Are light strings part of the gretsch sound?

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by chris_b, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. chris_b

    chris_b Electromatic

    Sep 30, 2020
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I have been playing 12-52 flats with a wound G for ages. I recently switched to 10-46 for a change and found it better suits the ping and twang of rockabilly. I always figured players in the 50-60s used relatively heavy strings, but I guess the 80s revival went light? The problem is now I fret all the notes sharp! Anyway. What do you guys think?

    By the way, my compton is cut for heavy strings. Will I have intonation issues with the light set?
    rob batz, ZackyDog and Back in Black like this.
  2. slickfaster

    slickfaster Synchromatic

    Dec 29, 2009
    Easy to check you intonation with tuner.. take a look. I’d be interested to know.. Setzer uses 10’s...some like the stability and timber of 11’s. Never tried 9’s. Seems 8’s would be very loose on a 6120 scale guitar but hey....
    6$ mod.. shoot the moon!
    section2 and radd like this.
  3. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    As was stated, give it a try and check intonation.

    Also check the relief after you tune to pitch with lighter strings and check to see that your strings are not to low at the nut. Also check their tone open just to make sure you have no sitar sounds from nut slots that are to wide.

    Simple, completely reversible mod with no down side...Well, other than you might have to spend another $6, Heaven forbid, if you have to go back to 13’s. :D

    Good luck
  4. chris_b

    chris_b Electromatic

    Sep 30, 2020
    Auckland, New Zealand
    $6 will get me two strings here :p
    Either way I'm enjoying it. Just gotta get the F barre chord in tune eh
  5. slickfaster

    slickfaster Synchromatic

    Dec 29, 2009
    3$ a string!! Whoa! Keep em clean!
    Sometimes I’ll pinch a string with a cloth n WD40 to keep things from corrosion..
    ZackyDog and gjohnson441496 like this.
  6. El Marin

    El Marin Gretschie

    Oct 4, 2018
    Madrid, Spain, EU
    I cannot play anything thinner than 11-52 it looks and feels like rubber strings to me
    Shadowy_Man, BohemianLikeMe and Scott like this.
  7. lathoto

    lathoto Synchromatic

    Apr 23, 2020
    My Gretsch came stock with .010's. For years I played the old hot rod Martin D-18 with .013's and it's about time to go to .012's. A change in neck tension affects the intonation and the string height. My advice is to find the gauge that you prefer on each guitar and stick with it. The temperment of a well tuned piano leans towards the 3rds being slightly flat and the 5ths being slightly sharp. The guitar is predominantly a sharp key instrument so try tuning strings 2 (fret 3),3 (fret 7), 4 (open), and 5 (fret 5) all to D after dialing in both E strings at the 12th fret. "Excellent overall tone is a matter of common cents."
  8. Fasteddie42

    Fasteddie42 Gretschie

    Sep 18, 2018
    tip of the mitt
    pretty sure historically gretsches are closer associated with heavy strings?
  9. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    10's work best for me on my Gretsch guitars. On my Gent I replace the 46 with a 48 just to get a little bit more punch on low E riffs.
  10. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    In 1990, my Pre FMIC 6120 came with 0.12
    Coming from 0.12, I spilled my blood into that fretboard fellas! :D
    Gretschtim1 likes this.
  11. OleDangy

    OleDangy Gretschie

    Oct 23, 2020
    JC Tennessee
    I play 10-46 on everything. Strat in Eb. The Les Paul that gets little attention, and the Gretsch.
    Wait, I lied. My ESP is strung with 12s in D tuning but I can't remember the last time I played it. So point is of the guitars I play they are all 10-46. I had 11 on my Gretsch at one point but I bend a lot so the 10s are better.
  12. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Play what feels comfortable to you.

    FWIW, I use D'Addario XL's on my electrics. 9's on my Phoenix, and 9.5's on my 6120, Gent, and Tele.

    Best of luck.
    new6659 likes this.
  13. Back in Black

    Back in Black Synchromatic

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada

    With over 50 years of ''string tinkering'', for me, Ernie Ball, Skinny Top/Heavy Bottom, 10/52, EB part number 2215, work the best.

    All my guitars that I play have these, I love them on my Gretsch's and my short scale 325 Rickenbackers.

    Give'm a try,


  14. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Friend of Fred

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    I have no love for light strings. 10’s are about as light as I can stand, but I don’t use then on anything.
    I use 11’s in everything.
    I used to use Ernie Ball Power Slinkys, then Rotoreds, but now I’m using D’addario XL 115 11-49’s.
    I buy them in bulk cuz I change strings every few weeks on the guitars I use the most.
    Tele295 and Scott like this.
  15. doctorSlo

    doctorSlo Synchromatic

    Aug 22, 2016
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I like 9s on my Telecaster but my Gretsch plays great with 11s.
    capnhiho likes this.
  16. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    No, I tend to think the best sounds out of older Gretsch models were produced with at least 11's.

    Back in the day these skinny sizes didn't exist.
  17. JC higgy

    JC higgy Gretschified

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    I've been using 10 - 52's from when i got my first Gretsch ,back in 1988.
    I actually used a custom made up set until i discovered the Light top/Heavy bottoms .

    I do have 10's on a few at the moment,59 6120 ,and the Falcons,maybe the Jet too.
    11's on the Phoenix ,i think...
  18. MatchlessMan

    MatchlessMan Country Gent

    Nov 29, 2010
    Swindon UK
    I used to use a hybrid 10 top / 11 bottom set on my Duo Jet and had my Compton made to suit. At that time my other electrics were strung with either 10s (Gibson) or 9s (Fender). Iirc you can go 1 gauge either way with the Compton without problems.

    In the last year I have changed over all my guitars to Elixir Optiweb 10s. These work fine on my Duo Jet, with no tuning or stability problems (floating bridge stays put), and feel nice and easy to play.

    I had to make slight truss rod and bridge height changes but that’s to be expected.
  19. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    I came form playing 012 sets and I am now with 009. No more hurting fingertips, greater bending, great tone. No problem.
    I have a very light touch, though.
  20. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I use 10s on most of my guitars, but 11s on others. Frequently, I create a hybrid set with a 50, 37 and 27 on the bottom and 17, 13 and 10 up top, which gets me a best of both worlds which is easy to bend, but still meaty sounding on the bottom end.
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