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mistafeeze

J-45 String Tension

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OK...about ready to receive my first J-45 and I'm giddy about the whole thing - already planning to restring and adjust it to my liking...so first of all, if it makes any difference, this is a late nineties (1999) "Early J-45." Supposedly lighter than usual so I thought I would ask about the bracing and everyone's thoughts about my plans. I know from calling Gibson directly, they do not install any other strings than "lights" on their guitars today.

 

I almost always tune down a half step for a number of reasons: 1) better suited for my singing voice 2) I prefer to use medium gauge strings and don't want to put any extra stress than necessary on the neck block and bridge. Even for the 1 guitar that I have that is braced for mediums and comes factory that way, I tune down 1/2 step as a preventative measure and of course for singing.

 

Now, I'm not sure what the specs on Gibson branded strings are but I use D'Addario Phospher Bronze as my go to strings. First because I think they sound great out of the package, but really my luthier says that in his experience, they hold their intonation better than any other string brand. That might be snake oil, but I like them a lot.

 

Pulling specs from D'Addario, here is their string tension chart of gauges based upon their definition of "light" vs "medium." I know they vary from string manufacturer to manufacturer even if all 6 strings are the same gauges too. So, if the Gibson strings are anything like the D'Addarios, this J-45 should be braced to handle 163.2 pounds of tension. But with me doing mediums, it will be 168.2 pounds. I doubt (hope) the 5 lbs of difference is negligible and won't matter. However, I've seen charts from other brands before and the string tension varies considerably with D'Addarios having some of the highest tension.

 

I guess I'm looking for some confirmation of my intentions from everyone and your thoughts on the "Early J-45" bracing or why it's so lightweight; comments on string tension considering brands, gauge, and tuning; and the effects of intonation because of the short scale using medium strings.

 

Thanks!!!

 

STANDARD TUNING E A D G B E TOTAL

LIGHT 26.0 29.9 30.5 30.2 23.3 23.3 163.2

MEDIUM 29.0 34.0 36.8 35.3 26.3 27.4 188.8

 

TUNED DOWN 1/2 STEP D# G# C# F# A# D#

LIGHT 23.2 26.6 27.2 26.9 20.8 20.8 145.5

MEDIUM 25.8 30.3 32.8 31.5 23.4 24.4 168.2

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I run D'Addario PB mediums (.13 -.56) on my J-45 TV, tuned to pitch, and have done so for the 3+ years that I've owned the guitar. My J-45 is built extremely light, weighing in at just around 4 lbs. No ill effects so far. To be honest, I can't imagine any dread-sized guitar not being able to handle medium-guage strings. But then that's just me. Your mileage might well vary.

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What constitutes medium and light strings varies a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, there should be no problem whatsoever tuning a J45 to concert pitch with medium strings. It is designed to take them and I have never had a problem with mediums (12's) on any decent quality guitar.

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What constitutes medium and light strings varies a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, there should be no problem whatsoever tuning a J45 to concert pitch with medium strings. It is designed to take them and I have never had a problem with mediums (12's) on any decent quality guitar.

 

Gibson would refer to 12's as "lights". Their light Masterbuilts are .012-.053", I believe. Gibson "mediums" are .013", etc.

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I believe that Gibson acoustics like the J-45 come with 12s from the factory. Putting 13s on it should be fine, but might require tweaking the setup a bit. Try it and see.

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Thanks for the affirmation guys...I have just seen way too many guitars with the bridge lifting, massive bellies under the bridge, and/or massive dips on the top where the fingerboard meets the soundhole.

 

Mostly seen on cheaper guitars and probably from neglect or ignorance of proper care.

 

This J45 has been anticipated for a very long time and want to follow best practices as much as possible while not compromising my sound and playability preferences. Thanks!

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Thanks for the affirmation guys...I have just seen way too many guitars with the bridge lifting, massive bellies under the bridge, and/or massive dips on the top where the fingerboard meets the soundhole.

 

Those things happen over an extended period of time. Just keep an eye on your J-45 for anything out of the norm and you should be fine. If you're nervous about the mediums at full tension, just check for the behavior you've mentioned once in a while like you would with the oil level in a car. Keep in mind that some amount of curvature/bellying is normal. Sinking in front of the sound hole is not. You can keep an eye out for bridge lifting by checking it with a sheet of paper every once in a while. Lifting typically starts at the corners.

 

Give it a go, and enjoy!

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Those things happen over an extended period of time. Just keep an eye on your J-45 for anything out of the norm and you should be fine. If you're nervous about the mediums at full tension, just check for the behavior you've mentioned once in a while like you would with the oil level in a car. Keep in mind that some amount of curvature/bellying is normal. Sinking in front of the sound hole is not. You can keep an eye out for bridge lifting by checking it with a sheet of paper every once in a while. Lifting typically starts at the corners.

 

Give it a go, and enjoy!

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Well don't know what happened there but meant to say I've used 13s on my very lightweight '52 J-45 and AJRI and countless other vintage Gibsons for decades. That is really want they are designed for in spite of factory supplied 12s to make them 'feel good'. I'd not worry for one second about using 13s on any Gibson dread in decent shape from

any vintage & no matter how much it weighs.

 

A good Gibson is built to have a slight top 'arch' when strung.

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Stubee and friends ...thanks for the feedback! Gonna string with mediums (13s) and not think twice! None the less tune down 1/2 step and capo when needed.

 

Was thinking a sidebar conversation would happen regarding personal preferences and why on string brands and type on your J45....

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Stubee and friends ...thanks for the feedback! Gonna string with mediums (13s) and not think twice! None the less tune down 1/2 step and capo when needed.

 

Was thinking a sidebar conversation would happen regarding personal preferences and why on string brands and type on your J45....

 

I have a 63 Hummingbird & have been using .013-.056 for years tuned to 440 pitch with no problems / And a J-45 will handle that just fine.

Tuned down 1/2 step for your voice is a good idea if that is what you like.

Enjoy that Gibson!

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When I got my J-45 Deluxe back from Gibson repair they put Medium 13's on it. It really helped the sound. I put them on My AJ and New J45 also. I put 12's on my J-100 and they were too light. Didn't sound right. I use 12's on LG1 and Blues King.

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