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Chuck Berry’s Strings Question


I know his career spanned from the '40s up to his death into the 2000s, so he could have used many different strings. I don't think he recorded in the '40s but he did start as a musician then. He probably used round wound strings for much of his career but I want to know what he used on his early recordings such as "Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode". I may be completely off base but to me they sound like flatwounds. Reason I ask is because I read somewhere that he used banjo strings to get the bends, kind of like James Burton, but to me his strings sound like flatwounds in those early songs.

Can someone in the know confirm this?

Subtopic, while we are on the subject of Chuck Berry, what's your favorites by him?

Mine are in this order "Maybellene", "Johnny B. Goode", and "It Wasn't Me". Those are just three but he had so many good songs I like.


Dear Dad, Deep Feeling & Havana Moon


(It Goes To Show) You Never Can Tell


Wee Wee Hours, Sweet Little Rock'n'Roller, No Money Down. Ask me again next week and I'll probably say something different.


Thirty Days, Too Much Monkey Business, Promised Land, a bunch of others really.


All I've ever read is that they were very light, possibly as low as .08.


They didn't have super light strings way back then. I thought he used heavy wound G kind of sets


The claim is that Berry and others supplemented the string sets of the day with lighter gauge banjo strings.



For what it’s worth he played a Gretsch White Falcon at least once.


Yes true they found banjo strings and made up lighter guage sets before they were commerically available.


Yes true they found banjo strings and made up lighter guage sets before they were commerically available.

– DCBirdMan

I wonder if Chuck Berry used flatwounds and just on the first three strings put on banjo strings? The bottom three being flatwound because that chugging away sound on "Johnny B. Goode" sounds to me like flatwounds at least on the bottom strings.

Any of you think that's possible or do you think he had round wounds on the bottom three and banjo strings on the first three strings?


I'd say he was using rounds, maybe well broken in as in dead. My favorite song is all of them. My favorite solo,maybe of all time, is his total freakout balls to the wall solo in Thirty Days.


All strings sounded like that if you left tham on long enough. I don't think Chuck used light gauge strings. I don't think he bothered with details like string gauge or tuning. The information on that link is bogus. Originally, the hot tip was to use regular Fender strings, but move them all down one, so you didn't use the low E string. Then you took the little string from a 5-string banjo for the high E. That gave you a .009" high E, and a '13" G string. It wasn't a very balanced set, but you could bend them. In the mid-60's, Fender started selling this combo as Fender Light Gauge Rock & Roll Strings. Of course, before that, Eddie Cochran just used regular strings, but used a second B string for the G, which meant only the G string was light. The advent of Fender R&R strings helped, but it was still a really unbalanced set. In the late 60's, Ernie Ball started selling strings by gauge, and things really improved.


Thanks Billy for the info. That’s what Chuck Berry must have done.

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