The Effects Of String Gauge On Guitar Tone – Part 2

Luckily for me, all signs and symptoms of tendonitis was averted. Phew.

Once I was fully recovered I decided to explore with my all my main guitars the three most popular gauges 9’s, 10’s and 11’s. I concluded that each set had the tone to which they were associated and the opinions held by each group are well founded. So as a result I decided to put together a brief guide to choosing your guitar string gauges.

A Brief Guide to String Gauges

#1 – Reconsider your String Gauge Occasionally – Whilst many people spend hundreds of pounds/dollars modifying their guitar with new pick-ups and hardware, sometimes that tone in your head is simply a different string gauge.

#2 – Choose a String Gauge that Suits Your Guitar – This may sound like a strange approach but certain woods and pick-ups may be complimented with a certain string. Dark guitars may let you get away with bright thin gauges whilst thinner sounding guitars need the warmth of thick strings.

#3 – Scale Length – If your used to a Fender scale length and you find the same strings don’t suit the shorter scale Gibson, try a heavier string. The same rule applies in reverse.

#4 – Tuning – If your accustomed to 10’s in standard tuning for example when drop tuning you may prefer a thicker gauge to keep a consistent feel. Alternatively you may prefer the loss in tension which is perfectly valid artistic choice.

#5 – Hybrid and Custom Gauges – Thanks to many intuitive string manufacturers, guitarists have more choice than ever. One popular departure from standard sets is a ‘hybrid’ set. For example 11’s on the thickest three strings with 10’s on the highest threes can give you the best of both worlds. For those with more specific need,s designing a custom set could be the answer to that tone in your head.

#6 – Ignore the Guitarists Around You – Don’t be swayed from a gauge that suits your playing style and is totally comfortable by other guitarists. Every player is different and often other guitarists can’t even hear the difference.

#7 – Playing Guitar shouldn’t be Painful! – Is that song full of barre chords or string bending causing you pain? If you find playing a specific technique  or guitar genrally for more than a certain period of time painful, even when warmed up, then reconsider your strings.

Hopefully these points will help you make informed choices next time a string breaks or preferable when they sound dead. What’s your opinion and prefered string gauge? Anything you want to add or disagree with? Let me know in the comments section.

Antony.

 

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