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Factory string gauges in 50s and 60s

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by Carl Sars, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. ripgtr

    ripgtr Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 16, 2012
    austin
    I loved the sound of 11s on my strat. I switched from 9s to 10s then to 11s while I was on "hiatus" - I was out 7 or 8 years when we had the kid. First gig back, no problem on 11s. But it was only 5 songs. Then, started doing full gigs and man, I could not bend the last set. Blues or trad country, so a LOT of bending. Plain G. I went back to 10s. I am really used to 10s now, but on another forum, it came up about pedal steel licks on guitar. I used to do these all the time - on 9s. Like double string bends, bending one string, then bend another, while holding a third static. Yea, that didn't go so well on 10s. If I was back doing that, I'd go back to 9s (I actually put a set of 9s on one tele, just for fun. Didn't like the tone as much, but man, so easy to play).

    Back in the 70s, I put a set of 8s on a Les Paul. Ugh. they lasted one gig. Hated the way they sounded. I was playing straight into an amp, no pedals to boost it, so it lost a lot going in.
     
    td148 likes this.

  2. StoogeSurfer

    StoogeSurfer Strat-O-Master

    524
    Jan 13, 2010
    USA
    How about 13s, with a plain third string, but drop the tuning to Eb. Who would do such a thing? ;-]
     

  3. Mustrat

    Mustrat Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    61
    Jun 16, 2017
    Minneapolis
    I've always found that whatever small change in tone happens when gauge is changed is easily corrected by a very small tweak of the amp EQ.

    My opinion is that we should first choose strings that feel right to our playing style, then tweak tone with all the tools in the signal chain. Strings get your tone in the ballpark you want but your amp has an EQ for a reason.
     
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.

  4. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Certified Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    May 21, 2010
    In my own little world
    Or they may just mess your hands up and you finish up not being able to play at all.
     
    Textele likes this.

  5. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    34
    634
    Jan 17, 2016
    Ecuador
    I have been playing 11’s for more than ten years. They feel different in some guitars: my Lester and guild bluesbird are like butter because of the shorter scale (11-52 on those). For the strats I use 11-49 set and my am std with rosewood fretboard feels like home. Don’t know why I feel more tension with my CP 60 rw board and even more tension in my 90’s American std with maple board but nothing that bothers a lot. I also use heavy picks and I like to feel some of that resistance from a strat specially.
    To be honest regardless how stiff the strings feel I use this gauge for the tone and convenience, I play a lot and do bend strings a lot but I built my strength playing acoustic guitar with 12’s and high action. There have been some days that my left hand felt exhausted at night after a good day of work.
    Sometimes is harder coming back to regular schedule after a vacation with family when I can’t play for a week or so. What I do there is to try not to work so hard and take breaks every 30 minutes. After a couple of days the strength is back and grab the acoustic again. This is the way I re built the strength in this cases.

    Having said this IMO a good guitar will sound killer with any gauge, but it’s all bout the particular character you are looking for. I saw Kenny Wayne Shepherd in you tube saying that he plays 11’s after trying every gauge from 10’s to 13’s and he feels that for his style 13’s 12’s and 11’s are the same in terms of tone without compromising anything in tone or playability, so he plays 11’s now. Guess that is his version of working less and is different for everyone.
     

  6. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2014
    Australia
    LOL !

    It's not too hard to change back to your regular set is it ?...

    I've always done my practice, jamming, & learning on my acoustic guitar, & they're usually fitted out with 0.012's or 0.013's...So my electric still feels lighter when I play....

    No Pain = no gain.

    Horses for courses, there's no rules, only choices to make to suit yourself !
     

  7. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Certified Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    May 21, 2010
    In my own little world
    No pain no gain doesn't work when you have arthritic hands. There's nothing macho about using heavy strings. I got away from those things as soon as thinner ones became available. I started out on 13s, flatwound, black diamonds. I had to give up acoustic guitars because they really don't sound good with nines.
     
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.

  8. Bluestrat83

    Bluestrat83 Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    34
    634
    Jan 17, 2016
    Ecuador
    I agree on this one and most of the players that I’ve met that have a good grip on electric spend most of their time practicing in acoustic guitar IMO the best way to grow your strength.
     

  9. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2014
    Australia
    We're very fortunate to be able to have such a wide variety of string gauges to choose from ! This means with a little experimenting, we'll hopefully find a set / gauge that works best for us.

    Over the years, I have really grown tired of changing strings on my guitars, & it annoys me having to do so, though I do appreciate the new-string-sound quite a lot, so that's the little reward for the effort put in.

    When gigging, I remember being so happy that when using 0.011's, they'd last 2-full-nights. And I could count on this every time.

    There' nothing worse IMO than breaking a string mid-performance, & having to stop-the-show...It looks really unprofessional, & you feel silly, & completely embarrassed.

    I know of some professionals / super-stars like Billy Gibbons, use a gauge like 0.007's, & have most excellent results sound wise etc etc. But these people also have around a dozen back-up guitars behind the stage, & employees stringing the guitars up for them.

    It's important to strike that balance that meets all your needs.
     
    dante1963 likes this.

  10. Mustrat

    Mustrat Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    38
    61
    Jun 16, 2017
    Minneapolis
    If your goal is strength you are doing it wrong.

    Aim for finesse. Once your hands are appropriately strong to finger properly you don't gain from making them stronger. What you get is higher risk of repetitive stress injuries like arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
     
    Thrup'ny Bit likes this.

  11. Ecosse

    Ecosse Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    31
    44
    Jul 28, 2017
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Seriously? Maybe YOUR hands...
     

  12. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Certified Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    May 21, 2010
    In my own little world
    Ah the joys of youth. I hope you enjoy getting older, hopefully you will also become wiser.
     

  13. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 9, 2014
    Australia
    Hmm.

    Age and experience.

    Play regularly. Build up strength, you end up playing easily.

    I have found 10 to 46 gauge on my electrics are a good compromise for tone and my physical longevity.

    I practice exclusively on my 80s takamine acoustic with 11s. Every day at least one hour a day. Some days 4 hours.

    Gigs solo and with a band are 4 hours with a few breaks. And I don't tire out.

    Repetitive strain injuries are real. I know a heap of great players that have a problem. Most are of the Paul Gilbert school where they smashed themselves learning to shred before learning to play ;) Every other great player I know with the problem are of the "minimum 12s on their strat learning every SRV riff there is" variety.

    I was an SRV tragic and played with 12s on my strats for at least 6 years. And that was the only period I experienced problems with my hand.

    I find variety is the best strategy. And medium gauge strings.
     
    Bazz Jass likes this.