Author Topic: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !  (Read 1492 times)

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Offline troy

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The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« on: March 23, 2017, 02:10:47 pm »
It's a little while since I was a beginner but I thought I'd pass on this bit of wisdom which helped me a LOT ! Might not be for everyone, I accept that.

So there I was a few years back, keen as mustard and bought myself a cheap Squier acoustic from Argos as a starter, and set out to learn a few basic chords and tunes. OUCH !  Is playing supposed to be this painful ? Fact. Yes it is bloody painful and really quite discouraging when you can only play for a few minutes at a time !

I really hated the the feel of the strings. They were abrasive, bronze things, which if I'd played long enough, would have drawn blood. I'm sure many a beginner has got to this stage thought stuff that and put the guitar in the loft.

Not one to be deterred I read a few forums and picked up a whole load of advice and the solution for me was very simple. Just change the strings !

This goes for for pretty much any guitar, electric or acoustic. When you go into the shop, they are selling you an instrument that performs as best as it possibly can for the cost, so typically an acoustic will come with phosphor bronze strings and an electric with steel strings in order to get the desired tonal quality. Are these strings  good for a beginner just starting out though ?  Not in my opinion.

OK, you will eventually get through the pain barrier if you persevere but why not make life easier. I found these solved all my problems......


They are D'Addario XL Flat Wound Chromes Light Gauge (ECG23).  Have a search on Amazon.

So, essentially they are constructed differently from a normal string. Usually the heaviest 3 strings are "wound" with round wire which makes sliding your fingers around on them painful for beginners. These are wound in the same way but then ground flat.

The difference I found was remarkable. I could practice longer, even start sliding a few barre chords around with no pain, and it all felt much more comfortable. 

Downsides. They are not cheap and will sound a little duller as they are aimed more at your jazz type player but will be MUCH MUCH easier for a beginner to learn on.

I've used them on acoustic and electric guitars with no problem but once you've built up a bit more strength it'll be an easier switch back to more conventional strings.

Only my opinion but it helped me .

Offline mikeb2102

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2017, 02:20:34 pm »
I'm a beginner and I find D'addario nickel wound super light strings work great on my electric and D'addario bronze wound extra light strings work great on my acoustic. I don't get any pain and I can practice for as long as I feel like it

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Offline troy

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2017, 02:40:52 pm »
Hi Mike

Strings are very subjective and everyone has there own taste. These days I tend to use Ernie Ball Heavy Bottom Skinny Tops. More bass more treble, what's not to like !

What I am specifically talking about for beginners is FLAT WOUND strings. As the name implies, they are flat and just so silky smooth. You can practice longer and pretty much in a totally pain free way !

They helped me a great deal to just get used to the feel of a guitar. Once you've trained a few muscles, got a few chords going and developed slightly harder finger tips by all means go back to a standard string.


Offline bigbl5

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2017, 03:12:41 pm »
Right before I started playing, my brother gave me an old cheapo Magnavox Premier strat.  It had a broken string.  Being pretty broke, I ran out to Guitar center and bought a set of strings.  Well, not really knowing what was what, I ended up buying heavier strings.  I followed YouTube videos and got them installed and the guitar in tune.  However, playing was miserable as it was like putting my fingers on razor blades every time I played. I nearly gave up until one day I stopped by the local music store to do nothing more than browse.  Lucky for me, their luthier was behind the counter that day and we started chatting.  He convinced me to bring the guitar in and he would look it over for free and give me his opinion.  Come to find out, I had way too thick of strings, I had them too tight, and the action was high.  For $30 he put new strings on it, cleaned it up, and adjusted everything.  Best $30 I ever spent as it went from a miserable experience to a guitar I could actually learn on. 
I will eventually play as well as David Gilmour - even if it takes me another 40 years.

Offline mikeb2102

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 03:35:38 pm »


I had them too tight, and the action was high

Yeah the action being high also plays a big part, just as much as the strings in my opinion. I tried playing my acoustic and found even the simplest of chords were hard to fret. So I took it to the guitar shop, had the action lowered and a new set of strings put on it and when I got it back it was  like a different guitar. I was using my electric to practice mostly, but now I've switched to my acoustic.

