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  • More String Theory

    I suffer with tendinitis in my fretting hand fingers, it's not awful but certainly a nuisance. I start everyday with excersises and if I have been playing a lot have no option but to totally rest for a couple of days.
    Over the last couple of years I have reduced my strings from 13s down to 11s in an effort to help and to be fair it has a bit. But I have been trepidatious with regard to going and lighter for fear of sounding like I was playing a toy.
    Having said that I have just put on a set of Elixir extra light 10s, don't laugh I know I am a big Jessie. Now this is quite a pricy experiment but I only ever play Elixir because in the heat here ones fingers sweat and the Nanoweb coating makes them outlast other makes by miles plus they almost eliminate squeak.
    But aching fingers forced my hand. Bearing in mind I never play "unplugged" I have now played gigs twice with the new strings and sound wise a slight tweak of EQ and I can't tell the difference coming out of the speakers but I can to my poor fingers. I was even starting to go to an open chord where a bar was more appropriate and now I can go back to the way the tune should be played.
    So, sore digits? Don't listen to the "macho men" get "girly" lights and play on.
    Cheers Steve
    Cheers Steve

  • #2

    I have just taken most* of my electrics down to .010/.038 for that reason. I miss the tone of the wound 'G', but the trade off to not have my left hand ache the next day is worth it. I am also changing out the acoustics as well.


    *all but my hollowbody jazz guitar...I just can't give up that tone...

    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley


    • Notes_Norton
      Notes_Norton commented
      Editing a comment

      There is a macho thing with musicians. Guitarists like steel cables for strings and saxophonists like 2 by 4s for reeds.

      I play 9s on my Parker DF. It's what it was set up to use at the factory, and it sounds great. It's also light, well contoured, balanced, and has a fast neck with hardened stainless steel frets, making it much easier to play with a very light touch. Even bending is almost effortless. The strings just glide over the stainless frets.

      On my saxophone I use a light reed with a large tip opening and chambered mouthpiece. I like the tone I get out of that better than a hard reed which forces you to play with a small tip and chamber. The harder reeds tend to give you one tone. The light reed allows for sub-tones when you use little breath support (think fwa-da), when overblown will add some distortion (think blaaaat) and give you a range of normal tones in between.

      The point is that there are differences in sound between the hard and soft, and the harder is not necessarily better, just different.

      Oh, playing with 13s and bending them or a number 5 reed might give you some macho appeal with other musicians, but your audience will not be impressed. They listen to what you play, and are for the most part not in the least bit interested in your tools.

      BTW, have you tried Pulsed Electromagnetic Fied Therapy for your tendonitis? I don't know if it works for that, but it completely healed my arthritis. Go to http://www.pemft.info for information.

      Personally, I don't like the coated strings, but that's simply a matter of personal taste. They just sound duller to me, and I don't know what kind of substances I'm absorbing through my fingertips.

      I play fairly clean a lot, with just a touch of reverb, so a nice sparkly ping is music to my ears. My new custom built Parker (due this month) is going to have P-Rails on it so I can have P90 sounds without sacrificing a humbucker tone when I want that.

      I must add that most guitarists on this thread could probably blow me out of the playing field. I've been playing seriously only a few years now. It's my seventh instrument, and I played bass for a while, so I caught on fast. 

      I started playing sax in bands when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, not every song writer had the good sense to put room for a sax solo in every song. So I learned to play barre chords on the guitarist's "other" guitar, or bass while the bassist doubled on guitar, or keyboards (we had a group owned Farfisa for a while). I never took the guitar past the barre chords, but instead worked on sax, learned flute, learned keyboard (organ and synth), played bass during the psychedelic years, and then learned wind synthesizer. Then one day I decided to get serious on the guitar, and I'm glad I did. It's a wonderful instrument and I took to it much easier than I took to the keyboards.

      But I'm getting off topic here (sorry about that).

      Started with 9s then 10s on a Gibson, and when I got the Parker, backed off to 9s (longer scale). If I wanted to go to 10s, I'd have to get a different set of springs for the whammy (I refuse to call it a tremolo, because it does vibrato, not tremolo). But I'm very happy with the 9s and the variety of tones the Parker gives me.

      Don't worry about a little tone discrepency. If the audience was interested primarily in tone, Dr. John, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Blossom Dearie, Rod Stewart and hundreds of other singers would have never made it. The audience responds more to expression than tone.

      You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians, and you can play for the general public. In most cases you will get the audience you asked for.

      Insights and incites by Notes



  • #3

    I use 12's, 15's 19's.... on my Jazz hollow bodies and 11's on my Rock and acoustic guitars. Any lighter then that and I break way too many strings. But that's the only reason. I don't subscribe to the notion that strings have to be a certain way or that an amp or guitar has to be a certain make. If light strings make one's life easier then I say lighten up.

    As an example (stated previously somewhere), I've seen Ed Bickert live many times. The last time I saw him he was playing his Telecaster into a Roland Jazz Chorus. I was very close to the impromptu stage and there were no mics involved. One of my favourite jazz tones. Here's Ed on his Tele. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxPBvDYVX2w


    • Notes_Norton
      Notes_Norton commented
      Editing a comment

      The audience will not notice what gauge strings you are using, but they will definitely notice if you are enjoying yourself or not. Whether you have the most fun playing 13s or 9s, the audience won't know what strings you are using, just that you are having fun.

      So I guess as always, the moral is "Whatever works for you".

      I play a Parker guitar because I bonded with it. Therefore I enjoy playing it. The audience doesn't care that it's not a Gibson or Fender, or that I have 9s on it. They just care about what I'm doing with it.

      I used to have a Selmer Mark VI sax - which is the collectors sax of all saxes ever made. It was made in the late 50s, and like all saxes from that era, it had intonation problems. It was just a lot of work to play all the notes in tune (a sax player has to compensate for the tuning of each note with his/her lip.

      I play a MacSax now, custom made for me in Taiwan. Doesn't cost nearly as much as the collector's items inflated price tag, but it is a great sax and the audience doesn't know it's not a Mark VI.

      It's not the tool you are using that matters to the listener. It's what you do with it.

      If you personally play better with a hard reed or heavy strings, that's the tool to use.

      There is more than one right way to make music.


  • #4

    I use 13s on my Dobro (round neck) and 12s on my electric. I don't bend much and keep the action very low. They are, I believe, fairly short-scale instruments, so that makes a difference.  Sometimes I envy those guys  who can bend the whole chord, but life is full of compromises. I spent a month, once, tuning the electric down a tone and the heavy strings supported that quite nicely, but I guess the novelty wore off and I went back to A440. That said, I mostly play out on piano, so it doesn't matter much what strings I'm using, does it?

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)


    • #5

      Steve, There's nothing to be ashamed of man. I have always used extra light, .10 guage strings on acoustic. It saves the hands and with my style which is a hybrid lead/rhythm thing that I have developed, it really makes things easier and I can flat out do things that I couldn't do on heavier guage strings. Sometimes I step it up to 12's in the studio if i'm looking for a thicker sound. With some EQ tweaking you can't tell out front so why kill your hands?