Other Equipment

Of strings, gauges, and tensions

1

Thought I'd share a little OCD/geeky research I did re strings, etc, a couple of weeks back.

The impetus was trying to dial in a set of EBs that felt better. I find the Daddario's a little too bright for Gretsches, which are already a bright guitar. EB's have a little more depth/girth and authority to my ears, though the Daddario's do last longer.

Problem with EBs sets as configured is they are very weird in terms of tension balance; some Daddario sets are better, but not by much. I found a lot of this research and some of the recommendations on a couple of other guitar sites, but I did a little more digging to confirm tensions between manufacturers, etc. and look at stuff more applicable to what Gretsch users may be using.

FYI, the tension for nickel wounds from either company are apparently the same -- data sent by EB matches D' Addario more readily available info.

As an example, the EB Beefy Slinkys runs as follows:

string tension in lbs at 25 1/2 scale

PL011E 19.600
PL015B 20.500
PL022G 27.700
NW030D 25.000
NW042A 26.300
NW052E 24.600

Note the huge jump between the B and G strings, and the discrepancy between the A and the low E.

Their Not Even Slinky set ---

012 23.3

016 23.3

024 33.0

032 28.1

044 28.7

056 26.3

has a huge 10 lb jump between the B and G, which could be brought in line with a 020 G at 22.9 -- but from there its a biggish jump from the 23 of the top strings to the 28 ish range for the D and A.

The Daddario Heavys have a bit more tighter range, but are pretty erratic within that:

PL012E 23.300
PL016B 23.300
PL020G 22.900
NW032D 28.100
NW042A 26.300
NW054E 24.600

My thought would be to replace the D with 030 (25 lbs), and the low E with a 056 (26.3 lbs)

The Daddario 011-049s, a favorite here, run as follows:

PL011E 19.600
PL014B 17.800
PL018G 18.600
NW028D 21.300
NW038A 21.600
NW049E 19.700

the top three strings arent terribly well matched, there's a bit of a jump between G and D, and a bit of a step down between A and E.

So I do this - basically a *modded* Daddario 011-049 set - though Im using EBs on the wounds as i prefer the tone. Im using Dadddario's on the trebles as EB doesnt make a 019 plain.

PL011E 19.60

PL015B 20.50

PL019G 20.70

NW028D 21.30

NW038A 21.60

NW052E 22.01

Thats a much more consistent measure and tighter spread. I'm liking the feel and tone. I imagine my neck is happier, and intonation seems really accurate as well. Works for me!

Daddario's med top/heavy bottom runs:

PL011E 19.600
PL014B 17.800
PL018G 18.600
NW030D 25.000
NW042A 26.300
NW052E 22.000

Note the huge jump between the G and D strings, and again the discrepancy between the A and the low E.

as I know some folks use flats, here's info on the Daddario sets:

ECG23 Chromes Flat Wound,Extra Light, 10-48

PL010E 16.200
PL014B 17.800
CG020G 20.200
CG028D 21.300
CG038A 21.600
CG048E 19.900

ECG24 Chromes Flat Wound, Jazz Light, 11-50

PL011E 19.600
PL015B 20.500
CG022G 25.300
CG030D 24.600
CG040A 25.800
CG050E 21.500
for this set, you could replace the G with a 20W (20.2 bs), the E with a 052 (22.7 lbs)

ECG25 Chromes Flat Wound, Light, 12-52

PL012E 23.300
PL016B 23.300
CG024G 30.000
CG032D 27.900
CG042A 28.000
CG052E 22.700
for this set, you could replace the G with their 022w ( 25.3 lbs) and the E with an 056 (27 lbs).

ECG26 Chromes Flat Wound, Medium, 13-56

PL013E 27.400
PL017B 26.300
CG026G 35.100
CG035D 35.100
CG045A 32.900
CG056E 27.000

Hope this is of interest and/or useful...

2

From my experience, the EBs are stiffer and brighter than D'addarios. The latter I prefer since it's more balanced tension wise. For two decades, I'm a D'A loyalist until I installed Elixirs nanoweb and polyweb to my SSLVO and WF respectively.

Man, they're a whole lot better in tone and feel.

3

Thanks for the info.

So far I'm running T-I Blues Sliders on the 5122, T-I Power Brights on the Duojet (but not that happy with them), and still have an old set of D'Ad 10s on the Double Annie.

Have never tried EB strings, but heard Macca runs slinkys on his '59 Les Pauls. However, I don't really like the sound he gets from them, so that's probably scarred me from trying EBs altogether.

Gonna try D'Ad 10s on the Duojet next, and see if that helps with the amp rig I'm using (72 Bassman 100).

4

Interesting info. Thanks for posting.

I like Chrome 13's both in feel and gauge. I also like EB Coated Not Even Slinky; they are a little light, but they nearly match the ratio of low to high of the Chromes. The thing i do is order a set of 6 coated wound G strings (.026 i think?) and throw out the unwound G. I do this through Strings and Beyond. If you order 6 single strings, they can get them directly from EB.

