Updated: December 2020. So if you are doubtful about whether you can handle heavy strings, I would err on the side of caution. The idea behind mixed gauge strings is that you get many of the benefits of thicker strings, without compromising playability (see below for more on this). Or maybe I got a little crazy on the whammy bar, but that's seldom. Having said that, the flat winding also has an impact on playability, which is worth considering. – Modern blues artists – like Gary Clark Jr and Jack White use a greater variety of sounds. If in doubt, use the most popular guitar strings. Everything here is created for Texas Blues Guitar fans because that's the sound we love. If you are trying different strin… In this guide, I have some recommendations for electric and acoustic guitar strings which are very popular among blues guitarists. Adjusting the Saddles. Before nickel-plated steel, electric guitar strings were usually pure nickel, so these strings will give a classic, warm, round tone. When it comes to choosing the specific brand of string, there’s no right answer to which is best. In that case, playing with very light strings could cause you issues. They are usually differentiated in shorthand as “light,” “medium” or “heavy”; or by the numerical gauge of the high E string. These pure nickel string come in at a medium gauge same as the Curt Mangan strings 10-46s. Discussions comparing guitar strings often start with gauges, before brands are even mentioned. You don’t want to go too light though because you will have to be very precise with your fretting of super light strings or they will sound out of tune as they will bend so easily. So whether your flavor of blues is out of the Chicago nightclubs or from down in Texas, we’d … A smaller number means a lighter string. So the idea has often followed that thick guitar strings are better for your tone. 3.) Notably, they allow you to do this without applying vibrato to sustain the note, as you have to do on thinner strings. After some trial and error, I’m sure you will find some settings that you really like. It’s one of the reasons that players like B.B. So you become more limited in your dynamic range. The links will take you to strings with a gauge of 9/46. Jumping up a whole gauge is tough and your playing will be compromised whilst you adjust to it. It is this that has an impact on your tone. This is the same for all guitar strings, but the construction of the core (also referred to as music wire) varies between different brands. Flatwound strings are smoother to the touch and eliminate a lot of string noise. This gauge is a good choice for blues (especially for beginners) because they are light in the top strings which makes bending easier, but heavier in the bottom strings which gives a thicker sound. Nickel Plated This isn’t conducive to playing at speed, which is why shredders typically favour thinner string gauges. The blues is such a broad genre of music that it would be difficult and wrong of us to say there is just one set of strings that are the best guitar strings for blues. But if I can't make it through a couple nights (8 sets) without breaking a string, there's usually something wrong at the bridge (or *maybe* the nut). A number of string manufacturers now offer mixed gauge guitar strings. If you’re looking for acoustic guitar strings for blues, the strings below are a good place to start. Tuning down a half step not makes playing easier (as it reduces the tension on the strings) but it also sounds amazing. Intonation is affected by a whole host of elements. Tonally, they are perfect for the blues. Do the same thing on a thick string and it won’t move nearly as much. Not to discount the trustworthiness of the Ernie Balls or the vintage tones of the DRs, the Cleartone strings seem revolutionary enough to be a worthy champion among these 4 for the best strings for Stratocasters. It is not possible to adopt such an aggressive pick attack on thinner guitar strings. This is only a real consideration if you’re playing in a band. The lighter the string, the less resistance against your finger. Best Rated Acoustic Guitars for Country Music Reviewed. So try a few things out, and who knows – you might find that perfect set of guitar strings. Which Guitar String Gauges Are Right For you? King, Electric Guitars, Unsplash, I think there are very few blues guitarists out there[...], Once you've nailed the standard 12 bar blues progression and[...], Fuzz is one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable[...]. King opted for mixed gauge guitar strings. These were first introduced in the 1960s and are favoured for their more versatile tones. Lead Belly was imprisoned multiple times beginning in 1915 when he was convicted of carrying a pistol and sentenced to time on the Harrison County chain gang.He later escaped and found work in nearby Bowie County under the assumed name of Walter Boyd. The most muscular style in the blues’ contemporary canon, Nichols excels whenever given a Les Paul and a tube amp pushed to the limit. Today, you’ll find a wah pedal on most blues players’ boards. Better men than I have… On the downside, pure nickel strings can be a bit stiff and heavy, so even a lighter set of pure nickel guitar strings can feel a little tougher to play. Well, it’s not all bad news – and in fact there are a number of key benefits that thick guitar strings offer that you can’t get from thinner gauge strings. I'll also point out the number one mistake that most guitar players make when they start setting up their amps to play Blues.Here you will get.Amp EQ settings guide. This gives you improved playability and comfort. You are going to need to try out a few sets to see which you personally prefer. Whilst shredding does not have its place in the blues, playing at speed often does. There are three different types of winding on modern guitar strings; roundwound, flatwound and halfwound. So you have to apply greater pressure to the neck of the guitar to sound the notes. The set is … This is one of the main reasons that a lot of blues guitarists opt for light gauge guitar strings. It is however, worth knowing how string gauge affects your tone and playing. A lot of blues and rock guitarists – like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Philip Sayce tune down a half step to Eb. Hybrid gauge strings are sets of strings where the bottom strings are heavier and the top strings are lighter. Though he owes