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  1. #1

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    Brighter snappier sound, actually more "acoustic." And much faster "legato" lines. Anyone else?

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  3. #2

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    What guitar?

    I made a comparable step, 11-52 Earthwood Silk & Steel to TI AC111 (11-50). I wouldn't call the sound brighter but they play a lot easier and it's as if the guitar breathes better (and I hear it much better).

  4. #3

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    I've gone to successively lighter sets to facilitate re-learning to play; having been unable to so much as pick up a guitar for over two years. Right now I have 0.009s on the guitars I have out. I may go to 0.008s on some at some point. One does what one must.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 12-20-2021 at 04:48 PM.

  5. #4

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    Jim Hall used 11s, so it's no sin. Have fun.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Brighter snappier sound, actually more "acoustic." And much faster "legato" lines. Anyone else?
    I agree with 2 out of 3. The acoustic thing I can’t say I agree with. Just not quite as rich.

    But brighter for sure and much easier to play, which was my motivation.

  7. #6

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    I find that 11s work very well on my Tele. I have 12s on the LP and 000, 13s on the L50 and the Yamaha dreadnought.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan0996
    Jim Hall used 11s, so it's no sin. Have fun.
    Wow, I wouldn't have guessed that. Certainly gets great tone. Thanks for sharing. I just went from 12s to 11s on my H-575 to see how I like it.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Donplaysguitar
    I agree with 2 out of 3. The acoustic thing I can’t say I agree with. Just not quite as rich.

    But brighter for sure and much easier to play, which was my motivation.
    I was equating "brighter" with "acoustic."

  10. #9

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    I like 11's compared say 13's because I can feel the elastic interaction of the strings with my hands because of the reduced tension. Higher gauges can have a rigid wire feel.

    Regarding "brighter", I'm not sure. High tension brings out more of the overtones, low tension emphasizes the fundamental IMO (think Fender vs Gibson or ES 175 vs L5). So you could argue that reducing the string tension by going down a gauge have a similar effect. I certainly hear that difference say between 13's and 11's.

  11. #10

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    I did the same thing on my Johnny Smith and L7. Not really a brighter sound to my ears, but much easier on aging fingers. However on my L5 I still use 12s. I made the switch to pure nickel a few years ago (upon Wintermoon's suggestion) and really liked the warmer, more accoustic sound.

  12. #11

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    Are you certain you don't have that backwards?!

    With nylon strings (and on a given guitar) you definitely get more energy in the fundamental frequencies when you increase the tension, which I think is explainable in part by internal damping in the thicker string and the fact that the top can no longer vibrate as freely. I see no reason why those arguments would not apply to steel strings too.

    And I find the effect perfectly noticeable even going from an 11 to a 12 high E. Less nasal twang, and more the tones (notes) you actually want to hear.

  13. #12

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    I’ve never bought into the heavier is better theory, and I don’t think strings necessarily give a bigger sound just because they’re a thou or 2 thicker. If you consider the physics, a lower mass, lower tension string will vibrate across a wider distance than a string with higher mass and more tension. And it takes less force to set it in motion, so more picking / plucking energy goes into the string’s motion and less is lost to setting it in motion. It will also sustain longer because the lower tension and stiffness will offer less resistance to continued string vibration.

    Back in the early ‘60s, Guild came out with (but almost certainly didn’t make) “light gauge” flats called EA610L, which were 11-60 as I recall. I tried a set on my 345 and never went back to the telephone wires we all used at the time. They sounded bigger and richer on both the 345 and the 175 that replaced it - more harmonic content, longer sustain, more “wood” in the tone. They also brought out an SL set that were either 9 or 10 at the top, but I didn’t like the feel and only used the lighter E1 and B when playing a blues or rock gig, removing and saving them between uses.

  14. #13

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    i never got the idea behind 'liking' 12's. It's an attack on your fingers and they don't play comfortably.
    The PM i bought a few months back came with 12's. It was a nightmare.

    As for the difference in sound . . . come on, you don't really hear a difference between 10's, 11's or 12's. There is no way you can a/b this with the same guitar. It's all suggestion.

  15. #14

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    Don’t know which brand of strings you’re playing but with TI’s the “.12” set is as light as .11’s/.10.5 Very balanced sound and feel. The unwound b and e high strings are “from a .12 set” with the wound strings “lighter”. This fact kept me from trying TI for years. Luckily a friend changed what he used and he gave me a set of Benson TI’s, best strings ever. Initial cost seems crazy but they’re coming up on 3 years, having replaced the b and e.

  16. #15

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    Really depends on the guitar. I've settled on .011's for my tele so I can bend a bit, but I like heavier strings on my 575, with low action, where I'm not really bending much... I actually find string action effects ease on my fingers a lot more than string gauge, and I've found I can go lower with action with heavier strings-- again, assuming I'm not bending. For bending, yes, lighter strings, please.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB
    Are you certain you don't have that backwards?!

    With nylon strings (and on a given guitar) you definitely get more energy in the fundamental frequencies when you increase the tension, which I think is explainable in part by internal damping in the thicker string and the fact that the top can no longer vibrate as freely. I see no reason why those arguments would not apply to steel strings too.

    And I find the effect perfectly noticeable even going from an 11 to a 12 high E. Less nasal twang, and more the tones (notes) you actually want to hear.
    Not being a materials scientist, this is pure speculation and very possibly wholly inaccurate. Structurally nylon strings and classical bass strings are significantly different from metal strings. Classical bass strings are wrapped around a multi-stranded core whereas electric wound strings are wrapped around a single steel core; the steel strands have a crystalline structure which may or may not be true of nylon strings. I don't know whether nylon is a crystalline or amorphous structure. Mass to length ratio is different and absolute tension of even the hardest nylon strings is probably less than all but the very lightest steel strings. Increased and decreased tension may have different results because of this.

