Heavier gauges and wrist problems - Is there a strong correlation?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by AznCaster, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. AznCaster

    AznCaster Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    86
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2020
    Location:
    Canada
    Recently I tried 11s (11-48) on my Strat and I quite like how it feels when playing chords and rhythm work, lead stuff are certainly easier on 10s but It's still manageable.

    If I were to use this gauge regularly, would there be a significantly higher possibilities of developing wrist problems compared to using 9s or 10s? Assuming that I have acceptable techniques and rest my hands regularly?

    P.S: please don't turn this into a light gauge vs heavier gauge debate.
     
  2. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist Guitartist Silver Member

    Messages:
    6,165
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2016
    Location:
    A galaxy far far away
    IDK, I use 11-52 or 12-56- have for many years, and have no issues with fingers, hands, or wrists.
    Your physiology may be such that you have a problem. I don't think we can predict that, but I doubt a problem like that could be attributed directly or solely to use of larger strings.
     
  3. CigBurn

    CigBurn Total Hack

    Age:
    64
    Messages:
    14,157
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Location:
    Same Shed Different Day
    I also use 11's and have no issues, I actually really prefer the way they feel and sound. YMMV
     
    Caddy, Nate D, Mike Furlong and 2 others like this.
  4. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    10,599
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2015
    Location:
    Foothills of the Cascades
    Doubtful. But it depends on the wrist.

    Wrist issues usually develop as a result of an angle thing...the wrist being held at an angle it finds unpleasant over a long period, or repetition at an angle that is unpleasant...to the wrist, not the human.

    We may think everything is fine until ...

    But the tension of the strings. Not so much the wrist, but arthritic fingers?
     
    Skychurch, jd35801, Nate D and 7 others like this.
  5. Cesspit

    Cesspit Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2016
    Location:
    Oxford England
    Heavy gauge strings won't necessarily give you a wrist problem but will exacerbate an existing problem.
    I used 11s for years until arthritis kicked in. Runs in the family and I now play 10s quite comfortably. I know at some point I'll drop to nines.

    Just the way it is.
     
  6. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Location:
    Greece
    I have always wondered who actually wants to do big bends and wide vibrato with 11s or more in standard tuning on a 25.5 scale length.....
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
  7. s5tuart

    s5tuart Perfecting time travel since 2525

    Messages:
    15,414
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Location:
    All over the place!
    My opinion is that it's harder work for the muscles to play heavier strings so I would assume that would exacerbate any underlying problems.
    I can't figure out if I think it would cause problems...probably not.
     
    Groovey, Nate D and Cerb like this.
  8. henderman

    henderman Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    10,396
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    Location:
    largo,fl
    ergonomics matter the most, if you do any work with bad posture and bad technique you are going to get hurt. sitting posture, how you hold the guitar, the angle the neck is held at, your wrist angle - it all matters.

    when i switched down to a smaller gauge, (which was weird at first and hard to get used to) it was one of the smartest things i have done for my guitar journey.

    also if i warm up correctly i can play for long periods with almost no fatigue but if i just grab it and sprint i get hurt.

    guitar is more athletic than it seems but we should use the same rules.
     
  9. macoshark

    macoshark Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2016
    Location:
    arizona
    All the above, plus as we age changes occur. Synovial fluid which lubes the joints and capsules decreases causing issues. Sheaths that tendons run through change like in trigger finger. Sometimes hand surgery is the answer. Repetitive motions under stress may add up till symptoms appear. Like mentioned already your physiology isn't like mine so you might be able to handle where I cannot. Changing gauges might benefit a player to keep playing as one ages, in my opinion.
     
    jd35801 likes this.
  10. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson Strat-Talker Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    70
    Messages:
    116
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2019
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    I have been stringing my acoustics and electrics with .053/.054-.013 for a very long time, so I think my experience counts for something, especially seeing as I had tendonitis in the fretting palm back in 1972. The root cause was the neck on my Guild F-50 was just too small for my hand, so I had larger, wider neck made for the guitar, and took that knowledge with me ever since.

