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#2949692 - 09/23/18 06:10 PM Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B"
Mark Schmieder Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8909
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
My Danelectro '56 Baritone arrived yesterday, and I spent a lot of time on it today, in comparison also with my Hagstrom Viking DLX Baritone.

I HATED the Danelectro at first, but as I intended to play it in "A" while keeping the Hagstrom in "B", I then down-tuned and it completely changed my experience and opinion of this guitar. Suddenly the neck felt good, and playing it was both a joy and and inspiration, with two new pieces written already.

The thing is, it came strung with EXL158's, which start at 0.013" and end at 0.062". The EXL157 set that I pre-ordered for this guitar as a replacement set is what I thought it would come with anyway, as they are designed specifically for this guitar and as the guitar itself is promoted as ideal for "A" tuning (it was shipped tuned to "B").

The Viking (a semi-hollow-body 335-like guitar) has a GHS Boomer set that is a bit less than my idea, and I had bought an EXL158 set to replace those strings soon, with identical gauge except for the GHS low string being a 0.060" and definitely wanting the 0.062" of the D'addario set.

In playing both guitars, I'm thinking the Viking is probably ideal with the lighter gauge, and that the Danelectro is possibly a bit TOO twangy with the 13's, but I'm nervous about switching to 14's as the bottom string is 0.068" and this might remove all twang from the sound altogether as well as requiring a professional setup?

The Viking might do OK with even heavier gauge strings, and it's 28" whereas the Danelectro is 29.75". So logic would dictate putting the heavier set on the shorter scale instrument, except that they're not going to be tuned the same.

I'm just not sure tension-wise whether these other factors, along with wanting the Danelectro for a bit of a twangier sound anyway and often using the Viking as a "middle voice" between bass and lead guitar, changes the equation from my original assumption that the GHS 13's would get replaced by the D'addario 13's on the Hagstrom, and the Danelectro would get the D'addario 14's would go on the Danelectro.

These are not cheap string sets (though not as bad as bass strings), and my regular guitar tech is 99.99% unavailable anymore so I'd have to feel super-confident taking it to the GC tech guy (who is quite good, but works by their standards instead of his own, so can't be flexible or spend much time on actual advice and the like).

Anyone have any strong feelings about whether it is advisable to stick with the original plan of 13's on the Hagstrom and 14's on the Danelectro, as well as whether the Danelectro string switch would be risky without simultaneous pro setup work?


Edited by Mark Schmieder (09/23/18 06:13 PM)
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Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Select J-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, RS520T, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
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#2949711 - 09/23/18 10:27 PM Re: Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B" [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Larryz Offline
10k Club

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11423
Loc: Northern California
I won't stick my neck out [pun intended] as I know little if anything about baritones. But, I do know a pro set up is a great way to go and the time to do it is after you decide which gauge you want to use and pack a set with you when you take the guitar in. The techs I work with will take the time to answer your questions knowing they will make a buck or two on the set up (like about $50 bucks).


I'm guessing you haven't had that Danelectro long enough to make a decision. When you tuned down and it felt great and came to life, I think I would consider keeping it as it came with the 13's. Congrats by the way! thu
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#2949720 - 09/24/18 02:00 AM Re: Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B" [Re: Larryz]
Mark Schmieder Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8909
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks, Larry. I'm not used to A/B comparisons of baritones as I've never had more than one at a time at home or in a store.

My guitar tech keeps falling further behind, and as he had a heart attack last Thanksgiving, I've been hesitant to push him more than I have, on stuff that still isn't done a year later.

I like the work the guy at Guitar Center in Concord CA did on my mandolin family of instruments (these aren't ones my regular techie is comfortable working on anyway), but he is necessarily "short" on conversation (understandably so); whereas I'm used to discussing options, rationales, and technical details -- even if rushed into a few quick sentences. I get the impression that's not really an option at GC; you pretty much hand it over and take what you get. But their current guy IS really good at least.

I guess I'm so used to waiting an eternity to get anything back, that I've stopped changing gauges/etc. before a setup and try to analyze and figure it out beforehand. Continuity of thought is important too, and I lose that after a super-long wait.

As long as it is "safe" to try a heavier gauge on either of these baritones, I may go ahead. It's just strange that there was almost universal recommendation for 14's on the Danelectro and that D'addario even says they came out with the heavier gauge specifically for that model, knowing that people will likely tune it to "A" instead of "B".

Strings can change after broken in anyway though, so probably I should give this a bit of time, to see how the intonation and overall stability of the Danelectro hold up with 13's. It doesn't have a whammy bar, and I like some twang but not overkill, and also will actually play chords occasionally on this instrument so the heavier gauge will help keep those in tune with themselves.

It's surprising to me how big the difference is between the two sets, but GHS also now has a medium gauge set for baritone and its lowest string is a 0.070" gauge.

These are bigger differences than between most bass guitar sets, which is why I'm concerned about tension and what the instruments can handle -- especially after two of the charango family instruments that I ordered from well-known luthiers in Bolivia recently, started busting strings between plays even if I down-tuned before putting in the case.
_________________________
Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Select J-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, RS520T, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
WX5, XK1c, Voyager

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#2949745 - 09/24/18 07:04 AM Re: Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B" [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Larryz Offline
10k Club

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11423
Loc: Northern California
@ Mark, My tech gets my guitars back within a week so I guess I'm pretty lucky. I can see where a heart attack would slow one down though. I can set my intonation on my electrics and do minor adjustments, but I like having my tech do it along with the truss rod adjustment, cleaning, string change, etc. It's all inclusive in the set up price. If you change gauge, especially a radical change like going from a 60 to a 70, I would definitely take it in. I think there is something wrong with those Bolivia luthiers if the strings are busting in the case LOL! cool


Edited by Larryz (09/24/18 07:04 AM)
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#2949807 - 09/24/18 12:31 PM Re: Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B" [Re: Larryz]
Mark Schmieder Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8909
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks, Larry. I've been loyal for 20 years but I had to do Saturday's gig on a different bass than I intended as the Hofner still isn't back after so many months I can't remember. I have a severe astigmatism so don't trust my vision for delicate work, and definitely a big gauge change like .060" to .070" is safer with someone who does this all the time. Saving money isn't my main thing; time is my biggest limitation at this point in my life.

I have spent 100 hours analyzing and researching all of the possible factors in the charango failures, and as I waited many days before opening the cases, to adjust to the 14,000 foot elevation change and other climate differences. The bottom line is that I think the bridge and nut weren't sanded and cleaned of tiny particles that can stress and weaken strings prematurely, but also nylon strings break the easiest of any. Beyond that, there was the mystery of the intended tuning, which I am now confident of, but which doesn't match the third-party seller's info from back-and-forth (in perfectly good Spanish) comm.
_________________________
Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Select J-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, RS520T, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
WX5, XK1c, Voyager

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#2949883 - 09/24/18 06:00 PM Re: Advice for string gauge on 2 baritones tuned to "A" and "B" [Re: Mark Schmieder]
Mark Schmieder Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 8909
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
A co-worker agrees that going to 14's on the Danelectro for the A tuning -- even though they were designed specifically for that guitar -- would likely bring it back to the playability issues and lack of inspiration I felt when I tried it in its shipped default of 13's in B.

I tend to like arch tops a bit heavier gauge though, so will probably consider going to 14's on the Hagstrom Viking Baritone instead, as I only plan to do single-note lines for the most part and more in a supporting contrapuntal role, so don't need much bend.
_________________________
Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Select J-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, RS520T, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
WX5, XK1c, Voyager

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