I have been playing acoustic guitar for almost 5 years and I wanted to upgrade to a better guitar. After some research and hands-on testing I purchased a Cort AD880CE. But after 2-3 days practice I feel like the strings are too stiff to press and giving me sore fingers. I cannot play it well as compared to my old acoustic guitar which i have already sold :(.

After some googling I found that choosing lighter-gauge strings will solve the problem. What's this gauge rating? I have a D'Addario string set labeled .011-.052, what does this mean? Will this string set work fine on my Cort AD880CE?

Thanks in advance.

  • Is the action alright? Meaning that the strings aren't roo high off the fretboard. And I'm assuming you're playing with new strings?
    – user28
    Mar 21, 2012 at 18:16
  • there's no problem with the action. its properly set.
    – Gaurav
    Mar 22, 2012 at 7:21

5 Answers 5


I'm not personally familiar with the model that you are speaking about but after looking at a picture it looks like a standard Dreadnought Acoustic. Like everyone has mentioned the string guage refers to the size of each string in thousanths of an inch (.011").

Adding to the other post

For that style guitar the heavier the strings the more volume and tone you will get from the guitar.

  • There are two directions you can go first and the easiest is to go with lighter strings. I like Martin Phospher Bronze as I feel they hold their tone a little longer (as strings get dirty and oxidize they loose the ring or deaden - clean your strings after playing and they will last longer). The Addario set is probably lighter an .011" is a "light" string set size. Martin offers extra light, light, Med. Light, Med. and up... You guitar probably came with medium.

  • Option 2: Lower the action which would be part of a setup - a decent luthier will charge between $30 and $100 to get the guitar set up correctly.

My advice try the lighter strings first and see how you do - any new guitar will take some getting used to and sore fingers are part of the game (a new toy gets more play time). A setup will be done with a specific string size and you don't want to have it done twice.


  • 1
    To be explicit: .11 is the diameter of the top E string. A "set of 11s" consists of a .11" E string, and 5 thicker strings in gauges that will be at around the same tension as the E at standard tuning.
    – slim
    May 16, 2012 at 12:42

The gauge is basically the thickness of the strings, so a lighter gauge, means thinner strings. See this Wikipedia section on Gauge, which is followed by some tables on different examples on string sets.

Thinner strings will require less tension to press down the strings. The sound will also be somewhat different, but it might be closer to what you are used to with your old guitar. Using thinner strings might also make the strings snap more often, but this also depends on your playing style.

The numbers the strings are labelled with are thickness in inches (0.011 inches - 0.052 inches).

  • String breakage also has a lot to do with how the bridge is constructed and type of saddles especially on electric guitars. Good point about sound different. SRV used 13s b/c these have 'better' tone, at least for his music, but very few people can ever play 13s like SRV did.
    – filzilla
    Mar 20, 2012 at 18:41

While you're having the string gauge checked, have the nice technician do a set-up on your instrument. It's very common for new guitars to be shipped with the action rather high, as manufacturers know that picky guitarists will have it adjusted to their liking. It's much easier to lower the action than it is to raise it. Having the action too high, especially at the nut, makes for really uncomfortable playing and can render barre chords at the lower frets nigh impossible. A good set-up will make your guitar much easier to play, and you may find that the medium-gauge strings sound much better than lights.


In my experience, .011's will feel significantly lighter and more flexible than .012's. So I commend that solution. But also, different metals of the same guage will also vary.

Since you don't mention what your current strings are, I'm guessing that they're whatever came with the guitar; and you should definitely change those right away. Since you don't know anything about them, you can't perform any reasoning because you have no info. It may be that you do like .012's, if they're fresh.


D'addarrio custom lights are amazing strings, but as my childhood teacher used to say... your sound will only be as good as your weakest link. it must all be meant for each other. IMHO, dreadnoughts and the kind of feel your looking for are not meant for each other. This is how we learn though, we go for it and if it doesn't work it doesn't work. The other comments are great ideas, but you might as well sell your current guitar and buy a new one because you'd end up paying more for tech work that may not even give you what you want. Thats why guitar centers (even though they can be pushy) allow you to play any guitar you want, they even have an acoustic room where people who suck like us can close the doors and not bother anyone while we explore haha

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