Username: Password:

Author Topic: Matching pickups with string gauges  (Read 4695 times)


  • Featherweight
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
Matching pickups with string gauges
« on: March 01, 2008, 04:54:00 PM »
I've just put a set of PG Blues in my Les Paul and they sound great, I'm having a little trouble getting clarity and clean woodiness, it's just very slightly too boomy.  I eq'd the amp (Rivera) for about an hour using as many combinations as I could find, even tried different picks.  Then I had an idea; I'm using 11-49 strings.  Are they too heavy for a Les Paul with alnico 2 pickups?  Would 10's bring more clarity?  What gauges do the likes of Peter Green and BB King use?

Your thoughts are most welcome.


  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 2599
Matching pickups with string gauges
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2008, 04:57:35 PM »
I am sure those kinda guys use heavier strings

Fourth Feline

  • Guest
Matching pickups with string gauges
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2008, 05:37:44 PM »
A question very close to my heart !

To be specific, I find that 10,13,17,30,42,52 work best. Gary Moore recorded the 'Blues For Greeny' album ( amongst others) using that gauge. On that album, he sounded more like Peter Green than Peter Green !

B.B. King uses 10, 13, 17, 32, 45, 54 . ( only occasionally 11 on top ).

I found that 9s where too wishywashy when played clean, and 11s too 'blocky' sounding. 10s ( be it 10-46 or 10-52 ) seem to have enough meat to  add detail, but are still slinky enough to 'sing' on the vibrato and bends. On a Les Paul, the choice of 30, 42, 52 bass strings seems to 'growl' better than 26, 36, 46 - and on the shorter scale of a Gibson, heavier bottom end seems to feel similar in tension to the 10,13,17 on top.

I swear by 10s for what you are after, although alternate between 10-46 and 10-52 . I also seem to find D'addario strings more detailed sounding than Ernie Ball, but Ernie Ball sound somehow softer/warmer. The Gibson 'B.B.King' signature set is a bit too heavy on the bass end for my liking, but overall - they use a lovely soft playable, warm sounding alloy. I hear that D.R. 'pure blues' are nice and warm, but for what you and I seek - a string with more detail seems in order.  To me the PG sound is almost being able to hear the hair on his fingers move !

Do bear in mind that Alinico II magnets ( like my Stormy Mondays ) do have a softer, warmer bass sound. That is why I sometimes revert back to heavier bass strings, as parodoxically they seem to add more clarity, whereas heavier treble strings ( past 10s ) seem to take detail away. I know that Slash uses 11-48 Ernie Balls on his Alnico II equiped Gibsons,  but he plays much more of a high gain, squashy, sensual sound.

Plectrum wise, I get the best results from a 1.21 or 1.14 mm celluloid . I gather that Gary Moore uses similar - and the one that B.B. King once gave me backstage ( he had been using ) was heavy celluloid too.
(Not that I've given the matter much thought ... :lol: )