Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have been playing acoustic guitar on a standard Yamaha for several months. As the title suggests, I'm looking to restring it so that I have an easier time bending and sliding!

Could you recommend any strings/techniques for this? I've read that buying thinner strings and/or tuning down can help a lot, but would you mind highlighting any other advantages/disadvantages that I may have missed?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

For increased bending you have three solutions:

  • Change to nylon strings - this will cause all sorts of changes in the setup of your guitar, and will sound very different, but you will be able to bend much higher
  • Downtune the guitar - lower tension = easier bending
  • Improve your bending technique. I can get 5 or 6 semitones on the 7 th fret on my G-string, but to do that I use three fingers and I pivot around the side of my first finger by rotating my wrist, not by extending my fingers!

For improved sliding using the fingers:

  • Once your callouses develop, you will be able to slide rapidly without problems
  • Coated strings, such as Elixirs, make sliding much easier, as does use of Fast Fret to coat steel strings before you play
  • Part of the art of sliding is deciding on the speed profile you want. Certain speed profiles maximise the squeak from the winding, and others minimise it, so practice different types of slide.

For sliding using a metal or glass slide:

  • You want higher tension, so the slide doesn't push the strings out of tune too easily
  • You also want a higher action, as you don't want the string to touch the frets
share|improve this answer
    
Many thanks for the response - I've heard positive things about Elixir strings in the past. Would you recommend anything in particular within the Elixir range - perhaps something coated and thin as VarLogRant mentioned above - given that I am willing to give up sound quality? I apologise for the vague questions and lack of information - but I am rather clueless on this matter. –  David Valduriez May 29 '13 at 9:59
    
I generally use Elixir .009's on my faster electric guitars but the noise would be extremely thin on an acoustic. As @VarLogRant mentioned, a pickup would help - see seymourduncan.com/acoustic/how-to-choose-an-acoustic-pickup.php for examples. –  Dr Mayhem May 29 '13 at 10:27
    
We've covered the ups and downs of using electric strings on acoustic guitars ( music.stackexchange.com/questions/3570/… ). You want SOME mass to drive the string, so I wouldn't go much lighter than .010s for the strings. Beyond that, it makes more sense to just go electric. –  VarLogRant May 29 '13 at 14:51
    
IME, Fast Fret and coated strings make it harder to bend as things are slippery... Tuning down to Eb or D would probably be the better idea for bending. Sliding is a different story. Choose your poison! :) –  JimR Jun 5 '13 at 10:57
    
interesting - I have never noticed fast fret or coatings doing anything to affect bending. Your fingers don't really slip off strings when pushing sideways... –  Dr Mayhem Jun 5 '13 at 16:02

Bending and sliding are two different things.

For slides, by which I'm assuming you're talking about sliding a note up and down a string with your finger and not a glass or metal "slide", you want to be able to move the note without generating too much of the annoying string noise you can get. For that, using coated strings to lubricate the sliding a little would be good. As a technique, it isn't a technique I use that much.

If you are talking slide in the "slide guitar" sense, you want higher action and reasonably heavy strings, but unlike with electric guitar, you might not need higher than you have already.

For bending, you hit a problem. For volume's sake, you want thicker strings and higher tension. For bending sake, you want thinner strings with lower tension. If you're plugging in an electro-acoustic guitar (piezo bridge or the like) then electricity has fixed that balance issue for you. If not, start developing hand strength and be resigned that you won't get great slinky Buddy Guy bends on an acoustic without the tone sounding weak and the sustain going away.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for the response - I wasn't talking about slide guitar - but that's my fault for not making that clear. I didn't consider the possibility of an electro-acoustic guitar - is it possible/practical to install an amp on my current guitar? Or do you really need to just buy a new electro-acoustic? Again, sorry for the vague questions and lack of information - but I am clueless here! –  David Valduriez May 29 '13 at 10:07
    
I didn't think you wanted slide, but there was enough ambiguity that I felt I should cover it. There are magnetic soundhole pickups which are fairly easy to install and sound pretty good, so you don't have to get a new instrument. –  VarLogRant May 29 '13 at 14:28

This looks like a good spot to mention flatwounds (again and again). You can slip and slide with no squeeks! <rant> All that extra top-end is just noise harmonics anyway, siphoning energy from the fundamental </rant>

On an acoustic, you can go a little-bit lighter on the gauge without too much loss of power. 12s are the "standard" for dreadnought acoustics, but 11s would give significantly more flexibility. |12-11|/12 = 1/12 = 0.0833333% change (scaling factors out). As VarLogRant says, I wouldn't go lighter than .010s: you'd lose too much power and presence.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.