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#1
i have an electric guitar and i tought it was normal.,..until i used my friends electric guitar.
his guitar strings are so bendable, so soft and dont need much strength to do finger tappings...

is there a way to make my guitar string softer, more bendable and easy to tap?

note: my guitar brand is not popular...just a local cheap brand...and my friend's is also just a cheap, local but different brand.
#2
Your friend is probably using a lighter string gauge than you, or it could also be to do with the type of bridge they have. I would bet on it being a gauge thing though.

Do you know what gauge strings you have on your guitar?
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#6
Lighter strings will be easier to bend. A hardtail guitar will be easier to bend on than a floating tremolo guitar (assuming scale length and string gauge are the same). Shorter scale guitars are easier to bend on (assuming string gauge and bridge type is the same).

Top 3 things:
Lighter strings have less tension
Short scale guitars have less tension
Hard tail guitars SEEM to have less tension because the bridge won't move when you bend a string. On a floating trem guitar the trem will move when you bend a string so you have to bend the string further to do a full step bend for example than if the bridge was a hardtail.
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#7
Quote by Kevin Saale
Lighter strings will be easier to bend. A hardtail guitar will be easier to bend on than a floating tremolo guitar (assuming scale length and string gauge are the same). Shorter scale guitars are easier to bend on (assuming string gauge and bridge type is the same).

Top 3 things:
Lighter strings have less tension
Short scale guitars have less tension
Hard tail guitars SEEM to have less tension because the bridge won't move when you bend a string. On a floating trem guitar the trem will move when you bend a string so you have to bend the string further to do a full step bend for example than if the bridge was a hardtail.

This is a good summary (and I think string gauge is the most likely cause of the difference) but I'd just like to point out a bit of extra complexity as far as bridges are concerned: Guitars with floating trems or a lot of string behind the bridge require you to move the string further to get the same pitch change, but they may actually be perceived to be slinkier in terms of fretting notes because, thanks to the movement of the bridge, the string moves more readily over the same distance.
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#8
Quote by K33nbl4d3
This is a good summary (and I think string gauge is the most likely cause of the difference) but I'd just like to point out a bit of extra complexity as far as bridges are concerned: Guitars with floating trems or a lot of string behind the bridge require you to move the string further to get the same pitch change, but they may actually be perceived to be slinkier in terms of fretting notes because, thanks to the movement of the bridge, the string moves more readily over the same distance.


Yep. I almost left it out, because the relationship is complex and it most likely isn't what the TS is experiencing.
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#9
For the most part, Fender scale guitars are more likely to have tremolos, and Gibson scale guitars are almost always hard tail. Telecaster is about the only Fender that's never a trem bridge, though some of the vintage-style models have Bigsby-type tremolo that may not act the same way a floating bridge does. I play a Fender scale Yamaha with a floating bridge and every time I play a Gibson/Epi it feels like I'm jamming on spaghetti.

All that said, you should be able to do standard bends on any type of guitar and with whatever strings give you the best tone. The lighter your strings, the thinner your tone and less stable your turning, while thicker strings have better tone but require more exertion.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 2, 2016,
#10
Quote by cdgraves
All that said, you should be able to do standard bends on any type of guitar and with whatever strings give you the best tone. The lighter your strings, the thinner your tone and less stable your turning, while thicker strings have better tone but require more exertion.


I'd argue that point. I've never noticed a difference in tone from string gauge (on an electric). I've also never noticed a difference in tuning stability (assuming we allow for a properly cut nut and properly set up guitar). The only difference I've noticed is feel, and that is because of the tension.
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#11
Well, I thought (and call me wrong or out on this) that the thicker strings were trickier to play due to requiring more force, like graves stated, but that the lighter strings were easier to play yet more prone to snapping because of it. I've experienced that even with similar tensions on the same guitar, so it might be slight differences or I am wrong, like usual -3-

-Sharky
#12
Quote by CherokeShredder
Well, I thought (and call me wrong or out on this) that the thicker strings were trickier to play due to requiring more force, like graves stated, but that the lighter strings were easier to play yet more prone to snapping because of it. I've experienced that even with similar tensions on the same guitar, so it might be slight differences or I am wrong, like usual -3-

-Sharky


I like having more tension, I think it makes trem picking easier and I prefer the feel overall. My ideal tension is 11s in standard on a 25.5 scale guitar. That is considered heavy, but over time I was able to do bends and all that no problem. One problem I ran in to is my shitty tapping became shittier, but that wasn't a major concern for me. The biggest problem I ran in to was if I took a month off playing and lost my callouses (which I've been wont to do) it was really hard to get back into playing. I felt like I was back when I first learned to play and all I had was an acoustic.

