The problem with the G string

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by farren, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

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    I started tuning to D standard ~20 years ago. It's still, in theory, my favorite tuning, but a few years ago the sound of plain steel strings above .017" started bothering me. Now I can't bare to play them and even the .017" (and .016) is starting to bother me. I recently bought some NYXLs to see if the steels were really different. Perhaps they are, but they still lack stability (not tuning stability but resonant stability). The area from the 9th to 15th with a neck pickup used to produce my favorite tone, now I'm almost never using neck pickups. The warbling tone I get from this string and especially this region of it on ANY guitar with ANY pickup is just repulsive to me. I can only stomach it on a 26.5" B standard 7 with a .015 G right now and I'm afraid that's changing.

    A lot of this is me and my apparently evolving tastes (which, problematically, aren't just evolving but disappearing, meaning I have no reasonable assonant substitute despite really being into the Mark IV tone I've always loved on the other strings), but some of it is objective. Plain steel strings are increasingly unstable as mass increases. Wound strings aren't as bendable even at equal tension. In my opinion, being able to use a small third string is the only good argument for E standard being the standard tuning as I find C and D far more practical and pleasant.

    Does the plain G really bother anyone else? I'm not sure what I can do about this. It's with any amp and any guitar at this point. :/ I think a lot of leads in the studio are played on guitars tuned to E standard and/or with small strings for good reason.
     
  2. jl-austin

    jl-austin SS.org Regular

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    I always preferred that string to be wound, I am not a solo'er though. I have also found that on the cobalts that sting is "unsable" even on 10's.
     
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  3. groverj3

    groverj3 Biologist/Guitarist

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    My lowest-tuned guitar is C-standard and I've specifically strung that with 12-56 with a plain 20 3rd string. I think that's the gauges anyway. Sure, it may not sound the absolute best, but I swap guitars and tunings so often that it's more important to me to have a consistent feel and I play in standard 80% of the time with a regular 10-46 set.

    If you play mostly in alternate tunings then you have to decide what's more important to you, feel (which is subjective), or tone (which is subjective).

    Basically, I've said nothing of substance here.
     
  4. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    let's not forget how it rides up your ass crack too
     
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  5. xAGx

    xAGx SS.org Regular

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    I play in Drop C and Drop B mostly and ANY set that i order i order the single string nickel wound version of the G string. If its 11-54 or 12-56 i order the single wound version of that string. i HATE the plain steel strings ESPECIALLY the G. The tension tone and stability of the string is GARBAGE in my opinion especially when all of the other strings are wound.
     
  6. PBGas

    PBGas SS.org Regular

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    No. It does not bother me at all. When playing live, no one notices either.

    But alas....we are all different and our perceptions on things are also different.
     
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  7. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Yes! I've noticed it too, and hate it. In the end, I chose to go with the wound string and just suffer the more difficult bends.
     
  8. awesomeaustin

    awesomeaustin hates neck pickups. Contributor

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    I use a wound G on all my guitars no matter the tuning. I have my local shop order single wound strings from .017 and up so I can use a wound G even in standard tuning.
     
  9. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Yes, and anything below a 0.500" makes everything go sharp and produces too many harsh higher frequencies.
     
  10. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    i always use a wound g when it's available.
     
  11. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    I came in here knowing full well someone would make a G string joke, and you still made me laugh out loud. Good job, sir!

    Also, bonus points to the OP for using the word assonant. I had to look it up!

    But this is an interesting topic to me, since I’m going the opposite direction - longer scale lengths, but still tuning in E standard (for the top 6 strings of an ERG). That results in me having to make a wound/plain decision on the D string too. I’d never really thought much about it, but I’m going to try to listen now, and see if I can find a gauge that is my trigger point for not liking the tone.
     
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  12. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    real men use wound D's.
     
  13. bnzboy

    bnzboy Asian Dying

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    Wound G was great for Enter Sandman cover but I need that plain G to play Sweet Child O'Mine guitar solo
     
  14. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    Wound 3rd string is the truth.

    Don't pay attention to getting the tension equal to a plain string. You need to go a fair bit higher to get a similar feel, which seems like it would be a pain, but strings/notes will bend much closer to what you're used to since the core of the string is closer to the plain 3rd.

    For example, I like a 10-52 set in D standard, but I swap the 17p for a wound 22. Feels and sounds great
     
  15. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

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    I just put on a wound G string and man does my junk look amazing. Pics incoming.

    But really, I switched to a .018w I'd had lying around for years. The sound is flawless, particularly on the neck pickup which suffers worst with a warbly plain G. The problem is I can't bend 1-1/2 steps, and not because of the tension, but because I run out of fret before I get there (yes, I'm bending toward the bass side). The sound of the plain .017+ has become so repulsive to me that I'm just going to have to change the way I play outside of E standard where the .016 plain still works for me (for now).

    I take it the wound .022 means you get more pitch shift from less bend distance? Then my bottleneck would become tension I'm afraid... I might try a .020w next. That's another thing to get used to: for so long I've played with the treble strings at ~14-15 lbs and the bass strings ~19-20.

    Longer scale length is indeed a valid solution, but again, there are sacrifices involved there as well: my 26.5" 7 means a .009 or .017 will feel like a .0095 or .018 tension-wise. The sacrifice here comes on the high E as I find a .009 much less pleasing than a .0095. Similar situation on the high B...

    Thanks for all the comments. Glad I'm not developing some bizarre aversion to the wound G which is 99% psychosomatic.
     
  16. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    Yep, the bigger string will bend further in pitch with less width on the fretboard. Try out a 20w and 22w and you'll see the jump in tension isn't too bad.

    Think of a wound 3rd the same way you would one of the bottom three wound strings, which require several pounds of tension greater than plain treble strings to get an even perceived feel throughout.
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    As evidenced by this thread, the wound third string is pretty commonplace. I'll take a plain third any day of the week, though. When I tried a wound third, I had trouble with breakage and I didn't think the tone was nearly as great as everyone was telling me it'd be. YMMV.
     
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  18. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, it's pretty common. I just wish I could find some shredders who use wound Gs.

    (Yes, lots of Jazz guys do who can certainly shred, but I'm concerned about ever getting used to replicating tone-wide vibrato, and I already know 1-1/2 step bends are impossible, at least with this .018w tuned to F on a 6-string. Maybe I'd have room on a 7 or 8-string).
     
  19. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    Im also a wound 3rd type of guy. I like loose tension anyway so bends are no problem.
     
  20. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

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    I noticed that I had no issues bending to 1-1/2 steps on the D string (a .036 tuned to C in this case--27 lbs) so I slapped on a .024w B (A). I could not practically bend to a full step with it. :/

    I am close to concluding that there is ALWAYS compromise with the G string, unless it's tuned down to at least E. A wound G with tension that mortals (I lift weights--I'm not that weak) can bend with two fingers to 1-1/2 steps won't actually bend to 1-1/2 steps because the travel distance will take them off the fingerboard. A wound G that will bend to 1-1/2 steps without excessive travel will have too much tension to do it without employing the entire hand, which isn't often practical. Granted I made a large jump from .018w to .024w, I could be wrong in my generalization. I guess I'll try .020w next time.

    One thing I'm sure of: the tone improvement, be it .018w or .024w, and the consistency all along the length of the string, is too big for me to return to a plain string on anything lower than Eb standard.
     

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