#1
I wasn't very sure where to put this topic since my questions dip into at least 3 different subforums, so I'll ask here.

I've been listening to a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan lately, and I know that he used pretty high gauge strings when he played, and I would akin my guitar playing style to something like what he plays but with more funk influence, so I wanted to try out some higher gauge strings. I've only played with 9s and 10s and I was hoping to try 12s.

My questions are, what will stringing 12s on my guitar do to my playing and my tone, other than the obvious things like it taking more effort to push down frets? Do you predict it will be harder or easier to left hand mute strings on the guitar? How will my tone change? General advice on using heavier strings and how they change the sound is welcome to. (I play a MIM Strat with a humbucker in it for reference)
#2
Increasing the gauge of your strings makes little to no difference on your tone, from my personal experience. However they will be tighter and hence will be different to play. You may like it, you may not. Going from 10s to 12s, you'll have a noticeable difference. If you want to mute the strings, I don't think there's a difference in difficulty as you change gauges, either palm muting or any other kind of muting.

The thing with high gauge strings is that you may need to file the nut slots to ensure the string fits properly. This will make going back down a gauge or two problematic as the nut will be the wrong size. You'll also need to adjust the intonation. You may also need to adjust the truss rod, although I highly doubt you'll need to go that far.
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Last edited by BeefWellington at Jul 6, 2011,
#3
I've heard that most of the time higher gauge = more tone and sustain. Would you say the tone doesnt change but you just get more of it or more sustain? Also do you think It would be better for my guitar if I went up to 11s first, then went up to 12s later?
#4
In my opinion you get a bit more beef to the sound, more "punch" if you will. And of course, the strings will be harder to fret.

You'll wanna tighten your truss rod maybe a quarter of a turn after stringing the guitar up since you'll increase the pressure on the neck, but it's not gonna turn the neck into a giant macaroni noodle or anything.

Going to 11's first is a better idea, as there will be less tension change, and you'll be preparing your fingers for a higher gauge. To me 11's in standard feel a LOT different than 10's in standard, but I'm a very tensile person and small things are significant to me.
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Last edited by Shinozoku at Jul 6, 2011,
#5
in going from 9s to 13s, my speed increased somewhat drastically, but only because there was less play in the string when picked so it was easier for me pick cleanly at higher speeds. As for left hand muting/fretting/etc, after an hour or so, you wont notice any difference.

tone... I cant say much about tone because I switched to flatwounds so thats probably made more difference than the gauge itself. Its probably safe to say you will definitely get a fuller tone with more mid range punch and less highs. 9s in comparison are very thin and tinny. bends will be different for you. bigger strings need a bigger bend to find the tone. so if youre used to bends more than 2 whole steps, youre probably gonna run out of fretboard before you get there.

oh and if youre tuning to E standard youre gonna probably need more springs for your trem.
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#6
Quote by Chandleezy
I've heard that most of the time higher gauge = more tone and sustain. Would you say the tone doesnt change but you just get more of it or more sustain? Also do you think It would be better for my guitar if I went up to 11s first, then went up to 12s later?


I would say there is almost difference in the tone or the sustain. Going to 11s now and 12s later won't really make much difference either. Either way you're still putting the same amount of tension on your guitar that you would if you went straight to 12s.

The single biggest reason for switching gauge strings, in my experience, is playability.
I shall grant you three wishes.

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Does the above post enrage, offend or confuse you?

Good.


I like my women how I like my guitars. Curvy and like it when I finger them.
#7
I agree with BeefWellington.

While it would seem logical that different string gauges would have a large effect on tone, I have never found it to. It all just boils down to what you find comfortable.

Sure SRV/Gilmour/Jeff Beck use heavier strings and have a fat tone, but they don't have fat tone because of the heavy strings. Jimmy Page gets a pretty fat tone out of 0.09s.

Go with what you like, and you'll know what you like from trial and error.
#8
I tried 12s and hated it. Bending 12s is HARD.
I'm not very fussy about tone, so I can't say my not noticing a difference would be important information. But I have read some technical stuff that indicates it is significant, unfortunately I cant remember where. Some might have been here http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/pickups.php or here http://www.guitarnoise.com/lesson/replacement-pickups/ or one of the many found here http://tomacorp.com/pickups.html

Sustain should increase in a thicker string because there is more mass moving. In theory, a larger string will cause more distortion in the magnetic field, giving a larger sound for the same amount of movement. Some say that you can get the same volume with the pickup further from the string. Distance between string and magnet does change tone, most describe the difference as muddier when closer. I've read that this is attributed to the magnetic fields influence on the strings movement.
In another recent thread these was discussion about how a string is higher when plucked than it is after it has rung for a bit. This difference should be less noticable with a higher gauge. You also get less intonation errors from fretting too hard if the string is less flexible.