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Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...

Little Hawk 28 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM
Wesley S 28 Mar 10 - 06:27 PM
GUEST, Richard Bridge on the other browser 28 Mar 10 - 06:40 PM
catspaw49 28 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM
John MacKenzie 28 Mar 10 - 06:43 PM
Little Hawk 28 Mar 10 - 07:06 PM
Allan C. 29 Mar 10 - 05:54 AM
Leadfingers 29 Mar 10 - 06:04 AM
mandotim 29 Mar 10 - 07:18 AM
DonMeixner 29 Mar 10 - 06:00 PM
Little Hawk 29 Mar 10 - 06:14 PM
PoppaGator 30 Mar 10 - 02:59 PM
Little Hawk 30 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,Steve J. 30 Mar 10 - 04:57 PM
bubblyrat 30 Mar 10 - 06:21 PM
mattkeen 31 Mar 10 - 06:23 AM
Lowden Jameswright 31 Mar 10 - 06:34 AM
olddude 31 Mar 10 - 08:36 AM
deepdoc1 31 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM
Allan C. 31 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
deepdoc1 31 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Walt 10 Dec 10 - 02:35 PM
tritoneman 10 Dec 10 - 02:59 PM
tritoneman 10 Dec 10 - 03:06 PM
Mark Ross 10 Dec 10 - 05:06 PM
DebC 10 Dec 10 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Seaking at sea without a cookie 11 Dec 10 - 02:21 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 11 Dec 10 - 07:36 PM
Amos 11 Dec 10 - 08:51 PM
Stringsinger 12 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM
Backwoodsman 12 Dec 10 - 10:48 AM
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Subject: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:12 PM

I find that my Martin dreadnought (D-28H) definitely sounds better with medium gauge strings on it than with light gauge. I've been using mediums for some time on it and decided to try a set of lights to see how much difference there would be. The lights are a bit easier on the fingers, but they give a weaker sound overall, poorer bass response in particular, and some inclination to buzz on the 5th and 4rth strings if I pluck them too hard.

My style is mostly rythm, I don't play too hard...sort of a medium attack on the strings, I'd say, using my fingernails. Medium gauge strings definitely produce a better sound on this large-bodied guitar.

I have a smaller-bodied Taylor, though, with koa back and sides, and it seems just right for the light gauge strings, which are the gauge it came with originally. It's got a very sweet, clear sound with lovely overtones and is perfect for fingerpicking. Not as big a sound as the dreadnought, but undeniably beautiful tone right across the entire range. The bass end is not lacking, despite the smaller body. My feeling is that light gauge are the way to go on this one, which also has a shorter scale neck than the Martin.

What have others found are the best gauges for their larger and smaller body guitars, and why? I'd be interested to know.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:27 PM

I use lights on my Collings OM and 000 slothead. On my Martin D-18 I use bluegrass strings. My understanding is that they are mediums on the three lowest strings and lights on the top three.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge on the other browser
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:40 PM

There is a theory that over heavy strings on a guitar that is too weak for them will move the top out of its best vibration range. I have never experienced this - despite damaging a couple of guitars by using D'Aquisto Brass Master 13-58s on them. They sounded Fantastic, with enormous cut and impact, but after a while nasty bellying developed.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM

I like GHS Phosphor Bronze in what they call "True Medium." Their medium is slightly heavier on 3,4,5, and I think the trues are better for my style which is similar to yours LH.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 06:43 PM

Lights for my Apollo 6, and mediums for the D28, and of course, lights for my 12 string, as I tune it to concert.

All Newtones ;)


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 07:06 PM

Sounds right to me. I've been using a number of different makes of strings, but mostly D-Addario mediums and lights. Now and then I use the coated strings from Elixir or some other make. They last 3 times longer and cost twice as much. ;-) As for the sound, it seems fine to me (some people say they don't sound good). If it was a 12-string guitar I was playing, I would definitely use lights.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Allan C.
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 05:54 AM

I'm not sure it is an "either/or" question. I'm starting to think a mixture of both, as mentioned above, may work best - or at least best for me. I play almost exclusively finger-style and find myself pulling heavily on the 4, 5, & 6 to get the most sound out of them. The lights on either my 12-string or 6 don't respond well to that kind of treatment. They buzz in protest. However, I am almost equally heavy handed on the 1, 2, & 3 strings, yet have not had the same problem with the lights. So, as I say, I'm thinking of trying a custom mix.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:04 AM

Its another of these Unanswerable question - It depends on the response of the instrument and the personal preference of the player !
I find my old D35 works best (FOR ME) with Daddario Mediums , while my Poseur Tanglewood sounds happiest with Lights .


