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Holy monkeynuts, what a difference!


gdsmithtx
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I've been moving up in string gauge the past couple of weeks, and it's been a period of adjustment. I've used 9s since basically forever and on my solidbody guitars, I'm going up to 10s (in a few varieties).

 

I guess I've understood for a while that semi-hollows work better with heavier strings, but the point was just driven home to me very emphatically. I just moved my Epi Dot Deluxe up from 9s to Ernie Ball 11s. I had it setup at the local music store for the new strings, and picked it up yesterday. Holy crap! That guitar always sounded really good (Seth Lover pickup set installed), but after this change, it sounds tremendous.

 

When I picked it up yesterday, I just brought it home and checked it for string buzz, and it was good. So later I plugged it in with the same Super Champ XD settings that I love for my Strats, and the Dot just sounded incredible. With the Seth Lover set, it sounded damned good already, but after plugging it in, it's frickin' amazing. I guess it's the heavier strings transmitting more energy to the resonant top of the guitar, producing deeper sound, etc., but man what a difference. After lowering the neck pickup to reduce an output balance problem, it's about as good as anyone could expect. I'm kinda afraid of changing anything about it.

 

The bad thing: the heavier strings are kinda hurting my fingers if I play more than a minute or two ..... but holy crap that sound. Guess I gotta tough it out till my digits get used to it.

Edited by gdsmithtx
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To me, 10's are the perfect compromise. I very seldom if ever break them, they sound much better than 9's to my ear, and they still don't kill your fingers. I can play 10's on my electric forever and not feel any pain but when I play my acoustic (with 12's) for any length of time, my carpal starts acting up again.

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I have also gone from 9'sto 10's over the years. like Mr. Plank...I feel it's a compromise...but sometimes a compromise is the best option. I do a LOT of bends, and for me, the 10's work best for maintaining bending and other nuanced consistency, and having the best rounded tone possible.

 

Like Mr. Plank, I also have some health issues, and at 50 yo....not really interested or capable of being super man fingers.

 

But that is the true beauty of all this guitar stuff. There are so many variablse and so many options...you can find what works for you. You can't be closed minded...you have to experiment and keep it real.

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After a day or so of getting used to it, I don't think I would go back to anything under a 10 on a semi-hollow. The Ernie Ball 11s on the Epi Dot are pretty much the perfect balance of tone and playability. Running through my Super Champ XD on Voice 10 (Fender Hot Rod) with high volume (~90%) and low gain (~18%), it has my ideal of the perfect voice: shimmering cleans when lightly picked, but dirtying up and singing nicely with a bit harder picking or a just little volume knob adjustment. Basically the Larry Carlton "Kid Charlemagne"/"Royal Scam" tone.

 

My fingers still hurt after playing for more that 5 minutes at a time, but today has convinced me that I really like 11s on a semi and that I'm gonna get used to this string gauge because it just sounds so damned good.

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My fingers still hurt after playing for more that 5 minutes at a time, but today has convinced me that I really like 11s on a semi and that I'm gonna get used to this string gauge because it just sounds so damned good.

 

Dude you're going to hurt yourself. Go back to a lighter gauge and practice until you have some more hand strength.

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The EPI Dots come from the factory with 11's and they do play quite well with them. Part of its the wide slim neck. They have a lot stronger pickup output with them for sure. I never found that much of an issue with the amps I use however.

 

I used mine that way for about 3 years and then I noticed the body top beginning to separate from the wood block up near the neck.

11's have allot of string pull and between that and the high humidity the plywood began to unglue. I epoxied and clamped it when I did

find the issue and went down in string gauge and the issue hasn't progressed any more since then. The heavy strings played hell with the truss rod too.

 

Dots do use budget materials and aren't built as well as an ES335's but they do give pretty good tones with the right strings. I put all GHS nickel strings on mine last week and it went from sounding metallic to a much mellower tone yet still very clear sounding.

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I switched from 10's to 9's years ago....I thought they sounded better. How about Billy Gibbons and his 7's?

 

Yeah and he likes tuning down with them too! Like to C and lower sometimes! He's an original. Have you heard the story of why he went to lighter gauges? He was on tour with B.B King. B.B. asked him if they could swap guitars for a few minutes in the dressing room. Billy was astonished that B.B. was using such light gauge strings...B.B. asked him, "Man! Why you wanna work so hard?" (In reference to the heavy strings Billy was using at the time)

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Yeah and he likes tuning down with them too! Like to C and lower sometimes! He's an original. Have you heard the story of why he went to lighter gauges? He was on tour with B.B King. B.B. asked him if they could swap guitars for a few minutes in the dressing room. Billy was astonished that B.B. was using such light gauge strings...B.B. asked him, "Man! Why you wanna work so hard?" (In reference to the heavy strings Billy was using at the time)

 

Oh I agree..... on my scalloped neck strats.....I play 8-38's.....and tune down half a step..... I have never, ever understood the whole 10,11,12+ gauge thing.....oddly enough....my biggest influence is SRV....but 12 gauge? no thanks.... I am lazy.

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Yeah and he likes tuning down with them too! Like to C and lower sometimes! He's an original. Have you heard the story of why he went to lighter gauges? He was on tour with B.B King. B.B. asked him if they could swap guitars for a few minutes in the dressing room. Billy was astonished that B.B. was using such light gauge strings...B.B. asked him, "Man! Why you wanna work so hard?" (In reference to the heavy strings Billy was using at the time)

BB uses 10' s with heavy bottoms.

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I'd like to know what strings Billy Gibbons used on their most famous recordings. That's the sound that I associate with him, having never seen him live. Were those 7's tuned to Eb or lower? Doesn't sound like it to me.

 

As far as I know.... The BB King encounter happened in the early 70's when ZZ were just getting up and rolling...... Gibbons is said to have used 8's for most of their famous recordings from the 70's and 80's..... tuned to standard. The "drop tunings" is something he started flirting with about 12-15 years back simply from his getting older and vocal range diminishing like it does with all singers as they get past middle age......

 

However, I have seen Billy / Top live in the last few years, doing their hits, likely using 7 or 8's.....and not in C, but tuned down 1 whole step to D standard...and sounding great and heavier than the original recordings.

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As far as I know.... The BB King encounter happened in the early 70's when ZZ were just getting up and rolling...... Gibbons is said to have used 8's for most of their famous recordings from the 70's and 80's..... tuned to standard. The "drop tunings" is something he started flirting with about 12-15 years back simply from his getting older and vocal range diminishing like it does with all singers as they get past middle age......

 

However, I have seen Billy / Top live in the last few years, doing their hits, likely using 7 or 8's.....and not in C, but tuned down 1 whole step to D standard...and sounding great and heavier than the original recordings.

Yeah but we dont actually know if its 7 or 8' s. That just sounds like your assumption.

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Yeah but we dont actually know if its 7 or 8' s. That just sounds like your assumption.

 

We don't.... but Gibbons guitar tech has vids on youtube saying "extremely light gauge strings, 8's or lighter.....in various tunings"...... and Gibbons has his own signature 7 gauge strings on the market.......so we can probably safely assume they are not 11's.....wouldn't you agree?

 

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