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String gauge question


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#21 OFFLINE   gasbag

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 02:23 PM

View PostStu74, on 15 April 2012 - 11:45 AM, said:

Im only learning myself so im not an expert but im not sure if tuning all your strings down a semi tone is a good idea for a bigginer.
Please someone correct me if im wrong but in the beggining we learn the most common and easy open chords to get us started but having the strings tuned down will not allow us to use the common way of fretting a particular open chord.
Hope that makes sense :confused:

That makes sense to me but for a different reason.
I am one of the older guys in here (but still terribly good looking) and I have arthritis in my hands, fingers and wrists.
I tune my guitars down one full step and then capo it on the second fret which brings it back up to standard tuning.
It really helps old sore hands and makes playing a bit more fun. I imagine it would do the same thing for young hands that get sore from just starting out.
If it's tourist season why can't you hunt them?

#22 OFFLINE   Stu74

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 02:47 PM

I will have to think hard about this one.
My 1st thought is if you tune the guitar down a step and then put a capo on, the strings would be as tight as before and just as hard to fret as before you tuned it down.
I am probably wrong.

#23 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:53 PM

View PostStu74, on 15 April 2012 - 02:47 PM, said:

I will have to think hard about this one.
My 1st thought is if you tune the guitar down a step and then put a capo on, the strings would be as tight as before and just as hard to fret as before you tuned it down.
I am probably wrong.
I don't like telling folk they're wrong, so lets just say there's a concept that you haven't quite got hold of yet.

If you pick up your guitar, and a change in temperature has made all the strings flat, you won't know unless you compare your tuning to something else like another guitar or a tuner. So you play away quite unaware that you aren't actually playing pure, accurate notes. No problem. As long as the strings are in tune with each other you never need to know if they match the sounds suggested by your tuner. You form chords and pick and strum and learn just the same as if the instrument was in perfect tune. But. The strings have to be in tune to each other. (It's tuning by ear. If you can't tune this way yet, then that's something to achieve.)

The only time this can be a problem is when you play in company with someone else, like your teacher for example, or maybe a friend who's come over for a jam session. Then the guitars have to sound the same. Or if you're a purist trying to learn "perfect pitch" then you'll want to always be spot on. Most of us aren't.

Strings make sounds (oh boy, is that simplified!) according to how tight they are, and how long they are. Even a loose string, if you fret it up the neck, will sound higher, but the tension of the string remains loose. The capo trick is a great way to help sore fingers or the move the playing to where the frets are closer together so your hands don't have to stretch as much.

However you tune is up to you, and no-one else will even need to know why. Just make sure all the strings are in tune relative to each other.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#24 OFFLINE   gasbag

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:41 PM

View PostStu74, on 15 April 2012 - 02:47 PM, said:

I will have to think hard about this one.
My 1st thought is if you tune the guitar down a step and then put a capo on, the strings would be as tight as before and just as hard to fret as before you tuned it down.
I am probably wrong.

I won't tell you that you are wrong basically because I am a nice guy with compassion for all living things and some not so living things...........like my in-laws.
I am also quite fond of some inanimate objects. :tongue:

However..........If I tune my guitar down one full step and then capo it on the second fret I have not increased the tension on the strings. I have decreased the tension of my strings and I have made the neck of my guitar two frets shorter. A decrease in string tension but still at standard tuning.
It may be a small difference but for me it makes playing much easier. I know it is a crutch, but at my age I really don't care. Be nice or I will hit you with my cane.
If it's tourist season why can't you hunt them?

#25 OFFLINE   pHGTRSpider

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:48 PM

Hey Stu, don't think about it. Pick that gtr up and try it. Capo at the 2nd fret is a great idea, I always thought it was mostly a pitch thing but to put the gtr back in concert pitch (std tuning, A440), good idea!!!

Karcey and Gasbag, your explanations are so much better than mine. Sometimes I am such a dummy! I only started fiddling with Capos about five years ago and I must admit that if the tune only involves open chords I'm okay but I seem to get lost every time I go up the neck with a capo (years of not using one). I wonder how Aurora is making out? cheers
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#26 OFFLINE   Lcjones

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Tuning down a guitar to *think* it's easier to play doesn't fix anything. Yes, there is less tension on the neck. Yes the strings are slack and probably easier to push down. Throwing a capo on to try and compensate is defeating the purpose.

