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How heavy are your strings?

20 Apr 03 - 12:53 AM (#936815)
Subject: How heavy are your strings?
From: Blues=Life

Was wondering what other folks have used in the way of very heavy strings on their guitars, and why. Even though I use Elxir Lights on my Tacoma Parlor (huge sound, plays like butter), I've used a variety of thicknesses on my resonator. Still looking for the perfect sound. Any suggestions?

Also, just went to 14's thru 58's on my Telecaster, which I play thru the bass side of a 70's era Bassman 70 amp. I can just barely bend a full step at the 12th fret on the high E string, but it's getting easier. Gives me great tone, very fat, and for blues, it's the rhythm guitar from hell. (That's a good thing *G*) My calluses are growing nicely too.

How about the rest of you?

20 Apr 03 - 01:26 AM (#936823)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Ely

I've got small hands and I'm not that strong--my Alvarez gets mediums and my mother's (slightly smaller) Guild F-30 gets medium-lights. Even with ML's the Guild's touch is *really* stiff--I tried mediums once but I couldn't tune it up. I could probably put lights on it and spare myself carving up my fingers.

20 Apr 03 - 01:42 AM (#936828)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: GUEST,sorefingers

Martin DM, recommeded Martin L, but I use Marquis Ls.

These strings seem not to dull, at least not after several months. At first when I was playing it in, used three sets one after the other, Gs and Bs breaking. It turned out it was my heavy picking and not the strings or the Guitar.

Marquis are 5 bucks a set here.

20 Apr 03 - 05:14 AM (#936853)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: reggie miles

Mediums for my straight guitar that are tuned down a full step and lights for my Nobro cuz they're tuned way up to open G in an E form which put a lot of tension on them. I swap out the wound G string in the light set for an unwound G usually about a 19-20 guage. The tension level will cause the wound G string to break easily. I used to use a custom heavy guage set of strings on my Nobro and tune down to open C or even Bb. But it was costing me a fortune in strings because I was adapting a bass string for my low string. The cost of the bass string alone was around five bucks! It became a real challenge to tune at such a low pitch and it seemed that the strings quickly became dull sounding.

20 Apr 03 - 06:12 AM (#936861)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: breezy

8mm - 46mm elixir poly on a hand made Brook Tamar from Devon, England and tune it 3 semi- tones up to F#
The sound has been described as 'like a harp' and 'bells' when capoed to the 7th fret and playing ing with a dropped 6th string to what would on standard be D.
The sound is also achieved and enhanced with Fred kelly Speed pick and nikel silver finger picks.
These are essential pieces of equipment if you are performing to an audience and wishto bring out the true tonal quality of your instrument for the listener's pleasure.
Cant keep me hands off her.

20 Apr 03 - 10:50 PM (#936881)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: DonMeixner

Not more than a couple ounces inbcluding the packages.

21 Apr 03 - 05:41 AM (#936979)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Mooh

Virtually always D'Addario phosphor-bronze strings on everything. Lights on the 12 string unless I want to keep it tuned down for prolonged periods in which case I'll string up with mediums. Lights on the 6 string, though often mediums if it's tuned down. Heavy guage on the baritone tuned C# to C# (or some variant). Medium Flattops on the Harmony for lapstyle. Lights on the mandolin (a very light flat top Moon). Hard tension on the nylon string. "Nines" on the telecaster. Flat-wounds on the 5 string bass. I forget what're on the banjo, string bass, and fiddle.

Using the rule of guaging up to tune down to maintain something like the intended tension seems to work okay for me. The baritone guitar took a lot of experimentation before I settled on heavy guage strings. I went through dozens of custom sets as low as .080 to get down in pitch. For a long time I used a .066 sixth string and the lower five strings of a medium set (all moved up one), but have compromised to the heavy set for convenience. I should try the .066 set again now that the guitar has matured more. The downside has been two extensive setup jobs and many minor setups. No matter, I love tinkering with guitars!

Peace, Mooh.

21 Apr 03 - 10:52 AM (#937095)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Clinton Hammond

I used to use a LOT of Martin medium gauge strings... Then when I made the switch to my smaller scale Seagulls, I went down to Light Gauge... (.012-.054).. and I might even try lighter than that some time soon, just outa curiosity...

21 Apr 03 - 01:59 PM (#937233)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Songster Bob

I tend to use standard light gauge strings on my flat-top guitars, and medium on the archtops, though I think I have lights on my Epiphone just now (by chance -- I was out of mediums at the last string change). I have standard 12-string sets on my two 12-string guitars, both tuned down to D, but might experiment with a medium set if I can find same (most 12-string strings seem to be light gauge, based on what they hand you when you ask for 12-string strings).

I have a National-styule guitar that I intend to string with mediums (or a designated slide-guitar set I ended up with), just to see if there's enough difference in the sound.

