Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Play Guitar Notes
If you’re just starting out on guitar, becoming familiar with all of the different aspects of the instrument can be daunting. There’s likely a lot more to it than you may have realized.
Not only is simply learning to play an entire massive undertaking unto itself, there are also a lot of basic things about simply setting up and maintaining the instrument as well. One of the most important aspects, of course, comes in the form of the strings. There are a lot of different choices out there, and you’re likely going to need specific types depending on what guitar you have.
Certain guitars are also strung in completely different ways, especially once you start getting into the world of electrics. The way you play or the sort of sound you’re hoping to achieve will also play in part in helping determine which strings you need.
Everything from the gauges (meaning the size of the strings) to the material they’re made of can actually make a big difference. If you just grab a random set off of the rack at your local music store, you might get home and find they don’t work for you at all.
In order to help ease these woes and set you on the right path, here are the 5 best guitar strings for beginners!
1 – D’Addario Phosphor Bronze EJ16-3D Set Of 3
D’Addario is one of the most popular brands among acoustic players. There are countless guitarists that likely had D’Addario strings as their very first brand. The EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze set is perhaps their best balance of sound quality and affordable price.
The best thing about these strings besides the great price is that they sound amazing. They’ll give your playing a rich yet bright tone that will sound good for both strummings and be playing melodies.
The gauges run from .053 up to .012, meaning your notes and chords are going to resonate for a long time. The slight thickness will also help you build up your finger dexterity!
2 – Martin Phosphor Bronze MSP4150 Strings
Martin & Co is another amazing brand that makes great guitars and guitar accessories alike. Their MSP4150 guitar strings are graded for studio and stage performances. Above all else, these strings are meant to give you amazing sound.
The .055 to .0125 gauges will leave everything you play sounding as resonate as possible while still being just light enough not to hurt your fingers too much when you’re starting out. The shimmering tone has a lot of depth to it, mostly derived from the steel core construction. Though usually a bit expensive.
3 – DR Zebra Acoustic-Electric Strings
Although a lesser talked about name in the world of guitar products, DR Strings makes wonderful sets for players that are venturing away from the strictly acoustic world. For instance, this Zebra set is meant for acoustic electric hybrids equipped with piezo bridge pickups. They also work great for any guitars that have magnetic pickups inside of the body. You can use these with arch top jazz guitars as well.
The DR Zebra set runs from .050 to .011, giving you a slightly more “medium to light” feeling than the D’Addario strings above. The sound quality you’ll get is snappy and rich at the same time.
The fact that every other coil switches between bronze and nickel plated give a unique tone overall. These strings a little off the beaten path, but they stand up well, especially given their price range.
4 – Gibson Brite Wires
Once you’re in fully electric territory, you may as well try out the strings from none other than Gibson themselves. You can equip your instrument with nick plated, steel wound Brite Wires.
These strings are incredibly light, running just .046 to .010. If you’re into general hard rock, punk, blues, or jazz, these will suit you perfectly. The light gauge will really only work for standard or half step down tuning, however.
5 – Ernie Ball Skinny Top, Heavy Bottom
Ernie Ball is perhaps the premiere name in electric guitar strings these days. They’re played by big shots such as Metallica, Slash, Jimmy Page, and tons of others.
Their skinny top, the heavy bottom set is of particular note since it gives you light strings on top for easy lead playing, but thicker strings on the bottom to make sure your rhythms sound as full as possible. This will also support lower tuning, especially drop D and even drop C. So give them a shot!
Do strings make a difference on acoustic guitar?
Strings play an essential role in playing guitar. It is the base of the instrument because it is the one responsible for producing sound. Therefore, it impacts the music the guitar produce. Whether you want a bright or mellow, loud or soft, depends on which string you use.
It has a wide variety of gauges, materials, and brands. The fingers of beginners haven’t developed any callous yet. That is why using a lighter gauge string is advisable, as it requires lesser pressure from the fingers. Heavier gauge strings, on the other hand, are harder to fret and require more finger pressure.
What are the easiest acoustic guitar strings to play?
