Action height & string gauge
How many times have we all heard the ‘you must have heavy strings and a high action to get good tone’ discussions whenever this topic is discussed? As usual, there is no single correct answer. Admittedly, SRV probably wouldn’t have sounded as magnificent using 9-42 with a low action. His heavy picking technique would have them flapping and pinging off the frets, robbing his tone of all richness and body. Conversely, playing that same Strat with SRV’s set-up, anything but a bold attack would sound very ‘under-cooked’ – all that extra mass would count for little if you didn’t get it moving. Some country players get a much better snap and twang out of their Teles with lighter strings and wouldn’t enjoy a gig on 11-52s. In conclusion, there is a balance between the considerations of your personal technique, action height and string gauge that sounds (and feels) right to you. Hopefully, these exercises will help you make that choice out of preference rather than necessity, or some preconceived notion that may apply to players other than you.