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Anyone use 8-38 or even 7-38 gauge strings, in STANDARD TUNING, 6-string, with Floyd?

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  • Anyone use 8-38 or even 7-38 gauge strings, in STANDARD TUNING, 6-string, with Floyd?

    My usual setup is 6-string, standard tuning, with a Floyd. With this, I've never gone lighter than a 9-42 set, and all strings sets have 3 plain strings and 3 wound strings (no wound G strings for me please) but am curious to try.

    Many manufacturers have 8-38 gauge string sets. Ernie Ball's set is 8, 11, 14, 22w, 30, 38. D'Addario's set is 8, 10, 15, 21, 30, 38. Dunlop's set is 8, 10, 12, 20, 30, 40. Any problems leveling the Floyd in standard tuning with these sets?

    Only one manufacturer I can find (Dunlop, whose strings I have never tried) has two seemingly identical 7-38 gauge sets, the Performance+ ( and the Billy Gibbons ( These sets are 7, 9, 11, 20, 30, 38. Any problems leveling the Floyd in standard tuning with this outrageously light set?

    This post is inspired by the video attached below.

  • #2
    I can't see why there would be a problem with leveling the floyd unless the claw screws are too short, in which case you could get longer ones. hooke's law and the ideal string law still apply, so smaller gauge just means less tension. but the tension is still positive which means the level-point spring extension is still positive.

    there are really only two things I would be worried about with a floyd and light strings. 1. the high e not being clamped well enough and potentially popping out, and 2. the tuning stability not being as good around the level point as with bigger strings. regarding 1, though, I would expect the tolerances on an OFR to be high enough that it wouldn't be an issue.

    but regardless of the theory, I too would be very interested in knowing anybody's actual experience with ultra light strings.
    Last edited by metalhobo; 07-24-2021, 12:03 PM.


    • #3
      Thanks, your first concern is something I hadn't considered, that the string is so thin that might slip out of the saddle even with the best clamping efforts (and it is recommended to NOT overtighten the saddle lock block in the first place).

      After some research, I cannot find the 7-gauge string sets locally. The 8-gauge sets are plentiful so maybe I'll start with that, and less chance of an 8-gauge string slipping out of the saddle than a 7-gauge string.

      Imagine the ridiculous bending ability on a short scale guitar like the Jackson Minion, Ibanez MiKro, or Squier Mini series, using 7-gauge strings, tuned down as low as you can while maintaining some semblance of string tension.


      • #4
        I used 8's years ago. My only tuning then was Eb. I had Kahler, Floyd, 'others', and none. Most guitars were 25.5" but I had 25" and 24.75".
        I had no problems - other than strings breaking.
        They were hard to regularly find back then. Add in the fact that I had an acoustic, it just made more sense to use the 9's that I could always find and were closer to the acoustic size.

        *Today, I have settled on 9's (sometimes 10's) tuned in E and Eb (and the occasional 'job requirement' tuning).


        • #5
          I find that string breakage was more common during my beginner phase, but seldom happened after a couple years of learning and almost never happens these days (been playing 20 years). Other things that help include a good setup to minimize rough frets, reducing/eliminating friction at the nut/saddles, properly stretching newly installed strings, etc., things that a beginner might not even realize are accelerating string breakage.

          Assuming you long passed that rampant string-breaking phase by the time you were switching between different gauges, did you find on average that you were still breaking more 8-sets than 9s and 10s while tuned to standard?


          • #6
            Originally posted by Number Of The Priest View Post
            I find that string breakage was more common during my beginner phase
            I didn't want to get into that aspect of it. Otherwise, I could have given a very long answer.

            Originally posted by Number Of The Priest View Post
            Assuming you long passed that rampant string-breaking phase by the time you were switching between different gauges, did you find on average that you were still breaking more 8-sets than 9s and 10s while tuned to standard?
            While I still consider myself a beginner in terms of the science of repairs and maintenance, as a player I never considered myself a beginner because things happened so quickly for me.
            But, yes, 30 years ago, I was much younger and was a much 'fresher' player.

            However, I was definitely breaking more 8s than 9s --- high E, obviously.
            But I am trying to remember (foggy memory and numerous guitars) which guitars may have been ball end breaks, and which would have been double locking floyd style.


