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Back in the 50's , Gibson Les Pauls were very likely to to come with Gibson Sonomatic flat wound strings: .012-.056





this 1966 Fender Strings Catalog provides some perspective:







By 1969, Fender added one "slinky" type gauge string set with .010" high E (#150 - light gauge Rock & Roll) - in response to Ernie Ball.


But observe that Fender still did not sell any Guitar string sets with .009" high "E" - those did not arrive from Fender until the 70's


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I had a conversation with Ernie Ball ( I worked there 1998-2001) and he said in 1962, session players were coming into his shop and buying a set of Fender strings with a .013' on the high E, and one .009 Banjo String. He thought this was odd - so he would talk to the customer who explained that several LA session players would use the .009 Banjo String on the Hi E, and throw away the Fender set's low E.


"Super Slinky" was named by Ernie Ball's kids who worked in the family garage repackaging Fender Strings for the first year - named after a popular 1960s spring toy that was heavily marketed on TV. "Slinky" was a household name, and easily described the low tension elasticity of the Ernie Ball "Super Slinky" string set.


So heading into a music store in 1966 , it was far easier to just say "I'll have a set of "Super Slinky Strings".


And Ernie Ball invented the idea of selling individual strings and allowing the customer to build a "Custom Gauge" set.


The first item the company made were those hardwood string holders - you still see them in use at older music stores.



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  • 12 years later...

Sonomatics were aways round-wound. The 340 Sonomatic Medium set was was .012-.056 up until sometimes during the 1970s. They originally had a .028 wound G, and then someone at Gibson woke up and lowered it to a wound .024. The most famous user being Pete Townshend, who tossed the wound G for a plain .016, and around 1972, changed to a .018. The Sonomatics sets were also available in .012-.057, .011-.056, and the 340L: .011-.052.  In the early '80s, when the packaging was changed to blue on grey. the G string was raised to .025, and the D string was raised from a .032 to a .034. In the '90s the set number was changed to 900M, and eventually to L5 Mediums. For most of its existence, the Sonomatics were a pure nickel string. The Mona- Steel 240 set was was a Monel string .014-.056. 

Gibson's flat-wound strings were called "Hi-Fi " stainless steel. The Medium 040 set was gauged .014-.058; the 040L Light gauge set was .011-.051. In the 1990s, they were relabeled "Flat Wires." 

For many years, Gibsons guitars and basses came with a hang tag stating what strings were the guitars left the factory with.

Hope this clears up myths and misinformation.


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