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> Strings - How Much Do They Influence Us ?
Ben Higgins
post Dec 18 2014, 12:33 PM
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Strings - what influence are your strings having on your guitar playing at the moment ? I've been using 9's regularly for about a year or so. Before that, I'd had some 10's for a few months and 9's before that. So I would say that throughout my guitar playing life I've either been using 9's or 10's with a few occasional detours into 8's territory.

If I had to choose, though, I would stick with 9's because they give me everything that I need from my tonal and physical requirements.

They have to be light enough to allow wide bends and vibrato without requiring Herculean amounts of strength and light enough to encourage the juiciest, brightest tone. Now, this is where myself and a lot of guitarists part ways in our opinions. It's always been the received wisdom that thicker strings equal better tone but first of all we all have to be in agreement as to what 'better tone' means.

This is not something that will ever happen so we have to provide some context to that statement. Most people who use the 'thicker = better tone' argument are usually referring to the fact that the tone is perhaps 'woodier' & 'thicker'. Depending on your playing style this may or may not be a desirable result. If you're an SRV type guy then yeah, you want that fat, woody tone to bring out all those aggressive blues tones from that Strat or whatever you use. But if you're like me and you want the performance equivalent of a supercar, then you want your strings to respond well to slippery legato and rich sounding pinch harmonics and the like. Now, I've always found that lighter gauge strings give the latter effect much better than thicker strings. If anything, thicker strings, although beefier, tend to give a duller response, more suited to blues. But that's just me. Maybe I'm an alien. (But I don't go surfing..)

What about string brands ? Have you ever found a particularly identifiable trait in a brand ? I've been using Ernie Balls mostly but it's not necessarily due to a belief that they give a better tone or last longer (they may do these things but I don't know). It's mainly to do with availability and the fact that I've been using them this long with no complaints so why change ?

I've been using Rotosound on the 7 string and they perform pretty much as you would expect a string to perform ! What else can I say ? So, in terms of brand characteristics / performance I have no observations to say that one is better than the other. But you guys may have some thoughts about this so do please share !

Last thought of all... I would definitely say that different gauge strings (and obviously, different guitars) tend to encourage a different playing style. If I picked up a guitar with 12's on or something equally hefty then I would definitely adapt to it and modify what I do. It might even influence me to come up with something outside of my 'normal' playing style. I would imagine that some of you have different guitars strung with different gauges / tunings for this very reason ? A Jackson Soloist with 9's would probably elicit a different mood in you than a battered Strat with 11's. Different tools for different jobs. Is this the case with your home setup ? Have you got different beasts to inspire different ideas ? If so, what are they ?

The humble guitar string. We can often take it for granted but how much does it influence what we do ?


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SpaseMoonkey
post Dec 18 2014, 01:19 PM
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I grew up on 9s then made it up to 11s in standard tuning. I loved the sound of the chugs on the low end, that nice tight sound, mmmmmhmm! But one day I was reading an article with Jeff Loomis and he talked about how he use to have heavier strings, now he runs 9 gauge with an added 64 to give the tightness on the Low B. So I went and got some 9 gauge hybrid light/top heavy strings, it kind of mixed what I like. I can get a tighter sound on my chugs but I can bend on leads now. Then again, maybe I just learned to play better and use this thing called muting. laugh.gif

Now the only time I change gauge is due to tuning, I feel what works for me is every full step down is a gauge change. Which seems to put roughly the same tension that I'm use to on all my tunings across the board.

Brands? Started with D'Addarios, mixed in some Elixirs, Ernie Ball (slinky and cobalt), currently have SIT and La Bella's in the house to try out. Then I have a few packs of my trusty D'Addarios. I notice how the strings feel more than sound, like are they smooth, sticky, or like a grainy feeling. Of all strings I don't do Ernie Balls, I had a few of the cobalt series start to unwind on me, so I steer clear of Ernie Balls. Elixirs felt sticky to me, think its the coating so not a big fan. La Bella's, no clue they are a thicker gauge I think 13s it's for my ERG which I want to put in either Drop C or B. I have tried the SITs on one of my guitars they feel pretty much just like D'Addarios. May stick with SIT as its a local company. But I have to agree on using strings that are easy to find. I could always find D'Addarios in any of the local music stores where I had to go to bigger areas to get anything else. Which could be why they are my trusty mules.

I'm not sure if a heavier gauge influences me to play differently, I think it makes certain things unattainable. Bends have become harder so I feel I'm being restricted, so I would just go into Metallica mode and go about more of rhythm playing and leave the leads in the dark.


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klasaine
post Dec 18 2014, 05:30 PM
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.011 to .50 GHS 'burnished' Nickel Rockers.
I like the resistance in my right hand.

