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Put on new strings, need guitar adjustment?

New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Hi! I have chip squier bullet fender stratocaster with 0.08 strings preset.
Recently, I switched to 0.10 strings and met a problem.
When I play a bend with the same high amplitude as I played with 0.08 strings I get only half-step tone.
I heard it might require a complex guitar adjustment. Other suggestion is to give up and drop the tune.
What do you think?

Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4933

When you changed gauges, you changed the string tension.

The pitch of a vibrating string depends on three things: it's length, it's tension, and it's mass. The length part didn't change - your scale length is still 25.5 inches - but you've changed the string mass considerably. If your strings are the same composition (which I'm guessing is likely) you've increased the diameter by 25%.... and that means a cross section of the string has gone from a circumference of about .05" to about .076", an increase of about 35%.

Since you've just given the diameter of the high E, that's gone from 10.23 pounds of tension to 16.37 pounds. So the first problem is that your finger has to overcome 60% more tension. That means when you bend the string with the same force it's not going to bend nearly as far.

The second issue is that all of the strings have changed in diameter. Let's say your .008 set was 8-11-14-22-30-38 with a plain G and nickel steel windings. You had about 78.23 pounds of tension on the neck. And now you're using 10-13-17-26-36-46 with the same composition. Now you have 108.68 pounds of tension on the neck. That's about 39% more tension on the whole neck. The geometry is kind of complicated, but it's about the same as if you'd hung a couple of bowling balls on the ends of the strings. (Your high E went up 60%, but the set as a whole went up under 40% because the windings add some mass while adding less tension - it's the string core, which is thinnner, that supports the tension)

That's all pulling the peghead forward (towards the face of the guitar), which makes your action slightly higher. The way to compenste for that is to bend the neck backwards a bit. Your guitar has a handy device for doing that - it's the double-acting truss rod mounted under the fretboard. The little channel you see right above the nut on your guitar is for accessing that truss rod to make adjustments.

I'd encourage you to have someone else make the adjustment - preferably a trained luthier. If you break the truss rod, it's not a DIY repair.

If you're going to keep playing with the thicker strings, you might also want them to take a bit of material off the nut slots, too... but it won't be much (1-2/1000ths of an inch in each slot).

So yes, adjustment will help. But no matter what you do, it's going to be harder to bend heavier strings..... because physics.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

This is amazing!
I think it have to be placed to the top of FAQ.

Active Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 18

I bought my son the same guitar, unless the strings where changed it came with .09 string gauge but still a difference.

Another thing to note is the guitar comes with a tremolo bar, aka a whammy bar, If you look at the back there is springs there to adjust the tension placed on the bridge to keep it "level"

Also note now that you are playing with a heavier gauge string to bend to pitch its going to require more force. so if you got comfortable with the "right amount of force" to bend your note to pitch with whichever gauge you were using, it is going to increase with the new strings. its the same as trying to break a pencil. If you have one pencil you could easily break it with some light force applied from your hands. If you are trying to break 10 pencils at once, its doable, but requires much more force.

While everything that NoteBoat stated is 10000% correct and he gave you a lot of the science and physics behind the factors of what happens when you up the gauge string. If you talk to a local intstrument shop. Some of those guys are pretty cool and will teach you alot of things about performing repairs. While I learned to perform repairs, I still have some expensive and vintage pieces I still take to someone else.