string gauge for electric slide

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string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 13th, 2004, 10:32 am

I have really gotten into slide and open tunings recently.  I have already slapped some mediums on my old acoustic and raised up the action, though I still want to take it in to get a new bridge because I just can't get the treble side to ring without using finger picks.  But I want even more volume and tone, so I am currently saving up for a Fender A/E Resonator.

For my electric slide, I am using a Fender Bonnie Raitt.  (This is not my only electric, so I am devoting this one to slide).  I already raised up the action and pretty much leveled the strings, because I have small hands and like a small straight slide that I can control.  Right now, I've got 10's on it, but the sound is thin and  I know it needs a higher gauge.  Everywhere I look all I find is a recommendation for heavy strings and high action, but no specifics.   :-/

Before I invest in bunch of packs and setup time, I'd like some input from others.  Will 11-49's (D'Addario Blue/Jazz) be heavy enough?   I really would still like to be able to do a bit of fretting behind the slide, so I'm worried about being able to do so with 12-52 or 13-56.  Also, I am experimenting with several tunings:  Open G, Open D, DADGAD, and standard (for Open A and Open E, I have been using a capo for the electric), so I don't want to set it up for just one tuning either.  

Anyone have any experience or suggestions?  Anyone else have an electric devoted to slide?  Thanks.
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by Ricochet » March 13th, 2004, 1:06 pm

I use .012-.052" on my electric sliders and have no trouble fretting. Hey, those aren't heavy strings on an acoustic. (I use .016-.056" on my Tricone.) The .011-.049" set should work fine, too. Those are popular with the sliders on Big Road Blues. http://bigroadblues.com/

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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 13th, 2004, 1:52 pm

[glow=red,2,300]Thanks [/glow]for the reply.  Thanks too for the link.  I'll check it out.  

So you think I'll get more tone and volume if I up the gauge on my acoustic too, I guess.  Of course, then I can't use Elixir's.  Sigh.  But it would be worth it, if I don't have to replace the bridge, so I guess I'll give it a try.   8)

11's or 12's for the electric?   :-/  Hmmm.  Anyone else got a suggestion?

 
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by forrok_star » March 13th, 2004, 3:32 pm

As a rule, the heavier gauges work much better in terms of sound, plus you get the extra resistance that's needed to have a really good feel. For D and G tuning a heavy set, and for E and A tuning a light set. A good set might range in guage size from 11 - 54.

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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 13th, 2004, 3:49 pm

So, Joe, would you say that if I was going to do Open E and A tunings, I would be better off with 11's, but if I was going to do mostly Open G and D (which is what I'm doing with a capo for the higher ones) I would be better off going with 12's?  Or do you think 11's are fine either way?  

Also, from my Musician's Friend catalogue, I see that most manufacturer's make 11-49 (some have 48/50) or 12-52.  Only Dean Markley has the 11-52 that you mentioned.  Do you think having more bottom end helps or do you just like the Markley's?  

Thanks! :)
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by gnease » March 13th, 2004, 4:33 pm

Heavy strings require more strength to bend, but they are not necessarily more difficult to fret. Because they require more tension, heavier strings are more appropriate for low action on a well setup guitar than are lighter gauges, which are prone to buzzing. (Other factors such as scale length and type of bridge also affect feel.) So if you go heavier, you may actually be able to lower the strings and make behind the slide fretting easier. Heavies will also sustain better and provide higher output from your pups.

I recently put a set of D'addario Chrome 11's on my Reverend Slingshot (25.5 in scale like most Fenders). At first it seemed a little strange, but after tweaking the setup and getting used to it, I find it very playable and sounding a lot better than 9's. Note that chromes are flatwounds -- not recommending for slide.

Another thing about slide: most electric slide players use at least some overdrive/saturation/distortion to get a thicker sound with more sustain. This is achieved by using one or more of: hot pickups, boosters (e.g., tube screamer), high gain amp and sometimes even a compressor. Bonnie Raitt's sound is definitely harmonic rich -- meaning there's some overdriving going on somewhere. OTOH, if you're going for the Jerry Douglas sound, ignore this paragraph.

About that Fender A/E resonator - if it's the FR-50, it has a pretty bad reputation over in the alt.music.guitar.resonator newsgroup. Recent comments suggest the internal construction is not durable (must be lightly strung!) and that it doesn't provide a true resonator sound. Play it first and make sure it's what you want before buying.

Good luck -- Greg
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by forrok_star » March 14th, 2004, 3:50 am

Slide guitar is first about listening.  Then it's about feeling.   It's about how you can make your guitar sound more like a voice than wood and steel or bronze. here's a couple sites that have some great strings.

[color=F433F4]Newtone Strings[/color]

[color=F433F4]Electric Series[/color]

Play less, to work with your voice and with the silence between the notes.  A lotta nothing is still nothing. A little something... now THAT's something!

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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 14th, 2004, 5:54 pm

Thanks everyone for all the help! ;D

I couldn't find any heavy strings around here for the acoustic, so I appreciate the link for the future, Joe.   I may give some a try.  

What I DID do was change the 1st and 2nd strings from 13 and 17 to 16 and 18.  What a difference! and I get to keep the brand new wound Elixir's on the rest for that resisting tarnish thing.  

As for the electric, I bit the bullet and put on D'Addario 12-52's (like Ricochet).  I also added two more springs on the back (total of 5 now) and really pulled up that bridge to stay in place even for standard tuning.  You were right, Greg.  I was able to bring down the action quite a bit.  Quite surprising really.  Now it sounds great!!!    8)

I have a bunch of Line 6 stuff, so tone was never a problem on the amp side.  It was just too thin coming from the guitar and I didn't want to have to use so much distortion to beef it up.  Now I don't have to.  

Sorry, Joe, haven't gotten to singing with the slide yet.  Still learning solo lead stuff.  I recently finished Keith Wyatt's book  and Progressive Electric Slide.  I am now working on Arlen Roth's book.  Also doing some stuff from Truefire.  If you have any suggestions for study materials, please let me know.  

Thanks, Greg, for the info about the Fender.  Yes, I do believe it is a FR-50 A/E.  It got a good review on Musician's Friend, but I'll definitely look into it more before ordering one to try.  Dean has an A/E as well.  Any word about that?

I'm looking for a mid-priced resonator, something between the $300 Regals and the $2000 Gibsons.  I really liked the idea of the cutaway and being able to go electric without changing your tone.  I'd settle for just a cutaway if anyone has any suggestions.  

Thanks again!!! :-*
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by Ricochet » March 16th, 2004, 4:24 pm

jstar, if you're looking for acoustic sliding strings, don't look any further than C.F. Martin's Bluegrass Resonator Guitar strings. Gauges are .016, .018, .026, .036, .046, .056". The two plain strings are silver plated. The four wound ones are wound with nickel. They sound terrific, and they outlast the bronze wound ones, which tarnish. As I've said elsewhere, I like to pull new strings through my finger and thumb dipped in olive oil before putting them on. Makes any strings last longer, slide and bend more smoothly.

(Fixed a typo.)
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 16th, 2004, 6:48 pm

Thanks Richochet,

That's almost exactly what my combo has turned out to be, but I bet the Martin strings are a lot cheaper.  :) I'll look for or order some to try when it's time to change 'em.  

Olive oil is  a lot cheaper than Poly/Nano web techno stuff too. ;)

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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by Ricochet » March 17th, 2004, 10:13 am

Yep.

If you can't find them elsewhere, the Martin strings are $3.80 a set here: http://juststrings.com/
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Re: string gauge for electric slide

Post by jstar » March 17th, 2004, 10:39 am

Cooooool! 8)  Thanks.
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