much of his success to a fairly slick, mainstream crossover sound, Robert Cray can play no-holds-barred blues with the best of them. This means that each note sustains for longer. With all of these negatives, why would anyone opt for thick guitar strings? Try out a few of the different strings on this page and see if you can find a set you like. They are easier to bend which is something you will probably be doing a lot if you’re playing blues. Nichols scores highly for blues face, too, which, on the anguish scale, sits somewhere between passing kidney stones and stubbed pinky toe. So there are going to be generalisations here. Treble side: 2.6mm. Guitarists spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about guitar strings. Smile, as the team of experts at Music Critic, have reviewed each classical string set for value, sound, quality and lots more. Finding the right guitar strings will take some trial and error but if you’re looking for a few guiding points, I would recommend the following: In addition to picking the right gauge of guitar strings, you need to consider the material that your strings are made from. Heavier strings are the opposite. – Finally, and arguably most importantly for the blues – the right pedal(s) can bring out the best in your guitar and amp. When you play chords on thicker guitar strings, each note will sustain for longer and the chord will really ring out. It’s a hope that I think many of us share. You will find the perfect string set for you in our guide here. Experiment with different guitar strings. All guitar strings come in gauges, which are measured in thousands of an inch. 2.) The world of guitar amps is difficult to navigate. But his core, underlying tone, comes from that Fender ‘recipe’. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. Heavy gauge guitar strings are more resistant to your fingers and require you to apply more pressure on the strings to sound each note. These offer some benefits for blues guitarists and are great if you want a darker blues tone. Finally, and of less importance – is the argument that heavier gauge strings stay in tune better. No problem. For lead, it allows you to play long and soaring notes and bends, which are a key element of effective blues soloing. Joe Bonamassa is a good example of this. Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s worth running through different string gauges, what they are and the impact that they have on your guitar. You can’t go far wrong with them and there is a reason they are so popular! Although the strings that most acoustic guitars use are commonly called "steel strings" (and they do have steel cores), the wound strings will almost always be wound with bronze. I’m not totally sure what it is, but the key of Eb sounds heavy and thick. There are different gauges and materials to consider and an ever increasing amount of marketing hype and jargon with which you have to contend. You can’t change your guitar or amp every week, but for less than £10 you can get yourself a shiny new set of strings. They are higher in output than pure nickel strings and have a slightly brighter tone. You can find them in the table below. The thicker the guitar strings, the tighter they need to be wound to get up to pitch and the greater the tension on the neck of your guitar. I can’t tell you which strings will work for you, but I hope this article has helped guide you in the right direction. If you’re playing blues lead guitar, then you are most likely going to have intonation issues. There is a huge variety of different guitar strings on the market, but the most common gauges are probably 0.9s, 0.10s and 0.11s. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. He strikes the strings hard, which creates a certain tone that does not come from his guitar or amp, but rather from the pressure he applies to each string. Instead, in this guide we’ll offer up some thoughts and suggestions on the numerous facets of electric guitar strings and look at how your choice can help to benefit your development and style of playing the blues. For softer pickups like Fender Custom ’69, you can raise the pickups closer to the strings. The guitar strings are then sold in one of the following forms: This is the material that guitar strings were made from in the early days of the electric guitar. This gauge is a good choice for blues (especially for beginners) because they are light in the top strings which makes bending easier, but heavier in the bottom strings which gives a thicker sound. If you want the fuller sound of thicker strings but your technique isn’t the best, I would recommend starting with some lighter strings, work on your technique, and then every time you restring, try the next gauge up. Dallas native Stevie Ray Vaughan tops the 75 essential Texas blues albums list with his 1983 album, Texas Flood. These aim to offer a happy balance between roundwound and flatwound and capture the benefits of both. As such, they tend to be favoured by guitarists playing in heavier genres who are down tuning or using a lot of distortion. I talk more about gauges further down the page. It is just that particular gauge guitar strings are better suited to particular styles of expression. The Best Microphones for a Bass Amp (Live Performances & Recording), Ampless Guitar Rigs: Electric Guitar or Pedalboard Direct to PA, The Best Horizontal & Angled Guitar Wall Mounts. D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, Martin MSP4100 SP Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light. The DR Strings designed to give you a great blues sound are also the cheapest available! If you will be using a lot of bending, lighter strings will definitely help you with that. But they are also stiffer and more difficult to bend and apply vibrato. If you are seeking a jazz, blues, or vintage tone with your Strat, try D’Addario’s EPN115 Pure Nickel strings. I have a tendency to put in a million notes and show off to the world, and that’s not usually my best solo. Stevie famously played 0.13s (ouch!) I'm narrowing the Gibson vs. Fender debate to a couple of guitars since I have one of each in hand and I play The Blues on both. By Antony Reynaert. In other words, if you were to play the same note on two identical guitars that differed only in their string gauge, the notes would resonate more clearly and for longer on the guitar with thicker strings. 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