Are thick strings best ?
Are thick strings best ? My conclusion. The increased ease of playing lighter strings is greater than increased tone especially on any ampliﬁed guitar. The exception is a large acoustic where volume is needed then a heavy gauge may be right. Heavy strings are louder but do not give a better tone.
Here are some reasons for the conclusion. "A lot is also made of the fact that SRV used very large strings, usually gauged .013 to .058, and certainly bigger strings do transmit a bigger signal through the pickups. Note, however, that Jimi Hendrix used a relatively thin .009 set, but he didn’t sound small by any standards. Also, Vaughan tuned down a half-step to Eb, and lessening the strings’ tension to that extent equates to a playing feel of a string gauge lighter, roughly speaking." from Myth Busters Dave Hunter Here are String gauges for some great electric players: Jimmy Page: well-known user of 8-gauge strings. Danny Gatton: played 10s with a wound G, also played 9s. Jeﬀ Beck: “On my early stuﬀ, I was playing the thinnest strings you could get, .008s,” Beck told Fender.com. “And then the Jimi man came along and told me, ‘You can’t play with those rubber bands. Get those oﬀ there.’ So my string gauges have been creeping up ever since. Now I’ve got .011, .013, .017, .028, .038, and .049. I’m trying to get heavier on the top end.” Billy Gibbons: hipped to light-gauge 8s or 9s by B.B. King. King’s take on it is that it takes a lot less stress and strain to play the light stuﬀ. Gibbons’ custom set from Dunlop has a 7-gauge high E! Brian Setzer: 10s straight out of the box. Peter Frampton: 8s back in the Comes Alive days. Carlos Santana: 9s 8. Allan Holdsworth: 11s Eddie Van Halen: well-known for using 9-gauge. James Hetﬁeld: .009-.042 from String Myths, Part 1Wallace Marx Jr
The physics behind the answer "The thicker the string, the more tension it needs, to produce the same note. Thicker, tighter strings, have a more "focused" sound. They reach their resonant frequency more quickly, because the extra tension leaves them less scope to ﬂap around. Thicker, tighter strings, plucked the same distance, are louder, because they contain more energy. There is more metal being waved back and forth in front of the pickup. There is more kinetic energy to be transmitted to the sounding board. Looking at this in the opposite direction, heavier strings need to vibrate less in order to produce the same volume as a narrower string. So you are less likely to experience fret buzz at the same loudness. Thicker, tighter strings, plucked the same distance, have more sustain, because they contain more energy and it takes longer to disperse. Of course, that energy doesn't come from nowhere. It takes more strength to pluck a thicker string. Playability The more tense a string is, the harder it is to fret -- you have to press harder. Beginners are likely to prefer narrower gauges and looser strings, until they develop callouses on their ﬁngers. Players wishing to play very fast solos often choose light strings, because they can make gentle, fast fretting movements. The looser a string is, the easier it is to bend. This is an advantage if you want to incorporate dramatic bends into your playing. However, with very light strings, it can be too easy to bend notes -- to the extent that a beginner can have trouble playing a chord in tune, accidentally bending one string or another. http://music.stackexchange.com/questions/4593/how-does-string-gauge-aﬀect-a-guitars-sound-and-playability Answer 2 What eﬀect does string gauge have on sound and playability? Well, this depends on what your guitar is. With acoustic guitars, the strings move the top of the guitar, creating the sound to be projected, so those who need more volume went with bigger guitars with bigger strings, with higher action so the strings will ring out. On a purely unadulterated ﬂat-top acoustic guitar, this is the secret to getting volume. That's the main eﬀect on your sound: louder. More easily heard above the rest of the mess. And heavier strings with higher action will put a greater gap between string and the fretboard, making you work harder to get it to do anything at all, so it messes up your playability. If you're looking for more playable and not needing quite the volume, or can make it up with ampliﬁcation, you don't need the boost big strings get you and you can lighten up, and so can the maker. There are things put into Martin dreads just so that they can survive being attacked by bluegrass pickers.
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