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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:21 pm

Also, new strings are far more likely to intonate correctly. Intonation does go out as strings get older; as they stretch irregularity and crud builds up on them unevenly. So the mass/unit length changes along the length of the string. Of course this does presume that the guitar intonated correctly before. :D
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:48 pm

Yup :thumbup:

Well, put the 11s on the Strat and tweaked the truss rod...... And the buzz/rattle seems to be coming from the machine heads :headbang: at least they are easy enough to replace if I can't sort it.....
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:48 pm

perhaps I could be an honourary blond!

On my el cheapo experimental guitar I kept the thin strings but tune the entire instrument down a 5th. It’s a bgger to keep the low E in tune but you can bend the other strings for miles, er, kilometers! Great fun. I don’t play live with this one. I guess I lucked out as there are no buzzes or rattles. Could it be because I was reducing neck tension?
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:33 pm

Re-reading this thread and ore_terra's comment "I think we’ve all gone through the “gonna put heavier strings to improve my tone” stage at some point." reminded me that actually I did it the other way 'round and went super light early on and have been slowly stepping up to using heavier gauges for a few years. the 11's on the Strat are the heaviest I've ever used on an electric. I put some 13s on an old D45 copy last year too, though that was to tune it down to two half steps to D and the L5/ES175 clone has 12s (flatwounds) on it since day one.

WRT the rattly Strat, oiling the machine heads (as recommended by my mate Brian Eastwood) seems to have sorted the rattles. But now the Aylward Selmer is rattling, probably the pickup wire in the body but it will have to wait until I re-string it so I can get a proper look inside.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby The Bunk » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:19 pm

Bit of an update for those that may be interested!
It's not been a success for me by any stretch. It hurts like hell trying to play the thing and now there is fret-rattle all over the place! And I can't detect any discernible improvement in sound. I know I should have had a set-up at the time and I will next time, if I do this again. Which I probably won't!
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby CS70 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:37 pm

The Bunk wrote:I've just re-strung one of my teles with a set of "not even slinky" Ernie Balls . I've always used "Power Slinkys", 11-48, but these b*ggers are 12-56 and it hurt just putting them on! (Wonks may know where I'm heading with this... ;) )

I've had it around 5-6 years and it's a pretty standard non-US tele.

Is this likely to cause problems and should I have it re set-up?

I only need to be able to play three chords on it. :bouncy:

As a rule of thumb, if I ever change string gauge (I usually don't :)) I ask my tech to re-setup.

But 12s on a Tele? :-D
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby CS70 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:42 pm

The Bunk wrote:Bit of an update for those that may be interested!
It's not been a success for me by any stretch. It hurts like hell trying to play the thing and now there is fret-rattle all over the place! And I can't detect any discernible improvement in sound. I know I should have had a set-up at the time and I will next time, if I do this again. Which I probably won't!

Sorry hadn't seen this before my other comment..

I never met anyone who played better because of heavier gauge strings, and met a lot who played worse - harder to bend, harder to pick consistently, you waste time re-learning the delicate balance between strength and movement for the pick, and if your technique is less then perfect you even risk injury... and even if you adapt, it makes zero difference to your sound and technique.. the only advantage is that it might lead to more practice and a bit more strength so it's easier to swap to an acoustic. But then rather play an acoustic. :)

Do as B.B.King used to say - make your life easy! 9s and 10s for an electric guitar is all that's needed..
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:50 pm

Have you tried detuning and using a capo?
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby The Bunk » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:45 pm

CS70 wrote:
I never met anyone who played better because of heavier gauge strings, and met a lot who played worse - harder to bend, harder to pick consistently, you waste time re-learning the delicate balance between strength and movement for the pick, and if your technique is less then perfect you even risk injury... and even if you adapt, it makes zero difference to your sound and technique...


Absolutely. In addition to what else I mentioned earlier, all of the above, particularly the "picking consistently" bit. I haven't played as much as I used to recently so my finger tips have also softened up a bit which doesn't help, but I am not enjoying this at the moment and the sound I'm producing is, if anything, worse.
The main reason for doing this in the first place is that, as Wonks will know, I have a bit of a passion for Vintage (pre-pantomime) Quo, and Parfitt used a very heavy-stringed set-up, so I thought I'd give it a go. All in all...ouch. Never again!
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:30 pm

I expect he lied!

"Yeah, Mr music mag interviewer, I always use .016"s and tune up a whole tone to get a bit more tension" (winks at Rossi who is doubled up in silent laughter).
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:51 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:

SRV did use 13-56 but e tuned down a semi-tone which mitigated it a little. I play a lot of acoustic but mostly either my X7 (24" scale, 12-52) and my Aylward Selmer style (26'5" scale 10-46). Either have 'normal' scale lengths and FWIW Gypsy Jazz strings usually only come in 10-46 and 11-47 sets. My last Selmer style (Gitane DG255) was best with 11-47 but the Aylward seems to like 10-46's better.

