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AJ Ray

Medium gauge on J50

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Hi folks. I would like to try a set of medium strings on my 11 year old gibson j50 short scale. My local luthier advised against ever using 13s but i dont trust him. I took a guitar to him once asking about break angle and he didnt know what i was referring to and told me "it is what it is". Some clarity please Mr Luthier?????

I here mixed views about mediums and wonder if some of the experts here have any ideas. Has anyone tried it with these guitars? good or bad results?

Or did the bridge start to lift etc etc

 

Thanks

 

Ray

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The guitars are built to handle mediums without any problem. In fact, I've always thought it took mediums to really bring out the sound of a slope-shouldered Gibson. My J-45 is a '98 and it has never had anything but mediums on it.

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I use mediums on my 54 j45 and 58 j50 with no issues what so ever.

 

I personally wouldn't use anything but mediums on these guitars. Brings out a lot of tone in these old guitars.

I use either

dean markley med bronze phosphorous

or

Pearse med bronze.

They both rock!!!

And easy on the fingers. Have good life IMO only.

Good luck

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If you are performing without amplification, mediums can really help with volume and projection. If you're not performing in front of crowds, it's just a matter of taste. They certainly change the character of the sound.

 

I used mediums (13's) on my '48 J-45 back in the 60s, but these days I've gone to lights (12's) on that one so it doesn't have to work so hard. Besides, I only play for myself now, and I'm not that hard of hearing (well, maybe I am).

 

It probably isn't possible to generalize about at what point in the guitar's life you should go back to the recommended string gauge (12's on the J-45, for example), but I don't think I would use mediums on a vintage guitar unless it has mediums on it all its life. For one thing, your setup may change due to the higher string tension required.

 

I did some research on total string tension (compression on the guitar itself) when trying to figure out what strings to use on my 1968 ES 335-12. On that particular guitar model, there are no structural changes in the instrument between the six- and 12-string versions, so you really have to pay attention, despite the fact that we are talking about a guitar with a solid center block and a long neck tenon.

 

On a 12, for example, the typical string gauge combination increases the compression load on the guitar by more 50%, compared to just using the "normal" six strings from that set of strings. I haven't seen or done similar calculations for a change in string gauges on a regular acoustic six string, but the increase in string tension required to tune to pitch is probably--I'm guessing here--somewhat proportional to the sum of the individual changes in string diameter. It's actually a relatively small increase but it certainly will have some impact that you need to consider.

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i've always used Lights on my J-50. what is the Gibson recommended string guage for this model?

 

12's (lights: .012-.053 gauge)

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i've always used Lights on my J-50. what is the Gibson recommended string guage for this model?

By the way, what are you using on your Rick 12-string? I'm experimenting with strings on my ES 335-12.

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By the way, what are you using on your Rick 12-string? I'm experimenting with strings on my ES 335-12.

 

i actually am experimenting too! i switched to a set of Rotosound 9's! they feel pretty darn good. whatcha doin w your Gibson 12?

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Almost twenty years ago, I decided never to use 13s again. Too heavy, hard on the fingers difficult to play.

About two months ago, there was much discussion on this forum about the merits of 13s on a j-45/50.

So, I got out $12 and bought a set of 80/20s, put them on my j-45 and ...wow! What a difference beautiful sound and tone.

Plus, not that bad on the fingers too. I then put a set on my 000-28EC (without EC bits) and it was awful at standard tuning.

The tension just felt to great. I still have them on that guitar tuned down a whole step. So, for a J-50, go for it.

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i actually am experimenting too! i switched to a set of Rotosound 9's! they feel pretty darn good. whatcha doin w your Gibson 12?

She's in for a neck re-set right now, but I'm trying some Elixir nanoweb 10's. I don't normally play coated strings, but this one isn't going to get much use unless I'm trying to do a McGuinn thing, so I thought these might last longer sitting in the case. 9's are awfully slinky for me: I'm a bit ham-handed. I'm used to 12's on my regular Gibson flat top ('48 J-45,), and 10's (Vintage re-issue pure nickels) on my regular '59 ES 335 Nashville.

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She's in for a neck re-set right now, but I'm trying some Elixir nanoweb 10's. I don't normally play coated strings, but this one isn't going to get much use unless I'm trying to do a McGuinn thing, so I thought these might last longer sitting in the case. 9's are awfully slinky for me: I'm a bit ham-handed. I'm used to 12's on my regular Gibson flat top ('48 J-45,), and 10's (Vintage re-issue pure nickels) on my regular '59 ES 335 Nashville.

 

ahh, cool...yeah, it's a little squirrelly with 9's---will def switch back to 10's. so the thicker the guage, the better to counteract a heavy fretting hand?

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ahh, cool...yeah, it's a little squirrelly with 9's---will def switch back to 10's. so the thicker the guage, the better to counteract a heavy fretting hand?

Maybe to some extent. My 335-12 had 9's on it when I got it, and I had a lot of trouble fretting to proper pitch with my pinky (which has limited mobility thanks to a motorcycle accident years ago), since it doesn't always go down accurately and stay in place once I put it down. Major problem for a blues player.

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