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Author Topic: string guage and volume  (Read 4915 times)
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« on: April 05, 2016, 05:32:18 PM »

Can anyone give me a good description of the relationship between string gauge and acoustic guitar volume.  I know that there are many factors to the how a particular guitar sounds, but I am interested in just two variables, string gauge and volume.  The reason I ask is, on my D-09 I have used medium gauge strings for years, with the the thought that the heavier gauge string would increase its volume (it has always been a bit volume challenged compared to my other guitars).  But now I am beginning to question this.
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 07:10:37 PM »

Heavier strings will increase some  but mostley it give's you a much stronger tone.Though I have found that just changing the high E and B does allow them to sound loader.
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2016, 12:44:33 PM »

I agree with unclrob's statement. And remember, 'stronger tone' doesn't nessecarily mean better. Fortunately strings are a cheap thing to try, so enjoy the search.

Each guitar has it's own abilities. We can max out what a guitar can do, but in the end each guitar can only do what it can do. The guitar I own with the most volume is short scale with three unscalloped tone bars.... go figure. My Martin dreads can't keep up with it.

But volume isn't everything. 'Go for the tone'. Have fun!
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2016, 01:46:53 PM »

Fortunately strings are a cheap thing to try, so enjoy the search.


When I get a new guitar (even if it is just new to me), I order a variety of strings from Webstrings.com.  They are cheap and sound good, but don't last long...  perfect for zeroing in on what gauge works best on a given guitar.

Ed
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2016, 02:03:03 AM »

When I get a new guitar (even if it is just new to me), I order a variety of strings from Webstrings.com.  They are cheap and sound good, but don't last long...  perfect for zeroing in on what gauge works best on a given guitar.

Ed
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A thicker guage should mean more mass and higher tension. More mass vibrating would lead you to expect louder volume, but higher tension means some wood is going to be compressed more, whcih will affect resonance.

To a point a heavier guage will probably be louder, but the largest gain in volume may be in the initial attack - once the string is in motion the greater mass may lower sustain.

It's also harder to get heavier guages to sound louder when your fingerpicking free stroke than if you're using a rest stroke or a flat pick.

So like Ed says, every guitar is different - you'll have to try various sets of strings.

I used to really like the punchiness of mediums, but on my guitars I found the higher strings didn't sustain as well. Now I often use a "bluegrass" set - more or less "lights" on 1, 2, 3, 4 and "mediums" on 5 and 6.
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2016, 12:13:56 AM »

THanks Skyline and others.  I have used bluegrass or 12-56 in the past and then went to 13-56 for a number of years.  I am going to put on a set of 12-54 on this guitar next and see what its like.  It is a great guitar but ...
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2016, 08:32:11 AM »

The major difference in energy using heavier strings is due to the mass. With everything the same on two identical guitars but with different guage strings, the guitar with heavier strings will need less effort to generate the same amount of energy from the sound board compared to the other.
As stated by others, the higher string tension is also significant in creating more energy relatively speaking.
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2016, 03:29:24 AM »

If you want to try this out without fully committing to heavier gauge strings across the fretboard, Elixir sells the HD Lights:

.013, .017, .025, .032, .042, .053

It's what my Taylor 414 ce came with, and being a light player, I really didn't care for the heavier uncoated strings.

Taylor 414 is in the hands of my pastor, who is headed out on a 1 month sabbatical - he uses to have a 314 back in the day.  When it comes back I will probably fit it with a set of normal light gauge strings.

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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2016, 03:44:10 AM »

The major difference in energy using heavier strings is due to the mass. With everything the same on two identical guitars but with different guage strings, the guitar with heavier strings will need less effort to generate the same amount of energy from the sound board compared to the other.
As stated by others, the higher string tension is also significant in creating more energy relatively speaking.

Yes - mostly - but vibration is a two way street: once in motion, greater masses are more reluctant to change direction - inertia / entropy / artisinal feedback - the usual suspects

On the other hand "every minor world that breaks apart falls together again"

The trick is to acquire the string set that vibrateth your topth the bethteth -  the set where the mass of the strings changes direction at the same time that the guitar top wants to change direction.
 
Surely there's a term for this "massive excitement relationship ratio"?  whistling
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2016, 04:01:45 PM »

Generally,
I find that the heavier the string gauge gets,
the louder I complain about my fingers.
 
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2016, 06:29:33 PM »

    I was just playing my old D-02 and enjoying the tone, volume and ease of play. It has 12-54's on it and they work great. I have had other Larrivee dreads, including a D-09 and it was similar to the way you describe yours. I don't know if strings will cure the problem or not.
    
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 07:28:10 PM »


The trick is to acquire the string set that vibrateth your topth the bethteth -  the set where the mass of the strings changes direction at the same time that the guitar top wants to change direction.
 
Surely there's a term for this "massive excitement relationship ratio"?  whistling

This "Sky" line just cracks me up!  Best one I have heard all day.  Hard pickin' is the term I would apply... LOL
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2016, 09:18:48 PM »

   I was just playing my old D-02 and enjoying the tone, volume and ease of play. It has 12-54's on it and they work great. I have had other Larrivee dreads, including a D-09 and it was similar to the way you describe yours. I don't know if strings will cure the problem or not.
    