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: mandotim
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 07:18 AM

Newtones are an interesting issue in this discussion; they are made as low-tension strings, so you can play heavier gauges without putting as much stress on the instrument. I have some fairly fragile older guitars, and Newtones are first choice for those. For mandolin, the heavier the better for me; I like the way they drive a carved top, and I like a string that 'fights back; a bit when playing tremelo. Heavy pick, of course, but that's another discussion...
Tim


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: DonMeixner
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:00 PM

I think that Martin says inside - medium strings. The dreads are designed to be driven by mediums.

I play with a cross over strum and finger style so light gauge strings are my choice. I use 80/20 lights on my JC 16 because they are kinder to the fingers and my fingers need kindness. If I need volume I turn it up. I use Martin Bronze lights on my Guild F-30 because it is 50 years old. But the Guild sounds great so why change.

GHS strings don't seem to last for me. It's a body chemistry thing.
But with a long neck five I am stuck with GHS strings for he banjo. Thats what I have available with out going mail order.

D


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 06:14 PM

Yeah, the dreadnoughts are meant to be driven by mediums for sure, going by my experience. It really brings the best out of them.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:59 PM

I'm glad to see so many folks beside myself opting for the mediums on guitars like mine (Martin dread ~ D-18, to be specific).

Light guage strings are apparently much more "popular," to the extent that some stores hereabouts don't even stock anything heavier than 12s (lights), except maybe in one or two brands.

When I've tried 12s (most recently, a couple of years ago when the luthier who reset my neck returned my guitar to me strung with the light-guage phosphor bronze set that he "recommended" ~ !), they sounded weak and wimpy, AND buzzed on the frets once I began playing with a bit of intensity.

Years ago, when I was playing long hours on the street and breaking strings fairly regularly, I vacillated between mediums and heavies, which were hard on the fingertips and which didn't put out as bright, or even as loud, a sound as the mediums. (They did last almost indefinitely, though...) I'm not sure anyone even makes heavy-guage acoustic guitar strings anymore ~ I certainly never see them for sale...


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM

I have a friend who plays really good guitars...Martin dreadnoughts and the like...and he insists that all Martin guitars must have light gauge strings put on them, because (according to him) mediums will eventually damage the instrument.

He's certifiably nuts on this one subject. ;-) But he does know a lot about guitars in most respects.

The fact is, Martin dreadnoughts come from the factory with medium gauge strings already on them. That's because medium gauge is what they are designed to take, and it won't damage them one bit, plus...they sound and play way better that way.

Now your smaller body guitars...they seem ideal for lights.

I have another friend who puts extra-lights on all his guitars. That produces a wretchedly weak sound, comparatively speaking, but he seems happy with it, so.....(shrug)


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: GUEST,Steve J.
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:57 PM

Martin Medium Bronze Phosphor MSP430s just sound so wonderful on my '71 D18. The lights just do not give the volume or the bass response for a driving rhythm.

As far as small guitars, I have an old Gibson LG3 which has used mediums all it's life with no damage, but this was the top of the line on these old LGs and was an X-braced top.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: bubblyrat
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:21 PM

D'Addario PB 12/54 on the Martin MC 16,D'Addario PB 13/56 on the Avalon (big body,big sound) and ( at the moment,as the shop was out of D'Addarios !) Martin medium PB on the Guild (all tuned and played in Double -dropped -D ,so fairly heavy bottom E is required ).


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: mattkeen
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 06:23 AM

D'Addario PB 13/56 on both my small (000) Brook's
But I use an modal C type tuning so all string tensions are down

Even when I used standard tuning light strings always seemed inferior tone wise.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 06:34 AM

Anyone tried John Pearse strings? Are they as good as folks say?


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: olddude
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 08:36 AM

lights just don't do my d-28 justice, i also use mediums.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: deepdoc1
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM

I'll add my voice to the design crowd. HD-28 - mediums; Baby Taylor - lights, Guild F50 - mediums (have tried heavys once or twice, but it's like playing telephone poles), Sigma 12-string - lights. Since I don't play much in public, I have enjoyed the Elixir strings with a coating that keeps them alive longer. If I ever get more serious, I'll switch to uncoated, but these do last quite a bit longer.

If you know what your guitar is designed for and decide to go a different weight, just keep an eye on possible adjustment changes or excess stress.

From the Martin Guitar FAQ (and yes, I realize there are many other brands, this is just a f'rinstance):

Q: Is it safe to use medium-gauge strings on my scallop braced guitar?
A: Yes it is safe. All of our six-string guitars designed for steel strings have been tested to withstand the tension of a medium gauge string. However, since each top is unique, take note if the top starts to raise abnormally. If this happens, go back to the lighter-gauge strings.

