#1
Just a general question re string gauges and playability...

Currently play a Fender with Martin SP Custom Lite 11's strings which I find quite easy to play & Barre. Have been looking to trade up & buy a guitar for life & last weekend tried out a Martin D28 which is the benchmark acoustic.

Found the tone & action great but struggled to barre near the nut & have found out that it comes fitted with Med 13's as standard. I'm presuming changing to same lite gauge string will improve playability as they'll lower the tension somewhat making barre chords on the 1st to 3rd a bit easier.... Am I right?

Could this gauge change affect the action....buzzing etc????

Opinions greatly appreciated
#2
it will make playing easier and also lower the action. it wont necessarily buzz. you're just changing from 13's to 12's. it shouldnt need an adjustment unless the action was already really low, and that's not usually the case for Martins. if you change from 13 to 11's you'll probably need an ajustment. it really just depends on your guitar.
#3
Dreadnaughts are "intended" to be played with mediums - the D-28 has a 5/16" non-scalloped braces and mediums will help to drive the top and give you optimum tone and volume. But by all means try light and see how you get on. Yes, you might find more buzzing, but that can be sorted with a set up (saddle for action and truss-rod for neck relief).

If barre chords at the nut still cause problems, have the nut slots checked in case they can be lowered (as is most often the case).

Whatever you choose, have a guitar tech do a set up for you, anyway, to get the best out of the guitar.
#4
I think the issue (assuming the action is properly set, as you said) may just be that you're playing style is accustomed to the lighter strings on the Fender. My D-28 has very heavy strings, and I often hear from others that it is too hard to fret barred chords near the nut (I find it to be VERY easy to play). It's all in your finger strength and playing habits.

You might try putting heavier strings on your Fender for a while and see if your fretting technique changes. If you just happen to prefer the lighter strings, they will work fine on the D-28 with a little tweaking. It's a truly fantastic guitar, but make sure you're buying the instrument because it fits YOU perfectly, not because other people swear by it. If you can't get used the the way it plays, there's no shame in passing on it. You gotta get it right for a "lifetime" guitar.

Edit: You could also ask the shop if they would let you switch the strings for a lighter set. As a serious buyer, I'd imagine they would oblige. Good luck.
#5
Typically, production guitars don't file down the slots in the nut enough so your best bet is to take the guitar into a luthier and see if he can cut the slots in the nut a little deeper. It'll make the guitar more comfortable to play and it'll make it sound more in tune on the 1st few frets. If they are already deep enough then go to lighter strings. Don't have your action lowered unless a luthier advises you to.
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#6
It shouldn't be a problem. If it is, you can have a very simple and extremely cheap setup done (free, if you learn how to do it yourself).
Sincerely, Chad.
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