I recently (10 day) changed my electric guitar's strings (Ibanez rg with zero-edge2 bridge).

The stock strings with it was Daddario but i didn't know the string gauge of them so after deciding to change them I bought a new set of 10-46 (regular slinky) of Ernie ball.

After using the new string and fixing bridge position(parallel to body) it feels a bit too stiff and I said to myself: "well maybe my stock Daddario was a 0.9 gauge set after all" and that explains a little more stiffness of the new strings (maybe).

BUT for last 3 days I decided to learn the Hotel California's guitar solo (which have a lot of bends) and I just can't do it. The strings are too stiff to bend.

It's not that I can't bend the string to the desired note but every time I practice one phase of solo my finger tips are sore for a whole day (and makes practicing that solo just too PAINFULL). I did build up my finger tips calluses with solos of songs like Unforgiven 1-comfortably numb or shine on you crazy diamond(on those Daddario).

I wanna know if there is some hidden aspect of guitar setup that makes your guitar's strings too stiff or is it that I'm just simply a snowflake and can't handle 1step higher string gauge on my guitar :(

TL;DR:my new 10guage strings are too stiff for bending. Is there some hidden aspect of guitar setup that made your strings too stiff?

  • 1
    Maybe you've learned to do bends incorrectly (or at least in a way that only works with the thinner strings); are you trying to do bends with one finger? Feb 19, 2019 at 0:58
  • I suppose this is a bad time to suggest a fretless instrument :-) / but even with frets, bending/vibrato can be longitudinal to some extent. Feb 19, 2019 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


I don't think there's any secret aspect of guitar setup that can make strings seem less stiff, but for general ease of playing with stiffer strings it's worth checking that the action of your guitar isn't too high. If it is, you'll be having to put in extra effort to push the strings down, as well as bend them side to side. It is possible that due to the extra tension, there's now a bit more of a bend to the neck, which you might need to fix with a slight truss rod tweak (though best to take advice on that from someone experienced.)

Beyond that, I'd recommend

  • Taking it easy at first - don't hurt your fingers!
  • Taking the opportunity to find ways to refine your technique so that you can bend the firmer strings in a controlled way.
  • Enjoy the benefits that thicker strings give you - they are harder to play, but are often (subjectively) considered to have a better sound

Or, of course, just changing back to 9s!


There is one trick I've heard of, but I haven't used myself. If you detune your strings a half step and capo on the first fret to bring everything back up to pitch, the heavier strings will have less tension on them and be easier to bend. Some players with even heavier strings have tuned down a full tone and capoed on the second fret. It accomplishes the same effect. Looser strings are easier to bend. You might give it a try and see if it works for you.

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