Strings and Things

Guitar strings are a peculiar but important part of your instrument.  The wrong strings can cause pain which will make you subconsciously not want to practice.  The wrong string height and action can affect your playing.  Even something as simple as changing the string gauge can have an adverse effect on the overall playability of your guitar!

We often don’t know what we don’t know.

How often you need to replace your strings depends on how often you play, climate conditions, type and quality of string, etc. Some professionals change their strings every month, and some, not until one breaks then they change them all.  If you play hard and often, you’ll want to change strings as soon as they start to feel grungy (some like that sound) or lose tuning stability.

Electric guitars made like the Fender Stratocasters are 25 ½ inch scale, and come from the factory set up with extra light strings (.009 – .042) sometimes.  Which is the reason they break easily when dads are trying to change them for their daughters after gifting the future rockers a guitar. 

Those made like the Gibson Les Paul, are 24 ¾ inch scale, and come from the factory set up with light gauge strings (.010 – .046).  And then the guitars with the Floyd Rose Tremelo setups that do a “Nuther” thing to strings and intonation. 

I heard that BB King loved using .009s, and Stevie Ray Vaughn liked the heavier strings.  He had super strong fingers and was a string bending blues master. f course, you can use whatever gauge of electric guitar strings you like.  Players with a heavy hand may find that a medium gauge (.011 – .048) electric guitar string will break less and stay in tune better than a lighter string.

The electric guitar was invented sometime in the 1930s with the first companies to make modern electric guitars and electric guitar strings were Rickenbacker, with their Electro-Spanish guitar, National with their own electric Spanish style guitar and Gibson with the ES-150 jazz guitar. 

“Muddy Waters Invented electricity” – Crossroads movie quote

In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, the instruments we think of today as electric guitars were invented.  These were: the Fender Telecaster in 1948, the Gibson Les Paul in 1952 and the Fender Stratocaster in 1954. These three new solid body guitars, the Telecaster, the Les Paul and the Stratocaster are without a doubt still the most recognizable and popular solid body electric guitars in the world.  All are still made today in more or less the same form they in which they were available in the 1950’s.  The electric guitar strings they use are still a big part of that sound. 

When in doubt, just ask.  I love this stuff and try to learn something new all the time.  No one can know everything. 

“Start where you are with what you have”