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Author Topic: String Gauges  (Read 522 times)

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Offline PDGRANT

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String Gauges
« on: August 25, 2018, 02:36:03 PM »
Hi all

Trying to find the right place to post this and the Unwound Third looked like the best option.

I?ve just bought a new Gibson L-00 12 fret for playing in standard and will likely use Martin lights. Do you have any preference as to string types, and why?

Also, was now planning on using my (horribly named) Blues King for playing in vestapol, fretted and slide. Up until now I?ve been using Martin lights (80/20 SP lifetime - I?m not keen on the feel, but they do seem to last and the bronze and the coating seem to balance each other out). As I?m now going to be using this guitar solely for playing in vestapol tuned to D, will it be able to handle mediums? Wouldn?t use anything else on my J-200 - I don?t mind the coating here as I?m playing with finger picks - but on a small body guitar I?m a little nervous about adding medium strings.

All help gratefully appreciated.

Thanks!
Pete

Offline harriet

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2018, 06:17:35 AM »
I use Martin, Cleartone, DR Brand  all lights and 80/20 or PB depending on the guitar - experiment with them and just play with them on and let the guitar tell me what it needs. Not opposed to trying out recommendations from people who have good results and want to share. The scale on mine is generally 24 1/4 and 12 fret  - Gibson has the specs up on the bluesking which is different but maybe the pb 80/20 portion of the post is of use.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2018, 09:21:39 AM by harriet »

Offline waxwing

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2018, 09:01:43 AM »
Not familiar with Blues King model, but I would contact the builder (Gibson?) and ask if the warranty still applies if you use medium strings. They'll probably laugh, cause they would be pretty foolish if it didn't. I'm guessing that this model has a short scale, which means that there would actually be less tension than on a longer scale, like a dread, where many players use mediums. If you want to get a real idea of the changes in tension, check out this string tension calculator:  http://www.mcdonaldstrings.com/stringxxiii.html

In general I think you will find, particularly with mass produced guitars, that they are overbuilt to be able to accommodate whatever strings an unaware player chooses to use. I've never seen a warning label on a new guitar that says "Do not use strings heavier than light gauge or warranty is voided." I've never heard of a custom builder stating anything like this, either.

All guitars change due to constant tension. An increase of maybe 5% in tension may mean the change happens a little faster, i.e. you may need a neck reset after 28 years instead of 30, but I really don't think you need to worry about the bridge suddenly tearing off when you strum a chord a little hard.

BTW, using a plain 3rd string that is the same gauge as the core of a wound 3rd (like a plain .018 for a wound .024) will reduce the tension somewhat, and this was an almost universal practice among players in the day, allowing for far more expressive play in the strong midrange of a ladder braced or resonator guitar. Also the intonation stays the same.

Wax
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Offline swampman

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2018, 10:57:50 AM »
I am infatuated with the D addario nickel bronze strings. They basically are monel which was used in most strings in till late 50s so you get an authentic sound. I'm using the medium lights on all of my guitars except my D 42 which I'm using mediums all the way. I flatpick on the 42 and finger pick on my other guitars which have medium lights on them. The medium lights, medium on the bottom strings and light gauge on the top strings, give it a good bass sound

Offline PDGRANT

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2018, 10:39:25 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I guess the best thing to do is give everything a go and see what works. Definitely interested in trying out nickel strings, and using an unwound third. I found this string tension calculator that?s really useful. It allows you to change strings, tunings and scale length to see how that will translate in terms on tension - http://stringtensionpro.com Looks like mediums on the blues king will be fine if it?s tuned down to D in vestapol. I?ll keep and eye on the top behind the bridge just in case. I?m loving the new 12 fret. I didn?t realise how much of a difference it would make having the bridge positioned a little further down the guitar. It really sings. Thanks again!

Offline Stuart

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2018, 12:29:24 PM »
Hi Pete:

I second trying all the eligible candidates and then going with what you like best. It may take a while given all the choices out there, but it should be fun. I don't think you'll find many duds.

Like Wax says, don't worry about the bridge. The physics of string tension, tops, bracing and bridges is pretty straight forward and the builders figured it out long ago. It the guitar was constructed properly, there shouldn't be any problem with the bridge or excessive bellying.

For the hell of it, I used D'Addario's calculator to run the numbers using the Gibson Blues King's specs (24.75 scale length).  The EJ11 set tuned to standard is 147.37 and the EJ12 set tuned to open D is 150.56. I didn't double check my work, but the values are so close that I wouldn't give it a second thought.

Offline Johnm

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2018, 01:13:04 PM »
Hi,
I guess my recommendation would be a bit different.  I would suggest trying different strings only until you find a set you like and then just continuing to use them.  It's time-consuming and expensive to try a host of different string gauges/manufacturers, and speaking only for myself, I would find it deathly boring.  You can never A-B different strings on the same guitar anyway, since it either has one set on it or a different set.  I want to play, not do test runs, and if you're interested in playing, complete unconscious familiarity with the strings you're using is important.  It's probably good to check out whether your preference is for coated strings, bright bronze, phosphor bronze or monel/nickel, but once you've figured that out, go with the first thing you like (until you don't like it anymore).
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Stuart

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Re: String Gauges
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2018, 01:53:44 PM »
I should have been somewhat more detailed in my response about strings. I was focused on the tension part of the topic.

I agree with John for the most part, but I probably wouldn't stop with the first set that I liked and would try at least a few more "eligible candidates," based on other people's recommendations.

I didn't mean to suggest that you buy a whole variety of strings all at once and then try them out one after another, taking them off and putting another set on in short order. I would first zero in on a short list and then try sets and types from various manufacturers, only changing them after one set has been played to the end of its useful life. Like a lot of things in life, it's easy to always be "one lucky guess from the holy grail," but like John, I think the holy grail is in the playing.

Are we ever spoiled with all the choices we have. I remember reading an interview with someone decades ago (I can't remember who), who came up during the Depression years and World War Two. He said that they would wipe the strings down with rubbing alcohol to clean off the dirt and oils from their hands after playing, and when the string were "dead," boil them in water and a little detergent to clean out the crud between the windings, a process that would revive them for a while. Now all it takes is a credit card and a few mouse clicks.

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