top of page


That Pedal Show – String Gauge & Tone (aka The Dubious Legend Of Thick & Skinny)

Published on Jul 21, 2017

In this episode, we grasp that gnarliest of nettles: string gauge and tone. Legend has it that thick strings sound ‘better’, and it’d be true to say that we both broadly subscribe to that view to a greater or lesser extent. However, as we discover in this video while string gauge may well have an effect on tone, that effect may be a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing depending on your point of view.
Join us then as we wind and stretch our way through regular 8s, 9s, 10s, 11s and 12 sets to see what we can discover. It’s an old chestnut, but swing it we will! Do thick strings really sound better?

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re wondering about string material, wrap type etc etc, we will do another video in time. We don’t deal with different material types today – this is purely about string gauge (thickness) using ‘standard’ nickel wound-round strings.

Massive thanks to D’Addario UK for supplying the strings for this video. We’ve both been using them for years, so we chose these for this video in order to stay on familiar ground.

Pedals & gear in this episode…

• Lots of D’Addario XL strings
UK & Europe:

• Sonic Research ST-200 Tuner

• Keeley D&M Drive
UK & Europe:

• Free The Tone FT-2Y Flight Time Delay
UK & Europe:

• Hamstead SoundWorks Signature Tremolo

• Thorpy Veteran
UK & Europe:

• Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man 1100-TT
UK & Europe:

• The GigRig G2:

* Why do we have preferred retailer links? Find out here:

Amps in this episode:
• Hamstead Artist 20+RT through 1x12 Celestion Alnico Cream speaker
• Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature through 2x12 Two-Rock/WGS 1265B speakers

Guitars in this episode
• Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster – watch Mick’s video at
• Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster – watch Dan’s video at
• Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard – watch Dan’s video at

Interesting bits and go-to sections…
– Oh no, they’re jamming… 00:00
– Intro & background. Plus Motherboards: 1:42
– Billy Gibbons & BB King: 2:22
– Thicker is better? 4:03
– Today's amps: 4:17
– Today's strings - 0.008s to 0.012s: 5:18
– Dan’s ‘normal’ 11-50 string choice/observations: 6:08
– Mick’s ‘normal’ 10.5-48 string choice/observations: 8:13
– What’s important to Mick? 10:48
– Heavier strings = better chords? 15:25
– Choosing the same strings for all guitars? 17:08
– A brief mention of setup: 17:50
– Scale length and tension: 19:06
– But what about intonation? 22:13
– Some tips on changing strings #1: 24:50
– Locking tuners are rubbish? 29:00
– Tune up to the note! 29:37
– How fast can we have new strings gig-ready? 31:30
– Mick’s tedious tuning up: 34:10
– THE AB TESTS - let the record show these gauges: 36:00
– 10.5s vs 9s on Mick’s Strat clean: 36:48
– …and dirty: 37:49
– …and something in between: 38:37
– 11s vs 8s on Dan’s Tele clean: 40:00
– …and with a bit of gain: 41:01
– …and with a lot of gain: 41:44 (yes Dan uses different pickups - doh!)
– Dan’s observations from the AB examples: 43:50
– Mick’s observations from the AB examples: 45:38
– Les Paul 12s vs 8s: 48:05 (next playing at 55:06)
– Tips on restringing a Les Paul… 53:08
– …including locking a string on a tuner: 54:12
– Do we hate it? 58:00
– Do thick strings really sound better, then? 59:00
– Or are we just crap at guitar? 1:02:40

We hope you enjoy this video. Please subscribe to our channel.

You may even want to buy a T-shirt to support our efforts

We are also on – crowdfunding for creatives

bottom of page