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

I have an Epiphone Les Paul Custom and it's tuned in standard C and my playing style is mostly Desert Rock. I'm using a set of 0.12 strings and considering changing to a 0.11 set to have less tension on the strings and for the strings to be easier to bend. However there seems to be a small loss of tuning when using 0.11 strings.

Are there any guitar settings or anything else I could be doing to prevent the minor loss of tuning?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You should take your guitar to a professional guitar luthier or repairman and pay them for a setup.

Because you have changed from one gauge of strings to another, in order for your guitar to play in tune and for the strings to be the same height from the frets and fingerboard (what we call the "action"), your guitar truss rod will have to be adjusted to slightly change the amount of bend or "relief" in the neck.

Also, assuming we are talking about an electric guitar, the position of each of the six bridge saddles will have to be adjusted to recalibrate the speaking length of each string, using the appropriate screwdriver or wrench in conjunction with an electronic tuner.

If the electric guitar has a tremolo system, the spring tension on the back of the mechanism may need to be similarly adjusted to enable the bridge to sit in the proper position.

In some cases the nut may have to be replaced or the six string slots in the nut may have to be deepened or widened with special files.

Do not worry; all this is normal. Guitars are designed to be adjustable so that a professional can calibrate the guitar to accommodate whatever gauge of strings you prefer to play. But every time you decide to go with a different gauge, a setup may be necessary.

share|improve this answer
    
How can one avoid a "chicken and egg" problem when trying to select what kinds of strings one will want to use? On my acoustic guitar with my 'special' tuning, the fifth string (which in my tuning is the largest) sits up a bit high and plays a bit louder than the sixth string, but I'd like the sixth string to be about as loud as the fifth. Using a smaller gauge fifth string would likely make it less loud, but calibration probably will to. I don't want to make it too soft. Should I guess at having the guitar calibrated using a smaller gauge on the theory that... –  supercat Feb 12 '13 at 3:04
    
...if that makes the fifth string too quiet it will be easier for a luthier to expand the grooves to accommodate a larger string, than contract them to fit a smaller one? –  supercat Feb 12 '13 at 3:05
    
Obviously you'll have to do some experimenting with gauges. As for the nut, nut slots can be filed to make them deeper or wider, but there is no way to make them smaller. In that case you'd need to purchase a new nut, one with slots already cut in it, or a blank nut, and have the technician file new slots. Nuts are not very expensive. Here is a link to a catalog. goo.gl/mq4AK –  Wheat Williams Feb 12 '13 at 3:42

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.