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Thread: Billy Gibbons plays what....!?

  1. #1
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    Default Billy Gibbons plays what....!?

    Says in an article in Premier Guitar the BFG plays 07 - 38 gauge strings! Who said skinny strings can't sound big...?
    "GAS never sleeps" - Gil Janus

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    That would feel awkward to me. Was handed a 9-42 at a session, felt like a toy ;-) But the gauge has low importance to the sound, at least what I think...
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    I've read multiple places that he uses 8's, but haven't ever heard he uses 7's. Maybe that statement comes from the fact that his custom string set from Dunlop is available with a 7-gauge high E (7-9-11-20-30-38), though they're offered in heavier gauges, too.

    From a Guitar World Q&A with the good Reverend a couple of years ago:

    Q: Do you really use .008 gauge strings? If so, how do you keep them from flapping when detuning? And how do you get such a great tone, since I have always believed the bigger the strings, the better the tone?

    B.G.: I, too, once believed in the heavier gauge string as a superior tone source. However, thanks to the graciousness of B.B. King I learned that a lighter gauge string offers superior playing comfort. Detuning requires some adjustment of attack, approach and feel. Try it. You may like it.
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    Plain weird, if you ask me.
    The Law of Gravity is nonsense. No such law exists. If I think I float, and you think I float, then it happens.
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    Billy Gibbons said in an interview that he decided to switch to lower gauges after a conversation with Mr BB King where he asked Billy "Why do you work so hard with those heavy gauge strings ?"
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    This is something that every new guitarist needs to know. There's always some blowhard who says you can't have "tone" without playing massive cables. Full disclosure: I play 10s because that's what I prefer. I end up grabbing 9s too hard and pulling chords sharp. That's actually a technique problem more than anything else. No sense in trying massive strings when you are just starting out. Once you've played a bunch and built up finger strength and callouses, try whatever you like! Premier Guitar had an article on this a few years back:

    http://www.premierguitar.com/article...g_Myths_Part_1

    Obviously here I'm focusing on standard tuning or Eb. It's different if you're doing drop C or something crazy. Then 8s or 9s would be unplayably slack I would think.
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  7. #7
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    I used to swear by 10s but have converted to 9s, in part because they give some relief to arthritic knuckles. More challenging on slide, but do-able as Warren Haynes has shown for years.
    helliott in Hamilton
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnold View Post
    Full disclosure: I play 10s because that's what I prefer. I end up grabbing 9s too hard and pulling chords sharp. That's actually a technique problem more than anything else.
    I use 10's for just the same reason...
    "GAS never sleeps" - Gil Janus

    "Now you got to pay your dues. Get that axe and play the blues." - Spudman

    Gear: Epiphone Sheraton II, Epiphone Wildkat, Epiphone Emperor Joe Pass, Fender MIM Strat, Tacoma DR-14, Recording King ROS-626, Johnson JR-200 resonator; Fender Super Champ XD amp

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by duhvoodooman View Post
    I've read multiple places that he uses 8's, but haven't ever heard he uses 7's. Maybe that statement comes from the fact that his custom string set from Dunlop is available with a 7-gauge high E (7-9-11-20-30-38), though they're offered in heavier gauges, too.

    From a Guitar World Q&A with the good Reverend a couple of years ago:

    Q: Do you really use .008 gauge strings? If so, how do you keep them from flapping when detuning? And how do you get such a great tone, since I have always believed the bigger the strings, the better the tone?

    B.G.: I, too, once believed in the heavier gauge string as a superior tone source. However, thanks to the graciousness of B.B. King I learned that a lighter gauge string offers superior playing comfort. Detuning requires some adjustment of attack, approach and feel. Try it. You may like it.
    I have heard that BB King used to tell that to a lot of the rock/blues guys he's played with over the years. Let's face it, Iommi has some of the heaviest sounds around and has always done it with 8's....so obviously string gauge doesn't matter as much as some people think.....I do think heavier gauge is needed for clean sounds aka jazz etc. I generally played 8's in the late 70's when I was gigging heavily, I remember trying 7's at that time (a place in NYC had them)....but I found them too light. Then over the years I worked my way to 9's and 10's. These days I generally find 9's perfect, and I do have some hand problems and they still work fine.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnold View Post
    Full disclosure: I play 10s because that's what I prefer. I end up grabbing 9s too hard and pulling chords sharp.
    Quote Originally Posted by tjcurtin1 View Post
    I use 10's for just the same reason...
    Same here. I'm so used to doing bends with 10's that I go way too sharp when I try 9's. I'm sure if I just stuck with them for some time, I'd adjust my technique accordingly. But 10's don't hamper me in any way, so I stick with 'em.
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  11. #11
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    I found the same thing when switching to 9s on some guitars. Went back to the old drill of playing the half tone, then subbing in a bend, same with a full tone, etc. Helped me to solve overbending.
    helliott in Hamilton
    Guitars -- 2 PRS CE 24s 85/15 pups, PRS semi-hollow CE 22, Fender Baja Telecaster; Gibson Les Paul Standard; 80s Strat updated with custom 69 pups, Anniversary Strat with Fat 50s, Epiphone Sheraton re-issue; Yamaha 5-string bass; Yamaha TBS 6 and 12 string acoustics,Takamine acoustic, Fender nylon string acoustic
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  13. #12
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    He has his own set made by dunlop.

    https://www.amazon.com/Dunlop-RWN073...guitar+strings

  14. #13
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    Wow.. I made the switch to 7s on one guitar that at the time needed a string change & also was a good candidate for the application. After hearing Gibbons interview with somebody (i cant remember who) & he mentioned that B.B. had told him bout the lighter guage making playing less of a struggle...ive since gotten used to the 7 set and love it. Altho i dont recommend it for use on all guitars...like my favorite paul would not play right w 7's...She is Not the forgiving type. Not at all!
    (There is a very noticable reduction in tension- which will likely change the action of your instrument) This is Not the kind of Buzz your lookin for...👀

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