The problem your going to run into is tuning. Slack strings on a guitar that needs work is going to amplify out of tune notes and become an aggravation. And attempting to keep it in tune is going to be a big negative in your quest to learn. If the guitar is that hard to play in standard 440 then the guitar needs to be set up correctly. Whether it's the nut, bridge or neck, it needs to be adjusted and fixed.

Frankly, many less expensive guitars are prone to being hard to play out of the box. Simply because they are not setup properly. A good setup including a nut & bridge adjustment will do wonders for your hands *and* ears. In some cases even these new guitars are beyond a setup and are useless.

Keep in mind, the setup and string gauge run hand in hand. Heavier gauge strings pull a lot of tension and require a different setup than lighter gauge strings.

It doesn't do any good to try and override the system.

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LC

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#27 OFFLINE   karcey

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:06 AM

A discussion like this one will only ever influence one group. They are the beginners, the ones who are still battling with the guitar to try to get to that elusive stage of being able to play at least simple music. This is a very large group, and unfortunately the membership of the group doesn't diminish just because the beginners move beyond, it more often diminishes because the beginners move away. For the leavers the guitar has been too hard to learn. In order to encourage those beginners to stick around, the music world has developed some shortcuts, cheats if you like. They include TAB, which takes away the need for players to read music, and, as has been mentioned above, tuning tricks to make the guitar easier to manage in the early stages. We should remember that this very topic was started by someone who found the guitar strings too hard and gave up for six years. Thankfully she's come back to try again.
I doubt the industry will ever produce slack string guitars. The instrument that has made its mark in the world with a distinct, clear sound isn't about to be modified. I also doubt that the accomplished players amongst us, the beyonds, will be downtuning and capoing, because they don't need to. But if we want to keep the beginners, we have to be prepared to offer them whatever shortcuts we can, to get them through that stage where so many fail. The ones who capo and play up the board will soon enough be able to stretch their hands to span the wider frets. In the meantime they are learning and consolidating their interest. Same with the ones who have yet to toughen their fingers. It doesn't come easy, but if slightly looser strings help, then I'm in favour. I suppose it's a bit like letting kids have trainer wheels on their bikes. It's not the best method, but millions have benefited from it.
I urge the beginners who think they're having problems, to find whatever trick they can to enable them to continue. Call it a crutch or a cheat if you will. Sooner or later they won't need it. Sooner or later their own success will provide the momentum for them to continue. By the time they come to record their songs, the cheats, crutches and tricks will have been left far behind, and their guitars will sound like they should with nice tight strings.
"The music matters more than the instrument on which we play it." Jason W. Solomon

#28 OFFLINE   starsailor

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:31 AM

Hi Aurora, I gave up when I was a child because I had a guitar with an action you could drive a truck through and it just demoralised me, I have a Yamaha now which was reasonably low but it's been lowered even more so it's easy to fret and this solved my fretting problems, your guitar is a Dreadnought I think, so quite big, mine is too but it's fairly easy to handle. I've recently got an electric and I'm using that to practice scales, electrics seem easier to fret than acoustics, take a much lighter touch, scales take you up and down the fretboard and seem to be a good way to improve finger strength and positioning as you gradually bring all your fingers into play, the main problem for beginners does seem to be fretting the chord shapes probably because our fingers just aren't used to doing that much work so need exercise, you can build the shapes up gradually though, if you fret one string, then two then three etc. and make sure you get a clear sound with each string, it just takes a lot of practice to get the hang of it we need to get those fingers working and coordinated and focus on getting a clear sound from the strings, use different amounts of pressure to see what it actually takes to get a string ringing clearly, hope you have a lot of fun with your new guitar, I love my Yamaha.
You don't stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.

