Question for players that play with thicker strings

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I’m been playing some metal with 10s in d standard on my Ibanez. Today I tried to play in E standard and put some 8-38 on my Strat to have the same tension that I’m use too but I didn’t like it, low output and no attack for other genres except for the high gain stuff. So luckily I had an old pack of 11 to 48 strings, put those on and tune the guitar to Eb due to the tension, but wow still hard to play! I mean the clean tone and mid gain stuff sounds great compared to less tension. How do you guys do it to play for hours and avoid injuries with that amount of tension?
I see guys like kiko playing 10s on E standard playing so relax for long periods of time.
 

cardinal

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I think part of it is just getting use to it (basically, exercising your wrists and fingers). Some of it is technique (bending by leveraging your wrist instead of just the fingers) and some of it is getting the action as low as possible (so there's just less deflection of the string needed to fret the note).
 

Baelzebeard

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You just need to find what's comfortable for you. If you need lighter strings for your hands to be comfortable, you can manipulate the tone to compensate.

Personally i have to strike a balance. My fretting hand wants strings as light as possible, but my pick attack is too much for light strings. I'm sure I could work on both of those issues with practice, but I have found what's works best for me.

I go a little light on plain strings, 9.5, 13, 16. And a little heavier on wound, 26, 36, 48, 62. And that is the best compromise for me.

Maybe , your action is too high, and causing unnecessary strain.
 
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You just need to find what's comfortable for you. If you need lighter strings for your hands to be comfortable, you can manipulate the tone to compensate.

Personally i have to strike a balance. My fretting hand wants strings as light as possible, but my pick attack is too much for light strings. I'm sure I could work on both of those issues with practice, but I have found what's works best for me.

I go a little light on plain strings, 9.5, 13, 16. And a little heavier on wound, 26, 36, 48, 62. And that is the best compromise for me.

Maybe , your action is too high, and causing unnecessary strain.
If that guitar you have has a long scale tune to E standard, I think it will be like playing 10s on a 25,5?
I think is good just the nut needs to be file for the 11s on the strat but I’m still thinking about it.
 

TheWarAgainstTime

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How's the setup? Good? I find action has infinitely more effect on effort and perceived string tension, than tension itself.

+1 to this. Besides the tuning and gauges mentioned, I'm sure the Strat has a pretty different feel/setup from the Ibanez to begin with.

As far as handling heavy gauges, it's just a matter of time and getting used to it. If 8-38 is a comfortable tension but sounds weak on the Strat, then bump it up to 9-42 and log some good practice time with it. Eventually, it won't "feel" like a heavier set. Then bump it up again to a 9.5-44 set and repeat the process, then 10-46, and so on until you find an optimal balance of tension and tone. It's hard to know the "right" balance without trying a range of strings that are too light and too heavy :2c:
 

SpaceDock

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I agree with the action and setup argument. I have a guitar that does great with 10s in standard and another with 11s. I used to use 9s for everything until a few years ago. When you have tight strings and low action just right it really works. Really depends on the guitar.
 

nickgray

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Acoustic has way more tension with its typical sets, the action is usually a bit higher, and people seem to play it alright. Even classical guitar, which has a tension close to a set of 9-42 is harder to play because the action is much higher than on an electric (3mm treble, 4mm bass is fairly normal).

Meanwhile, the tension I'm using is something like 8-38 in Eb standard on a 25.5". 10.5-11.5 lbs of tension on wounds, that's really low. I bet a lot of people would freak out and think it's unplayable, but it's all down to what you're used to ultimately, I can play it just fine, and getting to 12-13 lbs of tension makes it unplayable too me, just way too hard to play. For comparison, a set of 9-42 in E std on a 25.5" scale has 14.5-15.5 lbs of tension on the wound strings. Anyway, like I've said, it's down to what you're used to and what you're comfortable with.

