What string gauge do you use?


Just a quick question - what string gauge do you use and on what guitar (so we can get an idea of the scale length)?

Currently I’m using Ernie Ball Cobalt 10 - 46 on my Les Paul (24.75")


Hi. All of my guitars have a 25.5" scale length. I use different gauges on different guitars.

My Strat is setup with D’Addario EXL110 (10-46) strings and the action is set just high enough to be able to play slide comfortably, I’d call it medium-low. The 6-screw vintage tremolo is set fully floating with a major 3rd of pull-up on the G-String, and string tension helps with tuning stability.

My Ibanez and my Charvel are both setup with D’Addario EXL120 (9-42) strings and low action. Both have floating double-locking vibrato systems.

My main guitar is a custom headless guitar built by Rick Canton, which you can see in my avatar. On this guitar I use La Bella double-ball strings. The string gauge is 8-38. For those who haven’t played a headless guitar, the string tension feels tighter for fretting, bending and vibrato than the same gauge on a guitar with a headstock.

My picking technique isn’t very sensitive to changes in string gauge, but I definitely feel like I have more fretting hand dexterity and capability with a lighter string gauge.


What scale length is the Rick Canton guitar? It looks amazing, very nice guitar my friend!


The Canton guitar has a 25.5" scale length.

It’s an astonishing guitar.


I play Gibson Les Paul’s and Flying V’s (24.75" scale) with different tunings. After some experimenting, I found the following work the best for me:
10-46 for standard tunings,
10-52 for Drop D,
11-56 for Drop C


D’Addario 9-42 on the Strat tuned to E. Les Paul gets 9-42 or 10-46 depending on the mood or what’s at hand. Switch between E and Eb for both gauges.


9/42 on 25.5 scale. For fast picking I like 10/46 more, but doing lots of bendups are pita


I used to use 9-42 in Eb (Ibanez Jem style guitar), felt great for soloing, but a bit too flappy for fast metal rhythm.

Then I switched to 10-46 in Eb, which felt and sounded great.

Now, because I have to collaborate with people that tune to E, I had to change back to 9-42.

Problem with 10s in standard tuning is that they make vibrato and bending much harder.

I also often use vibrato with the note bent, and a wide vibrato becomes difficult to achieve, say with a 1.5 tone bend on the G-string, while with 9s it’s a piece of cake.

Also, pressing down on the string is harder (more tension) so playing fast is harder as well.

Vibrato on lower strings loses all its range compared to 9s and bending with one finger (which I often do) becomes much harder.

I did A/B comparisons in terms of sound and to me the difference between 9s and 10s is small, especially when the tone is dirty/distorted. 10s sound a bit more bassy and clear, but 9s can be more easily manipulated (vibrato and bending) which affects the sound too.

Also, different brands have a slightly different feel and certainly different sound.

Addario strings sound too “new” for my taste, overly bright and metal-like. Ernie Ball and GHS is what I regularly use.

Short answer:

9-42 for all guitars (tuned to E-standard) and a 0.056 when tuning to low B (which never happens anymore, since I use a Whammy DT)


What do you all think of the notion of heavier strings being slightly easier for pickup mg because they’re not flopping around as much?

I know Yngwie is an exception to the rule.


I used to use 9’s but now I use 11’s on my strat and tune down a half step. Action is as low as possible without string buzzing. It’s easier to play honestly, and I find I am faster, and the strings aren’t flipping around as much. Also I get the tonal benefits of thicker strings and the high e especially is easier to play. Never thought I’d use as heavy a gauge but with tubing down to Eb they feel more like 10.5’s.


D’addario NYXL 10/46.
I have been tempted to switch to 11’s… I think it sounds better… but it starts to get tough to play legato… so 10 is a bit of a compromise.


Hey @Troy I just tuned the 10-46’s up to A440 on my Strat. It really tightened my picking up. Due to not as much string slinkyness. Is this something that effects your playing? I think I’m keeping 10s on my Strats now.

What do you guys think? Is tighter strings cheating? lol



I think it partly depends on how close to the bridge you like to pick. I like 9-42 tuned to Eb, and do most of my picking around halfway between the bridge and middle pickups on a 25.5" H-S-S guitar. For some stuff I’m a little closer to the bridge, but generally never closer to the bridge than the “neckward” edge of the bridge humbucker.


NYXL’s 11s in E standard. I use to use a custom set of 9’s but when I switched to my current guitar (Ibanez RG) the strings felt super loose. I moved to 10’s which was better but ultimately the 11’s felt just right. No problem with bends or anything, and I don’t think I have extra strong fingers.


I’d often thought that heavier strings = less “give” so therefore it’s easier to pick because the string isn’t flopping around as much. But then Yngwie plays 8s tuned down a half step so my theory is wrong!


I used to be a 9’s guy for the longest time, but I noticed something great about 10’s when I switched: Tuning stability seemed greater to me.

I started with tuning to Eb with 10’s, but have shifted to standard E and I my finger strength has obviously increased and it feels normal to me now.


I don’t know if anyone uses these on here but I use StringJoy balanced tension set of 10s and I absolutely love them! Please check those strings out! Hand made in Nashville TN and such an amazing feel, the only strings I have ever put on and felt “broke-in” within 5 mins.


This does make sense. And I was thinking that it doesn’t help asking Troy because isn’t his guitar a real short scale? Scale matters also. He’s probably said in another post, but I bet Troy is using at least 10s. As far as picking, I usually pick right over the middle pickup. That’s why I hate middle pickups, and lower the Strat middle pickup all the way flush to the pickgaurd. Yngwie does this also.

@TheDivineSage is your action real low with the 11s? Because I am noticing that bigger strings work great with lower action. The vibration field is smaller/tighter and there is less buzz.

@aliendough I’m gonna get s*** for this, but I think the 8’s make Yngwie’s picking have a rubberband slop quality to it. He constantly grabs a new slick Delrin pick every riff, because the slightest wear notch in the pick will snag the flappy 8 too hard to maintain smooth picking. He has admitted to this in his 2nd instructional series ('93-'94)… So we should maybe call Yngwie an exception to the rule because his playing is so good he can manage the rubberbands. DISCLAIMER: I am referring to Yngwie’s Post 80’s playing here.

@AGTG I notice the greater tuning and intonation stability also man. I usually use 9s with pretty high action. I am realizing the ease of play is about the same with 10s if I lower the action down. 10s seem to have a slight bend tradeoff for tighter picking and f’in ringing in pitch intonation.

@axeslinger11 D’addario makes balanced string sets also. :wink::wink:



I love my 9.5’s. On my ibby std tune, 25.25 I believe.


Yeah man, I’ve always thought that 80s Yngwie, especially Alcatraz, was his cleanest picking. I wonder what strings he was using back then,…