Besides the 100 dollar acoustic I learned to play on and the squier affinity I had for my first electric I can't recall ever breaking a string, and I've gone from 9s to 10s to 11s and now back to 10s. So I can't comment on that.

The main point of contention I had with his post was him saying lighter strings have a weaker tone and don't stay in tune as well, something I've never experienced at all.
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#13
Oh right. Pardon. I've felt that with the weaker tone and not staying in tune, so I would agree with him. But I can understand if you never had that happen. It's sort of a give or take kind of thing with folks nowadays
#14
S'all good man Like I said, that is just my experience. I could be totally wrong.
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#16
Quote by CherokeShredder
Hell, we ALL could be totally wrong. Also...that better be good beer you're emoting with :P


Yep, and it's amazing beer.....as long you consider Busch to be amazing.
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#17
Hi Chris.

It is really all about string thickness (gauge). Electric guitars usually come from the shop or factory with 'tens' on them. This number refers to the high E-string and is measured in thousandths of an inch, i.e. 0.010". In a pack of 'tens' your string gauges are probably:

.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046

So, if you want an easier option try a set of 'nines', which would typically have these gauges:

.009 .011 .016 .024 .032 .042 .052

There is a small sacrifice in tone as thicker strings have a fuller sound than thinner ones, but it's a trade off that many people are perfectly happy with.

Best wishes,
Stuart
#18
Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) uses an incredibly light set starting with .007 E string and I wouldn't call his tone "thin". Eddie Van Halen and James Hetfield use .009. I don't think anyone ever described Eddie's tone as "thin".

From a Premier guitar article:
•Jimmy Page: well-known user of 8-gauge strings.
•Danny Gatton: played 10s with a wound G, also played 9s.
•Jeff Beck: “On my early stuff, I was playing the thinnest strings you could get, .008s,” Beck told Fender.com. “And then the Jimi man came along and told me, ‘You can’t play with those rubber bands. Get those off there.’ So my string gauges have been creeping up ever since. Now I’ve got .011, .013, .017, .028, .038, and .049. I’m trying to get heavier on the top end.”
•Billy Gibbons: hipped to light-gauge 8s or 9s by B.B. King. King’s take on it is that it takes a lot less stress and strain to play the light stuff. Gibbons’ custom set from Dunlop has a 7-gauge high E!
•Brian Setzer: 10s straight out of the box.
•Peter Frampton: 8s back in the Comes Alive days.
•Carlos Santana: 9s
•Allan Holdsworth: 11s
•Eddie Van Halen: well-known for using 9-gauge.
•James Hetfield: .009-.042

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/String_Myths_Part_1
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Feb 2, 2016,
#19
Quote by cdgraves
(a) For the most part, Fender scale guitars are more likely to have tremolos, and Gibson scale guitars are almost always hard tail. Telecaster is about the only Fender that's never a trem bridge,

(b) All that said, you should be able to do standard bends on any type of guitar and with whatever strings give you the best tone. The lighter your strings, the thinner your tone and less stable your turning, while thicker strings have better tone but require more exertion.


(a) to be fair, the tele is fender's second most popular guitar, and considering the strat is the world's most popular guitar, that's still a pretty big part of the fender catalogue. it's probably the third most popular guitar in the world really.

(b) disagree, thinner strings give a different tone, not a worse one. and it's easier with thinner strings- if you like how thin strings sound, trying to use thicker strings is pretty much an exercise in futility.
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#20
Fenders are not the only Fender-scale guitars!

EVH used .09s, but also poured on distortion like syrup on pancakes, and he used them to accommodate intense legato playing. He didn't use .09s because whole step bends were "too hard" with normal strings. There's a difference between making a sensible accommodation and trying to avoid the challenge of basic skill building.

The point is to make decisions based on the sound you want, not just what's easier on the fingers.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 2, 2016,
#21
Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) uses an incredibly light set starting with .007 E string and I wouldn't call his tone "thin". Eddie Van Halen and James Hetfield use .009. I don't think anyone ever described Eddie's tone as "thin".

Yeah, I call BS on the tone/tuning story.

If you look on your amp, you have an EQ section to fatten your tone if need be.
My Ibby has 9-42's on it. It stays in tune beautifully and I just changed the strings the other week as they had been on a year with no breakage.

If you like fatter strings then good for you, no need to justify them with here say though.
#23
Quote by cdgraves
If you're leaving a set of strings on for a year or waiting until they break to change them, I'm tempted to say you're not paying much attention to tone.


