I know a low gauge like a 9 or 10 is good for lead, but what gauge is best for rhythm, and what difference does the thickness of the plectrum you use make, or is that just personal prefrence?
It's all personal preference.
With strings, the heavier you go, the more percussive and "solid" the sound, but it's not necessarily better - just different. Sure, it's necessary to go heavier if you want to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn or lighter if you want to sound like Vai, but both are valid tones.
Plectra are very personal too. Thinner ones make strumming easier, while heavier ones work well for single-note stuff. While you can learn a light enough technique to use a hard plectrum for strumming and control a thinner plectrum's stiffness by bending it, most players opt for the in-between gauges that can do both or chop and change between the two.
It depends on the music. The thicker a string is the "heavier" it will sound. A minimum of 10s will do for rhythm. Mind you that changing the gauge of strings on your guitar will affect your neck and intonation, so be careful. It also depends on what bridge you have. If you are gonna play lead at all, please take into consideration that thicker strings are really a pain to bend. I had 11's on a les paul years ago and it sounded killer for rhythm and also almost broke my fingers when bending etc.
As for plectrums, its easier playing with a thinner one. But it kind of teaches you a bit of bad technique most of the times. People tend to use it because it strums easier but that is only the case if your strumming isn't "right" in the first place. I would recommend using a 1mm pick and getting accustomed to playing with that. It gives you a more attacking sound and will help you in the long run.
I changed to .011s six months or so ago, after I got Greg Koch's Baja Tele that had been set up for .011s. I liked the tone & feel so much that I started fitting them to all my guitars.
I was surprised how easy the switch was and the biggest adjustment for me has been how easy they bend - I still tend to overbend a little and pull open chords out a little if I'm not careful. Thing is, while they are stiffer, a smaller movement takes them to the same pitch as a thinner string bent further. Or maybe it's just me... 🙂
LOL i think its you, you have been playing for MANY MANY years ?
25 years and counting... (another five and I'll be able to review on Harmony Central, LOL). I've been playing on .010s for almost all of that. Maybe I'm stronger than I thought? (that'll be a first!)
With 25 years playing, finger strength is a non issue .... for a newbie to play on 11's is gonna be a bit of a mission.
So what did they do before the late '60s? When men were men and strings were monsters 😀
Make 'em play .013's. Weed some of the wannabes out before they reach the stage where they are murdering "Stairway" in a shop's demo room while I'm trying out a classical guitar. Those that survive will come out stronger for it. </grumpy_old_guy>
Haha cos they smoked so much weed in those days, they didnt feel nuffing 😛
I bought a Through - the -neck Ibanez SZ320ex over the weekend and the guys at the shop said that it don't need a setup, I dont really know which gauge strings is on it, I think it might be 0.10's cause it feels a bit heavier than the 0'9s i'm used to on my older guitar.
It has got a very simple bridge called Gibraltar III, which make me think that the guitar is more suited for rythem than lead. The manual that came with also said that 0.10 to 0'11 will be suited best on this model.
Do you know of anybody in the Pretoria region doing setups?
Looks nice! Congratulations! Did you get a black or a white one?
I'm guessing it's the shorter Gibson scale length (24.75"), which is why they recommend .010 - .011 gauge strings. Nothing wrong with it for rhythm or single-note playing.
I don't know who's around JHB/PTA for setups, but Francois mentioned two guys in another thread recently.
All guitars need a setup when you get them ... the shop is just lazy. The guitar stands in a room hanging from a wall. The weather in gauteng has been dodgy this year Hot, Cold, Rainy over and over. Meaning that the the setup on the guitar is prolly out a bit.
You can do it in jozi at Matts music ( 011 763 2542 ) and ask for chris jacobs. He does awesome setups and does not charge insane prices. There are some shops that charge R400 for a "basic" setup" that includes just intonation, something even i can do in 10 minutes. Chris will ask you about R200 and i think it includes strings, im not sure.
Its a black one. The pics of it is up on the My Gear section if you wanna have a look.
Ill give Chris a call, the shop where i buaght it said they can do it, but I dont know if I want just anybody to do it.
and by the way Francis. Why is there an s in your surname, I've never met a Vivier without the s like mine. I think i might be a part of a rare species.
You dont want just anyone to do it, if someone does not know what they are doing, they will stuff up your gear. Ive heard of this guy that took his apple red strat to music mate or something, and the mirror let the screw driver slip whilst opening the back plate leaving a very deep scratch on it. And you dont want to waste money with someone doing it wrong.
As far as i know my surname is correct, its french or something.
I used to play 10's on my acoustic.
then I got 13's and it was a little more difficult. I played a while and my fingers got much stronger. I found the same effect from a harder pic.
I also started playing slap bass style on my 13's and it sounded much cooler than on thinner strings.
I rate thicker pics and strings are good for practice. If you gig on thinner pics and strings after, it should sound much smoother and the playing should be a bit easier.
i use Epiphone .010s and Dunlop Jazz III picks...
strings are great for lead and rhythm(we have a band with both guitarists playing rhythm/lead) and picks are perfect for lead,they help you play much more accurately
I use 13-56 Gauge in D standard because I have an extremely heavy picking hand (Rhythm) and I needed a gauge that was stable doing 16th triplets at 140.
I had my guitar professionally setup by a luthier, to get my action as low as possible.
Although, I plan on getting a custom 7 string with 12-59 or even 60 in B standard.
But it's down to preference, I've been experimenting with gauges for the past few years.
String gauge has a lot to do with personal prefference - but it can influence the sound considderably. I like the 0.10 D'Addario for electric and the 0.10 phoshor bronze for acoustic. These are really nice to play with, but I know that the 0.10 is a bit light for a good tone on acoustic. It works for me nicely, so I'll stick with it for now.
The plactrum I've been sticking with for many decades now is the red sharfin. The only considderation here is what you are comfortable with.
I find I get a much more defined sound when picking with a thick Dunlop as opposed to the super soft Shark tooths.
As for stirings, I use 13s on my GIO and I find them a tad too heavy. Really struggled when I just put them on, but you do get used to it. I play drop B btw.
When it comes to gauge, I believe that personal preference is only a small aspect of it. For instance, if you set the intonation and such correctly, you can actually get 11's (Sometimes 12's, even) to feel like 8's (Not joking, I've felt 11's that seemed like 9's)
I use 10's, personally, but haven't been able to set my "Hohner ST Special" so they feel like anything but 10's. I also prefer the stiffer plectrums to the floppier ones, because I like the control it gives me (As you can probably tell, I'm a predominantly lead player). But then again, my axe is set to the mid-point incase I need to chop and change.
Plectrums, in my opinion, are sometimes a waste of time if you use the classical finger techniques on the right hand (The 1st 3 fingers for G, D and high E respectively and the thumb for the other three), which is why I hardly ever use a plectrum. What I will say is that when I do use one, I never use the Sharkfin shape, as I detest them with a passion. I can't explain why. They just irritate me.