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Recommendation for lightgauge strings?

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  • Recommendation for lightgauge strings?

    I know I should probably man-up and suffer the aches and pains, but I'm mostly a strat or classical guitar player. Both of those types of guitar have a light feel on the strings when playing high up the neck. However in my acoustic duo I play a Seagull Peppino Signature Steel String (Jumbo with wide neck) and playing stuff high up really puts me out of my comfort zone to the extent that I feel I'm using too much force to be totally relaxed and fluent in my playing. Alas I have therefore committed the cardinal sin of putting light gauge strings on a Jumbo guitar! There's no going back for me now - I know that the volume and projection/working the top will be suffering, but for our gigs more than half the volume comes through the PA anyway via thje inbuilt Piezo output.

    Has anybody else done the research trying out a lot of different string brands in the light gauge range to come up with any recommendation? I've just tried Rotosound and Martin light gauge (10 on top) string sets so far.


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  • #2
    I'd put DR Veritas 10's on there or Elixir PB.

    There's no "manliness contest" for string gauges - you should get the ones that suit the situation. The only thing I'd strongly advise (if you haven't already) is getting the guitar professionally set up for the lighter strings.


    • #3
      The two characteristics of acoustic strings that are different than electric are that, first the composition has some affect on the tone of the strings, and second, the gauge (size) of the string not only affects the playability (ease of fretting, bending) but also the way the string drives the top.

      Composition and tone are a personal matter, you can take a manufacturers (or my) word that certain composition (PB, 80/20, some other magical metallurgy) sounds "warm" or "bright" or "dull", but the best way is to try different composition and see what you like.

      Most acoustic guitars are built structurally for the tension afforded by industry standard "light gauge" (0.012 - 0.054) or "medium gauge" (0.013 - 0.056) strings - that amount of tension produces reasonable volume without damaging the guitar. Lighter gauges will still work but might seem floppy or might buzz if the setup and frets aren't perfect. You may find that intonation suffers, particularly if you use an unwound third - that will require more compensation than a wound third.

      I have a couple of friends who are primarily electric players but want their acoustics to feel like their strat - I like to see perfect frets, low relief, and pay attention to the intonation. Grant mentions DR Veritas strings - I have only tried their 12's but my reaction is that they are louder than the Elixers that I usually play (and they turn black fairly fast)./


      • Grant Harding
        Grant Harding commented
        Editing a comment
        I haven't seen any dark residue on the strings or my fingers.

        I get that with John Pearce, but the Veritas are bright and shiny even though they're due to come off after about 20 hours of playing.

    • #4
      There is actually not a huge difference between extra light gauge strings and heavier ones. I use a range of gauges on my acoustics - some sound better with lighter strings, some better with heavier ones.

      Do your own thing!!

      This is interesting:


      • LeFunk! Wedding Band
        Editing a comment
        Wow far less difference in sound between the gauges than I expected!

      • garthman
        garthman commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes. Surprising isn't it? - especially when everyone goes on about "crappy sound on light strings", etc. BTW - you can also use electric guitar strings (nickel plated steel) on acoustic guitars if you want to. I use 12 gauge nickel steel strings (La Bella "Jazz Lights") on an old Eko Ranger VI that has a magnetic sound hole pickup. I also play the guitar just acoustically and no-one has ever commented adversely on the sound.

    • #5
      What often happens is that people try 10's on their acoustic, but don't adjust the action, so the strings slightly brush the frets and feel "plinkier" and quieter than they would if ringing freely and driving the top.


      • #6
        Dunno what you're used to but Strats ship with 9's and Les Pauls ship with 10's. If you're used to playing electric you should be able to handle 11's on an acoustic. If not, you can always go down to 10's. I've played DR, Martin, d'Addario, and Ernie Ball Earthwood uncoated strings and honestly didn't notice that much difference except between phosphor bronze and 80/20, except the Earthwoods had a weird sounding B string. I'm currently playing Ernie Ball Aluminum Bronze 12's and they seem okay.
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        • #7
          11's all the way on both acoustic and electric. Goldilocks sort of thing: not so thick as to leave a trench in my fingers, not so thin as to leave out sound. Strings are the things that make the sound happen from the outset.
          I was kicked out of music class for passing notes...
          Tuned out, turned in and dropped off