Who else has given up the heavy string ghost

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by majorledhead, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. strat62

    strat62 Member

    Apr 8, 2015
    for me it depends on the guitar

    my 2 main gigging strats have 11-48 power slinkys and big bends are no problem
    my tele likes 10-46. tried 11s but they sounded too "big" (and hard to play)
    i keep another strat in open tuning with a hybrid 12-54 set (and use a heavy pick)
    another with 11's tuned down to Eb
    still another strat that likes the 10-46

    taylor 510 open tuned with 13-56
    2nd 510 in standard with a hybrid 11-52
    taylor mini sounds best with 13-56s

    thankfully i don't have any hand problems (at 64) yet
    as always things can change
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    banana republic
    I’ve used everything from .008s to .013s. Currently using .011s in the electrics and “true mediums” on the acoustic. I don’t bend much more than 1 1/2 steps, so .011s are fine.
  3. ivers

    ivers Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    I used to play heavy strings, basically because Pat Martino used them and got that fat jazz tone. The latest years I've reconsidered and started mostly using lighter strings (9s). Won't say I now reject the value of using heavier strings, but I'm certainly enjoying playing lighter strings more than fatter ones these days. The lighter strings are also a nice incentive to refine my fretting technique, as it has been quite heavy handed, which tends to push strings out of tune with lighter gauges.

    It has to be mentioned that I have had some considerable issues with hand pain, and this is not just about the bestestest tone for me.
  4. RicOkc

    RicOkc Member

    May 1, 2010
    I've never subscribed to the "heavier is better" outlook on strings.

    SRV started the craze and many people jumped on the band wagon. Many players are starting to wake-up and going to what is more comfortable for them.

    Roe likes this.
  5. slogger

    slogger Member

    Sep 19, 2009
    Chester, MD
    I use to put .11s in all my guitars then read an interview with B.B. King who said he used .8s. Ever since I’ve been using .9s and just as happy.
  6. Eugene Wallace

    Eugene Wallace Member

    Dec 22, 2019
    big strings= big tone.

    the strings fuel the resonance in everything bolted/attached to the guitar, you'll get more sustain, (much ) bigger transients, bigger everything, every note, every vibrato wobble, everything is bigger with bigger strings.
    A thinner gauge thick e string means less resonance, and less fuel, with less fuel, the body isn't pushed far enough to induce muddy frequencies..thinner strings equals less tone which can equal less mud if that is how the body is predisposed to produce frequencies when pushed) ie: it's clearer sounding when hitting the thick e string, or chords including the thick e string when thinner strings are used.

    Other guitars may not do this, they may never ' bottom out' frequency wise when the gas pedal is hit, it depends on how the engine behaves when more fuel is thrown at it.
    It varies from guitar to guitar.

    I personally can't go lower than 12-56 on strats, they feel like rubber bands.

    Other guitar types like LP's and light swamp ash teles, really don't like fat strings at all, they lose all sweetness,they just sound harsh.
    Why? i don't know.

    edit - if you make a guitar made out of New Guinea Rosewood, you will never bottom out using a fatter e string , bass strings included, this wood has big headroom and is simply incapable of sounding muddy anywhere, I call it piano wood.

    edit, i think i do know why thick strings just sound no good on light swamp ash or mahogany, these tonewoods are just sweeter tonewoods. push it too hard and they're not sweet at all. They are in the sweet zone with light strings at that, is just that.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
    strat62 and sixesandsevens like this.
  7. snakestretcher

    snakestretcher Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Exeter, England
    I never saw the point of heavy strings. Why make playing guitar any harder than it already is, for an arguably marginal tonal 'improvement'? 9-42 for me, on everything but acoustics (12-53).
  8. Boston617

    Boston617 Member

    Sep 18, 2013
    GHS Boomers

    9-42 on all of my non-hardtail guitars.
    9-46 on all of my hardtail guitars.

