#1
Anyways, I feel like a gigantic idiot after restringing my guitars up tonight. I accidentally put 13 gauge ACOUSTIC strings on my Les Paul and Strat. I only noticed this after the bridge on my Stratocaster was about to rip off from the guitar. I'm so grateful that my the headstock on my Les Paul didn't break as I hear they are notorious for this. One thing I did notice though is that I really enjoyed the thicker gauge strings especially on the GBE strings, it sounded way more resonant. My question to you guys is, how do you feel about 11 gauge strings on a Les Paul? Do you think the tension will be too much on the neck/headstock or do you think it will be able to handle it? I also use to have fret buzz on the low E string with the 10 gauge strings but with the thicker gauge strings there was absolutely zero fret buzz at all. What do you guys think are the best gauge strings for Les Pauls and Stratocasters? 
#2
Its really a matter of personal preference: What you are used to / learnt on, your finger strength (bending & fretting), the sound / harmonic balance that you want. Most electric guitars will work OK with 9, 10, 11, 12 gauge (skinny E string), but the total string tension on the neck will be different for each set of strings. Depending on how stiff the neck is, this may require readjustment of the truss rod, the bridge (including intonation of each string), pickup height, or even the nut height. Its best to stick with one gauge that you like, and use a guitar that copes with it and sounds OK.
#3
Using heavier gauge strings will result in a fuller, rounder tone at the expense of increased string tension. If you're primarily a rhythm player, using a heavier gauge might suit your style well, especially if you're the type who plays with a heavy pick attack. Heavier strings can also accommodate drop and lower tunings, and as you experienced, can help alleviate buzz issues (*more on this coming).

I recommend taking your guitar to a quality guitar tech, most decent guitar shops have someone capable, and have them set up your guitar (or guitars) specifically for the string gauge you want and the tuning you will be mostly using them for. Having a basic set up done on your guitar will prepare it for the change in string gauge and should ensure that it's at its optimal level of comfort as per your playing preferences.

Now, on the topic of fret buzz - one of the eternal debate points for the guitar community. In a nutshell, there are different camps of thought and basically it comes down to preference on this. In my view, a slight buzz here or there is fine as long as it isn't adversely affecting the note and coming through the amp. You'll have others tell you that any buzz at all is unacceptable, then on the other hand you'll have others argue that a slight buzz is actually part of the tone.
If buzz is actually an issue that affects the guitar's performance then obviously that's a concern, but if you have a case of a slight buzz here and there when the guitar is unplugged but there's no noticeable issue when plugged into your amp - then the whole issue is negligible, IMO. 
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#4
Preference and tuning are the main factors. That said, scale length can come into play as well. I notice it's common to see 25.5" scale guitars (like Strats) come with 9-42 gauge, while 24.75" (like Les Pauls) commonly come with 10-46. That's for E-standard. In Flames plays Drop B on LP-style guitars with something like 12-60 sets.

As far as fret buzz goes, I'm in the camp of "If I can't hear it through the amp, I'm good."

I usually stick with 10-46 up through Drop C, but I've been trying 11-49 sets for Drop C lately. Because of preferences, it's not an exact science. I've played around, and for my needs, if the highest string isn't 10, I won't go with it. Now, that may change with my Septor 727, and I may end up with 9-54's because it's a 27" scale. I don't know, but I'll figure it out.
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#6
Your guitar can handle any reasonable string gauge, no problem, even if it's a Les Paul. As far as "best", that's up to you and listening to someone else's preferences isn't going to get you closer to what you need. Some good summaries already made above. When you play whatever your usual string gauge is, do you wish bends were a bit easier or the response to your fretting a bit faster? Lighter might be better. Do you wish muting was easier to do consistently or that the string stayed where you expect it to be when you're picking faster? Try heavier.
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#7
I have used hybrid or power slinky's for years. If I've got my guitar down tuned to d standard then I use the power slinky. Otherwise it's hybrids. The only odd set I have right now is heavy weight boomers.
#8
strings are cheap. experiment a bit.

