Fingerpicking a Gretsch and String Gauges/Tone

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Poeticas, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Hi peeps, I come from a classical background so I have no idea how to use a pick. I have no idea what string gauge I am using now (it's whatever came with the guitar) but I want to change strings. Is it true that heavier gauges give you better tone? Also, does heavier gauge mean thicker strings? I want to know if I get some thicker strings then would it be better to fingerpick? I grew up fingerpicking nylon strings so I am wondering if the strings for an electric are thicker then would it be easier to fingerpick and also does heavier gauge strings give you better tone or is that just a myth?

    Thank you for your help, I would really appreciate some advice. I don't know anything about electric guitar stuff.
     
  2. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    Winnipeg
    It gives you a different tone.

    Pretty much all electric strings are made from piano wire, so the only variation for the tension is how thick the strings are.

    You can also experiment with flatwound strings, which are darker.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  3. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Flatwound strings, that sounds interesting. I should see if there's any youtube videos about it and see if I like it. :)
     
  4. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Toronto
    Heavier gauge means thicker strings. Thicker strings will generally give you a darker, fatter tone. They'll also be harder to play, due to their higher tension. Some people prefer the tone and feel of thicker strings, while others like them thinner.

    Many (if not most) Gretsch guitars come with .011-.048 gauge strings. Lots of people like the tone and feel of this gauge. Many others (myself included) prefer slightly thinner .010-.046 gauge strings. Others go lighter or heavier still. The best bet is to try out a few different gauges and see which sound and feel you like the best.

    Bear in mind that you might need to adjust your intonation and your truss rod when you change to a different gauge.

    Enjoy!
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  5. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Holy crap, that sounds pretty hard- adjusting the truss rod and such. Never done it before! You are going to help me if I have to do that, right? J/K Thanks
     
    section2 likes this.
  6. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Age:
    69
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Changing strings is easy, very common, and not expensive. As you are comfortable with using your fingers, keep on doing so. You might find a thumb pick advantageous. You WILL build up some callouses on both hands as steel and bronze strings are harder on your fingertips than nylon strings. Watch Mark Knopfler and Tommy Emanuel---they both fingerpick steel strings and seem to do OK with it. You're actually miles ahead of a lot of flat pickers that want to try fingerpicking. Flatpicks will be a brighter sound than fingers, but due to electronics, you won't be losing anything. Try using a flat pick as well, as it'd be another tool in your arsenal.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  7. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    That sounds like a really good idea. I've heard of Mark Knoplfler I think I've seen some youtube videos of him. Hybrid picking looks really hard. This is what my tone is now- you can tell I am struggling a bit. Ihahttps://soundcloud.com/tenzin-alexander-238760276/fingerpicking-experiment-outro1 and https://soundcloud.com/tenzin-alexander-238760276/fingerpickingoutro2- They are just couple seconds long- don't make fun of me lol


    Yeah I really need to find my tone, i think is used too much reverb on those riffs
     
    wabash slim likes this.
  8. drrohle

    drrohle Synchromatic

    751
    Jan 3, 2014
    Hays, KS
    I know doing a truss rod adjustment sounds like Voo-Doo magic but it's really not that difficult, all you really need is a wrench to fit the truss rod, (Probably came with your guitar) and maybe an accurate ruler. There are tons, and I mean tons of YouTube videos on the subject and many of the fancy tools and gauges that some use can be easily substituted with business cards and coins. Try it, you'll like the results! -- You can do it!
     
    new6659 and Poeticas like this.
  9. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Or maybe I'll just pay a Guitar Center tech to do it! Lol, I am so bad when it comes to working with tools, I have absolutely no talent when it comes to working with tools. :) I am scared I will mess up my lovely Gretchen if I try to to do something like that! Lol :)
     
  10. Fredo

    Fredo Synchromatic

    657
    Jan 18, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    Well, there's fingerpicking and then there's fingerpicking. When I was in my Merle Travis phase, I used 11's, a thumb pick, and fingerpicks. Merle played aggressively, and light strings would move around too much. If I were ever to try a Mark Knofler phase, I'd go with light strings because of the bends, and because I would be plucking softly with my fingertips. I only tried nails when I was in my flamenco phase. I never figured out how to use them on electric.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  11. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Luckily the music I am writing doesn't require bending- but I did write a song that has a lot of strumming and I am struggling doing it without a pick. I am going to have to go to the guitar store and get a pick- dang that's a whole new topic- what kind of pick should i use? I am just going to experiment with a heavy pick or whatever you call it lol. Flamenco is really hard - you have to use all of your fingers including the pinky. I stay away from that hard stuff lol.
     
  12. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    OH hey guys (and gals too I think) so what is the heaviest gauge of strings? I guess I can google that but I'd like to hear what you guys have experienced.
     
  13. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Age:
    69
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Definitely check out Knopfler. Best rock guitarist and writer alive in my estimation, but that's me. YMMV.

    Go easy on the FX until you get more of a feel for what you're doing. Play the guitar, not the knobs. You have serious talent. Too much 'verb just muddies things up.

    Save your money and learn to do it yourself. It's not rocket surgery. Besides, GC techs aren't well known for their skills.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn used 13s. Billy Gibbons uses 7s. The lighter the gauge, the easier it is to play. Heavier usually means better tone. Average is 10 or 11 gauge.
     
    section2 and Poeticas like this.
  14. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Heavier gauge does not mean better tones - it's all personal and dependent on what tone you are shooting for.
    Billy Gibbons for example uses 8s or 9s.
    Stevie Ray Vaughn used 13s.

    Heavier gauge strings won't be any easier to finger pick.
    Your tone will change and heavier strings are stiffer to bend but you're probly not doing much bending anyway now :)

    10s are a good mid range gauge I use mostly but I encourage you to experiment with different string types, brands and gauges. You need to understand by personal experience how strings affect the tones on different guitars.
    It's all personal preference and part of finding your own tone.
     
    section2 and Poeticas like this.
  15. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    112
    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    "Better" tone is really subjective. And maybe since I'm more of a solid body player, my taste could be based on that. That said, I use the hybrid picking method, pick and fingers, and I'm getting incredibe tones on my G5622T with 10 gauge nickel round wound strings.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  16. Fasteddie42

    Fasteddie42 Electromatic

    37
    Sep 18, 2018
    tip of the mitt
    Dude.

    Learn to work on your guitar, it's not hard...


    Where's ron kirn when you need him?
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  17. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    I'll definitely take all your advice, I really do appreciate it and your opinions are definitely going to influence what I get. Thank you so much.
     
  18. LorPol

    LorPol Electromatic

    15
    Mar 28, 2019
    Italy - Modena
    I use 0.12 0.56 strings and play only with fingers, nowadays I'm not sure to remember how to use a pick-up. I started to play with fingers when my first daughter was born, I used to live in a really small apartment and, at night when every one was sleeping, I started messing around using fingers on my Gretsch. Never stopped! 0.12 could be heavy if you mention to play a lot of berrè but I feel that gauge as the only that allows good tone, great stability and dynamic.
    My advice is to experiment with different tipes.
    About the truss-rod: don't be afraid to say "it's not my work" and go to a tech, it's a easy job but you have to know how a fingerboard is build, what's the effect on snapping the tension of a nek, some tech attitude sort-of.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  19. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    yeah good luck - try em all out - strings are cheap and take 10 mins to replace :)
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  20. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    46
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    I appreciate your help. I like your recording at soundlick.com I am listening to it right now.
     
    Waxhead likes this.
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