11's on a Strat seems to work for me, going from 12s on an acoustic to 9's or 8's on a Strat is too much difference, and they definitely don't sound as good to my ears. OTOH, with heavy distortion the difference pretty much disappears.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:56 pm

I've got Thomastik Plectrum .012"-.059" on my Gibson and Takamine acoustics at the moment. I can even bend the strings on them a little bit, but not more than a tone.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:04 pm

These days I change my playing style slightly and use the 'B' string for big bends rather than the 'G' like I do on an electric. It depends on whether you have a plain or wound third string, I used to set up my main acoustic with 11's but swapped out the wound 3rd for a 22 plain (with a custom bridge saddle), it didn't sound great though and I eventually learned to cope with a wound 3rd. Partly that was because I discovered Fishman Rare Earth pickups, which I still favour and they don't offer a pickup optimised for a plain 3rd.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby The Bunk » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:45 pm

Wonks wrote:I expect he lied!


Wonks, Wonks...that is almost like telling a kid there's no Santa Claus :D :D
Interesting though that when Fender, several years ago, produced Rossi and Parfitt signature teles, they didn't make Rick's with heavy strings and I suppose that's maybe because they'd realised they'd be unplayable to most.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:51 pm

The same way they didn't actually soak the Rory Gallagher signature Strat in years of sweat before sending them out. :D

As long as it looks right, that's normally enough.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby kurtwestphal » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:22 pm

when you change your string gauge, you need to set your truss rod. Always, at least verify that the neck properly aligned. if you get buzzing on frets, bend notes and fret hits adjacent fret, you've got bow and need to fix that first. especially if none of this was a problem at the lower gauge.

set up bridge after for intonation, as tension increases, the truss needs to put counter tension on the neck.
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:10 pm

Except that when going up a gauge (or two), you put more tension on the neck, increasing any forward bow and make the guitar less likely to buzz. It's only when you then lower the bridge/saddles to try and lower the action again, without trying to straighten the neck, that you are likely to get fret buzz.

You are only likely to get fret buzz straight away if you go down a string gauge (or two), whenever the reduced neck tension will allow the neck to straighten and may even introduce some back bow, when the truss rod needs to be relaxed.

And yes, you'll need to check intonation once you've fitted heavier (or lighter strings) strings, but only after you've sorted out the neck bow (using the truss rod) and adjusted the bridge height if necessary. You'll need to adjust it because different gauge strings have a different length of non-vibrating string at each end. The lighter the gauge (mainly driven by the core diameter for wound strings), the shorter this 'dead' length is, so the closer to the ideal scale length the saddle needs to be. The heavier the gauge, the further back the saddles have to be moved in order to accommodate the longer 'dead' length of string at each end.

If you do get fret buzz or string choking on certain frets, then provided you've got a slight concave bow to the neck, it's more likely to be an issue with worn or high frets than a neck bow issue. In that instance you take the strings off, level the neck using the truss rod and a notched straight edge, then check for high or low frets. If you find any, then they'll need levelling (though always try and tap high frets in first before getting out the levelling file).
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Hewesy » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:47 pm

I'm sure you've seen it but there is a great rig rundown on YouTube which Parfitt presented.

He did run heavy strings but mainly due to the fact he smacked hell out of it with solid picks.

It's a pretty specialist solution so unless you hit that hard probably stopping back to 10's would achieve much the same thing tone wise.

Depending on the era they both ran a Vox AC30 flat out with their Marshall' s, which might be another link in the sonic chain.

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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby The Bunk » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:30 pm

Yep Hewesy, I've seen that. I seem to recall that my impression at the time was that he'd "had a few" before doing it :D
I do like to give the strings a bit of a thwack myself but as you've said if the technique is there (which I'd like to think is the case with me) then that should be enough...
Rick's also made a tuition video (called, er, "Rhythm Method"...hmmmn) which gives you a great idea of his technique and actually shows him to be a much better guitarist than many give him credit for.
Wonks, I clearly hadn't thought that fret-buzz issue through! Of course the neck would bend in such a way that it shouldn't happen and must be down to something else. :thumbup:
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Re: Heavy Gauge strings

Postby Hewesy » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:01 pm

It's a funny one, the music he and Rossi were playing before the band forged their own sound would have been very involved indeed, all the backing bands, holiday camp cabaret etc he would have known some tasty chords. So he could likely play chords I couldn't even spell but felt no need to show off or correct the critics - I say kudos on that one.

And you're right, he had certainly had a relaxing luncheon... Even his tech didn't want to hand over #1!

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