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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Going back and forth with mediums and lights

Previous 20 Messages  
jvstratman

USA

Oct 22nd, 2017 08:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Giving up playabilty (for any reason) is counter-intuitive (imho) to enjoyment and continued learning of new material. I went with 11's to offset elbow issues. I play amplified 99% of the time and don't notice any losses but, agree that they sound a little quiter unplugged. Give & take...

Harleyboy
Contributing Member
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Oregon

Best dryfire is at the range with ammo
Oct 22nd, 2017 08:29 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

12's are as heavy as I can go these days. Arthritis isn't a fun thing.

SandBagger
Contributing Member
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Texas

Enjoy Every Popsicle
Oct 22nd, 2017 08:30 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sadly, I am extremely weak on the left side (eye ear arm hand leg foot) as my last MRI shows the right side of my tiny brain looking like swiss cheese.

So, my Martin D42 which I purchased new in 1997 is consistently strung with Gauges 10-14-23-30-39-47. Certainly doesn't sound like the booming dreadnought that she was, but honestly, it is the only way I can play with any technique.

Oh, also even though I use the Martin Extra Light strings, about 10-15 minutes and I'm done.

thumbpicker
Contributing Member
*****

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Oct 22nd, 2017 08:37 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Link to comparison just a few minutes.

Comparison

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 22nd, 2017 09:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'll check that video out, thanks.

I guess I'm luckier than some in that I have no physical issues with playing my dreads or using mediums. Still, at some point, I need to try the medium-lights.

reverend mikey
Contributing Member
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N of I-90, E of I-29

You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
Oct 22nd, 2017 07:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Chris, Martin makes a set of PB Medium/Lights that are 12.5 - 55; their number is MSP4150. I've had them on both my D-18 and D-35 and they work great.

I like "thick" tone on the high B and E, so sometimes I'll put a 13 and 17 on those, but the 12.5 and 16.5 are certainly close enough (and slightly easier for bends).

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 22nd, 2017 07:20 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I was thinking of those when I posted this topic. But I need to expand my horizons a little. For some years, all I've used are Martin strings. When I brought that D-18 to Dave Boehlke in Boise and a couple packs of Martin strings for him to choose between, he mentioned he liked D'Addario strings.

I wonder who makes all these brands?

Viera
Contributing Member
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Santee CA

I forgot my tagline
Oct 23rd, 2017 09:03 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

thumbpicker: "I’ve always felt it is more based on the individual instrument."

Agreed. My D-18 GE just wasn't the same with lights. My Gibson AJ sounds wonderful with lights.

A lot depends on what you play and how you play. If one plays in a bluegrass ensemble competing against banjos, fiddles, an other such contraptions mediums are typically the way to go.


Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 23rd, 2017 09:47 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm getting a little used to the lights on the HD-28V and for finger picking, they work pretty well. Strumming, not so much.

In this vein, I ended up restringing a Strat last night with 9-42 (I usually string electrics with 10-46) and it was fun because it was so easy. Electric is different though because amps. I suppose if you have a pup in your acoustic the same would apply.

thumbpicker
Contributing Member
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St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Oct 23rd, 2017 12:04 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I find the biggest difference isn’t so much the actual initial note you play but the bending doesn’t really track between electric and acoustic guitars in general. I have put some really light gauges on acoustic and still can’t get the bending to work the same.
In contrast I’ve played some great acoustics with medium strings that sounded somewhat anemic because they were set up to play wonderfully but that evidently doesn’t let them ring out properly.
Could be you need quite a bit of downforce on the bridge to drive the top properly. Raised the action on the guitar and lost some playability but gained a lot of sound/tone.
I’ve rarely had to adjust anything on a stable guitar to accommodate a gauge up or down on an acoustic to keep the action the same. I guess it just takes some experimenting to find what makes you happy.

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 23rd, 2017 12:32 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Playability trumps pretty much everything in my world. Doesn't matter how good the tone is if you have to fight the guitar. Jack White is wrong.

kego
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Houston, TX

Give me a second to think of something..
Oct 23rd, 2017 01:42 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I keep 12's on my 000's and OM's and 13's on my dreads. When I switched to the 13's for the bigger guitars I had about a months worth of sore fingers, but once the muscles were built up no worries. I have an "overused tendon" in my left index finger according to my doctor, apparently from playing 2-3 hours most days - fortunately this didn't get any worse when I went with the bigger strings.

