Which gauge guitar strings for Drop A# should I use?
May 7, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Which gauge guitar strings for Drop A# should I use?

My band plays in Drop A# (A♯-F-A♯-D♯-G-C) and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for some good strings I can try out?

We've played in this tuning for years and i've used a lot of different brands but i've never really settled on one. We use 6 string guitars, so any 7 string sets I just throw away the thinnest string.
I've used D'addario 62's, Knucklehead Heavy 7 String 62's, and i'm currently using Zakk Wylde 60's. D'addario's are good, nice bright sound and I like the wound 4th strings but they are quite expensive as it's a 7 set, Knuckleheads are OK but they definitely break way too often so I won't be buying them again, Zakk Wylde's are cool but yeah I don't feel they are the best and there's no wound 4th. I've used other brands but those are the main ones.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to any other brands/gauges I could try? Thanks!
posted by rinsemedown to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Two options that come to mind: First, get single bass strings in the gauges you need, and just cut them down to length. You'll need to get your intonation and action redone after making that big of a string gauge change, though - any reputable guitar shop can do that for you.

Alternately, save up and buy a baritone guitar, with a longer scale that is designed to be tuned to a low A.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2011

Just for reference, your drop A# tuning is a half-step sharp from the open A string on a bass guitar tuned to an A440 reference. That string, on my standard scale bass, is an .085 - you might want to start from there and experiment a bit.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:54 PM on May 7, 2011

Seconding deadmessenger here: Get yourself a baritone guitar. Standard scale lengths can only flex so far before you start running into serious intonation issues. However, you say you've been playing in this tuning for years, so who am I to judge.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing strings is that there are, IIRC, only two or three factories in the world that make 90% of the guitar strings you're likely to see. Most brands are pretty much identical, except so far as they ask the factory for different specifications, coverings, winding, etc. There's really no magic.

Wound 4th is definitely the only way to go with such heavy gauges. I advise you to experiment with buying singles instead of whole sets. Brand really isn't important.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 5:49 AM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: I've had my Ibanez RG tuned down to B standard for years without a problem.

Whilst a baritone is good advice and will add clarity to your setup, I haven't found it to be the big problem some pople make it out to be.

I'm in England so the brands may have different ranges, but I've used without problem:

D'Addario EJ22 Jazz Medium Wound 3rd
13 17 26 36 46 56

Dean Markley BSLTHB7 7 String Light Top Heavy Bottom
10 13 17 30 42 52 60
(Bottom 6 of this set)

I've also seen DR make a Drop-Down Tuning set, which gets really heavy
DDT13 Mega Heavy
13 17 22 42 56 65
posted by chrispy108 at 10:29 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments!

I've decided against using any string that aren't wound 4th now as plain strings are too thin and just don't hold the tension and sound dreadful.

I'm not sure about a baritone guitar, I have enough guitars as it is, and I don't think the tuning really calls for one, I just get my guitars set up so the intonation/action etc is cool. I may consider getting a baritone at some point though.

Chrispy - I'm in England too and i'm definitely going to try those Dean Markley's out! Cheers!
posted by rinsemedown at 2:48 PM on May 21, 2011

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