Custom Gauge Guitar Strings

Packing a custom gauge set of strings

After months of beavering away, we recently announced the launch of our brand new ‘Custom Gauge Set Builder.’

This brand new feature has been designed to allow our customer’s the opportunity to create their very own set of strings where they can choose each individual gauge within their set.

For many years, we’ve proudly stocked a large number of single strings from some of the worlds’ biggest string brands including D’Addario, Ernie Ball, Rotosound, Elixir and many more. And now, it gives us great pleasure to allow our customers this rare opportunity to create their perfect set from scratch, all from one area of our website.

But, you may be asking the question, “why would I want a custom gauge set of strings?” Well, to coincide with the launch of the ‘Custom Gauge Set Builder‘,  it seems like the right time to give our customers a little primer on custom sets and why they may be right up your street.

So what exactly is a custom gauge set?

If you are familiar with string gauges, you will have noticed that the same gauges crop up time and time again, regardless of the brand. For example, 9-42 and 10-46 are both extremely popular electric guitar gauges and practically every string brand will offer these gauges in their lineup. The same goes for acoustic and bass sets too. Many of these gauges have been around for donkey’s years and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.

However, manufacturers are also starting to create more unique sets. For example, around 5 years ago, D’Addario developed their ‘Balanced Tension’ sets. These sets are fresh takes on their traditional 9-42, 10-46 and 11-49 electric guitar gauges we all know and love…but with a little twist!! D’Addario took the most ‘common’ sets and tweaked a few of the gauges, (often only by one-thousandth of an inch) to create these new sets. Whilst these are minor changes and may seem insignificant, the theory behind developing these new sets was to create more evenly balanced sets that give a consistent feel and help to improve playability.

It’s also becoming increasingly popular for players to create their own ‘custom gauge sets’.  There’s several ways of doing this…  some players may wish to take a standard gauge set (e.g. a 10-46 electric guitar set) and change one or two of the string gauges here and there, just by purchasing some additional strings and swapping these in.

Picking DAddario Custom Gauge Singles

Furthermore, players can take this concept one step further by creating their own set from scratch made up of any gauge they wish. Several of the big named string brands including D’Addario, Ernie Ball, Rotosound, and Elixir allow players to buy all their strings as ‘singles’ making it more accessible than ever to create their own custom set.

Your very own custom gauge set of strings

We’ve always made it our aim as a company to stock as many single strings as we can, and now we’re proud to announce that we’ve created a dedicated area of our website where users can now create their own D’Addario, Ernie Ball, Elixir, Rotosound and Thomastik sets from any of the gauges available. And it’s not just electric guitarists that benefit here, we’re also giving our users the opportunity to build their own acoustic and bass sets too. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the classical, banjo and mandolin players amongst you…. we’ll be adding in sets for these shortly!

Do I need a custom gauge set?

We all have our own individual playing style and it’s not uncommon for players to feel constrained by the ‘standard’ gauges on offer today.  For instance, you may find that many of the sets available don’t feel right and you can’t quite put your finger on why that is. Or perhaps your normal set seems perfect for one of your guitars, but it doesn’t quite do the trick on another?

If this scenario sounds at all familiar to you then creating a custom gauge of strings is certainly something worth considering.

What benefits are there from a custom gauge set?

Experimenting and changing your strings is a simple, quick and often overlooked way of changing your tone, so developing your own custom gauge set may be a more economical way of getting you closer to that elusive holy grail of tone….without the need to fork out for a new guitar, amp or effects pedal!…but that’s always nice too 🙂

If you’re a player that likes to explore different tunings, using a standard gauge set for a ‘less than traditional’ tuning can mean that the tension between each string is inconsistent making it feel unbalanced. By changing a few of the gauges, it can really help improve your guitars playability, making it feel and sound more natural.

The instrument itself may also call for a custom gauge set of strings. For instance, D’Addario have recently developed strings for Strandberg’s fanned fret guitars.  The scale length of these instuments varies between the higher and lower strings and whilst a traditional set of strings may do the job to a certain extent, a gauge created specifically for a guitar like this really helps to balance the tension across all 6-strings meaning intonation and tuning stability also improve too.

Are there any disadvantages I should be aware of?

There is no doubt that creating your own custom gauge set does prove a little more expensive when compared to a standard ‘off the shelf’ set. However, if a change of gauge improves the playability and comfort of your instrument, it’s fair to say these benefits certainly outweigh the extra cost.

In fact, as an introductory bonus, we’re offering customers 10% off of their first set when they use our ‘Custom Gauge Set Builder’.

As the (self proclaimed) “Strings Guys” we aim to stock as many single strings as we possibly can. That being said, not every manufacturer currently offer their strings individually. Of course, if you don’t see what you’re after on our website, feel free to get in touch and we’ll certainly make the effort to see what we can do… we’re always happy to help out wherever we can!

Warehouse racking containing custom gauge single strings

Will I be in good company if I opted for my own custom gauge set?

Pssstt. We’ll let you into a little secret. There’s a pretty good chance that your favourite players have their own custom gauge sets made for them, even if they’re not available as a ‘signature set’ to buy off the shelf.  But if you’re interested in the ‘signature sets’ that are available, here’s a small list that are available for us mere mortals to buy;

Jimi Hendrix (Electric: 10-38)
Yngwie Malmsteen (Electric: 8-46)
Eric Clapton (Acoustic: 12-54 and 13-56)
David Gilmour (Electric: 10-48 & 10.5-50)
Eric Johnson (10-50 & 11-52)
Mikey Demus (Skindred) (Electric: 10-54)
Billy Gibbons (Electric: 7-38, 8-40 9-42 & 10-46)….we know! 7-38 gauge? Billy Gibb… really!?!?
BB King (Electric: 10-54)
Dimebag Darrell (Electric: 11-50)
Laurence Juber (Acoustic: 13-56)
Brian May (Electric: 9-42)
Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) (Bass: 50-110)
Marcus Miller (45-105 & 45-125)
….this list goes on.

There are some pretty big names in here and no doubt there are countless more players that use their very own “special gauge” whether we know it or not! Of course, you could say that being a major rock stars inevitably allows them to have their pick of any strings they want, regardless, it certainly goes to show that the top players value what gauges they put on their instruments, and why should we be any different!?

Conclusion

When it comes to string gauge, here at Strings Direct we’re big fans of sticking to what works best for you and your instrument. You shouldn’t feel like you “should” be using this gauge or that gauge. We’re all for experimenting and there are countless permutations out there to test so don’t be afraid to have a string gauge as individual as you are.

If this all sounds interesting, be sure to check out our ‘Custom Gauge Set Builder’

As always, if you have any questions on strings, please feel free to get in touch with us as we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.

Strings Direct Order and Thank You card

2 Comments

  • William Anderson

    …and mandolin?

    • stringsdirect

      Hi William,

      Yes mandolin is coming very soon. Will let you guys know once it’s all up and running

      Thank you

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