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Thread: String gauge change.. is it worth it?

  1. #1
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    String gauge change.. is it worth it?

    Ok so i have a Tremonti SE custom and a custom 24 SE, both of which i love! they are just so nice to play and i think in my opinion the finish on them is amazing. I also have a fender lonestar strat and a squire classic vibe tele, once more which i love playing.. so to the point....

    I have heard a few people say that changing the string gauge on the SE's to 10's from the standard 9's really made the guitar something else, i am tempted as sometimes the 9's do feel a little thin (although i'm happy with the sound) and i use 10's on the fender and the squire. i know i could just try slapping 10's on and see what they feel like, but both SE's are well set up at the moment and unless its worth it i don't want to fiddle about with trems .. probably nut cutting etc.. what are peoples thoughts? is the tone really that much better going fatter!? does it make the SE's come alive like some have said?

    Also as an aside does anyone use hybrid sets? As Mark Tremonti says he does, he says he uses the low 3 from a standard set of 12's and the high 3 from a standard set of 11's i believe .. i was thinking more like low from 10's or 11's and highs from 9's or 10's.. again any thoughts?

    I know some of this is down to taste but i am just after peoples thoughts and mainly is there much tonal benefit in going for the heavier gauge .. or is it just to support lower tunings
    Last edited by Div; 03-02-2014 at 03:35 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    I really like the 10's on my SE's. Or even a set of 9.5's are really nice. Tonally, bigger strings give the guitars a bit more of a growl rather than a high end zing. You will need to have the nut filed to accept the bigger strings, but if you have a shop with a guitar tech nearby, it's not a tough job at all, it would probably only take them a few minutes and wouldn't cost much either. And then when you put the bigger strings on, open up the backplate and tighten the screws that hold the tension springs a turn or two to compensate for the added string tension.

    If you're playing in standard tuning, I would just try a standard set. If you want to do drop tuning, then maybe go for the hybrid set.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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    Senior Member swede71's Avatar
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    All or most of the classic rock sounds we hear and want to emulate were done with a tubeamp turned up high and light gauge strings.Before changing gauge try to raise strings.Changing string gauge up a notch or raising strings will make it easier to be more dynamic in your playing,agressive-soft ratio will be better .Personally i think 10s are the best for standard tuning and my playing style.I like 9s and 11s too but sticks with 10s.Changing stringgauge also means a new setup needed.

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    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    I used 9's for years and made the change to 10's for reasons that are lost in the midst of time.... They do feel 'right' on my guitars, particularly on my Bernie with it's shorter scale. I may drop to 9.5's on my Strat but 9's on my PRS SE would feel wimpy. Sound wise the 10's sound a little thicker but not so much I couldn't compensate somewhere else.

    There's that big school of thought - particularly in blues - where it should be heavy guage strings and high action, blah, blah... But as mentioned... Some of the best tones / guitarists use or used lighter gauge strings than one would imagine.

    Yep, there's messing with the bridge and potentially the nut but I think it's worth it as an experiment to see what gauge works for you. Sometimes things just change... I think that's probably what happened with me... My hands got stronger over the years and I needed to up the gauge to get the right feedback. Playing a guitar with 9's on just doesn't feel right... Too slack for my tastes. I'd give it a couple of weeks playing the higher gauge to see how you cope though as it will feel off at first... Then go back to 9's and see how you feel.
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  5. #5
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    I have moved up to .10s on every SE I have or had, with minimal issues and very positive sonic results. The SE pickups seem to respond very well to the extra girth to my ears. Definitely worth the effort to try.
    1990, 91, 92 & 97 CE24s | 1991 CU24 | 2003 & 04 SE EG SSS | 2008 SE Semi-Hollow Soapbar
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    Well, don't take others words for sure! Those are their preferences, and you should follow yours rather than follow the crowd. That said, if you're curious and have never tried 10s before, just grab a pack and give it a shot. Who knows you might end up loving the feel? However, do keep in mind that if you're a trem user, the nutslot needs to be filed out to prevent string-binding. I went through many gauges, I even managed to put 12s on my SE previously, but right now I'm happy with the pure nickel 9s.

  7. #7
    I found that especially on cleaner tones, the .010s gave me a touch more solidity of tone, and responded better to strumming. I was a dyed-in-the-wool .009 user until 2011.

    But in all honesty, it's subtle. So you have to decide based on your own needs.
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    Member rubalup's Avatar
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    On short scale guitars at least .10 are a must to me. On my SE Santana i find .10īs a bit light but the guitar is so perfectly set up that i have no plans on going heavier. I guess that, like almost everything else, is a matter of personal taste... i find more confortable a guitar wih no extreme low action and that "resist" a little and not be too loose

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    I put 10's on my SE245 the day I bought it. Minimal massaging of the nut, tiny tweak to the truss rod and small adjustment of the intonation and the guitar is beast.
    I have 9.5's on my Mira and that is about perfect for it. Feel-wise they are very similar. The different gauges seem to even out the tension difference caused by the different scale lengths.

  10. #10
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    I've used custom gauge strings for the past 10+ years. I order them in bulk so I can get whatever gauge I want. Mainly play in drop C and use 11 14 18 36 52 60. That's a pretty drastic jump up and it makes a big difference tone wise. You could try a light top/heavy bottom type set like a 10-52 set. I use that in standard and drop D. I like the extra "beef" both sets add on the low end chunk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Div View Post
    Also as an aside does anyone use hybrid sets? As Mark Tremonti says he does, he says he uses the low 3 from a standard set of 12's and the high 3 from a standard set of 11's i believe .. i was thinking more like low from 10's or 11's and highs from 9's or 10's.. again any thoughts?
    Just as an FYI, you can get his hybrid set in a pack from D'addario, just google "d'addario tremonti".

    When I was playing a 25.5" scale I found 10s to be a bit tough to bend (thin fingers), but I'd image they'd be pretty neat on the Tremonti SE's 25".

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    Ok my thoughts after changing up to 10's from the standard 9's just in case anyone is thinking the same / interested.

    So I've now got the Tremonti with 9's and the custom 24 with 10's and I'll be taking the Tremonti up to tens too. Had the custom 24 "done" by a local guitar builder / set up expert and I think the guitar is a little less "twangy" and smoother sounding if that makes sense but with amps and boxes of tricks it's not far off from where it was. the main thing for me is it feels soooo much better .. Admittedly I've had it 6 months or so and been playing it as it came out of the box and now with a pro set up it's going to feel better anyway, but the heavier gauge gives a better feeling too... Well to me anyway

    Maybe that's where the "heavier gauge gives better tone" argument comes in if it feels better to play then surely your going to have better tone

    Thanks for the replies to the original post

  13. #13
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    11-52s gave a massive improvement in feel and tone for my Akesson SE. Even the guys in my band noticed - 11s on the 24.5 PRS feels like 10s on a les paul, the string tension is less than an LP due to not having a stop tail

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