• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Will thicker gauge things produce a crisper, sharp attack?

Triocd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
768
The last couple years I've been using light strings (8's and 9's). I started to notice a lack of crisp, sharp attack and more of a rounded, soft attack.

Is this due to the strings? Same deal on my les paul and strat on a couple different amps. I like this sound most of the time but occasionally I want that crisp sound. I forget what things sounded like when I used 10's.
 
Messages
1,767
People don't talk about strings on forums much anymore. It's always a given that every set of strings are great and not even a factor. I find people often buy strings by price instead of feel and sound.

Think I've used every string size, every Manufacturer over the last few years.

Settled on Elixir 10-46's because I can't use nickel strings due to my fingers turning black (it's what my hands produce, not the strings fault).

However the best sounding, aggressive attack, bottom end, etc. was def a homemade set. In other words I bought singles of each string from 10-52 which were one step high (or heavier) than my normal 10-46 pack (if that makes sense). They sell hybrid sets now that actually are just like the set I made.

For rock (distortion, overdrive, etc.) this was by far the best sounding for power chords and such. I find lighter gauge strings don't have the bottom end I like and are too jangly.

I'd say do what I did and conduct your own experiment on strings. Try heavy gauge strings and work down, use the same guitar, same song, same amp, same pedal settings, etc. You'll find what you're looking for.
 

eddie knuckles

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,761
It can also be your amp, your pedal settings, the guitar cable(s) you are using, your tone pots on your guitar, and yes, your strings, but I would go there almost last. Does a new fresh set of strings help?
 

Abram4235

Member
Messages
5,069
I think the heavier strings will produce more sustain because the strings have more mass so the resonate. To answer the question - I think NEW strings will produce a more crisp and sharp attack. I think the gauge only helps a little. The newness is more important. I like strings that have been played for a few days though. New strings are almost too bright for me. But I can't stand old strings.(4 months or more)

The best strings I have found (for me) are a good set of ernie balls, heavy bottom, slinky top. I don't think the top and bottom are so far apart as the name would suggest. I just like that I can get some nice heaviness and sustain out of the strings but still do nice bends and not destroy my finger tips.

I have played everything in between 9s and 13s and feel that this set gives a nice balance. I play mostly blues / rock and I also finger pick a lot too. So the balance allows me to finger pick without the strings being too heavy, but it still feels like something is under my fingers. The EBs last forever as well. No need to spend more.

I echi what the poster above said - do your own experiment. It's the only way to know for sure. I've been playing for 20 years and just decided on these strings about 5 years ago.
 
Last edited:

TheRealDeal

Member
Messages
1,701
i feel that the string gauge should be connected to a few things... 1. personal preference (strength and size of fingers) 2. style of music 3. type of pickups 4. type of guitar 5. scale length of guitar

having said that...i have found that heavy strings make me play harder which gives me more of a push on my sound
 

Broomz

Member
Messages
654
I used to use 10s on my Tele but switched to 9s recently for bending ease. Before I switched I recorded some parts on a demo I was working on, with the 10s. More recently I had to go back and punch in over a few parts on the same track, with 9s now on the guitar. I wondered if I would have to change back, but there is no audible difference between the two.

That said, I have 10s on some guitars and I'll probably switch back at some point, but for now this guitar feels really good and is easy to play.
 

108

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,434
It's actually thinner strings to produced a sharper attack, also longer scale lengths help. I find thicker gauges to be a bit more dull, which for me is preferable. I play 12s in standard which is uncomfortable for some players. I have a bright guitar with a bright amp though, so it balances nicely.
 

OverdriveLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,490
new strings have more effect on pick attack, especially wound, and certain brands will hold that longer, elixir being the best i have found

i believe thinner strings tend to sustain better as they have less dampening effect under the pickup/speaker feedback resonance
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,270
There's no shortcut to this. Especially since the only person who can decide what sound you like best is you.

Example: I love and have been using Curt Mangan strings for a long time now. There are people who can't stand them. So if you read my opinion and you read somebody else's opposite opinion, what have you actually learned?

You're going to have to suck it up, spend some bucks and try several different brands and gauges.
 

ItsaRat!

