Modern Gretsch Guitars

Noob string gauge question

1

Hi everybody! I just ordered (and am eagerly waiting for) my first (and likely only, as I’m starting in the pro range) Gretsch. I’ve wanted one forever. Part of the 6120 series.

I usually play with 9-46 strings. This is my first hollow electric. Is there any reason I shouldn’t stick with my gauge?

2

No.

3

Welcome to all things Gretsch, Phaser!

String type and gauge are among the most personal aspects of guitars so it's hard for us to make recommendations without knowing about your playing style and music you play. I play fingerstyle and use Chet's choice of gauge, 10-46. I happen to like PB D'Addario Half Rounds which are halfway between round wounds and flats. They have the same sparkle as round wound PB's but very little roughness or scratchy sound. Years ago this style was referred to as ground wound but weren't made by D'Addario. I have these strings on all my electrics and their acoustic equivalents Flat Tops.

I don't think gauge can ever be recommended as everyone is different with a different feel they like and how they perform on their favorite fret style/height.

4

It is all like going to the gym. Some do just fine with their routine. Others like posturing about and looking like beef cattle on steroids while sporting their 14’s on a strat. Many studio players sport 9s and 10s because they work just fine. Saw a rig rundown of Tom Bucovac saying there are notes he would shy away from, so he moved to lighter strings. Some just like saying they play rebar. Billy Gibbons likes hairs... on his chin and his guitars. ;)

5

Welcome.

Strings are a personal thing, and thankfully pretty inexpensive.

Try a few diffetent gages, and see what feels best to you.

I've tried numerous sets of different brands over the years.

I'm liking 10-46's on my Gretsches right now. They feel and sound great to me.

Best of luck.

6

Yesno.

Don't know what guitars you have otherwise - but the combination of 24.6" scale (a little shorter even than Gibson's 24.75") AND a Bigsby (whose spring gives a little in response to string tension) mean that 9s are going to feel VERY light and soft on the guitar. (Especially if you're used to 9s on a Strat/Tele or a hardtail Gibson sort of guitar.)

I'd strongly encourage trying at least 10s, just to keep something like the feel you may be used to. And in general, I've found that 10s or stronger just seem to work better on a hollowbody archtop guitar. Their greater mass imparts more energy to the top, resulting in better resonance, and more of the hollowbody tone you paid for.

7

What everyone said above. I would go with at least 10’s, or at least try them, but in either case adjust the truss rod and bridge accordingly. Also, as Proteus brought up, you didn’t mention what guitar you have now - scale length makes a difference.

8

You just have to do some experimentation with the guitar itself, and the way you play it, and how it responds to the way you play it with different strings. And be prepared to make fine-tune adjustments to the guitar, like truss rod, pole-piece heights, pickup heights, intonation, nut, etc...easy enough to do if necessary...or just take it to a highly-recommended pro.

I play tons of rhythm, and what little lead I play is pretty rhythmic too...and I’m probably somewhat heavy handed..,and I use the Bigsby! Plus I like staying in tune, so for ME, I find 11’s work best on my 6120 and my Falcon. I also use a wound G string. I switch back and forth between my electric and acoustic (which has 12s) , so it’s not a drastic difference in feel.

But that probably won’t work for YOU, being used to 9’s. So, knowing what I know about 6120’s, I’d start with 10s and go from there. I believe Bigsbys work best with 10s on up, tho I’ve never played 9s on my current guitars.

One thing I do, especially if I’m not familiar with the guitar, is to find out what strings they were shipped with from the factory, as a starting point, and go from there.

9

I always used 10-46 on my guitars until I started playing rockabilly on a 6120. I found that by using a 52 on the low E I could play the bass runs more easily because it didn't feel like the string was flapping about so much. So now I use 10-52 and it's not much different in feel from 10-46 IME. Brian Setzer uses 10-46 and doesn't seem to have a problem though!

10

Welcome aboard, phaser, you're starting out with one of the best guitars made! Like you, I play (hybrid) 9 - 46's on my solid body electric guitars. I have a less expensive version of your guitar, a G5422TG Electromatic hollow body, and I found that 10's just seem to mechanically work much better than 9's on an archtop hollow body (as Proteus and others observed). These are significantly large electric guitars, and 9's feel way too slinky to me, on such a substantial instrument.

The 10's sound way better than 9's when the guitar is played acoustically (and electrically), they're much louder than 9's and return back in tune much more accurately when using the Bigsby vibrato. Of course, string preferences is a very personal thing, but sometimes in cases like this, getting used to the next heavier guage guage can be extremely beneficial. It has the added benefit of toughening up your finger tips.

