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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Has anyone used Dick Dale gauge strings?

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Brian wrote:

Noel, here is a post from our old Yahoo Group in which
Ivan describes his encounter with "The Beast":

http://surfguitar101.com/ygroup/thread/6240/

That's a great story !

Monkey Ju

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I'm working on a MIM 2014 Vegas Gold Stratocaster' to configureeit into a Dick Dale Beast guitar.

I went on his old site and found the string sizes he used

Originally he used Jazz Guitar sizes: 16p, 18p, 20p, 39w, 49w, 60w

In later years he lightened up a bit to: 16p, 18p, 20p. 38w, 48w, 58w.

What I found interesting is these sizes are pretty close to 10 String Pedal guitar strings - has anyone used those for a Dick Dale style application? - they are real cheap as well. The 10 string sets are even slightly heavier than the above listed sets.

I'm probably going to have to use a roller nut with really large size strings I would think.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to what's written on his site. Dick went from a .014 high E to a .016 only sometime during the 90's. Also, he went from a wound G to a plain G sometime in '63.

I've tried all the different gauges he mentioned over the years and I've settled on what I think is a very well-balanced set: .014, .018, .024w, .036, .048, .060.

https://soundcloud.com/elzeb

I made a post once addressing the Dick Dale 16-60 set and its vast imbalance of tensions along with a revised set I came up with using the D'Addario string calculator on their website. This set yields very similar tensions for each string:

14
18
22p
34
46
62

Which jives pretty closely with EL ZEB's statement. I have a set of these from Stringjoy, waiting to go on a guitar that's currently in pieces.

I had my guitar strung up with the DD 16-60 package way back when I first got into guitar, right as Dick was re-emerging in the 90s and it was hard to play. BUT--I think that was due, in no small part, to the fact that I had no idea how to set up a guitar. I didn't know about intonation and I didn't know about truss rods.

So I put 5 springs on the vibrato block and just started cranking on the tuners. It would take many passes to get the thing in proper tune, as the neck would bend to the point of equilibrium. I wish I could go back and see how much bow was in it; I never thought to look back then. But I remember it had really high action, unlike Dick's guitar, from the reports.

Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 13:21:31

The .022p is a good substitute for the .024w tension-wise if you want that loud screaming bend thing Dick loved so much. The .020p is way too loose and basically makes every chord sound out of tune if you're not careful.

https://soundcloud.com/elzeb

Thanks guys, yeah I was wondering about the stated sizes.

Yeah I was thinking about neck bend too, with the added tension etc. I was thinking about needing more strings too, I'm still trying to gather all the info before I start any mods

I was trying to find strings those sizes mentioned and only found 10 string Pedal Guitar combos etc, not sure if the strings are long enough or if slide guitar is shorter etc. still looking.

Are there any strings sets DD size you can get?

You can build any crazy set you want at Stringjoy through their website here. This is how I did mine. I haven't used them yet so I can't comment on their characteristics but hey, strings are strings, right?

https://www.stringjoy.com/guitarstrings/strings/electric-guitar-strings/signatures-nickel-wound-electric-guitar-strings/single-electric-strings/single-string/

If you really want a set, this comes close, just ditch the high E : https://www.ernieball.com/guitar-strings/electric-guitar-strings/slinky-nickel-wound-electric-guitar-strings/7-string#P02620

I order single strings straight from Pyramid, the "superior quality" kind, wich are pure nickel over a hex core. They also have pure nickel over a round core but these cost much more and only go up to .056.

https://soundcloud.com/elzeb

Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 16:42:32

ELZEB wrote:

I wouldn't pay too much attention to what's written on his site.

I would agree with that. Big Grin

Dick went from a .014 high E to a .016 only sometime during the 90's. Also, he went from a wound G to a plain G sometime in '63.

Now, this I find an interesting claim! Are you sure about that? How do you know? The reason I ask is that I've used Roto Purples 12-52 forever, and those strings come with a wound G. So, you don't have to have a super heavy-gauge string set to still use a wound G.

(I did get to play The Beast for a little while back in '03 or '04, hanging out back stage with Dusty and Sam Bolle before a DD show in Detroit. The guitar was just lying there, so I asked them if I could check it out, and they said yes, just don't let Dick see you! Big Grin I think it had a wound G, but I'm not 100% sure, it was too long ago.)

