String Tension: Les Paul vs. SG

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by M37a11, May 22, 2020.

  1. M37a11

    M37a11 Member

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    Yesterday I picked up a 2005 Gibson SG Faded that is in E standard with Ernie Ball 9-42 strings. I almost never use 9's in standard because they are too floppy, but on this guitar they feel great! The SG plays fantastic. Perfect amount of tension on the picking hand. Not too floppy at all.

    I am liking the feel of the SG so much that I am trying to setup my Les Paul custom the same way. And I ended up with a 11-48 set of Ernie Ball strings to get in the same ballpark. The Les Paul needs way heavier strings to have the same picking hand feel as the 9's on the SG. Is this normal?

    I have the stop bar on the Les Paul completely against the body to increase the break angle off of the bridge. The neck angle on the SG looks steeper than the Les Paul so the bridge on the SG is higher, the stop bar is also higher. I set them both to about the same break angle off of the bridge.

    Anyway just curious if anyone else has noticed this or has some tips on how to get a Les Paul to have more string tension without going to super heavy strings. Eventually I want the Les Paul in D-standard tuning and want to keep the same feel.
     
  2. JLee

    JLee Supporting Member

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    Not necessarily a SG or Les Paul specific issue. I’ve had SGs that played easier than my Les Pauls and vice versa. I think heavier strings or raising the action are your only options for getting a stiffer feel on the Custom.
     
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  3. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

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    My experience has been the opposite. My SG is noticeably easier to fret and bend. I actually like the higher tension on my les paul though - the SG is so light and plays so easy it almost feels fragile.
     
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  4. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    My 2013 SG Standard was recently setup by the same guy who did my 06 Faded LP Special and has a slightly stiffer action than the LP. Both 9-42 EB strings. Doesn't bother me as they're both great to play but the LP is a tad easier.
     
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  5. PhxdB

    PhxdB Member

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    Dude, if you have the stop bar slammed against the body then that thing must play like cement.

    I'm not sure how tough you want it.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  6. GilmourIsGod

    GilmourIsGod Member

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    Yeah.

    Maybe it's a truss rod issue. Have you checked the relief?
     
  7. snakestretcher

    snakestretcher Member

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    Physics tells us that to reach a given pitch a string has to reach a given tension between two fixed points; assuming the same gauge is used on both guitars the string tension should be the same. Neck stiffness and differences in set up (action mostly), fret size and fretboard wood (friction, rosewood vs. ebony), could account for a perceived difference in tension.
     
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  8. LP Freak

    LP Freak Supporting Member

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    That physics thing is over rated
     
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  9. sleep

    sleep Member

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    The break angle over the bridge increases the downward force on the saddle as the stop bar is lowered, increasing friction at that point. It isn’t just the tension in the string.
     
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  10. korus

    korus Member

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    When you fret a string, it elongates.

    The stiffer feel is greater resistance to elongation. Greater resistance to elongation is greater friction at nut and saddle.

    If you want less stiff feel, reduce friction.

    Yes, basic physics, overrated or not.
     
  11. M37a11

    M37a11 Member

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    I want a more stuff feel on the Les Paul not for fretting/bending but for picking. The action is 5/64ths on the bass side, 4/64ths on the treble side. Relief is .010" at the 9th fret.
     
  12. Timtam

    Timtam Member

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    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  13. 98G2PRU

    98G2PRU Member

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    The other part of the pick attack function not mentioned in this thread is neck relief. If you have a shallow neck angle resulting in a low bridge relative to the body and a flat neck with barely any relief you can get a low, super fast, slinky action by raising the stop bar a bit. If you’re tuning down, this will likely get buzzy. So there is a compromise between the neck relief, height of action and pressure on the strings over the bridge between light fast and slinky and too low and light. Its a feel thing for you figure out. Each guitar is different.

    My advice is set them up low and slinky and then gradually add more neck relief (not much at all) and bridge height if its too fast and slinky.

    The other thing not mentioned in feel is neck size. Even with guitars with the same necks (say a slim taper Gibson) there are variances that you can easily feel. These variances affect the feel of the action as well.

    +
     
  14. Magnets And Melodies

    Magnets And Melodies Member

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    Not so true. All 4 of my LPs have the stop bar slammed and they play super slinky and loose (they are top wrapped though).

    I think it has more to do with the break angle. I see it a lot more with Gibson USA where they have steeper break angles and they don’t seem to be consistent. I’ve played some USA’s that are tough as hell, and adjusting the stop bar and other things doesn’t help much. When you look at the angle of a custom shop LP you notice it right away, crazy good precision. Super close to the pickups, little room for error but just perfect and slinky to play.
     
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  15. ozraves

    ozraves Member

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    Rather than going up to a heavier string gauge I would start with adjusting the neck curvature and the stop bar tailpiece to be close to how the SG is set up.
     
  16. PhxdB

    PhxdB Member

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    Oh you're absolutely and it's the fact that it's top-wrapped that keeps it playing nice.

    I don't top wrap my guitars so if the tail piece is bottomed out then that angle will be steep and it will play awful.
     
  17. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    they're the same scale length so the tension will be exactly the same

    look at the frets though; if one has taller frets than the other it will feel easier to bend on just because it's easier to grip the string
     
  18. M37a11

    M37a11 Member

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    I do wonder if some of the perceived string tension difference is the pick angle due to the wider body of the les paul. 9's on the les paul setup to the same specs as the SG feel super flimsy. Picking hand feels like it's suck in mud due to the string flopping around. I play mostly heavier rock/metal rhythm but I do not dig into the strings very hard.

    I just find it very interesting i've never been able to play a guitar with 9's until I got this SG and it feels great.
     

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