I definitely need the volume in my dreads for bluegrass, and I *love* the bass thump that you just don't see with 12's. And, once I got used to them I'm fine with them. I've always had a little different technique for acoustic vs electric, so it's not a big deal.

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 23rd, 2017 02:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If I was playing bluegrass I suppose I'd think about strings differently. As it is, I'm playing at home, on my couch, often without a pick. I play more of the Laurel Canyon sound type of music (CSN, NY, Eagles, Joni, etc.) so big volume isn't a requirement. But I've been back into playing guitar for awhile now and my fretting hand is in decent shape.

larryguitar19
Contributing Member
*****

South Florida

larryguitar
Oct 23rd, 2017 10:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A couple of things to consider.

You can get away with Mediums on a Gibson or Martin tuned a 1/2 step down to D#. The Mediums give more thump and you get playability.

However I do play in bluegrass bands and need to be in standard on the Martin so I go with lights.

On Taylors the tops are so thin I"m alway using Lights. Same on 12 strings.

It also depends upon your style. That Tony Rice flat picking stuff really needs lights. But the heavier Rev Gary Davis stuff needs mediums.

Also you have to think about how the UST works. Tuning down a step does result in some small bit of loss of volume to my ear but the medium strings will make up for it.

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 23rd, 2017 10:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Honestly, I can play mediums on my Martins at standard tuning. I do sometimes tune a half step down rather than capoing and I often play in double drop d tuning as well. For me, it's as much a tone thing rather than playability so long as my fingers are in shape. I think part of the reason I kept one strung with lights and the other with mediums was so I'd have something to play when I had laid off for a bit. That's sorta what made me wonder about medium-lights, happy compromise?

twangdoodles

michigan usa

Oct 24th, 2017 05:35 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

My experience is that a well set up guitar plays just fine with mediums unless you like to bend a lot.

The new D-18 I bought earlier this year came with, and was evidently designed for, lights...

5Strats
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Edmond/OKC

GospelBilly!
Oct 24th, 2017 06:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I use 10's on my Gibson acoustic. I like to play lead and rhythm and I primarily play electric guitar so heavier strings are too much work.

I already have some hand/finger issues that I get treatment for and I don't want it to become a real problem.

kego
Contributing Member
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Houston, TX

Give me a second to think of something..
Oct 24th, 2017 08:05 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

twangdoodles has a great point in his comment about a well set-up guitar being easy enough to play with mediums. I'm often appalled at how badly a lot of player's guitars are set up. Bending strings and "that Tony Rice stuff" are perfectly doable on a well set-up guitar with 13's on it, at least for the acoustic music and bluegrass stuff I typically play. If it's to far to bend I use different technique anyway. For sure you're not likely to do much Buddy Guy-esque 3-step bends, but those are pretty uncommon in most acoustic music...lol

The main reason I use 12's on my 000's and OM's is that I don't like putting that much strain on the smaller bodied guitars. The dreads are built to take the strain of medium strings so I don't worry about that at all.

I feel for those of you who have finger issues and can't use bigger strings. I know the tendon on my index finger hurts until it gets warmed up and is always sore as heck the day after a bluegrass jam (I'll never be Tony Rice, but I do play a lot of solos). I just hope it doesn't progress to where I can't play at all eventually..

(This message was last edited by kego at 10:11 AM, Oct 24th, 2017)

Chris Greene
FDP Host

Idaho, USA

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
Oct 24th, 2017 09:18 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"The new D-18 I bought earlier this year came with, and was evidently designed for, lights..."

All modern Martin dreads are designed to use mediums and come with mediums standard. Check their site for proof.

twangdoodles

michigan usa

Oct 25th, 2017 05:58 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Well, maybe I remembered wrong. I just pulled out the booklet that came with it and it just says that they're designed for no heavier than mediums. I remember there being lights on it when I bought it but maybe I'm wrong.

Previous 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Going back and forth with mediums and lights




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