#29 OFFLINE   romi1212

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:42 AM

i have got a walden which i use regularly

its very heavy but the tone quality is really awesome

i have also played yamaha they are real pleasure to play

i came across some guitars of OAK wood its jumbo body was very light u could lift that guitar(i am talking about jumbo body ) with your thumb and index finger and please mind if u want to play with ease and comfort that thats the best thing i would suggest

even with a gauge of 13 strings they never get high actioned has anyone else had used this OAK wood guitar

http://www.oakwoodin...tars/guitar.htm

its the best stuff for kids and beginners

#30 OFFLINE   Stu74

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:10 AM

wow this is quite a discussion.Which is great. :clap:
Gasbag and Karcey i dont mind being told im wrong as i said yesterday about my opinion on this "I am probably wrong "
Like phgtrspider says i will have to try it to find out .I am with LC on his one i think putting a capo will just defeat the whole idea of tuning down.
I understand the frets are closer together the further away from the nut you play but that is the only difference i can see.Its all a lot for my pee brain to understand.
So i am off to tune my guitar down a step and dig out a capo from upstairs and give it a go.

#31 OFFLINE   aurora

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:08 PM

Hey, I'm back! I went out of town this weekend so didn't have a chance to try tuning down a step until today. In short, I was unsuccessful; it just sounded off, which of course it would be until I put the capo on, but I don't have a capo at the moment.

I'm watching for the UPS man with my new guitar and all sorts of other goodies that came with the bundle, so I could try it then, but I'm hoping that it will be a moot point because the new guitar will be easier to play. Also, I just remembered that although we don't have a music store in the vicinity, there is a guy in town who makes guitars, so I'm thinking he would be able to set mine up if I brought it to him.

Either way, I will see how the new one is and go from there. Hey - he's pulling in right now! I'll be back later :)

And thanks for the discussion; I've learned a lot!
“If you play music for no other reason than actually just because you love it, the skills just kinda creep up on you.” ~ Nuno Bettencourt

#32 OFFLINE   aurora

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

Yeehaw! I'm thrilled to report that this guitar is AWESOME, and the difference in ease of playing it, even as is, is HUGE. I had been working on the intro to a song on the old guitar but was never able to get past the first chord because I literally was not able to press hard enough for the strings to ring clearly. With the new one, I was able to do all three of the intro chords clearly within 5 minutes.

I am now a firm believer in not starting out on a too-cheap guitar. It was basically wasted money and time. If I'd gotten the Yamaha at the start, I might be pretty proficient by now.

The strings seem to be the same gauge as the ones on the old guitar, but the action is significantly lower right off the bat. I even ordered some 10s in case these 12s were too heavy, but I'm not sure I'll need them now because I've been practicing for half an hour and I'm still not hurting too bad to continue.

So it's onward and upward! This is very exciting. I finally feel like maybe I can really do this.
“If you play music for no other reason than actually just because you love it, the skills just kinda creep up on you.” ~ Nuno Bettencourt

#33 OFFLINE   Stu74

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:39 PM

Im glad you like your new guitar.Nothing can stand in your way now :leadguitar: .

#34 OFFLINE   GotDeeBlues

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:46 PM

Your Yamaha FG700 is a full size dreadnaught, and a great guitar. There are 2 or 3 in our family, and none have ever collected dust to say the least. Congrats on the buy and enjoy.
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."
..Nietzsche

#35 OFFLINE   eddiez152

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 03:52 PM

We all started out on something either given to us or something we can afford and tried to make the best of it. Nobody here can nock that.
Eventually we will experience what a better instrument feels like and we will understand what others were saying all along. In short, it all starts out with a good setup on most any guitar. The tone comes with experience and the quality.
Congrats, and Enjoy your new guitar.
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#36 OFFLINE   aurora

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:52 PM

Just wanted to post a quick update. I've been practicing consistently for about half an hour a day, relearning the chords and trying to get better at changing from one to another. I have a Fender DVD that I like. I'm finding C to be one of the most difficult so far, even more than the G for some reason.

Anyway, I think these 12s will be okay. I got the Rock-Tips and it helps, although the calluses were definitely building even before the stuff came. I wanted to thank you guys again for all the help.
“If you play music for no other reason than actually just because you love it, the skills just kinda creep up on you.” ~ Nuno Bettencourt





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