Electric Guitar Strings Comparison
|Gauge||0.010 – 0.046||0.011 – 0.049||0.010 – 0.046||0.010 – 0.046||0.010 – 0.046||0.010 – 0.046||0.009 – 0.042||0.010 – 0.046||0.07-0.038||0.010 – 0.046|
Electric Guitar Strings Buying Guide
How Often Should Electric Guitar Strings be Replaced?
How often you change your strings will depend on several factors, one of the most important being how you play. If you strum the strings hard or have a lot of dirt and oil on your hands, the strings will wear out sooner. Additional factors include the quality of the strings the player uses and if they play every day or not. The majority of guitar players keep at least one extra set of strings in their guitar case for necessary string changes.
How to Know if the Strings Need Changing?
There are several things you want to look at to determine if it’s time to change your electric guitar strings. We have outlined these things below.
- They sound dull
- They look dirty
- They are rusty
- Something just feels off when you play
- You’re getting ready to perform and don’t want to risk a string breaking during the performance
- The guitar won’t hold a tune sufficiently
Types of strings
There are a few different kinds of electric guitar strings available.
- Nickel wound
- Plain steel
The thing that determines which ones you use is personal preference, overall. Each type of guitar strings will have a different sound. Different types of strings will be better for certain types of music. Try different types and see which ones you like the feel and sound of the most.
Different Types of String Gauges
There are 5 basic gauges of electric guitar strings: extra super light, super light, light, medium, and heavy. The gauge has to do with the diameter of the string. In general, the lighter gauge string you use the easier it is on your fingers. It is always better for a new player to start with a lighter gauge string and then work up to the heavier gauges as you gain experience. The gauge of the string that you choose has a large influence on both playability and sound. We have outlined some specifics of lighter gauge strings and heavier gauge strings so you can tell the difference.
Light Gauge Strings:
- Easier to play and good for beginners
- Allows easier fretting and bending of the notes
- Produce less volume as well as sustain
- Produces less tension on the neck of the guitar (very good for vintage guitars)
- Can break more easily
- Can cause fret buzzing
Heavy Gauge Strings:
- Harder to play and not a good choice for beginners
- Needs more finger pressure to bend notes and fret
- Produces more volume and sustain
- A better choice for low tunings (like drop D)
- Applies more pressure to the neck of the guitar
How Strings are Wound
All three types of electric guitar strings are wound differently to produce a sound that is unique to the type of string it is. Winding is how the material the string is made of is wrapped around the lower strings of the guitar. There are three types of windings that are the most common:
- Roundwound – This is the most common winding. The core of each string is round steel wire that has rounded wire wrapped around it the length of the string.
- Flatwound – Bass guitar players and jazz musicians tend to like flatwound strings. A round wire is wrapped in flat wire which provides the player with a mellow, tonal quality that lends itself well to jazz and blues music.
Flatwound strings are more expensive than the ones that are round wound. Another benefit to flatwound strings is that they are easier to play for longer periods of time and cause less noise and wearing on the fretboard.
- Halfwound – Sometimes half wound guitar strings are called semi-flat wound. They are made using the same round wound process but will have heavier gauge wire for the wrapping that is filed down to feel flat. These are a rare kind of string that is not easy to find and are more expensive as well.
Considerations when Shopping for Electric Guitar Strings
There are a few different things you will want to keep in mind when you start shopping for electric guitar strings. More than likely, you will end up experimenting with different types of strings to find the sound that you prefer. Different guitar players will prefer different sounds so what works for one may not appeal to another.
- The type of music that you will be playing most often
- Your budget
- How often you will be playing
- Is your playing for recreation or performance?
These factors above will help direct you towards the right strings for your personal preferences and needs. Make sure that the strings you choose do not exceed your budget. You don’t want to choose strings that are too expensive to purchase when you need to replace them.
Guitar String Maintenance
Once you buy your electric guitar strings you will need to keep the long term maintenance up as well as the replacements when needed. Here are some things you can do to extend the life of your strings.
- Keep the guitar strings clean and dry
- Keep at least one extra set of strings on hand in case of accidental breakage
- Change the strings when you feel wear on the existing ones (rough spots, dirt on the strings, etc)
Electric guitar strings are an investment in the quality and sound of music that you produce when you play. Get a low quality, cheap set of strings and the sound will show it. The opposite is true as well. While strings can make you a better player, what they will do is make the best of your skill and practice and make your hard work worth it.
With the information contained in this buyer’s guide you will be able to sort through the different gauges and brands and make a confident decision that you will be very happy with. Having the right facts and knowledge can make you feel assured that you know what you are looking for and how to best choose the strings that will complement the type of music that you play or are learning to play.