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Why do most of the best players use medium gauge strings (or do they)?

pdgpdg ✭✭
in Technique Posts: 267

It's my observation that most of the top players (not Stochelo) use medium Argentines "011s" or equivalent, rather than the light-gauge "010s." (I'm assuming long-scale guitars.) Does this seem to be correct?

If so, why? Do mediums enable better right-hand control, due to their stiffness -- less side-to-side string motion, better rebound, or "bounce"? Or do they enable lower action (a left-hand benefit but presumably lessened by the increased stiffness)?

I find mediums easier to control with the right hand. Nothing is more difficult for the right hand than playing with noodles! To assure some rebound with light gauge, the action has to be higher, and the break angle is important.

But mediums are more difficult on the left hand, unless the action is a bit lower or you don't want to be a very "technical" player. It also seems to me that the "window "of a good setup with mediums is a bit more critical.

Just wondering what other people think.



  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-10, Altamira M-01D, Epiphone Joe Pass
    Posts: 193

    All I've ever used on my GJ guitars are mediums (Argie 11's), I feel like I get better tone out of them. When I play other people's guitars with 10's, I can immediately tell the difference & I dont like it as much. To me, GJ is about power (and the beautiful challenge of holding it back when you need to), so it's mediums all the way for me. In fact, as mentioned in an earlier thread here, I use .12's in place of my .11's on both of my Altamiras, for even better tone. Anybody want a bunch of Argie .10's? They're piling up around here!

  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-10, Altamira M-01D, Epiphone Joe Pass
    Posts: 193

    *a bunch of Argie .11's*

  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,244

    The lighter argies are too "floppy"?

    With heavier strings you can dig hard or soft and so you have more dynamic range avail. With the the lighter set I feel you have to be a bit more restrained, like you have to take care to play more gently otherwise the strings can hit the frets and buzz out. And they don't really sound any better, so... the only reason I could think to choose them would be that the 011's hurt your fingers too much.

  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Eastman DM2v, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 307

    I’ve definitely noticed a bump in volume with elevens I’m supposing because of added pressure on the top of the guitar. My poor tendons just can’t do it though, tens are just easier for me to push around. Gives a certain slinkiness to the sound if that makes any sense.

  • WillieWillie HamburgNew Old french mystery
    edited July 9 Posts: 397

    010's: more buzz, less sound. 011's: less buzz, more sound. On my archtops I am using 012's as a compromise between sound and playability.

    When I started playing guitar with blues-rock-bands around 1970, my bandmates and I found that 010's were rather stiff. We where very amazed when we learned, that some of the gypsy guitarists in Munich were using 015's (and picks made of coins).

    Listening to Tchavolo Schmitt, I have the impression he might be using 010's because of that sizzling sound, but I think he has very low action and his left hand is simply strong enough to bend 011's as much as my poor hand can bend 009's.

  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 356

    I have found that that the guitar chooses the strings. I thought I was a "10's" man through and through until I got a new guitar this year. The guitar came with 11's which I replaced with 10's within a couple of days. Only to put the 11's back on!

    I own two guitars, both long scale, one strung with 10's the other 11's. I did own a top end guitar before and I could not contemplate having anything but 10's on that guitar because of the tension in the strings. Even the 10's felt like wire cables.

    I haven't found any gypsy strings that I like as much as Argies and I'm baffled by the good reviews I hear about some other brands. Highly subjective though!

  • MondoslugMondoslug New
    Posts: 34

    To the relatively new GJ listener, on the album "Clasico" by Adrien Moignard & Gonzalo Bergara...the amazing playing sounds like 10s and not particularly high action. Wrong many I?

  • TwangTwang New
    Posts: 356

    I thought a lot of players are using hybrid sets i.e heavier E and B. I think it's difficult to know what the gypsies prefer cos they'll use anything that's to hand. Stochelo and others seem to have a different guitar every time you look. Even though a lot of them have signature guitars. A friend of mine went to see Angelo in London and told me he was using a thin flexy pick! I can't help thinking that this was just what he had to hand in the moment.

  • TwangTwang New
    edited July 10 Posts: 356

    @Mondoslug Haha, they are both playing cedar topped Marins on Clasico and that's the exact same guitar that I needed to string with 11's!

    MondoslugBill Da Costa Williams
  • MondoslugMondoslug New
    Posts: 34

    :@Twang 😀 Thanks! 10s or 11s on the recording?

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