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It Might Get Loud

While we were putting together this month’s feature on tone, a topic came up that’s been debated quite a few times in the Guitarist office. Namely, if heavy strings purportedly deliver a bigger, fuller sound than light ones, how is it that some of the players with the biggest tone in history got away with light strings? Billy Gibbons, BB King, Jimi… the list goes on. So what’s going on? Picking up this old chestnut with Daniel Steinhardt of TheGigRig and That Pedal Show (a man who knows a thing or

two about tone), we speculated that volume might be key – and that in certain scenarios the very lightness of the strings might make them more interactive with the field of sound generated by a loud amp. “There was a stage when Hendrix was using really thin strings,” Dan observes. “I had a conversation with Roger Mayer about this, because I couldn’t quite believe he wasn’t using a heavier set – but no, he was using eights. Unbelievable. So he was epically loud, and that’s a big thing. I can’t see another way to do it – because it’s that dynamic interaction with the amplifier, the sound pressure level, and the guitar.”

So, light strings or not, if you’ve never played in the sound field of a really loud cranked stack, do try it sometime (ideally with ear protection…). It might just open the door to a whole new dimension of tone that brings the guitar fully to life – giving you more confidence when letting rip with a cranked amp in future. Enjoy the issue and see you next month.

Jamie Dickson Editor

Editor’s Highlights

Zappa on Zappa We join Dweezil Zappa to find out how he recreated the guitar sounds of his father’s classic 1969 album, Hot Rats, 50 years on p76

J Mascis, Unplugged We join the unconventional indie icon to talk about using vintage Gibson acoustics on the road, as well as taking a close look at his pedal-centric live rig p48

Royal Rumble Lots of guitarists also have an interest in the low side of the musical road. If you’re one of them, you need to check out the glorious vintage basses on p100

Cover & bag photo of Frank Zappa by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images; cover photo of David Gilmour by Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images; cover photo of Gary Moore by David Warner Ellis/Redferns/Getty Images