Strings - what do you use and why?

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by lcw, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. Worblehat

    Worblehat Well-Known Member

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    Lots of interesting opinions in this thread! It just made me go back to Ernie Ball 9s now and I will try the Gibson Brite Wire 9s soon.

    When I started playing guitar I quickly moved from EB Super Slinky (9-42) to Hybrid Slinky (9-46) and then to Regular Slinky (10-46). I found it easier to play the slightly thicker high strings as it does require less precision and sensitivity compared to 9s. I also thought thicker strings might help to strenghten my hand muscles.
    But now I actually came to the conclusion that light touch and sensitivity is very desirable so I am very happy with 9-42 now (at least in standard tuning).
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I have three SG, each tuned to E, E-flat, C# and all three have 10-46. The SG tuned to E-flat feels the easiest to play with 10-46. There's times that I used a set of 9.5-44 on the SG tuned to standard pitch, but I end up going back to 10-46 for some reason. I guess I find it easier to buy three-packs of the same gauge string sets and learn to adapt to each guitar and use a lighter touch on the SG that are tuned below standard pitch.
     
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  3. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Active Member

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    D'Addario .046 to .010, regular nickle round wound with steel cores.

    I did ponder at one point on trying out the balanced tension .050 to .011 set though, but might not anyway as I have actually come to like how the set I have on currently sounds and fell.
     
  4. SatansGwitar

    SatansGwitar Member

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    I most recently discovered my preference is D'Addario's XL 9-46 after paying attention to string guages and re-stringing all my guitars. The super light guage is almost buttery to the touch for me, as I mostly play lead guitar arrangements. When learning guitar i played mostly on 10-46's and pressed the strings hard mainly for fretting strength/callusing but as i got used to the motions and feels after my first Gibson SG purchase which came with 09-46 strings, that was a wrap. Here's my string guage listing for each guitar i play, all are D'Addario's they just feel better and last longer than Ernies in my opinion.

    All SG's: XL 9-46
    Epi Casino: XL 10-46
    Strat: Fender brand 9-42

    BTW those Rev. Willies 07-38's strings sound crazy thin, would love to try them though lol.
     
  5. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I like D'Addario 11-52 on one of my SGs, and will likely never change that one.
    Another SG came with 10s, so I have used 11s but recently strung her with tens,
    and both work fine.

    On a Fender scale guitar I prefer on gauge lighter... so I use tens on my Tele and
    could probably go to nines but haven't done so yet. Longer scale plays better with
    a lighter gauge IMHO.
     
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  6. jonnyfez

    jonnyfez Active Member

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    Each of my guitars seems to want a different gauge string set. SG Standard has 9s. SG special has 10s. Tele has 9.5s. Jazzmaster has 11s. Traditionally D'Addario but I've been using Ernie Ball lately too.
     
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  7. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Active Member

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    10-46 but replace the low E with a 48 because it needs more tension, especially when dropping the D. The lowest string is never thick enough in premade sets. NEVER, whether it's a 6, 7, or 8 string set.
     
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  8. 19sixty3

    19sixty3 Member

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    I strung up my Standard with EB Ultra Slinky 10-48. The Ultra’s are a quite nice balanced set of strings. I usually tune a half step down and from there to drop D. The low E string does the trick perfectly for that tuning. However I replaced the low E 48 with a 50. This just to have a more balanced tension. Just a personal preference... not absolutely necessary.

    B68299C6-4628-4DD2-BFB0-E46452D10096.jpeg
     
  9. S.Ustain

    S.Ustain Active Member

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    On my SG, I play 9-42 because I don't need string output, and the neck ad action are so remarkably perfect that even such light strings play clean and true. It's incredible. I've had long periods of playing and fretting strings that offer some more resistance, but at this point I play lightly and simply don't need to fight against the instrument. It's faster than heck, but still clean and precise. And no modern signal chain required strong pickup output to drive tone.
     
  10. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Active Member

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    I strongly consider trying out a set of Elixir Optiweb strings next time it's time for me to change strings on my Epiphone SG Special, which is my main and only electric guitar, same gauge as the D'Addario EXL110 regular nickle round wound steel core set I use now, .046 to .010.