Setup is hugely important, but that's fairly obvious. There's a balance to find with high tension/low action and low tension/high action, it's actually very interesting to experiment with, with lower action and higher tension you can hone on a setup that might feel subjectively easier to play than some low tension/high action setups. But again, it's all hugely individual, and it takes time to get comfortable with a setup you're not used to.
 
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Set-up is low, just playing at the nut on some strings is hard, I guess because the nut needs to be file. But again I’m loving how it sounds for the clean stuff and low to mid gain stuff, like I got some clarity on the notes now compare to less tension. I still can’t chug ala Ola Englund lol, need those light strings or less tension for that.

Question about that strat, could the springs on the back have anything to do with the tension compare to a hardtail bridge? I have the 3 springs screw all the way so there’s no movement because I don’t want the guitar to go out of tune and I don’t use the tremolo.
 

Edika

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Is your bridge level when you have the springs all the way back?

If everything is level and your problem is string tension, 11-48 (or 49) I'd use for D standard and it feels ok, for E flat it might be a bit tighter but not unbearable or extremely tight. It just might be the case that you're used to lower tension and need some time adjusting to the somewhat higher tension. If you're unsure about the setup take it somewhere to have the guitar setup. Or you can put some photos of how your setup looks like so we can see if we can help you more.
 
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Is your bridge level when you have the springs all the way back?

If everything is level and your problem is string tension, 11-48 (or 49) I'd use for D standard and it feels ok, for E flat it might be a bit tighter but not unbearable or extremely tight. It just might be the case that you're used to lower tension and need some time adjusting to the somewhat higher tension. If you're unsure about the setup take it somewhere to have the guitar setup. Or you can put some photos of how your setup looks like so we can see if we can help you more.
It is, when I replaced the 8s for the 11s, the bridge didn’t move.

Have you notice with the 11s in D any lose in the high end frequencies? My Ibanez with 10s ( D standard) I do but again I chug pretty comfortable with the low strings. Yeah I guess take it somewhere but how do you guys post pics here? I tried before but it didn’t work
 

Edika

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It is, when I replaced the 8s for the 11s, the bridge didn’t move.

Have you notice with the 11s in D any lose in the high end frequencies? My Ibanez with 10s ( D standard) I do but again I chug pretty comfortable with the low strings. Yeah I guess take it somewhere but how do you guys post pics here? I tried before but it didn’t work
It kind of depends on the guitar and pickups it has on, but lighter strings will sound brighter for sure from the low to the high strings. On the high strings though, with high gain I can't tell a significant difference between 10 and 11's in D. There is a difference of course but nothing that can't be fixed with turning up the treble on the amp. I'm used to playing 10-46 on E standard as it's the perfect balance for myself between tension and clarity. Plus the chugs on the low strings are fuller but not muddy. Having said that, when I had a set of 9's and put them on one of my guitar, I really liked what I was getting in terms of sound.

You can attach files on your post to upload but they mustn't be too large in terms of file size. Then it gives you the option of thumbnails or full images.

1669533434364.png

There should be a couple of image sharing sites you can still post stuff here but not sure which ones. Screen grabs work too with something like Greenshot as you can see form the above image (which mainly works as the attach option but circumvents uploading photos).
 

Lorcan Ward

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I played 10-46 in standard for years but after moving to 9-44 everything became easier. Less fatigue and easier bends so I could play for longer.

When recording I sometimes string my guitar a gauge higher for a thicker tone.

For most guitarists is what they get used to but it might depend if they are touring or recording. Steve Vai says he starts his tour practices with 8s and by then end of a tour when his calluses are rock hard he can move up as high as 10s.
 

cardinal

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I used 10s in Standard on a 25.5" scale for a long time but maybe I'm just lazy or weak but I switched to 9s and it's so much better. 10s are awful but it is more work and man I do not need more work.
 

