My electric guitar strings from the factory were:

D'Addario 10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46.

I'd like to put in

Earnie Ball Slinky Cobalt 8, 11, 14, 22, 30, 38.

Is it safe to use the smaller gauge strings?

The reason I ask is that I've heard having not enough (or too much) string tension can warp the neck which will cause fretted notes to never align properly in their tuning. Rockin Cowboy's Answer indicated a truss rod adjustment may be necessary though the OP had inquired about an acoustic guitar. Thank you.

  • 1
    The short answer is - yes it's okay - but you might need to adjust the truss rod and other set up factors. You referenced one of my answer's related to your question in your question - but actually you might find this one more helpful - (music.stackexchange.com/a/43987/16897) Saddle height adjustment is much easier on electric guitars that have adjustable saddle heights. You may also need to adjust the intonation after switching gauges. Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:03
  • Here is a similar question with some useful answers. Although it focuses more on acoustic. (music.stackexchange.com/q/43645/16897) Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


The guitar will need to be fettled after changing strings by more than about 5%. This means the truss rod MAY need adjustment, and the intonation more than likely will too.

About 35 yrs ago, I put much thinner strings on three or four of the electrics I used most. A couple have vibratos fitted, but that doesn't have to be problematic with thinner strings. The weapon of choice still has 8, 10, 12, 22, 28, 42 on it. They get changed regularly, and the guitar is from mid '70s. Had no problems with it, saddle or nut wise, and of course, I altered the truss rod adjustment accordingly.

Yes, it doesn't sound as beefy with thinner strings, but I like the way it plays, and others have commented positively on the action.

So, from personal experience - and I've done similar on students' guitars over the years - it should work fine. Bear in mind that if you decide to go back to plan A, you'll have to revert to the original set up.


A difference in string gauge will affect the neck, this is very true. You cannot escape that fact.

You have to be aware that the strings might be too thin for the saddle at the bridge(bottom of the guitar) and/or too thin for the nut at the head of the guitar(at the top of the fretboard). When the strings are too thin they tend to pop out of the nut(in my experience).

My advise to you is to change out one string to see if it'll tune probably and fit at first. If it seems to fit okey then check out some youtube videos on truss rod adjustments(it is easier than it seems). If truss rod adjustments sound too frightening then find a guitar shop to fix it for you.

I would not recommend changing gauge if you have a floyd rose as they seem to bend if not strung with a proper gauge.

Hope this helps!

  • I don't have a Floyd Rose, Wrd. It's definitely tuning though I get a slight string buzz on the low E. When I fret the fifth fret on the tuned low E the chromatic tuner says the A is in tune also. My theory is that a truss rod adjustment is not necessary because of this. The strings are not popping out or sliding around. I've heard with going up on string gauge requires a truss rod adjustment more so that going down in string gauge.
    – pmagunia
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 0:07
  • Glad that It worked out! I would believe that buzz on the E string is because you need a truss rod adjustment. You'll probably need to loosen it.
    – Chaoswrd
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 7:53
  • Chaoswrd - floyd roses cope perfectly well with different gauges, they just require setting up for each change - in this case you'd have to decrease the tension by loosening the springs in the back.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 17:10

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