even with guitars of the same brand, if I try setting them up exactly the same, specs-wise, they will not be the same feel-wise. So even though they all start at the same place, they are all tweaked.
 

Theorist

Silver Supporting Member
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2,613
I don’t know the science behind it, maybe it’s a pulley thing, but the angle between the stop bar and the bridge on the TOM bridge affects how soft or hard a guitar feel, so for me, the answer is setup...
 

the.godfather

Member
Messages
440
It still baffles me how different guitars can feel. Even more so when the guitars in question are effectively the same in every way when it comes to specs. I've always been a Strat guy and from one to the other they always feel so different even with the same strings and similar setup. Not everything is created equal.

I've recently taken delivery of my first headless and the tension is killing me at the moment. I've got my usual 9-42 set on there which is already a fairly light gauge but I'm finding it really difficult to play at the moment. I'm trying to 'break it in'. It has a fixed bridge which I'm certainly not used to anymore which probably isn't helping. I don't really want to drop down even further to 8's. I'll have to check it over this weekend and give it a good setup and double check the relief, action etc.
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
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6,710
So I ended up giving the Ibanez neck more relief, and it absolutely softened the feel a bit.

It was set up with minimal relief and low action, as I have been working on lightening my pick attack. I think this gave a stiffer feel overall and made it harder to bend. Now that I've given it some relief and feel the difference, I want to raise the action a tad also to see how that contributes.

I've seen it said that the straighter the neck/less relief, the easier it should be to play and bend but my experience so far doesn't agree with that...
 




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