Presumably that G swap would help your tension discrepancy. I hated that unwound G too. It didn't sound good (it really stood out), and it hurt!

With that swap they become a good set of roundwound coateds that aren't to light. The coating seems to add some weight and "broken in" quality that lasts for weeks.

5

I had Elixirs on my Fretless Tele and liked them well enough -- havent put them on the Gretsches.

Jetbunny, thats interesting that you hear EB's as brighter, I hear the exact opposite. Sound is so subjective and personal. .. i do know a lot of people feel the EBs are stiffer, but I think thats due to the imbalance in the sets, since the tension sheet that EB sent me matches exactly gauge by gauge with D'ad specs. I dont have an independent lab to verify their data, so I guess the anecdotal measure would be to put the same gauges from each maker on two as near identical possible guitars, and see how they feel and sound.

One of the best sounding strings I ever played were the GHS Big Core strings, but those tensions were way wack for the low E. I could make a combined set work for an alternate tuning I was doing, but for standard tuning they're off kilter. I'll try them again if they offer more selection.

6

Interesting info. Thanks for posting.

I like Chrome 13's both in feel and gauge. I also like EB Coated Not Even Slinky; they are a little light, but they nearly match the ratio of low to high of the Chromes. The thing i do is order a set of 6 coated wound G strings (.026 i think?) and throw out the unwound G. I do this through Strings and Beyond. If you order 6 single strings, they can get them directly from EB.

Presumably that G swap would help your tension discrepancy. I hated that unwound G too. It didn't sound good (it really stood out), and it hurt!

With that swap they become a good set of roundwound coateds that aren't to light. The coating seems to add some weight and "broken in" quality that lasts for weeks.

– spiral

EB's biggest issue across almost all their sets is the extremely tight G and the slightly flabby low E, so Im not surprised that replacing the Gs help. Daddario has the same tendency, but not to the same degree. Daddarios can be more erratic within the set, but the range is smaller.

EB didnt send me specs on their wound 3rds, but using Da'd's data ( and so far they match), then generally regular nickel wound 3rds will be two to three lbs lighter in tension than their unwound counterparts, which makes sense, as the core is smaller. The higher you go, that difference goes up to about 5 lbs.

018W = 16.1; 018P =18.6

020P = 22.9 (cant find a 020 W data point)

021W = 21.5 (cant find a 021P data point)

022W = 23.8; 022P =27.7

024W = 28.1; 024P = 33.0

026W = 32.8 (cant find a 026P data point)

An .026W is going to put you right about where the 024 P is. To correct that 10 lb anomaly for the G in the Not Even Beefy set, then you'd want to be in the 25 to 26 lb tension range for that string to kind of 'ramp up' the feel to the other wounds, but there really isnt an exact fit. So you'll have to balance with the trebles at a 022W, or balance with the basses with a 024W:

012 23.3

016 23.3

024P 33.0 or 022W = 23.8 or 024W = 28.1

032 28.1

044 28.7

056 26.3

edit: the other option would be to lighten the lower end a bit, by replacing the D with a an 030 and the A with an 042:

012 23.3

016 23.3

022W 23.8 (020P 22.9)

030 25.000

042 26.3

056 26.3

Thats a really consistent set now. May have to try this :)

7

is there somewhere online where the D'A data is available?

8

is there somewhere online where the D'A data is available?

– macphisto

is there somewhere online where the D'A data is available?

– macphisto

They do have a rather confusing but thorough pdf here , but I just found it easier to look at each string set listed on their site; they have tension measurements for all of them, or you can compare them by 'family' or alloy. I had to email EB and they sent me a spread sheet, but its by no means comprehensive.

9

This is some great info. I'd never really thought about the consistency of tension across the strings but I think this may account for why some sets just feel "right". I'm going to pay more attention from now on.

I did find the MPUSTC String Tension Calculator very useful when I was digging into total tension (working out how strong a neck joint needed to be) and one of the things I particularly like about it is the ability to work with non-standard tunings and scale lengths. It does calculate tension and so perhaps doesn't account for the slight differences between tensions quoted by different manufacturers - interesting nonetheless.

10

Mustafa posts some great info. I never eally thought about it but after stopping for amoment and thinking, I can say that string tension with D'As are inconsistent.....not horribly but noticable. I also think the are brighter tghan the EBs but I like that.......DA's perfect chime for my Strats while I just don't jive with the EBs on my Gretsch. I love heavy guage EBs tuned to an open E for my slide playing on my Cort though......great balance in my opinion.

11

i recall reading something recently to the effect that Hendrix custom-gauged his strings to balance the tension, and as a result had something absurdly light like an .038 on the low E.

12

i remeber reading that too.... IIRC, his thinking wasnt revolving around tension, but consistent output balance; he was looking at core diameters of the wound strings and how they related to the unwounds, but I dont remember specifics.

13

Good research and handy information to have in one place. Good on ya, Stefan!


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