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Little Neophyte Experimenting with Your String Gauges (6) Experimenting with Your String Gauges 18 Apr 01


When I first started playing my open back banjo, I used light gauge strings because that is what the banjo came with when I bought it. I never realized that light gauge strings is often use for bluegrass and so most the banjos on demo in the music stores are strung with light gauge strings.
Then I started to experiment with medium gauge strings and found a significant difference in tone. My fingers had to toughen up a bit and it was more of a challenge to fret the note clearly, but worth the effort in the difference medium gauge strings offered in tone.

Then I started to really explore mixing and matching strings. I tried a bronze .026 gauge for my 4th string. Wow! like ringing a monastery prayer bell. It is more of a challenge to fret, but worth it.
Then I started to switch my first and second strings to lighter gauges because my banjo is loud enough, and the lighter strings are easier to play.
So now I have made up my own designer set of banjo strings. For now I am using the following:
5th string .012, 4th string bronze .026, 3rd string .013, 2nd string .011, 1st string .10
I recently put on a higher bridge that offers higher action. So by having some light strings I don't throw off the intonation so much.
Guess what I'm getting at it the value in creating your own mix and match string gauge sets.

I bet some of this stuff gets discovered by breaking a string and replacing it with what you had on hand, then discovering you love that replacement gauge string so much more!

Bonnie


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