    According to the description and judging from the sound samples provided on Elixir's web site, comparing regular nickle round steel core strings to the Optiweb ones, they ought to sound and feel very similar, but with the advantage of lasting considerably longer before they go dead.

    Seems like a win/win situation for me, with seemingly no cons at all, not alone not having to bother with changing strings as often, but also in the long run a money saver, as they are just slightly less expensive than the double of the regular D'Addario set I usually buy, and still possessing just about the same tone and feel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Active Member

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    So an update on the situation and my plan about getting a set of Elixir Optiweb strings of the same gauge as the D'Addarios I use currently.

    I did a bit of research and used the online comparison app that is on Elixir's homepage, that allows you to listen to recorded samples of the 3 different types of coated strings they make and then of course uncoated strings, as well as it features a mode that allows you to pluck each individual open string of the string sets you are comparing (just the 6 open strings of a guitar in regular standard E tuning), made so you can compare 2 different sets, including uncoated strings, side by side at a time.

    And what I found was that while the Optiweb strings definitely sounded brighter they also seriously lacked tonal depth, as in tonally sounding very one dimensional, weak and thin, and generally just lacking tonal complexity, both when compared to uncoated strings and compared to the 2 other types of coated strings Elixir offers, whereas the Nanoweb strings, while sounding slightly less bright than the uncoated strings, had a really nice tonal depth, with a nice level of tonal complexity and a very full balanced tone, and they actually sounded way closer to how the uncoated strings did, just with slightly less top end, than the Optiweb strings, despite the promises from Elixir claiming that the Optiweb coating would make the strings sound nearly identical to uncoated strings.

    So after doing a bit of additional research watching YouTube videos demoing the 3 different types of coated strings Elixir offers, I got convinced that the Nanoweb strings in fact are the right strings for me to get.

    Especially since I actually really like how my currently installed set of not exactly spanking new and fresh D'Addarios sounds, having had them on my guitar for over 2 months, which means they probably have a lack of high end frequency content and otherwise have been rounded off tonally to an extend that somewhat brings them in the ballpark of the Nanoweb coated strings tonewise anyway by now, if not even the Nanoweb strings sounding even more fresh and lively.

    So I did it, just ordered me a set of Elixir Nanoweb Light, which is the same gauge as the D'Addario set I normally use and have installed on my guitar currently, being gauge .046 - .036 - .026 - .017 - .013 - .010.

    I should have them with the mail Tuesday, or Wednesday at latest, and will write an update on my impression and experience with them, as soon as I got them and have had a chance to install them on my guitar and giving them a proper test run through my rig.

    Actually a bit exited and really looking forward to try these strings out, cause I got a feeling that they might just be the perfect strings for me (or well, rather my guitar, I suppose), hopefully not even being just the slightest tonal compromise for me, but on the contrary an improvement, and if this is true in the future I can participate being spared for the strings gradually changing tonal character over a relatively short time span, requiring ongoing recurrent EQ adjustments, as they gradually, but relatively quickly, degrade from wear, and finally, quite sudden, just dies completely, a lot of hassle with having to change strings way too often, and ultimately some money as well, which is a welcome extra bonus advantage.

    As said I believe the Elixir Nanoweb strings might just be the perfect strings for me, but if they prove to compromise my preferred tone the slightest, or if I simply can't get used to the smoother feel of them, compromising the playabillity of my guitar, I will swap back to the regular uncoated nickle roundwound steel core D'Addario set that I am used to immediately, and just accept having to live with the practical disadvantages of that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  12. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Active Member

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    Sorry for spamming this thread with my posts, but I promised an update in my last one on my impression of the Elixir Polyweb Ligh .010 - .046 set that I ordered home.

    So I got the strings in the mail yesterday and just installed them today, unfortunately I was unlucky to break the gauge .010 string high E string during the string stretching procedure, tuning the strings up about 2 half steps from regular E standard, strangely enough seemingly at the tuning peg, so I might have a bit of a rough edge on the high E tuning peg hole.

    Sucks cause the nearest music equipment store is about half an hour car ride from where I live, and I don't own a car, and they don't sell single strings either, but I did managed to convince my dad to drive there before they close at 1 PM today and get a new set for me, and buying a whole new set from the nearest music equipment store will cost me just marginally more than ordering just a single string online and having to pay for the shipping.