FWIW I use 11's exclusively on all of my E std guitars,about 16 or 17 of them,regardless of 25.5" or 24.75".

I have two or three in C#, 12's with a thick bottom half. I have tried 13's but i don't like a wound third string. I can get by with the 12's though but they are loose for my taste.

experiment. have fun. see what works for YOU.
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#9
Quote by trashedlostfdup
strings are cheap. experiment a bit.

FWIW I use 11's exclusively on all of my E std guitars,about  16 or 17 of them,regardless of 25.5" or 24.75".

I have two or three in C#, 12's with a thick bottom half. I have tried 13's but i don't like a wound third string. I can get by with the 12's though but they are loose for my taste.

experiment. have fun. see what works for YOU.


Well, I literally just ordered a set of Ernie Ball Power Slinkies (11 gauge) off Amazon 15 minutes ago, they should be here by Thursday of next week. Right now I have absolutely no electric strings laying around my house so my Les Paul & Strat lay here idly whilst I have only my 60s Tribute ready to play.

The 10 gauge strings were not bad, don't get me wrong, I liked them but I think I will like the GBE strings especially with a thicker gauge string, just a hunch. I think there will be overall clarity and a more round tone with the thicker gauge strings if you know what I mean. I'll keep you guys posted, I may mess around a bit like you said and try all sorts of combinations like hybrid strings etc.

Jesus Christ, I still can't believe I put medium gauge acoustic strings on two of my electrics! 
#10
Well, failure is a teaching tool. With it being $5 for a lot of Ernie Ball and D'Addario sets, it's worth trying stuff out. I finally enrolled in the string club at Guitar Center. $20 a year for $60 in strings. I have 4 guitars, a bass and Septor coming later this year. I'm going to buy strings.
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*mods

Amps/FX
Peavey: Vypyr 30/Max 112 (200W), ISP: Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.

justinguitar.com is the answer
#11
Quote by NewDayHappy
Anyways, I feel like a gigantic idiot after restringing my guitars up tonight. I accidentally put 13 gauge ACOUSTIC strings on my Les Paul and Strat. I only noticed this after the bridge on my Stratocaster was about to rip off from the guitar. I'm so grateful that my the headstock on my Les Paul didn't break as I hear they are notorious for this. One thing I did notice though is that I really enjoyed the thicker gauge strings especially on the GBE strings, it sounded way more resonant. My question to you guys is, how do you feel about 11 gauge strings on a Les Paul? Do you think the tension will be too much on the neck/headstock or do you think it will be able to handle it? I also use to have fret buzz on the low E string with the 10 gauge strings but with the thicker gauge strings there was absolutely zero fret buzz at all. What do you guys think are the best gauge strings for Les Pauls and Stratocasters? 

You don't have fret buzz because you've pulled your action up with the thicker gauge strings' tension. If you have your guitar properly set up for the strings you're actually using, you won't have fret buzz then, either. 

I have no idea what the "best" gauge strings are for LPs and Strats, but I've gone with 9's and 10's across the board. 

I really don't care at all about  the "resonance" of an electric guitar. The reason that the LP was revived by rock legends back in the late '60's was that they *reduced* the resonance of the guitar while increasing the sustain that they were after. The reason that skinny strings were adopted back then was that the pickups were doing all the work anyway, and the skinny strings allowed deeper bends and easier use of trems. 

It seems like someone "discovers" thicker gauge strings about once a month on these forums. I would suggest this, however -- if you're interested in doing thicker strings, check into one of the guitars that have 27" scales. Put a set of 11s on that guitar and see what you think about the amplified sound. Jim Soloway sent me a semi-hollow that had this configuration, and though it took me a little while to get used to it, I really liked the sound of it (and playability was fine as well). 
#12
Quote by dspellman
You don't have fret buzz because you've pulled your action up with the thicker gauge strings' tension. If you have your guitar properly set up for the strings you're actually using, you won't have fret buzz then, either. 