Member
Messages
966
In my experience thinner strings tend to be a bit snappier than heavy strings. I use 10-52s myself. I also find that higher action will dull their brightness to some extent. I actually set my guitars up with a little bit of buzz (note that I make a distinction between light fret buzz and fretting out), because I think it adds a lot to the overall tone. A buddy had his strat set up with crazy, crazy low action, but somehow the guitar didn't fret out. It had the coolest, quackiest sound. I was amazed at the effect the setup had on the character of the guitar. It's also a ton to do with your picking technique. I don't know what I do, because I don't pick hard, but my picking style sounds extraordinarily aggressive and bright compared to the other dudes I play with. Even with old strings I have a very crisp sound. It's this factor that requires that I use a lot of gain. Otherwise my sound tends to be too pokey on dem riffs.

One thing I've discovered through the course of recording too is how much the thickness of the pick itself will affect the crispness of the sound, even on electric. You may want to try a medium pick and see what that gets you. We had a ton of trouble getting a guitar part to cut until he tried a medium pick (usually used an extra heavy). Voila! Lotsa cut.
 

calfzilla

Cynical Hack
Messages
3,865
People don't talk about strings on forums much anymore. It's always a given that every set of strings are great and not even a factor. I find people often buy strings by price instead of feel and sound.

Think I've used every string size, every Manufacturer over the last few years.

Settled on Elixir 10-46's because I can't use nickel strings due to my fingers turning black (it's what my hands produce, not the strings fault).

However the best sounding, aggressive attack, bottom end, etc. was def a homemade set. In other words I bought singles of each string from 10-52 which were one step high (or heavier) than my normal 10-46 pack (if that makes sense). They sell hybrid sets now that actually are just like the set I made.

For rock (distortion, overdrive, etc.) this was by far the best sounding for power chords and such. I find lighter gauge strings don't have the bottom end I like and are too jangly.

I'd say do what I did and conduct your own experiment on strings. Try heavy gauge strings and work down, use the same guitar, same song, same amp, same pedal settings, etc. You'll find what you're looking for.
Gotta echo his sentiment. Love the 10-52 hybrid sets. Lots of authority on power chords, can get some nice bass lines going, and still transitions nicely into the higher strings. I think I'm going to end up settling on Pyramids myself. The monels specifically seemed really bright and aggressive.
 

erniecaster

Member
Messages
663
Hi,

this is my way: I use Ernie Ball Slinky on electric and Elixir on acoustic guitars - common brands that I can buy everywhere, nothing exotic for me. But I try the right gauge on every guitar. What´s gold on one guitar may be rubbish on the next.

And I try different picks (Dunlop and Galli, again common stuff) for each guitar. Yes: Different guitars need different strings plus different picks. It´s not guitar, strings, picks. It´s a complex system. (And yes, I change sounds on my amp for the different guitars.)

cu

erniecaster
 
Messages
1,566
I only care about comfort and fatigue, the rest are much much less important to me. I play 8s on strats and 9s on les pauls and go one step thicker only if i tune half a step down (which is even more preferable for me but unfortunately not always practical).

Don t stress your fingers for diminishing returns, it s all about feelin comfortable and thus enjoying your guitar and music.

I mean, if Brian did not care, why should I?
 

whackystrings

Member
Messages
3,917
I think gauge of strings matters little when it comes to sharpness or attack. I definitely say that picking technique and the material and thickness of the pick used has more effect. For example, I use a thick Dunlop Ultex Jazz III XL and it has a very articulate, sharp attack versus a .88 nylon. I can soften that attack using different picking techniques.
 

Triocd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
768
Ok, I need to experiment with different strings and picks too. It might be my picks. I always use the same type.

I'm looking for notes to go click, not bump. Does that make sense?
 

bluesoul

Senior Member
Messages
4,646
I find that larger string are less crisp...more round. To get a crisper sound I would change pickps or at least experiment with heght on the pickups.
When it comes to string gauge I never view gauge a a tone thing but more about the tension I want. I want as much tension as I can get yet not hurting playability and string manipulation.
Tone will suffer more if you are stuggling with the strings...best to use a gauge where you are comfortable based on how you play.
There are many ways to change the sound and attack and stay with a gauge that works for you.
Thin picks = crisp....just one example!
 

DaveKS

Member
Messages
16,704
Definitely consider your guitar lead cable? You can tune your crispness simply by picking right cable and length.

What are you using? Are you a guitar>amp guy or is there a pedalboard in between?
 






Trending Topics

Top Bottom