How to Choose Acoustic Guitar Strings

Guitar-StringsIf you want to be a serious guitarist, you have to learn how to choose acoustic guitar strings because this is crucial in maintaining the tone of your guitar.

If you’re buying guitar strings for the first time, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. You have to figure out which are the best acoustic guitar strings for beginners.

Here are a few tips and tricks for figuring out which among the rest are the top-rated acoustic guitar strings.

Deciding between Steel vs. Nylon

Using acoustic guitar strings on classical guitars will ruin the neck because the tension of the guitar necks and strings are different. You can’t use classical guitar strings on an acoustic guitar as well.

Nylon strings are normally used on classical guitars. The bass strings are made of nylon fibers, but it looks like metal from the outside.

Steel strings are normally used on acoustic guitars. This article will mainly focus on choosing the right steel strings for your acoustic guitars.

If you’re someone who plays a lot in front of an audience, you may opt for an 80/20 bronze because phosphor strings last longer.

How the Strings Affect Your Guitar’s Sound

Silk and steel, phosphor bronze, and bronze are the top three commonly used materials.

Silk and Steel Strings

These strings generally produce a mellow sound. It has less tension, and the sound comes in lighter gauges.

Silk and steel strings are perfect for vintage guitars especially those that require special strings. These are much more quiet, less durable, and easy to play.

Phosphor Bronze Strings

These are bronze strings with phosphor. These are perfect for all styles.

It typically lasts longer than bronze strings, and the sound it produces is much warmer.

Bronze Strings

Sometimes called 80/20 bronze. These are made up of 20% zinc, 80% copper.

Pretty much like the phosphor bronze strings, these are also perfect for all styles.

The sound it produces is bright which fades away quickly after a few hours of playing. Bronze strings are the most commonly used strings.

Brass Strings

Brass is another example of a string material; however, these are rarely seen on acoustic guitars.

These are metallic sounding strings that are bright and jangly.

Nylon Strings

Nylon strings are typically used in classical guitars but to give you an overview; classical guitar strings consist of different tensions.

Light tension strings are easier to play; however, you may get some buzz; Medium tension strings have a consistent tone.

Treble nylon guitar strings are made of rectified nylon while clear nylon strings are extruded and calibrated for accuracy purposes.

Checking the Gauge

When checking the gauge of the string, you check how thick the string is.

This is usually measured by the diameter of the first string, the high-E string, in thousandths of an inch.

The gauges are listed in numbers, such as .01, .010, .009, or in words like medium, light, extra light – or both!

The higher the gauge, the thicker the string, the more it has volume, the longer it can sustain a warm tone. However, these are harder to play because of the required force for bending and fretting the strings.

Lighter gauges are easier to play. They sound thinner and would sometimes buzz.

Here’s a rundown on the guitar strings:

  • Extra light: .010 .014 .023 .030 .039 .047
  • Custom light: .011 .015 .023 .032 .042 .052
  • Light: .012 .016 .025 .032 .042 .054
  • Medium: .013 .017 .026 .035 .045 .056
  • Heavy: .014 .018 .027 .039 .049 .059

Deciding between Strings With or Without Coating

Strings with coating usually last longer. It creates a smooth texture that not all guitarist like.

Coated strings resist rust which is why they last longer. They also cost more than regular strings.

With the technological advancements, the coated strings have a bit less sustain; however, they can last three or four times longer. There are also cryogenically frozen guitar strings which have lengthened lifespan that does not affect its sustain or tone.

Packaging of the Strings

The packaging of the strings may seem irrelevant; however, new developments allow the packaging to influence the strings’ reaction to rust.

There are certain types of packaging that are more eco-friendly while some can keep the strings fresh.

Checking the Price

It is always important to remember that not all inexpensive strings are of low-quality. Buy strings that you can afford.

Visit review sites and guides to see which strings represent a higher value.

Bronze strings are the least expensive; the coated strings, as well as the cryogenically frozen strings, are the most.

Visiting the Music Store

Visiting the music store and checking out the guitar strings for yourself is one of the best ways to see which one you’d prefer.

Test out different types of strings, gauges, and materials to get a feel for it. You can ask the music store staff for assistance, or you can ask your friends for recommendations.

It is advisable that you pick out two brands minimum, and compare and contrast them. Repeat this process step until you’ve found a few types and a few brands you like.

Question: What type of guitar strings should a 12-year old use?

Light gauge strings are the most recommended strings for beginners because these are easily controlled and manipulated by the fingers.

Things to Remember:

  • Do not use steel strings on classical guitars; do not use nylon strings on a steel-string acoustic.
  • The light bronze strings or the phosphor bronze strings are the most recommended strings for beginners.
  • You can imitate a particular sound of a band if you copy the same type of strings they use.
  • Flat wound strings tend to squeak less and are not that rough as compared to round wound strings.

When it comes to knowing how to choose acoustic guitar strings, it is important never to stop trying different brands. You’ll never know when a new line of strings that may be more to your liking may come out.

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