*I have .010s on one Strat and .012s (flatwounds) on an archtop and I do approach or am physically influenced differently due to the gauge.


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Ben Higgins
post Dec 18 2014, 07:26 PM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Dec 18 2014, 01:19 PM) *
I grew up on 9s then made it up to 11s in standard tuning. I loved the sound of the chugs on the low end, that nice tight sound, mmmmmhmm! But one day I was reading an article with Jeff Loomis and he talked about how he use to have heavier strings, now he runs 9 gauge with an added 64 to give the tightness on the Low B. So I went and got some 9 gauge hybrid light/top heavy strings, it kind of mixed what I like. I can get a tighter sound on my chugs but I can bend on leads now. Then again, maybe I just learned to play better and use this thing called muting. laugh.gif

Now the only time I change gauge is due to tuning, I feel what works for me is every full step down is a gauge change. Which seems to put roughly the same tension that I'm use to on all my tunings across the board.

Brands? Started with D'Addarios, mixed in some Elixirs, Ernie Ball (slinky and cobalt), currently have SIT and La Bella's in the house to try out. Then I have a few packs of my trusty D'Addarios. I notice how the strings feel more than sound, like are they smooth, sticky, or like a grainy feeling. Of all strings I don't do Ernie Balls, I had a few of the cobalt series start to unwind on me, so I steer clear of Ernie Balls. Elixirs felt sticky to me, think its the coating so not a big fan. La Bella's, no clue they are a thicker gauge I think 13s it's for my ERG which I want to put in either Drop C or B. I have tried the SITs on one of my guitars they feel pretty much just like D'Addarios. May stick with SIT as its a local company. But I have to agree on using strings that are easy to find. I could always find D'Addarios in any of the local music stores where I had to go to bigger areas to get anything else. Which could be why they are my trusty mules.

I'm not sure if a heavier gauge influences me to play differently, I think it makes certain things unattainable. Bends have become harder so I feel I'm being restricted, so I would just go into Metallica mode and go about more of rhythm playing and leave the leads in the dark.


It's funny that you avoid the Balls wink.gif I've never really got into D'Addarios myself as I had a couple of early breakages with them !

QUOTE (klasaine @ Dec 18 2014, 05:30 PM) *
.011 to .50 GHS 'burnished' Nickel Rockers.
I like the resistance in my right hand.


That's interesting.. do you play hard with the picking / strumming hand ?





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Socky42
post Dec 18 2014, 08:26 PM
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Been using Elixirs for the past couple of years. There's just something about the coating they use that I like, maybe its because I like to slide a lot when I play.

In a way though, it's kinda been detrimental to my playing; when the coating wears off or I play a guitar without them on, it does take me some time to 'get used' to the feel of regular strings again. And they're also super expensive now. laugh.gif


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Chris S.
post Dec 18 2014, 08:37 PM
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QUOTE (Socky42 @ Dec 18 2014, 07:26 PM) *
Been using Elixirs for the past couple of years. There's just something about the coating they use that I like, maybe its because I like to slide a lot when I play.

In a way though, it's kinda been detrimental to my playing; when the coating wears off or I play a guitar without them on, it does take me some time to 'get used' to the feel of regular strings again. And they're also super expensive now. laugh.gif

Same for me!

I've been using Elixirs for about a year now and when I went to my local music store to try out a guitar that didn't have Elixirs on them my hand was like "what is this madness?!"

tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Chris S.: Dec 18 2014, 08:38 PM


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Darius Wave
post Dec 18 2014, 09:08 PM
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10s or 11s most of the time. Feel like like 10 a slightly to sloppy for my way of playing but a few performances I had to play being tired and without a warm up decided for me. Went back to 10s smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Dec 18 2014, 09:10 PM
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QUOTE (Chris S. @ Dec 18 2014, 08:37 PM) *
when I went to my local music store to try out a guitar that didn't have Elixirs on them my hand was like "what is this madness?!"

tongue.gif


laugh.gif

Damn, you've made me want to experience them now !


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Darius Wave
post Dec 18 2014, 09:29 PM
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I don't use elixir's on the instruments in regular use because I would probably broke the string or something before they actually start to corrode biggrin.gif I rather chnage the strings more often smile.gif

But

I use elixirs on acoustic guitar. It's because I never know will I use it twice a month or for 3 months not a single time. I hate to change the strings and see how the end up their life because...of not being Used...waste of money and nerves. You know ...the feeling when remember like it was yesterad that You were changing the strings, Youd didn't play ani single time and feel like they should already be replaced again smile.gif


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klasaine
post Dec 18 2014, 10:16 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Dec 18 2014, 11:26 AM) *
That's interesting.. do you play hard with the picking / strumming hand ?


Not particularly. But when I do dig in I like the string to snap back quickly.


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