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Light gauge strings?

Posted by Kevin G on Friday, January 22, 2010

I got aced out of a box of Scruggs signature medium gauges at an auction last summer, when my counterbidder pushed the price up almost to retail. My consolation prize was an equivalent carton (12 sets) of light gauge strings, also Scruggs signature, for about 20 bucks.

Problem was, my strings didn't need changing at the time, and I kind of liked the medium gauge strings I had on there. And with a couple of different banjos to play, I didn't need to replace them all that often. Well, they finally needed it--they'd gotten hard to keep in tune, and the 5th string had started slipping out of the nut, so I decided to give the light gauge strings a try.

Somehow, I broke the first string loop before I had even tuned it up to D; fortunately, I had a twelve-pack! So I laid a new one in there, got the rest of them on, and I have to say: I think I prefer them on this banjo (the Epiphone). It's a relatively inexpensive banjo, and it probably came with light-gauge strings, but my teacher and I had done some experimenting over the years, and I had standardized on mediums.

I'm not sure if there's a standard out there that most people use, but just based on the heated auction competition for the medium strings but zero for the light, I guess most players use medium. Maybe it's a banjo by banjo decision that has to get made; maybe it depends on how easily they break and whether you're going up on stage and you're concerned about breaking a string. What I can say is that for this banjo and my playing style, the light gauge strings seem to work great, and i don't have to push down nearly as hard to fret the chord. (Maybe it will help me play faster? I'm very deliberate).

Anyway, I consider this a surprising finding. Anyone else have a preference?

Cheers,

Kevin



5 comments on “Light gauge strings?”

banjotef Says:
Saturday, January 23, 2010 @3:10:24 AM

I always use the D'Addario J60's, which are light gauge. I've tried mediums a couple of times, but find that they sound a bit muddy on my banjos.

Wills Creek Says:
Saturday, January 23, 2010 @8:48:21 AM

We were talking to Kenny Ingram a few months back about string preferance and it suprised me when he said that all he ever uses is light strings. In that light I tried light strings. I found pretty much the same thing you found and am quite happy with either lights or medium lights. I think thats enough said. Seeing as how if its good enough for Kenny it's good enough for me.

Mizin Pine Says:
Saturday, January 23, 2010 @8:51:16 AM

I also use the J60 lights. I like them. I can't remember the last time I broke one. They are good strings.

Jane C Says:
Saturday, January 23, 2010 @5:19:49 PM

If I change from medium to light or vice versa I always think it's an improvement either way, maybe it's just because it's a change, which as they say, is as good as a rest. By the way . . . .liking the new profile pic Kevin.

hitchcock Says:
Saturday, January 23, 2010 @6:07:07 PM

I always use the light gauge strings. The dadario 60s. Easier to play in my opinion.

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