Originally Posted by (brian2 @ April 07 2004, 17:44)
In a word... no. Bear with my over-simplification...
The heavier the string gauge, the more tension (string tightness) is required to hold it at the proper pitch. The greater the tension, the more pressure is exerted by the string down through the bridge and, in turn, onto the top of your mando. The more pressure on the top of your mando, the greater the tendency for it to vibrate and compress the air inside. The more the air inside compresses and vibrates, the "bigger" the sound that comes out of the holes!
Not to bore you with numbers, but...
the tension numbers across a set of J74s run from a low of 19.7 lbs. to a high of 24.6 lbs. If you switch to a lighter set of D'Addario's, say J62s, those tension numbers now run from a low of 15.8 lbs. to a high of 18.6 lbs... on average, a reduction of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 percent in string tension - significantly easier on the fingers (and your mando!), but not as conducive to creating the all-important "vibes" that your mando needs to sound its best. That's why string selection is a give-and-take, my friend.
If you do decide to go with a lighter set of strings, I'd recommend some experimentation - try playing them with a heavier pick to compensate - might get you kinda back in the ballpark soundwise.
Best solution? Work on those callouses!
Happy pickin', Bri!
"Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." -Bob Dylan