    So I should have a complete set installed again in about an hour, and I guess spares of the additional 5 lower strings, since the store refuses to sell single strings.

    However I did test the remaining 5 lower strings and was very pleased, and will just update this post if installing the high E string a bit later today changes anything notable about my impression, which I very much doubt.

    First of all they sound damn good, it's like the coating managed only to kill that initial harsh shrill metallic top end clank of brand new uncoated strings while all the good tonal qualities that comes with spanking fresh strings still remains fully intact, a really nice beautifully clear top end response, still with a lot of lovely sparkle and crispness to it, and the lower strings having a nice amount of upper mid range spank as well, the strings overall seeming to produce a really nice articulate and well balanced tone.

    Next in my opinion they feel just amazing too, not really feeling obviously coated to me, or explicitly slippery, just a bit smoother, and overall a bit softer and nicer for the fingers, but, as said, not really especially slippery, creating no issues whatsoever with use of vibrato, pull offs or bending techniques, and in that context the tension seems perfect to me as well.

    Maybe I should mention that I mainly use finger picking and very rarely a pick.

    Finally the minor buzz I use to get on a few of the frets after the 12th one, I guess cause my main and only electric guitar is one of the cheapest Epiphone SG models, have completely vanished.

    Consider me a convert from this day forward.

    These strings genuinely blew me away.

    I honestly kind of suspected some kind of sacrifice having to be made for the benefits of coating (I realize my last post kind of contradicts that, but I truly didn't anticipate the Nanoweb strings sounding this great), but so far my impression have been that there seemingly are only advantages over non coated strings, this seems to be true for the Elixir Nanoweb variety at least, that is.

    These strings have convinced me of the power of coated strings, and that is even if I guess I still have the joy awaiting ahead of me of being able to get that same amazing tone out of them for an incredible long while, and having to bother considerably less with the troubles and pain of changing strings in the future, as well as, the admittedly small, but still very welcome, prospect of saving money on not having to buy new strings nearly as often anymore.

    The Elixir Nanoweb strings might still not be for everyone, they do feel slightly different, though in my personal opinion it's not really all that prominent a difference, and for me only an advantage, and some people might actually prefer the harsh shrill metallic top end clank only available with brand new spanking fresh uncoated strings, however short lived a feature that actually is, but for me they seem like the absolute perfect strings (at least so far, I have yet to be first hand witness to most of the advantages usually associated with coated strings).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
  13. Gene Machine

    Gene Machine New Member

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    Normally I play 10-46 but recently tried 9-42 and they were WAYYYY too light. I just couldn’t stay in tune. They only lasted a day.

    For shoots and giggles, I tried a 10-52 set I had lying around and I really like them. It holds tune incredibly well, and not much more difficult to play with the 10 set on top. So i’ll Keep these on for a bit and see how it works out.
     
  14. MacDiarmada

    MacDiarmada New Member

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    Ernie Ball super slinky 9’s... cuz that’s what Angus uses!
     
  15. Paul M

    Paul M New Member

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    D’Addario 9.5s’
     
  16. tony1852

    tony1852 Member

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    Late to the party as usual. Coming to this site is hazardous to my (financial) health as I then tend to buy another guitar. Going to look at an Epi Iommi today!

    I've used 9-46s and really liked them. However, seriously considering some 8-38's or 8-40's. If Iommi can get big sound for metal out of them, I should be able to as well.

    Here's a great video that has me looking to go lighter:



    For those using light strings, thoughts on 8-38s v. 8-40s or maybe even 8-42s??
     
  17. Go Nigel Go

    Go Nigel Go Active Member

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    Size does make a difference. You should definitely try different things until you find what works for you. I have been on light gauge strings (.009-.042 EB Super Slinkys) for over two decades after trying many different things. I found what fits me and my playing style best. You can get great sound from smaller strings as well as larger ones. The most important thing will be what feels best, then set the neck, bridge, intonation, string and pickup heights etc. to get the gauge you like working and sounding the best it can be. There are no "wrong answers", only preferences.
     

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