Neon_Knight_

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I used 10s in Standard on a 25.5" scale for a long time but maybe I'm just lazy or weak but I switched to 9s and it's so much better. 10s are awful but it is more work and man I do not need more work.
9s for E standard and progressively thicker (to match the tension of 9s in E standard) for lower tunings. 10s / 9.5s might make sense on a 24.75" scale, but not on 25.5".

Anyone who thinks 9s sound too thin / lack balls probably hasn't adjusted their amp EQ at all since switching from 10s. If I use 10s with my amp settings (optimised for my guitars equipped with 9s) it wouldn't sound "less thin" but boomy and overbearing. Thicker strings sound darker not "fuller" (as many people say they do). Iommi didn't sound thin using 8s, so no-one else needs to either.
 

bostjan

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It's all about how you go about playing.

You think 11s are bad, guys like Dick Dale and SRV used 16s at times. That's right, the string I use for my 3rd was what they used for their first.

In Dick Dale's case, the guy's technique just lent itself to thicker strings - constant tremolo picking, no bends, very heavy-handed. If you never heard of the guy, you ought to at least check him out. Truly a legendary player from an era long before shredding was "in style." I saw him in concert not too long before he passed away, and he was still trying to pick up women in the middle of the show. Kind of weird and gross, since he was pushing eighty, but he was still playing his songs with just as much energy and precision. He still had scheduled tour dates when he died.

SRV puzzles me a bit, since, well, he was an aggressive player, but still loved to bend the strings. Personally, I tend to play guitar with a light touch, so anything more than 20 pounds of tension, and I feel like bending is completely out of the question. But I think in Stevie Ray's case, the guy just handled the strings as if he was trying to strangle someone, so he needed the thicker strings to keep from having tuning issues or breaking the strings.

I'd say that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to use any string gauges you don't like. Too much tension = get lighter strings. If you try a lighter gauge and you find that you are pounding the strings out of tune, get thicker ones. If you feel like your strings sound tonally dead and you don't like that, get lighter gauges. If your strings are tonally dead from being too thick but you are pounding them so hard that they are going out of tune, then and only then adjust your technique or just tune up to a higher pitch. Strings are physical objects and they have lots of limitations.
 

CanserDYI

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Here I am playing 10's on 25.5 inch guitars for pretty much my entire playing career not realizing that people consider that heavy. You should see my baritone's strings...
 
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9s for E standard and progressively thicker (to match the tension of 9s in E standard) for lower tunings. 10s / 9.5s might make sense on a 24.75" scale, but not on 25.5".

Anyone who thinks 9s sound too thin / lack balls probably hasn't adjusted their amp EQ at all since switching from 10s. If I use 10s with my amp settings (optimised for my guitars equipped with 9s) it wouldn't sound "less thin" but boomy and overbearing. Thicker strings sound darker not "fuller" (as many people say they do). Iommi didn't sound thin using 8s, so no-one else needs to either.
I get a brighter tone on the first 3 strings with the 11s tune to Eb but if i tune it to D standard to match the tension of 9s in E standard, the chugs sound better but high end is gone. I tried to boost more treble and presence but it didn’t sound right. Haha I’m stuck! For clean tones and mid gain stuff, I prefer thicker strings but hate it because it doesn’t chug well. And for high gain chugs, I prefer less tension but I hate that it gets muddy.
 
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Manurack

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I use 10 - 56 in E standard and drop D. I'm a heavy picker with the right hand doing intricate picking on the low strings, so I love right tension! It also gives you a bigger sound. I've been using that same gauge for about 15 years now, so I'm used to it and it doesn't hurt. Just takes time to get used to. The higher strings are 10, 13 and 17, lower strings are 36, 46 and 56. Solos are easy with the thinner strings, but I love the tight feel of the thick strings. I can't do a 46 on the sixth strong, it's too floppy. I use the Ernie Ball Cobalt 7 string pack on my 6 string guitars and just ditch the 26.

81oLjqlMCDL._AC_SX425_.jpg
 


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