We get used to things. This never becomes more apparent to me than when I have to change my guitar strings. I go as long as possible. My ears have a sweet spot with strings that starts when they’re a week or two old, and lasts for approximately a few months, depending on the strings. My ears also aren’t a fan of extra-light gauge strings. My acoustic guitar, on the other hand, is not a huge fan of strings that are much heavier than a medium-light (I believe this has to do with the tuning pegs, so perhaps an upgrade in the future will make both me and my Hellcat happy.)
I’ve been working through a new song lately, and the more I work the more I’ve just felt my last set of strings were just somehow off, just not quite right. Particularly the D string. There was something about the D string that was somehow just not quite right. So, last night, I decided it was time to change them out. No sooner did I loosen the strings than the D string snapped right at the tuning head. It sort of just…unraveled. That’ll be the first string that’s broken on me in a good long while. My ears always start to hate them, or they start slipping out of tune too quickly before I get to that point.
So, I went through my string pile. I still have two sets of 13s from before I switched from the dreadnought to the hellcat, but I knew that the Hellcat barely likes 12s, so 13s would be pushing it. I did, however, have a set of 11-50 Dr Sunbeams to try, so I strung it up with those.
This is where I get to the point of this post: they’re driving me crazy. I don’t like the tone, but that’s not news – I try not to judge a string in the first week or so of use, because I generally do hate the sound of brand new strings, and when I don’t, those strings don’t sound good to me for long. But, my fingers don’t know what to do with the darn things. The low strings being thinner, I’m struggling to acclimate to them, and it’s causing a lot more buzzing and muddier chords. It’s not the fault of the strings entirely; if I was used to extra-light strings I think everything would be going fine. But, I’m not used to extra light strings. Even so, what works well for one instrument doesn’t necessarily work well for another, so it doesn’t make any sense to try to force an instrument to use something that just isn’t the best option for that particular instrument. It’s a lot easier for me to make adjustments and get used to lighter strings than it is for my guitar to…well, a guitar’s an inanimate object, so unless you mod it, it sort of is what it is. That doesn’t make the transition easy, though, and I won’t be buying this set again. Experimentation is good for the soul, all the same. It was just jarring to switch from my Dean Markley 12 gauge set (I believe I had blue steels on it last) to the Sunbeams, and the transition is really throwing me for a loop. I’m not that great at guitar to begin with, so maybe I should avoid doing any significant gauge changes for a while. I’ve got enough to work on without having to re-train my fingers to deal with strings that feel totally different every few months.
(EDIT: It took me all of about a day to give up on the new strings and swap them out for a 13-56 Ernie Ball slinky set. I’m a bit concerned that they may slip out of tune easily on this guitar, but I have more 12s on the way, and in the meanwhile, at least I’m working with something that feels good under my fingers and that isn’t lacking most of the low end I know the guitar is capable of. Much happier with new strings today, even if I still hate breaking in a new set.)