If you followed my idiotic public displays at all, you may know I bought my 1992 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 (a guitar I’ve wanted for as long as I could remember) about a month ago. You see all about it here on my Girlfriend video.
I rolled the ol’ dice and bought the guitar on Ebay without playing, touching, or seeing it in person. I had no idea what to expect, but I’ve grown to have faith in the Ebay feedback system. When the guitar came in, it was exactly as was described and all went well. One thing that was rather different, was the string size. I have been playing .10-.52s as long as I can remember and so my perspective was a bit off. I ended up liking the new string size quite a bit, but had no idea what size they were. When I asked the seller about the string size, he said they were 8s. Eights???? Really?????
I was shocked that I could go from .10-.52s to 8s without actually going into shock. More importantly, I was turbo shocked to find out that I liked it. I actually enjoy playing the 8s! I’m sticking with ‘em.
String / Tone Business
More importantly, I told a guitar-tone-loving buddy about them and he asked, “Did you tone go to hell?”. I said, “No way!”. (Granted, I’ve not tried my .10-.52s on my PRS so I’ve not done an A/B comparison.) I love the way the way the guitar sounds. Correction, I LOOOOOOOOOOVE the way the guitar sounds. I’m 100% content and see no need to take the guitar to the shop to get setup. It’s absolutely perfect, as is. In fact, I’m afraid that by switching back to the big ol’ .10-.52s I’ll actually lose something. When palm muting, even the B string (the little bitty guy by the high E) is percussive and chunky. I’ve never gotten that from any other guitar or string combo. I’m convinced I have stumbled onto something here. (Or rather, the previous owner stumbled onto something and I’m stealing it!)
This whole issue of huge string gauges being required for monster tone is complete rubbish in my opinion (at least for my own tonal tastes). The strings do affect the player and the player is obviously THE generator of tone, but to say that big strings equals big tone doesn’t seem to hold up in my case. The fact that I can get little 8s to sound like they do is strong enough evidence to reject this idea that I need 12s or whatever to sound like Stevie Ray Vaughn or whoever. (Whatever SRV had, I definitely do not have. I sound more like a really drunk, less talented Van Halen when I’m sober.)
If you’ve heard a billion times than that 10s sound better than 9s and 11s sound better than 10s, do yourself a favor and try the extreme. Go with 8s for a few weeks. Force yourself to play in tune. (You SHOULD be doing that anyway!) I’m not saying you’ll keep the 8s on your guitar, but I think many of you high gain guys may feel like you’ve been duped by the huge string myth.
Update: I just tried out 8.5s. The “b string chunk” is gone. The overall percussiveness of the guitar is gone. I’ll be switching back to 8s immediately.