Gretsch guitars are a completely different sounding (and feeling) guitar than Fender and Gibson type guitars. They are unique, and many of us find that one is not enough. They open up a totally new sonic toolbox that can be addictive! You may find that you want to add a Duo Jet, or another one of simi-hollow body Gretsch's to your arsonal.

When you get guitar, we'd love to see some pictures of it. Be sure to make a NGD post (please)!

11

Maybe Modern World Gretsch is different, but always felt like my old ones played better with 10s or 11s. 9s didn't stay in tune and just sounded thin, but I don't use any Modern World pedals... you can make a guitar sound like anything now.

12

There's no reason not to stick with 9s if they're what you like. But I'd echo what Proteus said. 9s on a 6120 might feel lighter than they do on some other guitars. I think I played 10s for a long time, but for at least the last 15 years, anything lighter than 11s feels and sounds a little weak to me.

13

Thanks for all the good advice. I'll put a set of 10-46 on when it arrives next week and see how it goes from there!

14

Hello, i usually have 10´s on my Gretches but I just strung my beloved 125th Annie with 9’s for some songs I need really easy bending, it’s all fine but the Bigsby arm is raising a bit because of less tension of the strings... Everything else is perfect but I have a light playing and a pinned bridge ;)

15

Thanks for all the good advice. I'll put a set of 10-46 on when it arrives next week and see how it goes from there!

– phaser

The guitar arrived with what appear to be new strings; my caliper says the 1st string is a 12, but I think it's a 10. I have two sets of 10-46s standing by to try out, one with a wound 3rd-string, one unwound. Fun to experiment cheaply after buying such an pricey guitar!

16

It’s the old joke- changing strings is the cheapest mod you can do on a guitar!

17

If the bridge isn't floating I would go no lighter than 11 gauge strings. YMMV

Edit: that is supposed to say is, not isn't. Must not have had enough caffeine in me when I typed this...

18

If the bridge isn't floating I would go no lighter than 11 gauge strings. YMMV

Edit: that is supposed to say is, not isn't. Must not have had enough caffeine in me when I typed this...

– Scott

It floats. Installed a 10-46 set with a wound G yesterday and so far liking it very much.

19

Strings are the great 'individual's choice' argument. The bottom line is, you put whatever strings on the instrument that YOU are comfortable with, and that feel nice to play.

There's no point in struggling with 13-56 if you prefer 9-42's.

Personally I use 11-47 Thomastik flatwounds on my 6129 and my Jazzmaster, but prefer 10-46 elixirs on my LP's. Can't use anything other than the factory Ric sets on my 360/12C63, despite me trying many different sets over the years.

It is a relationship between you and the guitar, also bear in mind that heavy gauge strings also load up the neck / truss rod significantly more than light sets, so you must absolutely make adjustments if you are changing string gauges.

20

Strings are the great 'individual's choice' argument. The bottom line is, you put whatever strings on the instrument that YOU are comfortable with, and that feel nice to play.

There's no point in struggling with 13-56 if you prefer 9-42's.

Personally I use 11-47 Thomastik flatwounds on my 6129 and my Jazzmaster, but prefer 10-46 elixirs on my LP's. Can't use anything other than the factory Ric sets on my 360/12C63, despite me trying many different sets over the years.

It is a relationship between you and the guitar, also bear in mind that heavy gauge strings also load up the neck / truss rod significantly more than light sets, so you must absolutely make adjustments if you are changing string gauges.

– ElectroTastic

I've got a Ric 360/12 as well. It wears Pyramid flatwounds. Mine was not a reissue, new in 2001, but I had toasters and a 12-bridge saddle installed, plus custom nut, from Ric expert Marc Arnquist.

21

I watched this yesterday in an idle moment. I used to swagger around with heavy gauge strings thinking they were superior, not so sure now. What I do hate is having to hesitate with playing with a hard attack. But I've also learned through the years that many great players like the Rev and Bran Setzer play with a fairly light relaxed touch.

So 10-52 seem to work for me as I often drop the E string down to D.

Lighter gauges have more twang. And in the 70's and 80's, apparently 8's and 9's were the most popular.

22

The video makes good points but boy, do skip through it. Some guys like to pose around and sound like they're some kinda expert. And the examples here are kinda rock and overdriven. I'd have liked some examples from the clean side

23

No need to change gauge, but do yourself a favor & experiment with different brands and types. The differences in tone is a lot more than most people imagine. Tone hint: Don't use any strings that Guitar Center carries.

24

But I've also learned through the years that many great players like the Rev and Bran Setzer play with a fairly light relaxed touch.

Many players do. But that's among the hardest skills to develop if you, like me, are an instinctive rake-it-with-a-bricker.

25

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