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

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

  1. SalvorHardin

    SalvorHardin Strat-O-Master

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    A couple of caviats: According to Jeff Healey, who shook SRV's hand once, he already had massively powerful hands to begin with. Also, there's the Eb drop tuning, and the fact that not all of his guages were in the common 13 set. He did use a 19 as a G. But, his strings were heavier than I could or would want to put on my strat.
     
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  2. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

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    Me too! I don’t want to play cheese cutter wires!
     
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  3. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    All those guys probably used .009’s, so if you’re wanting to copy their technique then the string gauges they used would seem like the best place to start? It wouldn’t make sense to try and play like Zakk Wylde and not try and use a similar set up to what he used.

    I don’t really ever bend more than a step and a half, and usually only a step.
     
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  4. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up CUSTOM USER TITLE Silver Member

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    Kenny Wayne Shepherd does lol. He uses 12-58 or something. Possibly even bigger on the low strings. And really high action. Much like his idol, SRV, did.

    Edit: not sure about standard tuning but for sure on the rest
     
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  5. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up CUSTOM USER TITLE Silver Member

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    What size strings did Albert King use? To bend like he did would be insane on 12s.
     
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  6. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up CUSTOM USER TITLE Silver Member

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    Jeff shook his hand more than once. Stevie discovered Jeff one night in Canada and they became close friends after that. Jeff was on the bill the weekend Stevie was killed. He played the night before Stevie did.

    At least that's what the guy(and Jeff's wife) running Jeff's estate(?) and social media accounts says. He(the guy running this stuff) was one of Jeff's closest friends and business associates. I forget his name.


    Edit: his name is Roger Costa. I remember now. From Jeffs website

    "Roger Costa: This project has been a very personal one for Roger. Not only were he and Jeff close friends for over 21 years, he is also a fan. Roger was one of the producers of ‘Jeff Healey: A Celebration’ (the pair of memorial concerts held following Jeff’s passing) and is Co-Administrator and Archivist for Jeff’s Estate. He was also Jeff’s best man."

    Roger is a good dude. I've spoken to him multiple times at Jeff's Facebook page. You can tell he genuinely loved Jeff. He had to have loved him to be such a big part of his estate and legacy since he's been gone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
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  7. Slunkboy

    Slunkboy Strat-Talk Member

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    This was absolutely the case with me. For the first couple of decades I played guitar, I either played 11s in standard or 12s in Eb. I started expanding my horizons a bit over the past year by focusing on clean arpeggios and learning a bunch of chord inversions. I don’t know how much is attributable to age and how much is attributable to the new positions, but I started developing wrist pain when that had never been an issue before. Changing to 9s and developing a lighter touch solved the problem completely for me.
     
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  8. Wound_Up

    Wound_Up CUSTOM USER TITLE Silver Member

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    Buckethead fan? Slunk isn't a common word lol
     
  9. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    I used to play .011’s no problem on my fenders. When I had kids and life got busy and I wasn’t playing for extended periods of time each day I switched to .010’s on everything.

    I had no issues with finger strength or wrist problems when playing any string gauge. Practice builds up the muscles and strength and wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to cause any issues in and of themselves.

    You can bench press 300lbs and do it well with training and good technique. You can hurt yourself very badly benching 75lbs with very poor training Ans technique.
     
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  10. SalvorHardin

    SalvorHardin Strat-O-Master

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    True. When SRV died, there was a short time of concern when it wasn't sure if Jeff was with him. He said it was a strange feeling, you know, like Mark Twain.
     
  11. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

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    At the end of the video. But the whole number is well worth the 43 seconds:

     
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  12. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

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    FYI - Wrist paint problems are typically from the bending and repetitive motion i.e. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. It's the collapse of the inner (carpel) tunnel in the wrist. Common among people who work at the computer with the keyboard a little higher so that it causes a bend in the wrist 8 hours a day... also in farmers who weed all day (repetitive motion injury).

    Changing the way you hold your guitar can help straighten the wrist and prevent developing symptoms... which is way better than trying to cure the problem once you develop it.
     
  13. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    I think he use light strings? .009’s or .010’s? I took care of one of his guitars during my stint with the Hard Rock Cafe and if I remember correctly it had .010’s on it?
     
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  14. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Strat-Talker

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    I've had wrist problems off and on since I was 18 (now retired). Why someone has repetitive motion problems and the next guy doesn't is anyone's guess.

    Mine flares up occasionally and there are many things I've found that help. One of those is to lower the string tension with lighter gages and different materials. I play electric with .011s and acoustics with .012s. Going to .010s helps and silk and steel helps on acoustic. But when it first developed I was using .010s or maybe .009s, so string gage was not the underlying cause for me.
     
  15. Slunkboy

    Slunkboy Strat-Talk Member

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    I’m not familiar with Buckethead outside of his work with Axl Rose. It’s a portmanteau of two Smashing Pumpkins songs that goes back to my AOL days.
     
  16. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

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    That was good! I have never seen that before!
     
  17. dvqc1

    dvqc1 Strat-Talk Member

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    String gauges has nothing to do with wrist issues. I used to like heavier guaged strings but after listening to what Billy Gibbons had to say about them I went back to a lighter string. Funny someone mentioned SRV, I opened for him in 88 and his strings were ridiculous. He super glued his finger tips to deal with them. I have been so much happier using 9's because I do a lot on bends. Usually it is the configuration of the guitar that affects your wrists. I had a Gibson Firebird that killed my wrist and currently have a SG custom copy that kills my wrist.
     
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  18. jd35801

    jd35801 Strat-Talker

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    I have had to lower string gauges as I have gotten older, from .11’s to .10’s and have now switched to .09’s. But it was more for tendinitis in my hands than wrist. Wrist pain is more likely due to position of your guitar or hand, or a tight grip.
    Interesting about SRV: I had the chance to meet him, and shake his hand. While he was not a tall man, about 5’6”, his hands were massive for his size and very strong. In fact, when he shook my hand it almost hurt! But as has been mentioned in other posts on this forum, he had dropped down to .11 gauge strings for his last album and tour and was still tuning down half a step. His guitar tech said this was due to developing tendinitis in his hands.
     
  19. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Most Honored Senior Member

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    Setting aside bending strings, it's all in the set up, and wrist position.

    For chord work, it's all about action (string height). That is not dependent on string gauge. You can have low action with heavy strings (and vice versa).

    If your action is set low, you don't have to push as hard to fret chords. This will reduce wrist issues, especially over many hours of playing.
    Like I said, string gauge doesn't matter a lick in this instance.

    Get yourself a fret level/dress and drop that action down, and you will be infinitely more comfortable playing bar chords etc.

    As for soloing.... ie. widdlely widdlely...
    If you want to bend 11s or 12s, you are going to work harder than on 9s or 10s.

    Some like high action and thicker strings. They say they can bend strings better with high action.
    To which I would say.... how much time do you spend bending strings vs. playing chords? I personally spend about 95% of my playing time, playing chords. Occasionally I get a few measures of widdlely widdlely, but mostly playing chords.

    Do what makes sense to you.
     
  20. Wayne Adams

    Wayne Adams Strat-Talker

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    Oh, I don't know. I have slunk around a bunch of places I probably shouldn't have in my time... :D
     
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