I own both a dreadnought and a parlor acoustic guitar. On the dreadnought I use extra light elixirs. On the parlor I still have the original phosphor bronze light that came with it.

Is there different aspects to consider when it comes to restringing these guitars due to their neck length and build?

2 Answers 2


Essentially, yes. Most dread-sized instruments will sound better with medium gauge strings. You have to have enough mechanical energy to "drive" the top.

Many manufacturers of smaller-bodied instruments will specify a string tension. Some will warn against anything heavier than "lights". However, my small-bodied GS Mini specifies mediums due to its short scale.

Be aware that switching gauges might require adjustments to truss rod or action.

  • Ouch, Medium eh? I find Light to be noticeably heavier to fingerpick than the extra lights ... I think my Dreadnough came with light when I bought it. Both my Guitars are Simon & Patrick. The Dreadnought is a Woodland and the Parlor is a Woodland Pro.
    – MdaG
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 16:35

If you like the reduced volume of the Parlor guitar (so as not to wake the neighbors), You might enjoy Flatwound strings, for purer tones at low volumes. Roundwound strings produce a fair amount of "noisy" overtones which can make notes difficult to identify at lower volumes. Flats don't.

But beware, most flats are "coated". The coating will wear off and the volume and "presence" will drop suddenly and substantially when this happens.

My favs are Thomastiks. I've probably said enough about them in my other answer here.

So if you're bold and curious, try a $10 set of D'Addario Chromes, play it until the coating wears off to get a sense of the spectrum of tones flats can give you.

  • I mostly fingerpick and adjust the volume so that my family can enjoy it as background music. I just put on a set of light Ernie Ball on my dreadnought which I have to say feel better than the Elixirs I used to use. I'll take a look at flat wounds when it's time to change on my parlor. Thanks. :-)
    – MdaG
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 22:56
  • @MdaG Watch out for strings intended "for Archtop Guitars". I tried a set by IIRC Gibson where there was extra wrapping at the ball-end that crept over the bridge (on a Small-body Acoustic). It didn't seem to affect the tone, but it made palm-muting difficult. Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 23:11

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