......or perhaps I am an absolute tone nut and really don't like the sound of new strings?
#24
If I've got time to be in practice mode, I change strings 1-2 times a week. I should probably change them every day if I wanted constant good tone. I think different people's hands wear out strings quicker than others.
#25
Odd. I've sometimes kept the same strings on for 3 months in a row without buzzing at all :P Guess the different hands' aspect holds true
#26
Quote by CherokeShredder
Odd. I've sometimes kept the same strings on for 3 months in a row without buzzing at all :P Guess the different hands' aspect holds true


Well they still have the same tension if they are still tuned to pitch, so you shouldn't develop buzzing from old strings.

I think Jlowe was stating that he likes the tone of new strings so much that he changes them extremely regularly.
#27
Quote by cdgraves
(a) Fenders are not the only Fender-scale guitars!

(b) EVH used .09s, but also poured on distortion like syrup on pancakes, and he used them to accommodate intense legato playing. He didn't use .09s because whole step bends were "too hard" with normal strings. There's a difference between making a sensible accommodation and trying to avoid the challenge of basic skill building.

(c) The point is to make decisions based on the sound you want, not just what's easier on the fingers.


(a) wow really?

(b) so using 9s to accomodate "intense legato playing" is ok but not to make bending easier?

(c) You could make a pretty good argument that making the thing easier to play will make it sound better.

Quote by SpiderM
......or perhaps I am an absolute tone nut and really don't like the sound of new strings?


yeah. he seems pretty big on presenting his (completely legitimate, but opinion nonetheless) opinions as facts.

or even just laziness. but it still doesn't mean you don't care about tone, since strings aren't the only thing affecting tone.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#28
Quote by SpiderM
Well they still have the same tension if they are still tuned to pitch, so you shouldn't develop buzzing from old strings.

I think Jlowe was stating that he likes the tone of new strings so much that he changes them extremely regularly.


No, my strings will start to rust after about 3 days of constant playing. After a week of constant practice/playing they're almost completely dead or rusted over. The high strings especially, but the wounds start rusting also.

I live in a high humidity environment, but so do other people who don't have as big of a problem. I assumed my sweat or something was the likely culprit.
#29
Could very well be your sweatiness that is the issue. Desert and humidity double whammy for me usually; still not much rusting on strings at all even after a couple weeks. Moment I start sweating a lot on strings, however, they degrade quite a bit more
#30
Quote by Dave_Mc
(b) so using 9s to accomodate "intense legato playing" is ok but not to make bending easier?

+1 to the implication

Learning to bend is the same process on any set of strings, you have to learn to do it in tune regardless of whether you have to physically lift the guitar to do so. I would argue that there is some difference in terms of legato vs bending in that I think the response of heavier strings does to some extent preclude very smooth legato, but I'm sure a better player could prove me wrong.

String gauges are a matter of preference and to anyone who doesn't want to make guitar playing into serious physical exercise and therefore uses 9s, more power to them.

String gauge has always been a bit of a dick-measuring contest For what it's worth, I use 12s on a Fender scale because I find they respond to left-hand muting better and God forbid I ever learn to pick single strings* - it's literally a lack of finesse that leads me to prefer that gauge (I call it my "style" )

*Note to anyone who wants to accuse me of bad technique: While I'm not the best player, this particular statement was hyperbolic.
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#31
There is a difference between accommodating a specific style of playing and trying to avoid basic technical development. Billy Gibbons and EVH don't use thin strings because they are simply incapable of playing with a higher gauge, or were discouraged by the "challenge" of playing with .10s.

Someone should choose their string gauge based on what kind of sound they actually want, not what challenges they want to avoid.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 3, 2016,
#32
^ Bullshit. Billy Gibbons uses 8s because he met BB King who tried his (then heavier) strings and asked him why he'd make it hard on himself if he didn't have to:

http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/String_Myths_Part_1

http://www.fretboardjournal.com/features/online/five-questions-zz-top%E2%80%99s-billy-gibbons

Why would you make it hard on yourself?

9s are readily available, it's not like I'm advocating using some esoteric kit that's not easily available.

Quote by K33nbl4d3

String gauges are a matter of preference and to anyone who doesn't want to make guitar playing into serious physical exercise and therefore uses 9s, more power to them.

String gauge has always been a bit of a dick-measuring contest


Yeah. I find it a bit bemusing that people who look down on shred because "it's not a sport" often look down on people who use light gauge strings, because apparently when it suits them, it is a sport.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Feb 4, 2016,
#33
Quote by cdgraves
There is a difference between accommodating a specific style of playing and trying to avoid basic technical development. Billy Gibbons and EVH don't use thin strings because they are simply incapable of playing with a higher gauge, or were discouraged by the "challenge" of playing with .10s.

