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Electric Guitar Strings

There are many factors to consider when choosing strings for your electric guitar. Tone and playability are affected quite significantly by the characteristics of your chosen strings.

There are many companies that make electric guitar strings and they are all different in their manufacturing and design process, leaving you with hundreds of options.

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing electric guitar strings is the string gauge. This refers to how thick the strings are. Guitar string gauges are measured in thousands of an inch.

Light (thin) gauge strings

  • Require less pressure to fret
  • Easier to play and bend, making them ideal for beginners
  • Cause less tension on the neck of the guitar
  • Can be more prone to breaking
  • Produce less sustain and volume
  • Not ideal for drop tunings – will cause fret buzz

Heavy (thick) gauge strings

  • Require more pressure to fret
  • Are generally harder to play and bend
  • Cause more tension on the neck of the guitar
  • Produce more sustain and volume
  • Stronger, making them less prone to breaking
  • Ideal for drop tunings - suitable for metal players and fans of alternate tunings

Electric guitar strings can be made out of a number of conductive metal alloys. Different constructive materials all have their unique tonal qualities and will have an effect on the sound of your instrument:

Pure nickel strings

  • Warmer and less bright than nickel plated strings

Nickel-plated steel strings

  • A balance of warmth and brightness
  • More attack

Chrome strings

  • Warm and less resonant
  • Favoured by many jazz guitarists

Stainless steel strings

  • Crisp, bright tone
  • Less prone to finger noise
  • Strong sustain

Cobalt strings

  • Bright
  • Wide dynamic range

Titanium strings

  • Bright
  • Incredibly strong
  • There are also a number of different types of string winding to consider when purchasing new strings:

Roundwound

  • Produce more attack and sustain
  • Produce more finger noise

Halfwound

  • Less attack and brightness than roundwound strings

Flatwound

  • Dark tone
  • Less responsive to dynamic playing
  • Popular with jazz guitarists