    There are a lot of other factors including how the guitar responds to the different loading of the top and neck, the players' technique, the vagaries of amplification, etc. As someone who plays with a light touch, I find lighter gauge strings work better for me in terms of getting a fat, warm electric sound- but I am not loud acoustically. Someone with a heavier touch might find the opposite even when using the same equipment.

    Ed Bickert used .010s for much of his career, got a nice warm fat sound. Jim Hall used .011s and later .010s and ditto (although I think his sound towards the end of his career was thinner and plinkier than I cared for; maybe string gauge was part of that).

  18. #17

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    The relationship (equation) that correlates tension, string diameter and string unit weight (density) is the same for all strings regardless of what they're made of. Any effects of elasticity act through the diameter. For instance, composite strings stretch during the period they're settling. This cause the diameter to go down because density remains the same (for all practical purposes at least). It's possible that the equation to calculate tension actually uses the mass of the vibrating part (no time to check right now); this will of course also go down as a result of the stretching. FWIW: string makers do not account for this in the tensions they list in their product sheets.
    Source: Mimmo Peruffo from Aquila Strings, via the Delcamp forum.

    Likewise, internal damping which leads to loss of higher frequencies and ultimately to decreased sustain depends on diameter for all materials, but the rate at which it increases with increasing diameter will be dependent on the material (and presumably a lot lower for steel).

  19. #18

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    Interesting stuff ....

    I’ve have to do a bit of bending
    these days , playing some non-jazz
    pop and soul/funk etc
    (currently using 13 TI jazz flats
    on a 24.75 scale)

    I do still need to play standards too
    and I don’t want to bring two guitars
    so I’m trying to find a compromise

    I’ve ordered some 12 TI jazz flats
    so we’ll see how that goes ....
    interestingly it’s the B string bends i
    find difficult not the G so much

  20. #19

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    the B string may well be more difficult to bend simply because you have much less grip. But, the goal of winding is (partly) to increase flexibility (chiefly even, if you're winding with an alloy that has a similar or even lower unit weight than the alloy used for the core).

  21. #20

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    I've wondered if some strings are manufactured more limp/flexible than others, even for the same gauge. The more limp, the more highs, or so it seems to me. Anybody know?

    I'm very focused on the sound of the high E string above the 10th fret. On many guitars, but not all, it sounds thin or fizzy. The usual advice is to go to a thicker string, but haven't found that to make that much difference. I think the fretwork needs to be perfect. I also think the EQ characteristics of the guitar and amp are important. The DV Mark Little Jazz doesn't seem to reproduce the fizz that I hear from other amps.

    To protect aging hands, I've gone to 11 to 42. 11 13 16 22 32 42 (those numbers are close). It's a 009-42 set and I buy 13s separately. Next time, I may try a 10 on the high E. This is on a Comins GCS-1. They sound fine. I have a little trouble keeping the low E in perfect tune.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    To protect aging hands
    Is this based on evidence?

    Mind you, I'm by no means trying to get into an alternative-facts kind of fight, just trying to understand if I should consider changing to lighter strings for "prophylaxis" myself. Couldn't one flip the argument around and say that a little extra training of the muscles involved is actually good for you? Of course I'm not considering arthritris or something here, just trying to grasp the physiological side of the coin...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I've wondered if some strings are manufactured more limp/flexible than others, even for the same gauge. The more limp, the more highs, or so it seems to me. Anybody know?
    Strings of the exact same gauge and mass can differ in physical stiffness for many reasons. For example, round core wound strings are more flexible than hex cores. Some materials are stiffer than others. The ratio of wrap wire to core changes stiffness.

    Keep in mind that stiffness is a measurable physical property expressed in units that describe the ratio of applied force to deformation (Newton meters, in the metric system). This is not the same thing as strings that “feel” stiffer on some guitars than on others. That unmeasured feel is usually a function of scale length, angulation at bridge, nut and tailpiece, etc. The same string may feel stiffer on one guitar than another even if its measured tension is the same.

    Stiffness is a high pass filter. The stiffer an oscillating system is, the higher its resonant frequency. Adding mass lowers the resonant frequency.

  24. #23

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    I've heard a very experienced jazz player long assert that if you are playing electric, there's no improvement in sound going beyond 11s.

    Then there is Pat Martino with 15s. Toty Viola gave me a set of 16s he gigs with.

    There should be a difference between a 15 and 11, all things being equal, due to the mass vibrating in the magnetic field.

    The round vs. hex core provides at least a palpable difference.

    When I play acoustic I know I drive the top more with heavy strings.

  25. #24

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    There is no universal standard, only personal preferences. What feels right to you now may feel heavy or light in the future. I went from 10s to 11s when playing funk and blues, then 12s to 13s when trying to cop a jazz feel (all on the same LP-type guitar). Sometimes I put would a 14 on top because I liked the sound. However, I do not enjoy the tension of a .026 G string, whereas other players have no complaints. Get it? Neither do I.

  26. #25

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    I settled on my custom balanced 12-52s a whole step down. Same tension as 11s in standard. They feel and sound substantially fat while not being overly crazy with the tension. Whereas 11s felt just passably fat enough to me.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 12-14-2021 at 11:16 PM.