Myth: Heavy Gauge Strings are Better
I run into this myth all the time. Here’s how it goes: “all the best guitar players used heavy gauge strings, and they had great tone, so go heavy or go home.” Really? Here are a few tone “greats” who were known to use light (9, 8 or lower) strings:
- BB King
- Billy Gibbons
- Jimi Hendrix
- Brian May
- Jimmy Page
Every name on that list has an iconic tone that zillions of guitar players try to emulate. Many today are completely unaware that their heroes use light gauge strings and assume they have to be using heavy. After all, heavy strings give you great tone, right?
The truth is string thickness does change the sound somewhat, but mostly they impact your playing style. If you want the most versatility, you want the lightest gauge strings. If you have a heavy touch (a lot of beginner players fall into this category), you might improve your intonation with thicker strings. If you have a light touch or do a lot of vibrato, thinner strings are your friend.