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Offline stitch101

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2017, 03:48:42 pm »
The best tip I can pass on the beginners is buy the best guitar you can afford and have it set up.
Buying a cheapest guitar to see if you will like playing guitar is the fastest way to quitting.

Everyone who plays any one of my guitars even my $200 Epiphone comment on how easy they are to play.
I have 12's on all my short scale and 11's on my long scale guitars.
Inexpensive guitars with light strings can play just as well as expensive ones. A good set up won't make an
inexpensive guitar sound like a $2000 guitar but it can play like one.


Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2017, 03:50:10 pm »

So, essentially they are constructed differently from a normal string. Usually the heaviest 3 strings are "wound" with round wire which makes sliding your fingers around on them painful for beginners. These are wound in the same way but then ground flat.





Flatwounds tend to be a bit more 'squeaky' when you slide your fingers, and they usually have more tension, and the wound strings are heavier, which may bring its own problems.

ECG23 Flatwound

       Tension       
Item #   Note   Inches   mm            lbs           kg
PL010   E   0.0100   0.2500   16.220   7.360
PL014   B   0.0140   0.3600   17.850   8.090
CG020   G   0.0200   0.5080   23.830   10.810
CG028   D   0.0280   0.7112   25.170   11.420
CG038   A   0.0380   0.9652   23.660   10.730
CG048   E   0.0480   1.2400   21.420   9.720

EXL110 Roundwound

Item #   Note   Inches   mm            lbs            kg
KPL010   E   0.0100   0.2540   16.220   7.360
KPL013   B   0.0130   0.3302   15.390   6.980
KPL017   G   0.0170   0.4318   16.580   7.520
NW026   D   0.0260   0.6604   18.380   8.340
NW036   A   0.0360   0.9144   19.040   8.640
NW046   E   0.0460   1.1684   16.910   7.670

But that might be just pedantry. I use flats on my semi-hollow, they're a bit harder to bend (jazzers don't do bends  ;D ), but I don't notice the extra tension otherwise.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 01:10:17 pm by joueur de guitare »
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Offline troy

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 11:05:32 pm »
Hi de guitare

Lots of stats there !

Flat Wounds are for Jazzers as I do very occasionally sometimes put them on my Archtop. Do I like them ? Hmmmm , no not really and quickly take them off again.

They don't really sound that good IMO. They sound very muddy and there are far better options with a better sound for a better player.

But ! ! ! For a beginner guitarist, either electric or acoustic, I think they are excellent.

My daughter really struggled with the first guitar she had and found the strings really uncomfortable. It was an acoustic Epiphone from memory ? And all conventional wisdom said that you shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do that, but by putting a so called set of "electric jazz" strings on an acoustic guitar tranformed her into a really great player !

D

Offline Drubbing

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2017, 01:49:42 am »
While it's good to get well meant advice, I think strings is well down the list of things that beginners need to be concerned about.

Sore fingers is part of the deal of starting out. You're going to get them free on every guitar you buy, no matter what your budget.

Offline batwoman

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2017, 06:17:39 am »
Sore fingers is part of the deal of starting out. You're going to get them free on every guitar you buy, no matter what your budget.

You sure do have a way with words Drubbing. Thanks for the witty words and the laugh  ;D

Offline DarrellW

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2017, 08:29:54 am »
Sore fingers is part of the deal of starting out. You're going to get them free on every guitar you buy, no matter what your budget.
Absolutely, I still get sore fingers with my Taylor (properly set up) when I get carried away with how long I play it for, I don't think that flat wound lower strings will eliminate soreness anyway, the thinner strings also make your fingers sore. Apart from that sore fingers prompts you to learn the technique of not fretting with too much force.
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Offline esiuolm

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 12:52:24 pm »
It's a little while since I was a beginner but I thought I'd pass on this bit of wisdom which helped me a LOT ! Might not be for everyone, I accept that.

