Strings Gauge

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Strings Gauge

Post by apaclin »

Hey peoples who have les paul with P90s and similar guitars what string gauge do you put on it? Especially if you also play a strat, do you put let's say 10s on it and 11s on gibson (or another guitar with a shorter scale) to get a similar feeling in hardness of playing and bending or you put the same gauge on both (cos from what i hear, there is more mud with 11s, than with a lighter gauge on les paul with P90s)?
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Funkyflash5 »

I'd go with a higher gauge to get back some firmness, but perhaps go with a brighter string like a stainless to compensate if the pickups warrant it. But I'm primarily a bassist, so I like heavy gauges in general, so ymmv.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Sam Spoons »

I play acoustic and electric and I have several on each. Two Strats, one with P90s and another a '61 replica, both have nicklewound 10-46 strings. The Les Paul ('75 Custom) has the same but I have a set of 11-48 for the next string change, hoping for an even more 'muscular' sound. My take is that heavier gauges have more 'clang' (and I love 'clang'), the Jazz box has (obvioulsy) 12-52 Flatwound nickles. For my acoustics I use EXP coated Phosphor Bronze, 12-52 of the Eastwood Custom GA and the Emerald X7 and 13-56 on the Dreadnaught (but usually tuned down a semitone or two on that one). So, yes, I would (and am about to) try 11's on the Les Paul.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Music Wolf »

I did have a PRS SE Chris Robertson, which is a LP with a P90 in the neck position, and I tried various gauges before settling on 9-46 hybrids. I've pretty much settled on 9-46 for all of my electrics, regardless of scale length, although my Epiphone Casino (with P90s) still has regular 10's on at the moment.

I honestly don't find there to be much difference in sound between gauges, you get far more variation in tone as the strings age. Lighter strings or a shorter scale length is more about feel for me and I like having some variation between guitars with the shorter length guitars being a little more 'bendy'.
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Re: String Gauge

Post by Wonks »

Use whatever you feel happy with. I use 10s on Strats and Gibsons. I started out with 8s in the 70s, moved to 9s in the 80s and then 10s about 10 years ago. One open-G electric guitar has 12s on but I don't generally string bend on that.

I have my guitars set up for a really low action, so there’s minimal difference in tension between fretting on the Fenders and Gibsons. The higher your action, the more you’ll feel the difference in string gauge.

You don’t need thick strings for ‘great tone’. A lot of the famous 70s players used 8s at the time. Billy Gibbons still famously uses a set of 7s or 8s. Playing style, pick choice, amp choice and many other things all play their part.

If you use any lowered tunings or even just a drop D occasionally, then heavier strings will make up for the loss of string tension from detuning. But even then, there is scope to experiment.

This Rick Beato video on string gauge is interesting, if not definitive or encompassing clean tones. But for solid crunch tones, the players in the video all seem to prefer the sound of 9s or 8s and enjoy the ease of playability the lighter gauge strings give. https://youtu.be/wGXj_NQONYM

If you want, you can skip to the end where you hear the strings 11s, 10s, 9s and 8s and then 11s again played back to back.

That's not to say that your own preferences will tie in with theirs and your choice of amp will also have an affect on how 'tight' or 'loose' the sound is based on the amount of negative feedback the amp uses (on some amps this is adjustable).

I would suggest you buy a gauge up and down from your normal selection and try each of them for a while. It will take a while to adjust to bending thicker strings, but keep going and you’ll find it becomes as easy as before. It will also take a while not to over-bend on thinner strings, or press too hard when fretting and sharpen the notes.

Make your own mind up as to what works for you. Just as buying a signature guitar wont make you play or sound just like the artist whose guitar it's based on, using the same string gauge as one of your guitar heroes won't make you sound like them either. Be yourself.

You may need to adjust the truss rod when changing string gauges as overall string tension will change as well, so the neck will bend less or more under the different tensions. You'll probably notice this more with a really low action, so whilst you can probably get away with not adjusting the truss rod when going up or down a single gauge step, you may want to anyway.

If going two steps up or down, you'll definitely want to adjust the truss rod (though I'd let the new strings sit on the guitar overnight as a minimum before doing any alterations).

The nut is another area you need to be aware of when changing string gauge, especially when going up in gauge. If a nut's been cut for 9s, then 11s are almost certainly going to stick in the slots and they'll need widening. Even 10s are likely to have issues on some guitars cut for 9s. My 2018 Gibson LP P90 gold-top nut was supposedly cut for the 9s fitted but two of the strings bound horribly in the slots so I recut them all myself.

