Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fighting for the throne

Ig from IgBlog wrote a while ago about having to fight your guitar. I just hit a practical point for that at my guitar pusher.

I went for strings, a few single strings for the lap steel and a second set for the Tele. I play that and the acoustic most of all, and if I broke a string, I wouldn't have a replacement, so I figured I was due.

But you don't go to the guitar pusher and not pick up a guitar, so I tried a couple. I'm crazy about them Telecasters, so I pulled down a Fender Baja, a Squier Vintage Modified SSH and a Vintage Modified Thinline. All of which, the pusher says, are strung with Slinky lights. I play Not Even Slinkys. .052-.012, not the .042-.009 on all those guitars.

I had to fight not to fight these things! Freakin' rubber bands! And I was sorely tempted to get a set of lighter strings, but I decided to keep the Not Even Slinkys.

And I decided, again, that I need to get myself a second guitar so I can string it with lights. Well, maybe mediums.


Joe said...

Yeah, same thing happens to me every time I'm at a guitar shop (which I will now call "pusher" because I like your term). Tiny strings just don't cut it.

I do the same thing you mentioned, different guitars with different strings. Thick neck strat with thick strings (.011-.056) and a thin neck strat with thin strings (.010-.052... not so thin, but thinner than the other set). I try to give them even attention. More bluesy, thumb-over-the-top stuff on the thick one and more fast legato lines on the thin one. On top of that, the thick one has worn frets and requires a higher action. It requires constant strength maintenance to stay in shape to play it, but it's worth it.

I view it like a baseball bat. You wouldn't step up to a major league plate with a whiffle ball bat. It's easy to swing, but worthless. The heaviest bat you can find would have the most potential, but you'd have to work hard before you can wield it.

Dave Jacoby said...

I have had a limit of how low I can go, because I'm 6'3" and 250+lbs. I'm a big guy, and with light enough strings, I'm bending things out of tune when I'm not meaning to. Which might be it's own action item.

My #1s frets are good and right now, it's action is about as low and slinky as you can get with Not Even Slinky strings. I sometimes (like last night) play slide on it, and it's high enough to play with my heavy Craftman 11/16" socket without bonking into frets.

I like your baseball bat analogy, but there's one thing that doesn't work for me with it. The ads for the new season of Nip/Tuck used "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. I tried to learn it, and I could do everything except the cool initial bends. I know they were done with a Bigsby, but I also know that, with finger assist, I can hit each individual bend with the bridge cables on my Tele. But getting them both requires bending one string and pre-bending an adjacent string at nearly the same fret, and I don't have the finger strength to get both bends unassisted on my guitar. But I'm sure with a lighter-gauged set, I could nail it. Strength isn't everything, although it certainly is important.