So there I was a few years back, keen as mustard and bought myself a cheap Squier acoustic from Argos as a starter, and set out to learn a few basic chords and tunes. OUCH !  Is playing supposed to be this painful ? Fact. Yes it is bloody painful and really quite discouraging when you can only play for a few minutes at a time !

I really hated the the feel of the strings. They were abrasive, bronze things, which if I'd played long enough, would have drawn blood. I'm sure many a beginner has got to this stage thought stuff that and put the guitar in the loft.

Not one to be deterred I read a few forums and picked up a whole load of advice and the solution for me was very simple. Just change the strings !

This goes for for pretty much any guitar, electric or acoustic. When you go into the shop, they are selling you an instrument that performs as best as it possibly can for the cost, so typically an acoustic will come with phosphor bronze strings and an electric with steel strings in order to get the desired tonal quality. Are these strings  good for a beginner just starting out though ?  Not in my opinion.

OK, you will eventually get through the pain barrier if you persevere but why not make life easier. I found these solved all my problems......


They are D'Addario XL Flat Wound Chromes Light Gauge (ECG23).  Have a search on Amazon.

So, essentially they are constructed differently from a normal string. Usually the heaviest 3 strings are "wound" with round wire which makes sliding your fingers around on them painful for beginners. These are wound in the same way but then ground flat.

The difference I found was remarkable. I could practice longer, even start sliding a few barre chords around with no pain, and it all felt much more comfortable. 

Downsides. They are not cheap and will sound a little duller as they are aimed more at your jazz type player but will be MUCH MUCH easier for a beginner to learn on.

I've used them on acoustic and electric guitars with no problem but once you've built up a bit more strength it'll be an easier switch back to more conventional strings.

Only my opinion but it helped me .

Are these only available as "electric" (my guitar is acoustic), as when I searched amazon only electric strings came up.  Wondered about putting electric strings on an acoustic guitar.  ML



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Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2017, 01:06:58 pm »
Are these only available as "electric" (my guitar is acoustic), as when I searched amazon only electric strings came up.  Wondered about putting electric strings on an acoustic guitar.  ML



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You'll be wanting a pack of these


http://www.daddario.com/DADProductDetail.Page?productid=106&productname=EFT16_Flat_Tops__Light__12_53&sid=562d65a4-a637-4590-997b-1752751d3b7c


There are other brands available, but I'm a bit of a D'Addario fanboi :D
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Offline troy

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2017, 11:43:43 pm »
Hi Esiuolm

This is my point ! Electric strings will go on an acoustic. Acoustic strings will go on an electric. Nylon strings will go on an..... errrr....  Fishing Rod ?

Yes, the Flat Wound strings I talk about above are "electric" but they play perfectly well on acoustic guitars.  I would pretty much gaurantee that a beginner would prefer them on their acoustic OR electric guitar ! No Pain at all and you slide up and down for hours without blood !)

Despite posts above saying that pain is a right of passage, all I'm saying is it needn't be. Why make learning difficult ?

Offline stitch101

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Re: The best tip I can pass onto a beginner. Strings !
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2017, 12:52:22 am »
Hi Esiuolm

This is my point ! Electric strings will go on an acoustic. Acoustic strings will go on an electric. Nylon strings will go on an..... errrr....  Fishing Rod ?

Yes, the Flat Wound strings I talk about above are "electric" but they play perfectly well on acoustic guitars.  I would pretty much gaurantee that a beginner would prefer them on their acoustic OR electric guitar ! No Pain at all and you slide up and down for hours without blood !)

Despite posts above saying that pain is a right of passage, all I'm saying is it needn't be. Why make learning difficult ?

You're going to get calisus no matter what you do. You can prolong it by using strings that suck or you can suck it up and
use strings that sound good. Either way if a little pain is to much for you to handle maybe you should take up golf.

I think learning how much pressure to place on your strings is more important than playing with the wrong strings.
Just my 2c. 

 

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