Extra light strings

Hello community :slight_smile:

I’ve read in few places that extra light strings are a bit more forgiving to untrained fingers. Is that so and did you change the original strings that came with your guitar?

Also, did you send your guitar for a proper set up by a luthier? Does that make a difference in terms of playability?



setup most definitely helps (if it needs it). im think of trying the lighter strings as well once i get a lil more advanced on the electric….heard it helps a lot with bends, but im not there yet. im still at the acoustic stage. if you change the gauge by a wide margin from what the guitar was setup for you might need the truss rod adjusted (different string tension) or the nut adjusted.

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Yavor, yes to taking it for a proper setup as that can make a world of difference.

Try different strings and find out what you like but if you do a big jump in string size you may well have to adjust your truss rod. Plenty of help on the internet on how to do that.

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Lighter strings do make a difference. It all depends on the guitar, though. Acoustic or electric?

“Extra light” is a bit ambiguous. Better to talk in terms of string sizing.

My first cheapie acoustic came with 12s and was hard to play. I changed it to 11s and was way, way easier. It didn’t make sense to spend the same on a setup as the guitar cost.

Electrics are a bit different as they are lighter as standard and no need to change.

My good acoustic had a factory setup and is perfect with 12s. My good electric had a couple of issues when I bought it and now plays like a dream after a luthier setup.

My guitar came with 11 or 12 gauge strings and it was really hard to play, especially in the first fret, even though the guitar was well setup (had it in a store to check this). I changed to 10 (“extra light”) and it was a big difference. Had to accept a slight decline soundwise, tone is a little thinner. Now my hands are more used to fret, so maybe I’ll change back at a point.

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Hi Jkahn,

It is acoustic Yamaha. I was thinking 10-47.

Yes, exactly. The factory ones are 12s and 10-47 is what I think. Thanks for the reply.

I put 10s on my nieces guitar. There is a huge difference between 12s and 11s in string tension.

Whatever you choose, no harm in giving it a go. Just change strings again if you don’t like it.


I finally got my Yamaha acoustic set up recently and it made a HUGE difference for me. I’ve been playing on “custom light”/11s for strings and have not changed gauges, but the playability after the set up is much improved (can play for longer, fingers take longer to get sore). Definitely worthwhile, imo!

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For an electric, the lightest I suggest is .008 - .038. nickel wound.

For an acoustic, the lightest I suggest is .010 - .046 phosphor bronze.

I actually tried .007 - .036 once, but they were so light that this caused issues with notes going sharp when I fretted the string.

For best playability, you will need to at least adjust the truss rod when changing to lighter strings. I learned how to do my own set-up, but I’m a geek like that LOL!

If you are not comfortable working on your own guitar, I suggest you buy the strings you want, take the strings and guitar to a guitar tech, and ask them to change the strings and do a setup.

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Hi Yavor,

I go extra light on the acoustic but actually use thicker 10s or 11s on the electric.

The lighter strings certainly make it easier to play but the downside as Eddie mentioned is that you can pull the strings out of tune/pitch if you fret them too hard.

As for bends, I found that yes the strings bend more easily but you have to bend them a lot further to reach the same ‘target’ note.
Don’t listen to me though, BB king used light strings and wondered why anyone would make it hard for themselves by using heavier gauges.

A setup , especially getting the nut sorted will likely make good improvements as they usually ship on the high side (easier to leave high and trim than take too much off and have to replace).

Edit: looks like extra light is around 10 gauge for acoustic

I’m not sure how much difference string gauge really makes on an acoustic - I would rather make sure the instrument is set up correctly, with correct action etc etc. You do not tend to bend much on acoustics, and definitely not as a beginnger.

On electrics I think it’s a balance. Lighter string are (of course) easier on the fingers to bend… BUT, if you go extremely light then I actually think the guitar gets harder to play, not easier… because then you have to be super duper accurate when it comes to using the correct amount of finger pressure, and take extra great care not to pull the strings when fretting chords. I could not play with 8s, at least not in a live situation where you’re standing up and also paying attention to audience etc…


Hi Kasper,
So surprised that after all the stories I read here and above too often :flushed: … is it more the change of the neck stand/tension by lighter strings ??? or??
Thanks for sharing hopefully next month I will look for some kind of acoustic guitar,I will immediately ask for the correct setup in the business if that has not already been arranged and continue to practice a lot longer if it is a bit difficult for me… :blush:

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:heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes:

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Hi Eddie,

I already purchased 10-47 and will bring the guitar to a professional to adjust the rod and do the set up. I’m also a geek but not on fixing guitars :slight_smile: At least not yet.


Hi Liaty,

Thanks :slight_smile: I already got Elixir 10-47… will see how it’ll be. I’m not worried on fretting too hard at this stage - I’m treating the guitar quite gently, as I guess every newbie does. Later, when I gain confidence and skills to play some rock and metal, I’ll change strings again.

And yes, the action after fret 7 becomes huge, so hopefully it’ll be fixed and will make playability better.



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My acoustic guitars have a fairly low action, I’ve been able to drop from 12s to 11s successfully, but on one unit I tried 10s I started to get fret buzz. That might have been resolved with a setup but I was happy with 11s. On most of my acoustics I stick with 12s, only on my travel guitar (Journey off660) and my 97 year old parlor guitar do I stick with 11s.

HI Yavor :exclamation: The first guitar I bought was a Casino. I bought a Casino because I love that sweet sound with the fender amp. At the beginning, I had the strings changed down lighter (from 10 to 9 but y a luthier) because I injured my first finger (practicing to much and to early the bare chords…). Tendinite in the first knucle. The guitar is incredibly easier to play BUT I lost the sound I like from the Casino. Since then, my hand and my first finger got strong again, so next time I go to the luthier, I will get back the original string gage to get back that sound. Have a good day. :grinning: :smiley: :smile:

Hi Luc. This, and what all colleagues :slight_smile: above said, confirms that this will be the right thing to do, along with the proper setup. I “play” guitar from less than a week, and currently coping with those swollen fingertips, forcing myself not to overdo it. So, for me, the most important, at this stage is for the strings to be as forgiving as possible, regardless of changing the sound a bit. Plus, my guitar is with a Mahagony top, which is warm enough and hopefully will benefit as well from those 10-47s :slight_smile:


Hi Yavor ! Sounds very logic to me. Having easier strings, softer strings will help with the calusses (finger pain) and help developing a good hand position. Great ! Enjoy my friend !

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