I have no idea what the "best" gauge strings are for LPs and Strats, but I've gone with 9's and 10's across the board. 

I really don't care at all about  the "resonance" of an electric guitar. The reason that the LP was revived by rock legends back in the late '60's was that they *reduced* the resonance of the guitar while increasing the sustain that they were after. The reason that skinny strings were adopted back then was that the pickups were doing all the work anyway, and the skinny strings allowed deeper bends and easier use of trems. 

It seems like someone "discovers" thicker gauge strings about once a month on these forums. I would suggest this, however -- if you're interested in doing thicker strings, check into one of the guitars that have 27" scales. Put a set of 11s on that guitar and see what you think about the amplified sound. Jim Soloway sent me a semi-hollow that had this configuration, and though it took me a little while to get used to it, I really liked the sound of it (and playability was fine as well). 


Well, there are a few reasons why I think I will like the thicker gauge strings more. I think the GBE strings will be more resonant. I really do not like the sound of the high strings with 10 gauge, let alone 9 gauge strings, way too high pitch, even when I am tuned down to Eb. Plus, I am a violent player. I'm mainly a rhythm guitarist although lately I have venturing into lead guitar as well so I think thicker gauge strings may be a bit better for that. I'm really curious about some of these hybrid strings as well, maybe 10 gauge strings up top with fat bottoms? Something I am considering at this point. With that said, I am okay with my guitars right now. I have a Les Paul & a Strat and as far as I am concerned, I am in heaven.

You know the funny thing is? I used to play 11's on my old Stratocaster because I thought that guitar was too bright, until I realized that guitar was a POS so I sold it and went back to 10 gauge strings. Here I am now, 5 years later about to string up my Lester and Strat with 11 gauge not really knowing what to expect. It seems I've come full circle. The only difference is that I absolutely love both guitars with 10s on them so hopefully the 11s just take it to a higher level.

IF I find that I do not like the 11s, I am going to try the Ernie Ball Hybrids next. Thin up top, heavy bottoms. (The Hybrids sound very cool.)
#13
Quote by NewDayHappy
Anyways, I feel like a gigantic idiot after restringing my guitars up tonight. I accidentally put 13 gauge ACOUSTIC strings on my Les Paul and Strat. I only noticed this after the bridge on my Stratocaster was about to rip off from the guitar. I'm so grateful that my the headstock on my Les Paul didn't break as I hear they are notorious for this. One thing I did notice though is that I really enjoyed the thicker gauge strings especially on the GBE strings, it sounded way more resonant. My question to you guys is, how do you feel about 11 gauge strings on a Les Paul? Do you think the tension will be too much on the neck/headstock or do you think it will be able to handle it? I also use to have fret buzz on the low E string with the 10 gauge strings but with the thicker gauge strings there was absolutely zero fret buzz at all. What do you guys think are the best gauge strings for Les Pauls and Stratocasters? 

It's a tricky question.  Bigger gauges can sound "bigger" ( i.e. see SRV), but I find that bigger gauges can also actually limit the tones you can get out of a guitar.

I just switched from 10's to 9's after about 15 years of  playing 10's.  High up the neck the notes lose a bit a oomph, but it's a marginal difference. I find on my guitar, a Musicman Silhouette Special, the 9's allow the notes to ring out more and are much better suited for that guitar. It's hard to describe, but 10's feel chocked and "locked in" in comparison.  On my Strat, 10's feel fine - so it really depends on the guitar.

The big advantage to the lighter gauge is that you can get more drastic vibrato sounds - bending entire chord voicings etc.  You get more flexibility for micro bends etc.  That is useful for a lead player, not so sure if you're primarily a heavy handed rhythm player.

Small strings can sound massive - see Jimi Hendrix, who used 9's.  The problem is that it takes the right technique to go with it, and so they're may be a learning curve for heavy handed players.  