Q: What type of strings came on my Martin?
A: From time to time we change the type of strings used on new Martin guitars. Generally, all non-cutaway dreadnoughts and jumbos get medium gauge. All X-Series, cutaways and smaller models such as the 000 and 00 get light gauge strings. All 12 string guitars get extra light gauge. Of course we have a few exceptions with nylon string guitars and bass guitars. For the most current information of what type of strings came on your Martin, please refer to the model spec page for recommended strings.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Allan C.
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

The last time I tried heavy strings on a guitar, (special emphasis on LAST,) I put them on an old Harmony 12-string. As soon as I tightened them to pitch I heard/felt a loud pop. I thought at first that the string I was tightening had broken; but soon discovered otherwise. It was the face of the guitar body, (the area beneath the bridge,) separating from the cross bracing inside.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: deepdoc1
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 06:59 PM

Yikes! Well, that Guild is pretty bullet proof, but I have no desire to do heavy's again...unless someone wants to borrow the guitar, then it might make sense ;o)


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: GUEST,Walt
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 02:35 PM

I have tried them all. Light strings just do not add up. The medium strings sound better. I play a guitar for the sound it produces, not the looks or size, so If the guitar does not take medium strings I don't want that guitar. Pretty simple, any guitar with medium strings properly set up will play just as easy and fast as any guitar with lights on it.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: tritoneman
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 02:59 PM

I remember in the 1960's buying Ivor Mairants strings and when they last their sparkle taking them off the guitar, boiling them in a saucepan and putting them back on again! It did actually work.

There wasn't such a choice in strings then= Martin, Gibson, Cathedral, Rotosound etc. Now there is such a bewildering choice but after experimenting for years, I've settled for Elixir Nanoweb mediums for my 1957 Gibson J200and Newtone Heritage .012 - .051 'low tension' strings for my Lowden S12. The Newtone strings are incredibly light and easy to play yet the Lowden still projects wel, l keeping it's sweet sustained tone.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: tritoneman
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 03:06 PM

Whoops! What I meant to say was: the Lowden still projects well, keeping its sweet sustained tone.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Mark Ross
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 05:06 PM

I use D'Addario Phosphor Bronze Mediums(13-56)on my OOOO made by Ivon Schmukler for me in '74. When I received the instrument from him, he instructed me to string it up with HEAVY GAUGE(14-58)for the 1st couple of months to break in the guitar. I have tried using light gauge on it when it was in need of a neck reset (since done by Ivon), but it doesn't sound like the same instrument. I'll stick with the medium gauge.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: DebC
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 06:19 PM

I use the medium gauge D'Addario Phos Bronze on my Martin HD28, but I use D'Addario light gauge phos bronze on my custom built Leach Voyage-Air, which is an OM size guitar.

I love the sound of the lights on the Leach and the Martin just seems to love the mediums.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: GUEST,Seaking at sea without a cookie
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:21 AM

Another vote from me for medium D'addarios on my HD28. Have used lights in emergency but much prefer feel and sound of the heavier strings for my own, mainly fingerpicking, style.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 07:36 PM

I have fifteen guitars. I put mediums on the big ones, lights on the little ones, and extra-lights on the old ones that might be in danger of exploding.

Pretty simple, huh?


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Amos
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 08:51 PM

Interesting consensus: I always buy medium-weight D'Addario EP strings for my Martin. In return, it always sounds beautiful, even when I am playing it.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM

Since having tried lights and every other brand, the only exception to the Pearse was the D'Angelicos, which I can't find now, I use John Pearse mediums on my Martin 0021 that brings out the balance from highs to lows. I play acoustic jazz on it from time to time and it really cuts through horns and other instruments.

John Pearse mediums seem to be the right weight and torque for the 0021 and they sound well with pick and finger style. I do have to change them every other month or so which brightens the sound considerably.

Any talk of strings has to consider the player and their technique. I play finger style softly and pick style loud. John Pearse mediums work for me.


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Subject: RE: Medium gauge vs light gauge strings...
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 10:48 AM

Martin HD-28V - Mediums (13-56), Light Mediums (12.5-55) or LTMBs (12-56) depending on my mood and whether I'll be strumming or fingerpicking.

Martin OM-28 Marquis - Lights (12-54). This guitar's a fingerpicker.

Lowden O25 - Lights (12-54). Although it's a Jumbo, it has a cedar top which, I've been informed by someone who knows, shouldn't be subjected to anything heavier than 12's.

Fylde Mandolin - mediums (11-40)


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