    Been doing this for a decade & I can't remember the last time I broke a string or didn't enjoy my tone.
  9. Parlorman

    Parlorman Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2017
    Right there with you.
  10. JJ321

    JJ321 Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    NG, Maine
    I was never went really heavy, but for years I played 10-52s on my electrics. The last year or so, I went down to just 10-46 and found that I like it better on most of my electrics. I also tune down half a step.
  11. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    On a chair, behind a desk
    I use tens on most guitars, but for flatwounds anything less than 11s feel too skinny.

    I was up to 13s for a while. That was silly
  12. monkeybrains

    monkeybrains Member

    Sep 24, 2017
    I use 11s because I find the higher string tension makes it easier to change chords quickly. I find thinner strings tend to slip off my fingers.
  13. mikebat

    mikebat Member

    Jan 8, 2014
    It's cold outside.
    I think the idea that using bigger strings was “taking the bait” is hilarious. If you can’t tell the difference between a .40 and a .52 low E...you are either using a lot of gain or you have bad ears.

    that said, I usually don’t pick a gauge for the sound as much as for the tension, though I prefer a .52 over a .48 sonically.

    .010 to .46 is fine for me on a 25.75” scale in standard tuning. Anything thinner feels sloppy
  14. Radius

    Radius Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2018
    Home of Les Paul, Lambeau Field , Harley Davidson
    I never thought of string gauge in terms of tone....ever. It's all about feel.

    If anything, I think 10 or 11 gauge strings hold tune better than 8's. I have no scientific proof on that.
    MikeDV likes this.
  15. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Moder8er Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    When I started playing back in the mid-70s, I used 9-42 Ernie Ball Super Slinkys. About 90% of the guitar players I knew back then used the same exact strings.

    From the mid-90s until about '97/.98, I used a lot of DR 10s. During 1998 - 2007, I did some great gigging. And when on stage, I was using Gibson BB King hybrids: 10-54. Playing a four hour gig was sometimes a chore toward the end, but the strings (and my guitar) stayed in tune and sounded great. I played solely 25.5 scale guitars at that point.

    For the past 12-13 years, I have used nothing but D'Addario 10-46 strings on all my guitars. They intonate well, never break, stay in tune and sound perfect for my mainly-at-home playing and occasional jam. I play 25.5, 24.75 and 24.625 scale guitars, and use the same strings on all of them. I think I have 20 sets waiting for use.

    At least for me, I could not have cared less what others were using. I always played what felt comfortable for me, and what sounded best to my ears. And in all my years of playing, I don't think I ever broke a string at a gig, rehearsal, jam, recording session or even practicing at home - and when I was on stage, I often beat the daylights out of my guitars.

    To each his/her own. YMMV.
  16. ntotoro

    ntotoro Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Northern Virginia
    Depends what you call “heavy.”

    Thicker stings do sound different, but it isn’t always what you want. 11’s on a Suhr of mine felt great and sounded great acoustically (standard tuning), but were too dark amplified with gain. 9’s feel too squirrelly. 10’s don’t even feel like a compromise. They’ve always been the best mix of tone and feel for me.
  17. rauchman

    rauchman Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Northeast NJ
    I've gone from 10's to 9.5's on the Gibsons and 9's on the 25.5" scales. I'm loving the 9.5's and might use them on all. Seems to be the Goldilocks gauge for me. I have a buddy that only uses 11's. Egads!
  18. MikeDV

    MikeDV Supporting Member

    May 3, 2003
    Tempe, AZ
    Wondering if Billy Gibbons could have actually gotten a heavy sound if he wasn't using 7's....
    jbcohen92 and Lt Dak like this.
  19. rjpilot

    rjpilot Member

    Aug 4, 2005
    I'm they're!
    Playing for 30 years and playing 3 hour gigs has sold me on 9s for standard tuning and 10s for Eflat. I used to break strings when I was younger, so I upped my gauge but I just don’t have that problem anymore. Might try the new Ernie Ball 8.5 Might Slinky gauge.
  20. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2007
    In a van down by the river
    I've been using .11s on Fender scaled, and .12s on Gibson scaled guitars for decades with no trouble. I like the way they feel and sound.

    However, if I started having any hand issues, I wouldn't think twice about dropping gauges.

    Whatever works and keeps you playing.
    darkwaters and Average Joe like this.

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