Normally, I recommend light gauge strings for flat-tops, mainly because they're built for them and you don't get enough improvement in sound by using mediums to make the stiffer action worth it all. I'm thinking, in fact, that mediums on the archtop don't improve the sound enough, either, so I may go back to lights for all my archtops, too. Conventional wisdom says medium-to-heavy for archtop acoustics, but my experience is that it's sometimes not necessary, and isn't much of an improvement in either tone or volume.

If you tune down (or up, as I see some of you do), you may want to try heavier strings (or lighter, for "uppers"). Use your ears and fingers to judge, and don't listen to "conventional wisdom" unless it agrees with your findings.

Now, for electrics, I tend toward what might be called medium-lights, since I want a more "acoustic" feel to the strings. Those .008 sets are like playing cobwebs.

Bob Clayton

21 Apr 03 - 10:30 PM (#937493)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Cluin

I like mediums, especially for tuning down to DADGAD and other tunings, but my main working machine can't handle them. It's built too lightly and came strung with extra-lights from the factory. I was breaking too many of those so now I string it with lights, which are the heaviest I am prepared to go on that skinny little girly neck. ;)

The rest of my guitars are strung with mediums. (except an old Applause which I have high-strung).

21 Apr 03 - 10:42 PM (#937500)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: GUEST,Peter Benson

On my Takarmina I used Martin mediums.

Whn that got stolen and I bought a D28 the martins didn't work, I found D'Arrio lights worked best for me.
Just bought a Taylor that came with elixirs, but I'm still playing with that. Not sure I like the greasy feel of the elixirs.

Seems to me it's all in the player:.. how they feel and what kind of sound you want,


22 Apr 03 - 04:15 AM (#937610)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: mooman

.12 - .53 Elixir Polywebs on a custom Lakewood M-18, which is quite a lightly built guitar, plating always in DADGAD (now my "standard" tuning). A heavier guitar would probably take the mediums.


22 Apr 03 - 04:21 AM (#937611)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: GUEST,Taggart and Wright

The strings on our guitars are that heavy we have to have a World Champion Powerlifter to act as roadie for us.
To view Roadie go to web site

22 Apr 03 - 05:24 AM (#937639)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Pied Piper

Hi Breezy.
I'm not being pedantic, but F# is 2 semitones up from E, or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
On my much travelled Fender Acoustic I use 13>56s (phosphor bronze cheapest I can get).
Does anyone know where I can get a set of the legendary 14>58 acoustic Guitar strings?

All the best PP

22 Apr 03 - 08:31 AM (#937693)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Mooh

PP...The D'Addario heavies which I mentioned above are 14-59. Any decent shop should be able to get them for you. Many shops won't sell them to you because they think you'll string them to standard pitch on a lightly built guitar and then cause problems with repairs and warranty concerns. For tuning down they're the real deal, but make sure the nut is cut for them and a general set-up is done.

Peace, Mooh.

22 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM (#937697)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: JedMarum

Mediums on my Larrivee, Elixer 13 to 56. They sound pretty good when you put 'em on, and they sound just as pretty good weeks later. I can't use non-coated strings. For some reason my skin makes 'em go dompletely dead in a hour.

22 Apr 03 - 10:28 AM (#937744)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Pied Piper

Thanks a lot Mooh.
Do you think my 20 year old Fender accoustic will take the strain?
Should I adjust the trusrod?

All the best PP

22 Apr 03 - 11:01 AM (#937766)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: Mooh

PP...It depends on the guitar, but generally speaking I wouldn't traumatize your Fender with heavies at standard pitch, though tuned down to C# or D would likely be okay. Do the set-up anyway because the nut, truss rod, and saddle may need tweaking. My first attempts at baritone(ish) guitar was by stringing mediums and heavies on an old Tak dread...worked great, but it was no match for my custom baritone. You can always capo up for standard tuning, and the partial capo/virtual tuning potential is fun.

Peace, Mooh.

22 Apr 03 - 05:54 PM (#938025)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: GUEST,Claymore

I use Martin mediums for D G B E but I use D'Addario heavies for my bass E and A on my Martin K2. Since I run a very heavy bass rythmn, and the koa wood sings in the bass, plus the "Martin Sound", it's where I want to be. Though Martins state only "medium or less", if you look at the string tension charts, the poundage is almost the same. I've done this for years, with no damage to the top and a MUCH better sound. I think the package number is 118, and I've ordered them in bulk for years though they now only make them in sets. And if you ever go to Dropped D, you will not leave home without them.

22 Apr 03 - 06:12 PM (#938038)
Subject: RE: How heavy are your strings?
From: CraigS

11 to 52 on accoustic, 9 to 48 on electric. The heavier you go, the better the sound, but you get less sustain and more work than with lights. I used to know a pro jazz guitarist who used 16 to 64 on a Les Paul to get the fattest sound available. The old jazzers used to use these sort of gauges on arch tops for volume, but they used to tune them right down to C to reduce stress - this also facilitates playing in the flat keys preferred by the horn section. For resonator guitars, my memory says that Dobro used to recommend lights if you didn't have a spider, and mediums if you did have a spider.