Someone should choose their string gauge based on what kind of sound they actually want, not what challenges they want to avoid.

If you put Billy Gibbons or EVH on heavy strings, they'd sound like shit for a week or two. If you are playing only on light gauge strings, you will be incapable of playing like that on heavy gauge strings. The only effort you avoid by using light strings is building strength that anyone using light strings will lack, regardless of their skill or why they use light strings. People should choose strings based on the feel they want, because that's by far the most significant effect it will have.
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#34
Quote by K33nbl4d3
If you put Billy Gibbons or EVH on heavy strings, they'd sound like shit for a week or two. If you are playing only on light gauge strings, you will be incapable of playing like that on heavy gauge strings. The only effort you avoid by using light strings is building strength that anyone using light strings will lack, regardless of their skill or why they use light strings. People should choose strings based on the feel they want, because that's by far the most significant effect it will have.


...and likewise from heavy to light, you'd probably over bend or press to hard, when fretting, and sharp the notes. The lighter touch would take time to adapt to.
#35
Hell, been there done that when transitioning from bass to lead guitar quite a lot. Going from the thicker heavier strings to the lighter lead will definitely need time getting used to.
#36
Quote by K33nbl4d3
If you put Billy Gibbons or EVH on heavy strings, they'd sound like shit for a week or two. If you are playing only on light gauge strings, you will be incapable of playing like that on heavy gauge strings. The only effort you avoid by using light strings is building strength that anyone using light strings will lack, regardless of their skill or why they use light strings. People should choose strings based on the feel they want, because that's by far the most significant effect it will have.


Agreed, that's a very good point. When I use 10s, or play acoustic, or play bass for a while, playing electric with 9s feels really easy. But that only lasts as long as you keep doing it- sometimes I get lazy and don't play bass or acoustic for a while and that ease goes after about a day.

I sometimes wonder if it's even a bit psychological- which makes me query people recommending using heavy strings to build up your strength, because it might be partly illusory.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#37
Part of it does come from one's own perceptions and one's own mind. Part of it comes from random studies and tests and such stating it does build up strength. And part of it is just randomness itself.
#39
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ Bullshit. Billy Gibbons uses 8s because he met BB King who tried his (then heavier) strings and asked him why he'd make it hard on himself if he didn't have to:


You contend that Billy Gibbons had trouble doing whole step bends before he got BB King's advice?

I don't think this thread was started by someone who is already a highly competent guitarist looking to make some changes to what they can already do well. Based on the nature of the inquiry, I think we're talking to someone who is still working up their basic skills. As such, I will not recommend making changes based on lack of ability.

When someone is first learning to walk, you don't go out and buy them special shoes just for people who have trouble walking. Getting past that initial challenge is part of attaining basic competency. If someone then develops a preference or need for special shoes, that's the time to make the change.

The question is not on the merit of light or heavy strings, but whether the choice is being used as a crutch to avoid basic technical development. Using strings 1/100th of a inch narrower is not going to cause this person to become technically competent if they aren't already.
#40
Quote by cdgraves
You contend that Billy Gibbons had trouble doing whole step bends before he got BB King's advice?

I don't think this thread was started by someone who is already a highly competent guitarist looking to make some changes to what they can already do well. Based on the nature of the inquiry, I think we're talking to someone who is still working up their basic skills. As such, I will not recommend making changes based on lack of ability.

Except that it has no impact upon "ability" in the first place. No doubt whatever strings Billy Gibbons was playing before he had his chat with BB, he'd have trouble doing full step bends on them now.

Quote by cdgraves
When someone is first learning to walk, you don't go out and buy them special shoes just for people who have trouble walking. Getting past that initial challenge is part of attaining basic competency. If someone then develops a preference or need for special shoes, that's the time to make the change.

Nor do you make them walk up the stairs before they can do anything else.

Quote by cdgraves
The question is not on the merit of light or heavy strings, but whether the choice is being used as a crutch to avoid basic technical development. Using strings 1/100th of a inch narrower is not going to cause this person to become technically competent if they aren't already.

That's not the question, though. The point that I and, as far as I can tell, Dave_Mc are making is that it's not going to affect technical development whatsoever. At most, it will allow someone to develop decent bending technique faster as they won't have to develop extra fingerstrength too. It's simply silly to ignore the option that'll make playing slightly more comfortable while they learn the basic skill. No opportunity to develop as a guitarist is gained or lost by playing strings that feel like overcooked noodles or those that feel like power cables.
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