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Low Tuning, Heavy gauge strings. Action?


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Hey guys, 


I have searched the forums for this topic and haven't found anything. 

So I want to play some of the amazing metal customs that you've all worked so hard to create. However, some songs require a very low tuning (B standard) like Amon Amarth , (B drop A) like Slipknot for instance.


I would like to put some heavy gauge strings on my guitar.  I have another guitar I'm willing to do this with.

My question is, do I have to raise the action on this guitar to tune so low, even with heavy gauge strings? What gauge would you use? What advice can you give?

Thank you so much!


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I got 0.11 gauge strings on my Les Paul, they work very well for low tunings like B Standard, Drop A or Drop B, but when i tune down to A, Rocksmith doesn't recognise very well when i play

Also i use my LP for E Standard and other tunings, and playing bends on it is a pain on my fingers

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I'm much more of a bass dude now, but here's a lesson that I learned the hard way back when I was playing mostly guitar:


If you put on heavy-gauge strings for low tunings, be very very careful if you ever tune back up to E Standard.  I got a set of strings designed for Drop C or lower and then tuned back up to E Standard and let my guitar sit a while.  When I came back to it, the tension had cracked and destroyed the 3 lowest tuning heads ... granted, they were crappy pot-metal ones that came with my Epiphone Korina Explorer, so better ones might handle the strain better.  But, probably best not to push your luck.


The good news was that I learned how to change out the tuners and put better quality ones in.  Live and learn...

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Milkman Dan

My YouTube channel  (bass playthrough videos)

My Customs Download Folder  (my customs)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I'll also say I've got an epi special, the cheapest guitar epiphone has ever made, with .013 guage. 26w on the g or you'll never intonate the damn thing. I've never had a problem. I usually keep the guitar at d standard, but it's functioned fine at e. It's a risk, but not one you should really worry about that much. I like these for low tunings http://www.daddario.com/DADProductDetail.Page?ActiveID=3769&productid=67&productname=ECG26_Chromes_Flat_Wound__Medium__13_56

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  • 1 month later...

Couple of other things to watch for.


If you're putting heavy gauge strings on something with a trem, you may need to adjust the spring tension to get the trem properly balanced. This is pretty simple(open the back cover, adjust the screws securing the claw to the body).


Also, depending how the nut is cut, much larger strings may require some of the slots to be widened, which is really best done with both experience and the correct tools.

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  • 10 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Yes, be careful with heavy gauge... I use DR DDT on all my bass'.  If you are using stock tuners they are likely to eventually give out if you are pushing them back up to standard tuning (As I do).  I recently had a peg sheer off which made a rather exciting popping sound as the string and peg went flying.


To remedy this I have cannibalized the tuners off a 5 string for the higher tension pegs on the 4 strings.  I would imagine this is one of those questions that will vary wildly based on your guitars tuners and age.   As  dazedandbemused said be careful with the nut too.  I destroyed one of those and had to replace it . If you go too far you will have a nasty buzz that can basically only be properly remedied by replacing the nut. 


My guitar player also uses the E.B.  "Skinny Top Heavy Bottom" strings suggested by MOZ.  Though he can generally tune down to B and notes recognize OK they are pretty sloppy tension wise.  C standard is the lowest he like to play on them and that is even pushing it. 

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