One of the questions I am asked by many guitar players is what gauge of strings should they choose to string their axe. And, while I give them the answers that it does depend on their own preference, the brand of strings, etc – I realized that guitar players also suffer from the Bigger Then The Next Guy syndrome. What I mean is that many players simply choose to go for bigger strings to make themselves feel better about their guitar ability.

Getting a bigger string size could make you appear that your fingers are stronger, or that you can handle a bigger string – the truth is that while we build our egos, our guitar playing suffers.

I see some players string their guitars that are tuned to A=440 with 11’s. That seems ridiculous to me.

On the other side of the coin, I know of famed guitar heroes that have not one problem using a very light gauge.

You should choose what feels right to you now; versus what you think, you should be playing.

Here is an example:

For standard tuning (A=440), I play a 9-46 gauge. However, for when I am recording guitar solos in the studio I will sometimes change to 9-42. It fights me less and it helps me. It helps me to execute guitar runs while providing a support for better vibrato, etc. It is not always the case, but I do that on occasion. For live shows and when recording rhythm guitars, I only use 9-46 as the heavier bottom allows the guitar to sound a hair bigger and more importantly helps my guitar stay in tune better.

I also use the 9-46 gauge when I play in drop D (although rarely) (Lowest string a whole step down). The bigger bottom helps lower chords stay in tune without going sharp when you hit them.

For “D” tuning (every string a whole step down) – I use 10-52

Hope this helps you deciding on what is right for you.