And if you've got a guitar with a nut cut to accommodate say 11s, then the top E slot will probably have used a 0.013" nut file (the next file size up when using the very common Hosco nut file set after a 0.010" file), and step down to 9s, then I'd be thinking of fitting a new nut so the strings aren't too loose in the slots. I'd definitely do this if you went to 8s (or lower).
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Dynamic Mike »

Music Wolf wrote: Mon Jan 17, 2022 7:16 am I honestly don't find there to be much difference in sound between gauges, you get far more variation in tone as the strings age. Lighter strings or a shorter scale length is more about feel for me and I like having some variation between guitars with the shorter length guitars being a little more 'bendy'.

That's pretty much my experience. I don't think different gauges sound significantly different, but I do think they probably make you play differently which is mostly what alters the tone you hear.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Murray B »

I once borrowed a Strat to perform on stage with that was strung with 8's and I nearly bent the strings off the side of the neck! I had to use my ear rather than muscle memory to play whilst I was recalibrating my hands to what I was hearing. I made some rather 'interesting' melodic choices until I got the hang of it- they are a lot easier to bend than a set of 10's :D

So my two cents is there might be something to be said for having roughly equal string tensions across the guitars you perform with especially if you are a fan of the pre bent note. On the other hand it might not make much difference if you are used to the characteristics of the individual guitars or if the differences are fairly subtle.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Albatross »

Personally I have 12s with a wound 3rd on all my guitars, acoustics, electrics and 12 strings.

I do have 11s with a plain 3rd on a couple of guitars I use for slide, but they are old modified acoustics with a pickup but no rods in the necks and I don't want to stress them too much.

Just use what you feel comfy with. You can get really cheap strings on eBay to test until you decide what's best.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by apaclin »

Thanks for the answers!
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by worshiptuned »

I had a Les Paul and had tried fitting 10-46 to get a fuller sound. But in the end, because I have thin fingers, it was difficult for me bending with those and I didn't like the higher action. So I went back to my favourite 9-42.
I would use a 10-46 or even 11-12 on a jazz guitar. But on Strats, Les Pauls, guitars with floyd's, the size that best suits my playing is 9-42. In my experience there is a tone difference, but you can adjust the tone with EQ, the important thing is that they feel good, it's very personal
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by Wonks »

worshiptuned wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 3:22 pm I had a Les Paul and had tried fitting 10-46 to get a fuller sound. But in the end, because I have thin fingers, it was difficult for me bending with those and I didn't like the higher action.

There is no reason for a guitar fitted with 10s to end up with a higher action than with 9s. Either
a) The extra string tension added more neck relief, which can be countered by adjusting the truss rod.
b) The nut slots were slightly too narrow for the strings so they sat higher in them, raising the overall action and especially making it a bit harder to fret near the nut.
c) A mixture of a) and b).

It really is worth spending some time learning how to set up guitars. It’s not rocket science and you can really get them playing just how you want.

To do it properly you’ll need a good set of nut files, which aren’t cheap. But if you have several guitars, or can charge friends a small fee for setting their guitars up, then it doesn’t take much to recoup your investment.

And then you can add a radius block and a fret profiling file and you can level frets on problem necks and make even more of an improvement.

I would’t start on the Gibson, but if you’ve got an old beginners guitar, or can pick up a used Squier or similar for $50-$60 to practice on, then you should pick things up pretty quickly.
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Re: Strings Gauge

Post by worshiptuned »

Wonks wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 4:17 pm b) The nut slots were slightly too narrow for the strings so they sat higher in them, raising the overall action and especially making it a bit harder to fret near the nut.

Thank you Wonks,
you hit the nail on the head. The strings were too big to fit properly in the nut slots, I had to take it to the luthier and file it down. But I decided not to because the string tension was too high for my style and that was enough for the decision.
I know how to set up a guitar and adjust the truss rod, but I've never had the courage to use the file and level the frets or change the pickups myself. It's a bit intimidating and you need tools and time to learn. I usually do myself the truss rod and the screw based settings of intonation, pickups, saddles...and I go to the luthier for other things. I remember a post of a guitar you built, it was really wonderful I wish I have your capacity, I am reluctant to invest the time since there are so many things to learn and we have to choose
mixing, playing, singing, recording, video editing, marketing :shocked: I'll probably keep with the luthier and as soon as I have a bit o money I'll hire a mixing engineer too :bouncy:
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