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My strings are old and don't remember their gauge. Either standard or on the heavy side as I like the tone of heavier gauge.

Anyway, now I want to restring the guitar for my son who is just beginning. I though lighter gauge would be easier to play. Is that the case? At what gauge is it actually noticeable?

I can always just look for whatever is lightest and just try it out.

I have to double check, but I think this is the model. Just a cheat entry level six string acoustic. It has an adjustable truss rod, but the bridge and nut and just plastic, non-adjustable.

Judging from the head stock it's a Legend Law 25. But the bridge, nut, truss rod details are the same as the other model.

If going to light gauge isn't really do-able on a cheap-o guitar like this, that's OK. But still I am curious at what gauge does action feel lighter?

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  • This is impossible to answer without the sort of guitar in question being known. Please furnish us with that relevant information! It's useful to know what the original gauges are - so a caliper gauge (that I use all the time) would be a useful addition to the armoury. – Tim Oct 14 at 18:42
  • I agree with Tim. This is a real red herring. It also depends on how you set the bridge up, and truss rod adjustments. In short you could put a gauge 17 on the high e string and still have very light easy to play action. Bending might be hard but playing not. Also, if you drastically change gauge (say 13 down to 9 or 9 up to 13) you will need a complete set up. – ggcg Oct 14 at 18:45
  • I don't have the guitar with me right now, but I updated with what I think it is. – Michael Curtis Oct 14 at 19:14
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    @AlbrechtHügli, I had that thought, I can give it a try. But for some reason his entry point for interest in guitar is Mötley Crüe! Not sure if he'll be keen on the classical guitar. He is 14. – Michael Curtis Oct 14 at 20:20
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    I have used a "custom" string set to set up many guitars for beginning students who have an acoustic guitar similar to yours. The details can be found in this Answer on Stack Exchange. (music.stackexchange.com/a/29842/16897) – Rockin Cowboy Oct 15 at 16:32
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From your description, I think it's a fair guess that you have "medium-heavy" 12s on there now. Anything heavier than 12s on an acoustic is pretty niche.

Consequently, a set of 11s will be a little easier on the fingers without being drastically different.

With a set of 10s, you'll start to notice easier bending and an overall lighter feel.

With 9s, they'll be very pliable under the fingers. But you'll start to notice a loss of projection and volume.

With 8s, this would be a very extreme change and @whofferbert's answer would certainly come into play.

tldr;

Assuming you have 12s, get a set of 10s. They'll be lighter but (hopefully) not too light and flimsy on a normal scale length.

  • I appreciate that rundown of gauges. I might go with the 9s and just be aware of the consequences. Thanks! – Michael Curtis Oct 15 at 17:53
  • I agree with this answer 100%; I also string 10's on acoustics. You can shred, and it still sounds reasonably good. – Kaz Oct 15 at 22:44
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You can usually step an acoustic guitar down to a lighter gauge of strings without causing too much trouble. The overall tension that the strings put on the guitar will drop, and you should have a lighter feel to the stings and a closer action on the guitar overall.

Possible problems could arise if the guitar was strung with larger gauge strings, and the truss rod had been adjusted to account for the extra tension that those strings have in standard tuning. In moving to lighter strings, the neck may not be bowed (or pulled) forward/upward as much as with the heavier strings, and in turn, the strings may run closer to the fretboard. This behavior can cause some of the strings to buzz, or even sound the wrong note on certain frets if it's bad. If that occurs, it can usually be fixed by carefully reducing the tension on the truss rod. If you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with truss rods and their adjustment, taking the guitar to a shop to get it set up might be another option.

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