    I have NEVER had any issues with my wrist. I am primarily a fingerstyle player/composer using open tunings and bottleneck. All my guitars have very large V shaped necks with 1 & 3/4" & 1 & 13/16" nut widths.

    It's all about leverage, and how the centerline of the neck passes through your hand has a LOT to do with this. Do you sit or stand when you play?

    All these little things affect the angle of your wrist and how your fingertips end up approaching the strings.

    It really has LITTLE to do with how heavy the strings are, but way MORE to do with the neck profile & width, fret size, etc as it relates to YOUR particular hand, body ergonomics, etc, etc.

    Of course if you are an inveterate string bender you'll hurt yourself with my particular string set preference, but I can easily bend my B string a whole step when a piece calls for it.

    The biggest advantage you can give yourself is larger fret wire, UNLESS you have an uncontrollable grip of death, and then you'll be complaining about the guitar not intonating properly.

    Larger/taller fret wire means less finger pressure required for string-to-fret contact, ergo less fingertip-to-fingerboard contact thus less friction overall.

    It's not for everyone, but it works for me.

    I hope this is somehow helpful.

    Howard Emerson
     
  11. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,768
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2020
    Location:
    Altered States
    There's something to be said for doing upper body exercise if you play guitar.

    I didn't realize it until I started doing it for other reasons and then I noticed that increased arm strength greatly improved my ability to play.

    Even if you can't lift weights, you can use some type of hand strength or forearm strength improver. Even squeezing something like a tennis ball on a regular basis helps.

    It will reduce muscle fatigue and pain as well as make it easier to play.
     
  12. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    31,056
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Ticket Booth at the JWPL
    On the nose.

    I use 13's on my jazz box. It's very easy to play and I have no wrist issues.
     
    rolandson and Nate D like this.
  13. SalvorHardin

    SalvorHardin Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    740
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2020
    Location:
    Windsor Ontario
    I don't think so. I practice with 13-59s on a guitar with a slightly shorter scale admittedly, for hours. No wrist problems yet, and fingers get stronger with bending exercises.
     
  14. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    2,795
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    Probably not. A lot of that might have more to do with your technique over the long haul vs string gauge. I’ve used .013’s for over 40 years and the repetitive use arthritis in my thumbs was caused by twisting the dial on my strobe tuner and using a hand crank string winder for several decades to restring guitars everyday and not from the string gauge I was using.
     
  15. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    67
    Messages:
    1,831
    Joined:
    May 31, 2017
    Location:
    Oxnard, CA
    I understood the correct way to bend is to twist at the wrist and not move the fingers. So, conceivably, your wrist could get sore if you go on a permanent “bend-fest”! I would think normal play wouldn’t produce a sports injury. I used to do sports medicine for football teams.
     
    AznCaster likes this.
  16. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    67
    Messages:
    1,831
    Joined:
    May 31, 2017
    Location:
    Oxnard, CA
    Stevie Ray?
     
    fattboyzz likes this.
  17. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Location:
    Greece
    You mean the guy who superglued his fingertips cause those strings were ripping his calouses off?Somehow i find it overkill but hey..to each his own.....
     
    Wayne Adams and Stevn like this.
  18. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    65
    Messages:
    2,795
    Joined:
    May 20, 2020
    Location:
    Athens Ga
    I’ve never given it a second thought. I do full step bends on my acoustic G string which .023 wound. .011’s on a Strat feel perfectly normal to me and I bend a lot.
     
  19. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    67
    Messages:
    1,831
    Joined:
    May 31, 2017
    Location:
    Oxnard, CA
    Stevie was a player of heavy strings though.
    Me? I like .10’s
    John Lennon once said, “I got blisters on me fingers!” Not me! :D
     
    fattboyzz likes this.
  20. Dreamdancer

    Dreamdancer Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    2,047
    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Location:
    Greece
    Well thats great but if i wanna do wide vibrato and bends like john sykes,Ynqwie Malmsteen or Zakk Wylde using those kind of gauges at standard tuning with the strat scale length...i wouldnt wonder why i have finger or wrist pains or tendonitis...........