            • #7
              The good news - thinner strings provide better tone.


              • #8
                I have been using eb 008 since 88' Only seem to break strings at the ball end on my kahler equipped guitars if the ball end is not solderd. If you have clamping problems, you have bridge or lock problems. Only thing I notice switching gauges is the distance you have to bend the string to reach said pitch, and how they effect my old fingers. 008 with low tuning for me means more play time before pain sets in.


                • #9
                  An update. For about five years I've used D'Addario 9-46 strings on my Shannon Soloist. Tonight I finally got around to installing Ernie Ball 8-38 strings. I prefer D'Addario but my local store only has 8-38 from Ernie Ball and no 7-gauge sets that inspired this topic in the first place.

                  It is awesome and there were zero problems.

                  Standard tuning, three trem springs in a \|/ pattern, trem claw screws were long enough for me to back them out a little bit to level the Floyd, and very little other adjustments overall. The 8-gauge high E string is clamped securely in the saddle with no indication that its inherent thinness would cause it to slip out of the saddle.

                  Tuning stability is solid after stretching the strings.

                  Playability is ridiculous and I'm flying all over the fretboard. Bending up a fourth on the plain strings is easily achievable although I don't really have a need to do that. Fatigue is dramatically reduced and I feel like I could play for hours.

                  Over the 17+ years I've owned this guitar, I've used 10-46, 9-46, and now 8-38, and the lightest set feels the best. I wonder why I didn't go lighter much sooner. (All three sets were compatible with three trem springs installed, with no need to add or remove springs.)

                  None of this should have come as a surprise to me since, in the weeks leading up to this 8-38 string experiment, I already transitioned some of my E-flat guitars from 10-46 to 9-42. Standard tuning with 8-38 has a similar feel to E-flat with 9-42.

                  Eventually I will transition the rest of my standard-tuned guitars to 8-38.


                  • #10
                    Good to know. I prefer 9-46 but may head lower as well, but I have lots of sets to get thru first.


                    • #11
                      Mickey said to Rocky “For a 45 minute fight, you gotta train hard for 45,000 minutes! 45,000!”
                      Runners and swimmers train with weights attached to increase resistance so that when it comes time for the actual race, the same amount of exertion results in faster speed times.

                      That's all that's happening here. You are lowering the amount of effort needed to play the same thing.


                      • #12
                        Switched to 8s earlier this year. I use E standard and E flat Standard mostly and think they are a joy to play IMO.

                        I tried switching my hard tail soloist to 8s and tuning to Drop D flat. It was a little too spaghetti-like.

                        Now I have 12 boxes of D’Addario 9s that I am not using.
                        Last edited by CaptNasty; 09-05-2021, 07:59 PM.


                        • #13
                          Wow that was a damn interesting read. I didn't realize they were making stings in smaller gauges like that. The results are intriguing too. Most of my guitars have 10's on them but I've recently set a couple up with 9's. I may have to try a set of 8's for shits and giggles. I play rhythm so other than the occasional noodling you'll never hear me play lead and really give my fingers a workout.

                          Thanks for the posts though as it's certainly interesting to hear your all's results.


                          • #14
                            I would be interested in trying out 8-42 in standard tuning, but I would be more interested if somebody made 8-46. no way would I gel with a 38 string on the bottom!


                            • #15
                              In 198x, we could only buy what our local stores carried. Face it, most small town mom and pop shops weren't going to keep 8s in stock.
                              But then Musician's Friend (the catalog) came about. And today we have the internet.

                              Things have become readily accessible to us today that some of us never even knew existed back then.
                              For example - D'Addario makes a 7. They also make an 8.5. Like, seriously - 8.5? Because 0.008" is too light and 0.009" is too heavy?

                              They do make 'heavy bottom' sets, but not of the 8. You can get a 9-49, but not a 8-42.

                              However, the internet, or maybe a local store - why not buy some singles to make your own.
                              I bought them from MF. Not just singles, bulk singles. A dozen 9s in a plastic sleeve. You can wrap up six 12 packs in the headstock section of a case much easier than fitting 12 square packs.