How To Choose Strings For Electric Guitar


Need help finding The Best strings for your electric guitar? There is no doubt that the strings greatly affect the tone and playability of your electric guitar. Let’s face it, if you do not want it to be just another percussion instrument in your collection, you need some strings. While selecting the right electric guitar string may seem like a daunting task, understanding each of the factors that affect the sound of the guitar and taking the time to research and experiment can help simplify the process. Read on for tips on how to find the electric guitar strings that best fit your electric guitar and your playing style.

String Gauges

Electric guitar strings are manufactured in a range of thicknesses or calibers. These gauges are designated in thousandths of an inch. The lighter strings are typically a .008 (often called “eight” by guitarists) and the heaviest one .56 (or fifty-six). The caliber of strings has a great influence on playability and sound.

Lighter Gauge Strings:

  • allow easier bending of notes and fretting
  • produce less volume and sustain
  • break more easily
  • are usually easier to play
  • exert less tension on the guitar neck and are a safe choice for vintage guitars
  • are prone to cause fret buzzing, especially on guitars with low action

Heavier Gauge Strings:

  • are generally harder to play
  • produce more volume and sustain
  • require more finger pressure to fret and bend notes
  • exert more tension on the guitar neck
  • are preferred for low tunings such as drop D

Electric Guitar String Set Gauges

  • Extra Super Light – .008 .010 .015 .021 .030 .038
  • Super Light – .009 .011 .016 .024 .032 .042
  • Light – .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046
  • Medium – .011 .015 .018 .026 .036 .050
  • Heavy – .012 .016 .020 .032 .042 .054

General Notes On String Gauges

Staying with pre-packed string gauges is best for experimenting. These will offer the most balanced feel, tone and neck tension. If you find, however, that you prefer a heavier 4th rope, for example, move gradually. small changes have a big impact. The same goes for increasing or decreasing the number of string gauges. You may also notice that the caliber of the strings requires an adjustment of the neck or the bridge. If you are not able to do it yourself, please call a qualified repairer to do it for you.

String Material

The electric guitar strings are made of steel. The single or unwound strings and the heart of the wound strings are the same in a given set of strings. Different manufacturers offer slight variations such as tinning, but basically, this part of the chain is pretty consistent overall. Where the real differences exist are in the envelope. Nickel-plated steel is the most popular, offering a balance between a lively, soft tone and a uniform feel. Pure nickel packaging provides a feeling of warmth and softness while stainless steel is brighter and brighter. Other metal alloys are available and have variations of touch and tone. Different treatments such as a thin protective coating or cryogenic treatment can affect the tone and life of the rope. Experimenting with different materials is as simple as changing channels, no adjustment is necessary, and every manufacturer’s process and formula gives a slightly different result.

String Core

The string cores are also made of steel in most cases. The core refers to the center of the rope, with windings surrounding it to create coarser and coiled ropes. Hexagonal wires have been used in more modern rope constructions because they hold the outer windings in place and hold the chord in place.

String Winding Method

A round wire uses a round wire to wind its core, while a flat wire uses a flat wire (think of tape). The roundwound is the most popular winding means, as they are available in the widest selection of gauges and materials. They say they have a brighter tone with excellent sustain. Flatwound, favored by many jazz musicians, tends to have a softer playing feel and a darker tone. Because of their flat surface, they can also be easier for the fingers.

Shopping For Electric Guitar Strings

When shopping for electric guitar strings, it’s important to have a budget and a style of play in mind. If you are buying strings for the first time, test the different variants and find the type that suits you. Whether you’re shopping online or in a store, a good way to limit your options is to select a gauge material and size in the first place, and then move on. From the re, consider branding, winding and price. As for the price, electric guitar strings do not need to be very expensive to produce quality sound. Instead of automatically searching for the most expensive strings, spend time researching, reading reviews or talking to other guitarists.

String Durability

Another factor to consider is the frequency with which you play. If you are an occasional guitarist who plays only a few times a month and who tends to play with a light touch, you may find less expensive chords perfectly suited. On the other hand, if you are passionate about playing or playing hard and hard, high-quality, durable ropes can be a better long-term purchase. Many manufacturers classify their strings according to their durability.

What To Look For When Caring For Strings

Because electric guitar strings are made of steel, they contain iron, which corrodes when exposed to oxygen. It will not happen overnight, but the moisture and residue left by your hands can speed up the process. Fortunately, regular cleaning of your ropes will keep them longer stronger. Use a string cleaner with a special wipe or just a polishing cloth to properly care for the items. Fender also offers the Speed Slick guitar string cleaning applicator that restores and extends the life of strings by performing a few small up and down movements. Finally, do not forget to wash your hands before playing to get rid of potentially harmful oils.


Finding the strings you prefer is of course very personal and experimentation is the only way to achieve this. I found that I like different brands of strings, gauges, and materials for different guitars. Once you know what you like and how all the differences are felt and sounded, the guitar will help you choose the right choice. One last comment, how the chemical composition of your hands interacts with the material of the rope will affect the feel and the life of your strings. Different people need different strings so go out and find your favorites!