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I am beginner acoustic guitar player .. My current guitar' strings are "medium" ,, but I found them hard to play, they make buzzing sound, that's why I hate my guitar now -_- and i'm thinking of changing them to Extra light.

I play both strumming and fingerpicking. So what advice do you have for me guys? Will the extra light gauge sound nice and is it good to change from medium to extra light?

My guitar is Yamaha f310 :)

  • Let me just be the stickler in this conversation and remind the people that tension and gauge are related but different things. – Neil Meyer Apr 20 '16 at 8:56
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The short answer is that lighter gauge strings will be easier to play and easier to get clear tone when you fret the notes. Most beginners and even many seasoned guitarist prefer lighter gauge strings.

But going from medium gauge to extra light gauge will probably create the need for a new set up. So let's talk a little about "set up" for acoustic guitar.

Every guitar will sound better and be easier to play with a proper set up. The first step in any set up is deciding what gauge strings you want the guitar set up for. Different gauge strings will tune up at differing amounts of tension and the width of the nut slots may be optimized for a particular gauge.

A set up performed by a trained guitar technician or luthier will include among other things - adjusting the action to your preference while eliminating any fret buzz on open strings. Generally, beginners will find it easier to play a guitar that has a lower action because it will make the strings easier to press down.

The action is adjusted in several ways including setting the saddle height (by shimming or sanding to raise or lower the saddle on most acoustics including the Yamaha F310) according to the action specified. All set up's on a steel string acoustic with a truss rod will include a truss rod adjustment as part of the overall set up. If your guitar was originally set up from the factory for medium strings, the nut slots may be a little too wide for extra light strings - although it will most likely still play (less than optimal intonation) even if you don't have this issue addressed by replacing the nut.

I would encourage you to seek the advice of a professional who can evaluate your guitar to determine if any modifications may be needed to be able to properly set up your guitar for extra light gauge strings. With guidance from the guitar expert, select the string set you want to have your guitar set up for. You will find that a proper set up will help as much or more as going to a lighter string gauge - but you can certainly do both at the same time.

Extra light strings while easier to play, will give you less volume and have a different feel than regular light or certainly medium gauge strings. They will be a little looser and floppier and finger picking may feel a little less controlled to some guitarist. You may find that you prefer the feel afforded by lower tension lighter strings. Just know that it may take getting used to the new feel.

Of course if you switch to ultra light strings until you build more strength in your fretting hand, you can always go back to a heavier gauge later. Just be aware that the guitar will need to be set up again any time you make a significant change in string gauge - particularly if you want to keep the action as low as possible.

For rank beginners who play a steel string guitar, I usually recommend a custom set of strings that tend to be easier to play than any commercially available stock set. To learn how to procure and create this custom finger friendly string set click here: Finger Friendly Custom String Set

Learning to play the guitar is quite challenging in the beginning. A properly set up easy to play guitar will go a long way towards making the learning process more rewarding and enjoyable.

Good luck. And most of all - have as much fun as possible while you continue to improve your skills.

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The buzzing might because the strings are tuned too low or the guitar is not properly set up (refer to Rockin Cowboy's answer). But it might also be because your fingers don't yet have enough strength to push the string hard enough into the fret. Light strings can help with that, since they have lower tension. However, as a beginner I was quite averse to light strings because they cut into my fingers; you might need to build up calluses before you find them comfortable to play.

So as an alternative, you could try tuning down your medium strings a semitone or two, and put a capo on the first or second fret accordingly. That'll make the strings have less tension so they're easier to press, with the added benefit of the higher frets being easier to stretch to when learning chord shapes and the like.

  • +1 for the drop tuning/capo idea. I have recommended that as well to beginning guitar students who have trouble playing barre chords on the first few frets. Many guitars have a high nut that makes it very difficult to press down the strings on the first and second fret. Tuning down and putting a capo on the first fret helps tremendously. – Rockin Cowboy Apr 19 '16 at 4:29
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Adding to Rockin's usual helpful answer, lighter strings, while being easier to press down, will also be more prone to rattle. So you'll have to be just as firm, but for a slightly different reason, although the outcome is the same. Also, in setting up, having substantially different strings will often necessitate changing the intonation - the open length of each string. This may not even be possible on a lot of acoustics. So be prepared for some inaccuracy of tuning issues when you eventually start playing up the neck. It may or may not be an issue. On an Epiphone acoustic I use, I have .008s replacing the .011s that it came with. It works fine.

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