How to choose Electric Guitar Strings

How to choose Electric Guitar Strings

Electric guitars are designed to be plugged into a guitar amplifier for louder playing, the sound is generated by the strings, sensed by the pickups and transmitted electronically to the amplifiers

There are many options of strings for electric guitars, including pure nickel, nickel plated, stainless steel and cobalt strings. All of these types of metal give a different sound depending on how they react to the pickup - the primary component of the electric guitar.

 What are differences between the metals?

From Ernie Ball we have

  • Original Slinky – a wound Nickel string, the worlds favourite Electric Guitar string with a bright balanced tone and slinky feel
  • Slinky Cobalt – Cobalt alloy, provides a higher output, enhanced flexibility, superior clarity and increased low end
  • Slinky M-Steel – a steel super alloy used in aerospace, gives maximum output, superior low-end and improved tuning capability

Here is a comparison video of these 3 types

And from D’Addario we have

  • XL Nickel Wound – strings with long lasting, distinctive bright tone and excellent intonation,
  • NYXL Strings - break-resistant, high-carbon steel core and plain steel alloy delivers a whole new level of freedom, confidence, and power. These strings will bend farther, sing louder, and stay in tune better

What brand should you buy?

This is also a personal preference and you should be aware that these too have different gauges of strings, the thicker the gauge, the heavier and harder the string will feel to fret, but also the better, clearer and louder they will sound.

As a Beginner it is best start with light gauge 9-42 strings ("9" being the thinnest string - the "E" 1st string, and "42" being the thickest string - the "E" top 6th string). This will let your hand adjust to pressing steel strings. For a beginner the feeling the steel of strings will be very noticeable, maybe even a little painful.

As and intermediate or advanced player, you will often already gone through you trial of what you like or don't like in brands and gauges, knowing that 11-50 or 12-54 gauge strings of any brand will sound louder and clearer. There are also gauges for tuning down to alternative guitar tunings, like Drop D or C.

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