Ivan
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I'm pretty positive that Dick rolled with a plain G, Ivan. I think he said so in interviews bu also, look at pictures of his bridge. You can't really tell by the string itself but the position of the saddle is the tell. A wound G makes you move the saddle waaay forward to intonate.

Here's a pic of my own wound G guitar's bridge to illustrate. Nevermind the dust...

image

Versus Dick's G, which is back in the typical spot.
image
image

Last edited: Nov 12, 2019 15:41:53

IvanP wrote:

Now, this I find an interesting claim! Are you sure about that? How do you know? The reason I ask is that I've used Roto Purples 12-52 forever, and those strings come with a wound G. So, you don't have to have a super heavy-gauge string set to still use a wound G.

(I did get to play The Beast for a little while back in '03 or '04, hanging out back stage with Dusty and Sam Bolle before a DD show in Detroit. The guitar was just lying there, so I asked them if I could check it out, and they said yes, just don't let Dick see you! Big Grin I think it had a wound G, but I'm not 100% sure, it was too long ago.)

I know the strings were real think for sure.

I got this from his site

" He makes time to endorse some of his favorite products, including Dean Markley strings, Dale's string sizes are 16p, 18p, 20p. 38w, 48w, 58w...they use to be 39w, 49w, 60w.....he says he's getting lazy now. Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Graphtech String Saddles, Billabong clothing and Australia's Ugg Boot Company. Perhaps his most prominent endorsement would have to be for Fender Musical Instruments. Because of the popularity of Dale's signature playing, Fender added to their inventory of guitars, the making of the Dick Dale Signature Stratocaster which seems to be a favorite amongst the Dick Dale guitar players. John English, Fender's custom guitar maker set out to the task of building Dale's Signature Stratocaster guitar with Dale being the overseer. To be included with his favorites was the honor distinction to be the first musician ever to be endorsed by Telex Corp. Using the Telex FMR450 Digital Wireless which has made it possible for Dale to play his guitar walking into the audience."

Ok this might be part of the whole myth thing but its on his site though. link here: http://www.dickdale.com/history.html

14th paragraph down from the top - it could be typo but I know they were real thick strings - Dunno really for sure

Redfeather wrote:

I'm pretty positive that Dick rolled with a plain G, Ivan. I think he said so in interviews bu also, look at pictures of his bridge. You can't really tell by the string itself but the position of the saddle is the tell. A wound G makes you move the saddle waaay forward to intonate.

Here's a pic of my own wound G guitar's bridge to illustrate. Nevermind the dust...

I might add that Dick might have had that type G string in the early 2000's. I know he changed to graphite saddles some time around there so was probably trying out different strings etc (Ok I'm only guessing) but it makes sense to change the strings if the saddles were different then etc

I probably could lighten up a bit on string size and use a some kind of pedal to get that deep tone instead of killing my fingers with pipes on the fret board, not sure if that would work though.

I think it just comes down to what each player likes string size or even use too. Its a trade off in style of surf as well, Strings this thick limit you to pretty much DD style surf I would think.

This maybe crazy, but you could go even bigger with a steal pedal guitar set, I'm still trying to find out if there long enough.

Last edited: Nov 12, 2019 16:07:15

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/s93CPbqv8_PYHLWGg9uQfQ--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTY0MDtoPTc0Ny4yMjcwODY5ODE5MDMx/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/bDER_OS1d5CwS8vES40p.g--~B/aD0yMDAwO3c9MTcxMztzbT0xO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/homerun/people_218/6a7273cd07cafdd19b52290f26f2fd6d

This is as far as I know the earliest pic where he has a plain G. Look closely at the difference in shade between the wound and plain strings, especially on the fretboard near his left hand. (He is bending the G string downward)

On Ed Sullivan I'm pretty sure he still uses a wound G. At certain points the strings face the spotlight and if you pause at the right time you can clearly see the light reflecting off the B and high E string, but not the G.

https://soundcloud.com/elzeb

Last edited: Nov 13, 2019 09:58:52

I've been using 0.16p , 0,18p , 0,20p ,39w, 49w ,60w on my Jazzmaster for a while now, I am surprised how easy it is to play with these gauges. The sound is formidable. I will never go back to lighter strings.

I put 16 flatwounds on my Strat. Never needs tuning, sounds killer, and fast staccato/trem picking is much easier because the strings have very give, or, 'bounce' - if that makes sense. I put 14's on my Jaguar and they feel light.

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