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Aug 9, 2022 - 3:27:13 PM
7 posts since 6/16/2022

Hello wise people of the banjo world,

I have been using light gauge D'Addario nickel steel strings on my Gibson 1925 TB-4 archtop banjo for months now.
I realize now, after having used them a while, that there seems to be too much slack up the neck and when doing slides of pull offs down the neck.
I have been considering trying this pack of light plus D'Addario nickel steel strings I have lying around.
I hope to get a more comfortable feel with easier drive without losing the bright tone of light gauge strings.
I write today hoping that some of you will be able to give me advice on whether or not I have misled myself with these pretenses or whether it is even worth switching to light plus.
Do any of you use light-plus strings?
Do you recommend them?

Thank you,
Luke Lastelick

Aug 9, 2022 - 3:51:26 PM
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Alex Z


4930 posts since 12/7/2006

D'Addario says "light" is 9, 10, 13, 20, 9.  "Light plus" is 9.5, 11, 13, 20, 9.5.

Labels don't mean much with banjo strings -- each company might have a different set of gauges for "light", and some companies have several different names for gauges that are only slightly different.

For the D'A "light," the 9 and 10 would feel very loose.

Myself, I use 9.5, 11, 12.5, 20, 9.5

  GHS JD Crow light "stage" are 10, 11, 12, 20, 10.

  JD Grow light "studio" are 9.5, 11, 12, 20, 9.5.

All these three sets are on the light side, certainly not anywhere near "medium."

Give the "light plus" a try.  They are the next heaviest after the D'A "light" -- which are very very light.  Might do the job for you.

Aug 9, 2022 - 4:26:05 PM
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10009 posts since 8/28/2013

Strings are pretty inexpensive, so you can probably try many kinds without breaking the bank. The "light plus" set may be just what works, and if it doesn't, you are not out much.

Aug 9, 2022 - 4:37:41 PM

5 posts since 5/23/2018

banjobush related question why multiple string gauges? why not put 4 tens and a twenty gauge on anybody have information or history

Aug 9, 2022 - 5:30:29 PM
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1695 posts since 8/9/2019

Lights vs Light Plus is such a small difference that you won't feel any change down the neck.

Also my advice is to ditch D'addario banjo strings altogether. They suck (imo). They sound tinny and metallic and the wound 4ths are awful.

GHS is a superior product.

Aug 9, 2022 - 5:54:07 PM

Alex Z


4930 posts since 12/7/2006

The 9.5 has 11% more tension than the 9.

The 11 has 21% more tension than the 10.

While it is true that some players may not feel a difference, the increase in tension is significant and will affect how the banjo plays, and most all players should notice that.

Whether, D'Addario or GHS, still have to select the gauges, as that's what will drive the difference in tension and therefore feel.


Just for comparison, on a guitar the difference between standardized light gauge and standardized medium gauge is about 11%.

Aug 9, 2022 - 7:28:21 PM
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Players Union Member



5881 posts since 10/12/2009

Originally posted by banjobush

banjobush related question why multiple string gauges? why not put 4 tens and a twenty gauge on anybody have information or history

Why don't you try that out, on your banjo, then report back to us ?

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:06:31 PM

56 posts since 3/10/2009

Always have you the light medium lights. Right tone and right feel for me.

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:21:35 PM

Alex Z


4930 posts since 12/7/2006

Originally posted by banjobush

banjobush related question why multiple string gauges? why not put 4 tens and a twenty gauge on anybody have information or history

Yes, the reason for different diameters has to do with the relationship of the different pitches the strings are tuned to, and the resulting different tensions of the strings.

There is a lot of benefit in playability if the strings have roughly the same tension.  (We'll leave differences in tone for another time.)

For example, if you put a 10 on the 1st string D and another 10 on the 3rd string G, then the 3rd string will have only 44% of the tension of the 1st string.  So it will feel pretty loose.  A finger picking the 1st string will feel quite different from picking the 3rd string.

Now, if you put a 9.5 on the 1st string D and a 13 on the 3rd string G, then the 3rd string will have 82% of the tension of the 1st string -- much closer in feel.

The heavier string is also stiffer, so that affects the feel as well.  Don't necessarily want or need the strings to have exactly the same tension because it is possible that the thicker string will feel stiffer when picking, even though it is the same tension.  For example, a 10 on the 1st string and a 15 on the 3rd string have the same tension, but to most players the 15 3rd will feel stiffer to play than the 10 1st.

So it is useful for a player to try different combinations, find something that feel about right and gets the desired tone out of the banjo.  There is no standard "light" gauge set for banjos.

Tone is another factor to be considered.  For later.smiley

Edited by - Alex Z on 08/09/2022 20:23:50

Aug 9, 2022 - 8:41:22 PM



1430 posts since 4/12/2004

I use the same gages that Alez Z says he uses. A long time ago, I did a fair amount of experimentation with strings gages, and I found that configuration works best for the sound I like. The only place where I might allow some variation is on the fourth string. I'm fine using a .022" fourth string if I can't get my hands on a .020".

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Aug 10, 2022 - 4:02:45 AM

4917 posts since 11/20/2004

I find 10-11-13-20-10 to fill that in between gauge for me.

Aug 10, 2022 - 11:33:44 AM

5 posts since 5/23/2018

thanks posters for the information sorry for stepping on your thread llastelick kinda got carried away with my own string changing banjobush

Aug 10, 2022 - 11:53:11 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A


1602 posts since 10/15/2019

I find these string gauge calculators to fun and instructive to play around with.



Aug 10, 2022 - 1:03:18 PM



104 posts since 3/17/2006

I went to the "Med/Lt" sets years ago, mainly because the .009 gauges felt too loose, like spaghetti, especially after playing 2-3 hours. So I went to .010s for the outside strings. The manufacturers have selected various gauges for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings for their sets. I find that .016 is too fat for my 3rd, and I rarely go above a .022 for the 4th. You can play with the string tension calculators, as noted above, to compare the resulting load on the neck and banjo hardware. For an extreme (!) you can try the Bill Keith sets that have three .011s and a .015 and 0.22 for the 3rd and 4th strings. I also like the Phosphor Bronze 4th strings.
Again, strings are cheap! So indulge yourself until you find your match!

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