Thanks for your candid reply regarding your experience with Larrivee dreads including a D-09 like mine.  I have played this D-09 guitar more than all my others as it was my main road guitar for a number of years up until a year ago.  It plays well but it is definitely volume challenged unless you really dig into it which in my use of it up to a year ago was not a problem.  But I would really like to get it playing to its full potential at the lighter strumming end of things now as my use/needs out of dread have changed (retirement does that, I play mostly unplugged now).  I don't think fooling with strings will do much either.  I have considered a bridge scalloping and I think I will contact John McQuarrie who builds/owns Northwood guitars and who also does repairs and such.  John, who lives about 4 hours away, worked for Larrivee for 7 years before going on his own in 1994 so he knows the Larrivee line inside and out and is still into doing repairs and modification work, as well building some incredible guitars of his own (In fact he may have worked on building my D-09, as it came out of Larrivee during his time there).  I will keep you posted.  I really don't want to sell this guitar, it was bought with a small inheritance in memory of my Dad.
Dave
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2016, 10:11:37 PM »

  I really don't want to sell this guitar, it was bought with a small inheritance in memory of my Dad.
Dave
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2016, 11:48:48 PM »

Thanks for your candid reply regarding your experience with Larrivee dreads including a D-09 like mine.  I have played this D-09 guitar more than all my others as it was my main road guitar for a number of years up until a year ago.  It plays well but it is definitely volume challenged unless you really dig into it which in my use of it up to a year ago was not a problem.  But I would really like to get it playing to its full potential at the lighter strumming end of things now as my use/needs out of dread have changed (retirement does that, I play mostly unplugged now).  I don't think fooling with strings will do much either.  I have considered a bridge scalloping and I think I will contact John McQuarrie who builds/owns Northwood guitars and who also does repairs and such.  John, who lives about 4 hours away, worked for Larrivee for 7 years before going on his own in 1994 so he knows the Larrivee line inside and out and is still into doing repairs and modification work, as well building some incredible guitars of his own (In fact he may have worked on building my D-09, as it came out of Larrivee during his time there).  I will keep you posted.  I really don't want to sell this guitar, it was bought with a small inheritance in memory of my Dad.
Dave
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I wouldn't sell it either, for your connection to it and your sentimental reasons alone...  John McQuarrie has built two of my Northwood guitars.  His design and craftmanship is Excellent IMHO...
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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2016, 03:48:41 AM »

Thanks for your candid reply regarding your experience with Larrivee dreads including a D-09 like mine.  I have played this D-09 guitar more than all my others as it was my main road guitar for a number of years up until a year ago.  It plays well but it is definitely volume challenged unless you really dig into it which in my use of it up to a year ago was not a problem.  But I would really like to get it playing to its full potential at the lighter strumming end of things now as my use/needs out of dread have changed (retirement does that, I play mostly unplugged now).  I don't think fooling with strings will do much either.  I have considered a bridge scalloping and I think I will contact John McQuarrie who builds/owns Northwood guitars and who also does repairs and such.  John, who lives about 4 hours away, worked for Larrivee for 7 years before going on his own in 1994 so he knows the Larrivee line inside and out and is still into doing repairs and modification work, as well building some incredible guitars of his own (In fact he may have worked on building my D-09, as it came out of Larrivee during his time there).  I will keep you posted.  I really don't want to sell this guitar, it was bought with a small inheritance in memory of my Dad.
Dave
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For what it's worth, a few years ago I shaved about 3/32" from the top of the bridge on my L-07.  The guitar doesn't have an adjustable truss rod, and I wanted to lower the action at the saddle just a teensy bit and still have ample saddle exposure.  The modification worked out great and I accomplished my objective.  An unanticipated side benefit was that the volume increased significantly.  I was quite pleasantly surprised by this.  I think the main reason for this was that I increased the break angle of the strings behind the saddle, creating more pressure on the top.

So, your idea of thinning the bridge a bit to increase the volume, might be a worthwhile thing to try.  Most Larrivee's have a relatively thick bridge to start with, so yours would likely be a good candidate to try it on.  If it doesn't increase the volume, no harm done.

Here is a link to my post about the procedure, which I now see was 5 years ago already!  The L-07 has stood up perfectly since then, by the way, and is playing as good as it ever has.
http://www.larriveeforum.com/smf/index.php?topic=38238.msg346911#msg346911

Just my opinion, hope this helps.

Kurt
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2016, 09:45:16 PM »

Kurt, I may try the bridge scalloping thing to see what it does.  However it seems to me, in my case there is probably a more effective way of increasing the break angle of the strings by simply ramping the bridge, which is something I have been threatening to do with this guitar but have yet to get to.  By the way, since my last post, I have been in touch with John McQuarrie and he happened to have a Larrivee rosewood dread in his shop at this time which he said was as heavy as a tank and low in volume and resonance, which pretty much describes mine too.  In his opinion there is not much that can be done in such a case as the problem most likely is that the back and side woods and perhaps even the top are just too thick to get the kind of volume/tonal response I would like from my particular guitar.  So I am deliberating, keep the guitar out of sentiment or sell her off and transfer my sentiment to another instrument that sings like I want her too  ... I think I will try a little ramping first, its worth a shot.
Dave
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2016, 05:24:00 AM »

Ramping the bridge is worth a shot, for sure.  Good luck.
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2016, 10:15:34 PM »

So I did some further reading on ramping and break angle and more assessing of my guitar and seems that I am very near the optimum 45 degree angle on all strings except the high E ... so I doubt ramping is going to do much in my case.  I did change to a set of 12-54 Ernie Ball PB strings and it certainly did not decrease the volume as far as I can tell, and resonance seems at least as good as compared to the medium 13-56 Elixirs I have been using for years now (that comparison is new strings to new strings).  In fact it seems like at lighter strumming the volume/resonance may be even better but more playing is in order to asses that me thinks.
Dave
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2016, 12:39:26 AM »

Hi Dave . Perhaps I missed it, but did you tell us the saddle material?  I don't know if it has any bearing on volume or not, just asking.
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