Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stringing Me Up (With Guitar Strings)

Most musicians know that different guitar strings are better for playing different styles of music. For playing rock, lighter gauge strings are better because bending the strings can raise a note up 3 or 4 semi-tones and lighter gauge strings are easier to bend. However, jazz would be the other extreme. Jazz guitarists prefer strings that are of a heavier gauge because they rarely bend a string to raise a semi-tone but rather they pick the notes. Classical guitarists use nylon strings. Blue Grass guitarists most often use standard wound strings. Country guitarists usually use medium to light gauge strings.

The problem with buying sets of strings, no matter what genre music you play, is that prepackaged string sets don’t allow for personal preference and individual styles. As you become more accomplished, you will most likely find that you like certain gauge or type strings over others.

Several (more than a few) years ago I found that by using different gauge strings, I could bend the strings and play a different chord using the same chord position. For example, when making a simple F chord, I could also play a Bb by bending the strings.

Years ago I discovered that using a .009, .011, .016, .024, .032 and .038 were the gauges that gave me the added effects that best suited my style. I had to buy each string separately because prepackaged strings didn’t come in those gauges. Now Erie Ball has prepackaged sets of guitar strings that are pretty close and other string manufacturers do as well. There are Ernie Ball prepackaged sets of guitar strings that use the .009, .011, .016, .024, .032 and .042. Now I buy that set and a single .038. (I have a drawer full of .042’s if anybody needs them.) :-)

Personally, I prefer Ernie Ball because they seem to hold their brightness longer but you might prefer another brand. The best thing to do is just to experiment until you find the brand and the gauges that suit you best.


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