"Custom" String Sets question

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Element0s, Jun 9, 2017.

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  1. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    I'm a complete and utter twit with very little mechanical sense so please bear with me.

    I play 25.5” scale 6-string guitars and I've become a devotee to floating trems over the past year. I'm also a big fan of lighter gauges on my thinner strings, specifically my 1st and 2nd strings for loosie-goosie bendage. My band plays in D-standard and I've been using D'addario “Super Light Top/Reg Bottom” strings clocking in at 9-46.

    I'm not an amazing tech but I do most of my own work and I try my best to set up my own guitars, but I always end up with relatively high action on my instruments. I've talked to a few techs and done some research and it sounds like my tuning/string choices are basically locking me in here. Now—higher action doesn't bug me all overmuch. I try to use a wide vibrato and lots of stupid bends so the higher action feel nice. However, I do find my intonation to be a little iffy and I feel like my playing is more tense compared to when I play my perfectly-set up fixed bridge guitar, especially on rhythm playing. I wouldn't mind getting my action a hair lower. Maybe like 1.5mm?

    So, I'm thinking of trying a mixed set of string gauges.

    Now I know I'm not the first person to think of this, but I want to get some impressions from the more tech-minded and experienced folks here. What I want to do is keep my 1st and 2nd strings at 009+011 while slightly beefing up the rest of the set.

    My question is this: How will this affect my guitar in term of stability? I hear about string sets being “balanced” which I assume has to do with all the strings gauges in a pack playing nice with one another. Would something like this lead to neck issues down the road? Would I be in danger of putting too much tension on one side of the neck, leading to warping over time?

    Off the top of my head I had something like this in mind:

    D: 0.009
    A: 0.011
    F: 0.017
    C: 0.028
    G: 0.038
    D: 0.048

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    - Most strings sets are not at all balanced. They have a ballpark feel as you are aware, but the poundage between each string can vary greatly. The D'addario website shows tensions for all their sets which is useful.
    -Heavy Bottom sets are quite common and very extreme in this way. The bottom strings being typically double the tension of the trebles.
    -You will be fine. Even that does not damage the neck. Neck warpage due to strings is something incredibly overplayed. If strings are going to destroy your neck, the neck was going to warp anyway. Bass guitars run around twice the tension on a thinner, longer neck. Use whatever string tension you want on any string, you aren't going to break anything except maybe the strings themselves if you go real crazy haha.
    -When lots of people talk about balanced here, they are addressing how string sets are often slightly looser on the 6th, quite a lot looser on the 7th, and extremely looser on the 8th. Especially if drop tuning. I tend to throw the word balanced around as short for all the wounds being matched. Technically balanced would have the plains the same tension, but this is not commonly desired. D'addarios balanced tension sets have the plains the same tension. I feel like this was a misinterpretation perhaps on their part reading people who just wanted balanced wounds. Who knows.
    -Your set isn't particularly balanced at all, by either interpretation of the term. Here are your tensions:
    len 25.5
    d4 .009 dapl == 10.42#
    a3 .011 dapl == 8.74#
    f3 .017 dapl == 13.15#
    c3 .028 danw == 16.91#
    g2 .038 danw == 17.13#
    d2 .048 danw == 15.03#

    A light set indeed, you said you like 9-46 in D so that's fine. Let's take 9-48 as a guide and put something better together:
    Trebles could go two ways;
    len 25.5
    d4 .009 dapl == 10.42#
    a3 .012 dapl == 10.4#
    f3 .017 dapl == 13.15#

    len 25.5
    d4 .009 dapl == 10.42#
    a3 .012 dapl == 10.4#
    f3 .016 dapl == 11.65#

    The wounds are ok, but you might want to try this for a bit better balance;
    len 25.5
    c3 .026 danw == 14.61#
    g2 .036 danw == 15.51#
    d2 .048 danw == 15.03#

    Or, as you wanted more beef and this would only beef up the low E to bring balance, go with what you said and bring the E up to match;
    len 25.5
    c3 .028 danw == 16.91#
    g2 .038 danw == 17.13#
    d2 .050 danw == 16.24#
     
  3. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I recommend Stringjoy for this by the way :)
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Wait, why does a preference for thinner treble and thicker bass strings lock you into higher action?

    I've never gotten the "balanced" string hype, and just use Elixir 10-46s with a 64 bass elixir as a low B. I could probably adjust to something else easily enough, though, I think familiarity matters way more than the exact gauges.

    But, what's your current action? 1.5mm is pretty damned low, so I'm wondering if you're already using what most people would consider "low" action already.
     
  5. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    Thanks a lot, this is extremely helpful and informative! And browsing the Stringjoy website is what got me thinking about this, so I think I'l give them a shot.

    Well I'm tuned down to D standard with that set, so I'm finding that I gotta put a little extra relief on my neck and then hike up bridge a bit to prevent too much buzz. Maybe there's something else that I'm missing but I've gone through quite a few tutorials and gotten advice from some techs in my area and the common theme seems to be low tunings + lighter gauge = higher action. I like my thinner treble strings but want my action a little lower so I'm hoping that beefing up my bass end a bit will give me some wiggle room to adjust.

    And beg pardon--when I said 1.5mm, I meant 1.5mm lower than I currently have. I'm not sure what my action is right now but I'll check when I'm home from work. I bet it's around 4mm...
     
  6. stevexc

    stevexc SS.org Regular

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    I was happy with my set, FWIW.
     
  7. primitiverebelworld

    primitiverebelworld SS.org Regular

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    For D I suggest 10-52. +maybe higher on 24,75 scale surely. The set you use on that scale at this tuning is ridiculous. If you dont believe me - try it out and/or google D-standard
     
  8. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    10-52 set for sure. Just enough tension on the top strings to intonate well, but still be slinky and easy to bend, and the bottom strings are nicely balanced. Definitely beefier than your current set, but would be easy to adjust to IMO
     
  9. BrutalRob

    BrutalRob SS.org Regular

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    I also always try my best to balance out the set i use on each tuning.
    What works best for me on D tuning would be
    10
    13
    17
    28
    38
    50 or actually 51 if available

    Now since you want to keep the 9 on the first string, i would try
    9
    12
    16
    For the plains.
    My advice for a decent set up: in my experience it is most important for low action to lower the height of the strings on the nut and then ad some neck relief.
     

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