You can also mix and match gauges - so you could string your upper three strings with certain gauges and have the lower three be a different set.  That may work for you. 
#15
Piano makers know that the strings lose tone if too thick for a particular pitch. They want the piano to be as loud as possible, and it could be louder using thicker strings, but it was discovered hundreds of years ago that thicker strings make the pitch's overtones go false (because of the stiffness, mostly problematic at the fixed ends). So piano strings are a compromise: as loud as possible without getting so thick they lose tone. In other words, a piano could have better tone quality using lighter strings, but it would not be as loud.
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#16
I started using 11s about ten years ago because I was downtuning fairly regularly. I don't really play outside of E anymore, but I still use 11s just because I'm used to them. I'm not sure how much different it makes in terms of tone tbh. It is easier to bend on lighter gauges though, to the point where I've overshot my target tone because I'm used to having to put in a little more effort.
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#17
Quote by Ed_Grimley
NewDayHappy Remember, you'll need to redo the intonation when changing string gauges.

I really need to do some research on this. I watched one video but I still don't understand how to do the intonation. To be honest, the guitars sound so much better with the 11 gauge strings, very low action, zero fret buzz. I had to tighten the claw on my strat though. 
#18
Quote by reverb66
It's a tricky question.  Bigger gauges can sound "bigger" ( i.e. see SRV), but I find that bigger gauges can also actually limit the tones you can get out of a guitar.

I just switched from 10's to 9's after about 15 years of  playing 10's.  High up the neck the notes lose a bit a oomph, but it's a marginal difference. I find on my guitar, a Musicman Silhouette Special, the 9's allow the notes to ring out more and are much better suited for that guitar. It's hard to describe, but 10's feel chocked and "locked in" in comparison.  On my Strat, 10's feel fine - so it really depends on the guitar.

The big advantage to the lighter gauge is that you can get more drastic vibrato sounds - bending entire chord voicings etc.  You get more flexibility for micro bends etc.  That is useful for a lead player, not so sure if you're primarily a heavy handed rhythm player.

Small strings can sound massive - see Jimi Hendrix, who used 9's.  The problem is that it takes the right technique to go with it, and so they're may be a learning curve for heavy handed players.  

You can also mix and match gauges - so you could string your upper three strings with certain gauges and have the lower three be a different set.  That may work for you. 


I'm more of a blues/alternative rock kind of player. I like all music from 1950 to 1999, so I can play anything from alternative rock to Eric Clapton type of classic rock. 

I looked at the Ernie Ball hybrid strings and I watched videos on them, it's not for me. 11 seems like a nice comfortable balance, I will admit though that I miss certain aspects of the 10 gauge strings but I feel like both my guitars are setup to use 11 gauge strings, which is odd because my Les Paul came with 9's and my Strat came with 10's. Whatever works.

The lesser gauge strings are probably better on the joints, huh? 15 years of playing is a long time to be playing.

Anyways, I'm more of a rhythm guitarist at heart. I know lead guitar but that's not what I like to do. I like rhythm guitar and vocals. I'm more of a songwriter. Although my lead guitar has exploded over the last 6 months. The 10s are so versatile, the 11s sound best on my guitar because they were set up that way. I could see myself playing 10s if my guitar is set up the right way but there are absolutely no good technicians in my area so I am forced to learn everything myself.
#19
NewDayHappy Some guys don't explain it very well. This guy does a good job. Just remember "flat-forward", meaning when you check the note on the tuner at the 12th fret, flat means move the saddle forward.
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I love 11's too. I have them on my Eb strat for playing SRV. The sound has balls.
#20
Yeah, I'm going to watch this tomorrow. Right now I'm drinking a couple brewhahs, I added this to my playlist.


Thanks!
#21
NewDayHappy Some guys don't explain it very well. This guy does a good job. Just remember "flat-forward", meaning when you check the note on the tuner at the 12th fret, flat means move the saddle forward.
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I love 11's too. I have them on my Eb strat for playing SRV. The sound has balls.
Dude, thank you so much for this video! I learned a TON. Just finished doing an intonation on both my Strat/Les Paul. It was a great learning experience and a LOT easier than what I thought it was going to be.