Rookies mostly find it challenging to hold the guitar strings because their fingers have not adjusted to the sore feeling when playing the guitar. Thin strings are very suitable for inexperienced fingers.
The thickness of the string is called gauge. The strings have a numerical value that corresponds to their gauge. For example, in a set of 10-47 or 11-52, the number 10 is the gauge of the first string or thinnest string.
The wrapping material is also essential in choosing a less strenuous string. The silk and steel string is a convenient option. These strings have silk filament underneath the outer layer and have less tension therefore, it requires softer pressure from the fingers.
How often should you change your guitar strings on acoustic?
Strings need to be replaced because it corrodes after a while. Moisture in the air rusts metal objects causing corrosion, and eventually affects the tone the string produces.
Guitar strings may also develop tiny dents from the fret wire and may have loose windings. These damages develop depending on how often you play. If you play less frequently, like 15 minutes weekly, you may change your strings once a year.
If you are an eager learner, you can buy a new set of strings after 6 months of practicing. If you play more than 4 hours a week, your guitar requires a new set of strings every after 3-5 months of playing. Once you are a pro player, you don’t need guidelines on when to change your guitar strings. You just feel it wearing with a touch of your fingers.
What happens if you don’t change guitar strings?
Old strings will not affect the instrument, rather the quality of sound that it produces. Some strings have a wire wrapped around the core, called windings. You can observe this on the sixth (thickest) up to the fourth string.
Natural oils and cuticles from your fingers may insert between the guitar string windings and can affect the sound of the strings. After a while of playing guitar, you may also notice kinks in the guitar strings. These are dents that come from frequent pressure on fret wires that can cause strings to snap unpredictably.
What is the best way to clean guitar strings?
The most important thing to remember is to never clean your guitar strings with household cleaning agents like bleach or soap. It may cause further damage than intended.
The only safe cleaning material you can find in your house is hot water. This will detach debris from the string. However, do not soak it for too long or too frequently because it may also cause negative impacts to the string.
Some brands offer microfiber cloth to prevent lint on your instrument. The correct way of using a microfiber cloth is to put the fabric under the strings and pinch it with your fingers carefully.
Then slide the cloth along the string slowly to pick up all the dirt and avoid friction. An additional reminder in keeping guitar strings clean is to wash your hands with soap before playing.
Is it bad to take off all guitar strings at once?
Your guitar neck is a lot sturdier than you think. It was designed to withstand the tension of guitar strings. Removing your strings all at once will not cause your guitar neck to bow backward. It is, in fact, acceptable to remove or loosen all your strings if you’re traveling or storing your instrument, but this is also optional.
On the other hand, if you are using an instrument with floating tremolos, it is better to remove the strings one by one. Taking all of the strings off will not disfigure your guitar but will make it more difficult to put your strings back.
Can I use hand sanitizer to clean my guitar strings?
If you let other people borrow your guitar, it is acceptable to clean it with sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. However, it is not very wise to clean it regularly with anything containing alcohol because it may ruin your guitar finish.
Just use a dry rag or a microfiber cloth to wipe the grime away from the strings. You can apply hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to your hands before playing to avoid getting natural oils and bacteria between the string windings.
Should I loosen my guitar strings for storage?
You can loosen your guitar string for storage, and it will not affect your instrument. However, if you play regularly, slackening it will only be a nuisance to adjust the strings back to their tune. Guitars that uses steel strings have extra internal support called truss rod.
It is an adjustable metal rod that counteracts the tension of the steel strings. In acoustic guitars, the truss rod can be adjusted through the soundhole. In electric guitars, it can be found on the headstock under some kind of cover. The temperature should be more of a concern when storing a guitar.
What string gauge should I use?
String gauges refer to the thickness of the string. If you are a beginner or a non-player, you might think that each set of guitar strings have the same thickness, but that’s not the case. Some string sets have a thinner 1st string than the others. These kinds are suitable for startups because it requires less finger pressure.
Gauges also alter depending on your preferred music genre. Thin strings are best for fast-hand picking music like pop, country, folk, or jazz. Medium is great for blues, and thick strings are compatible with playing metal. Most acoustic guitar player also prefers thick strings because it produces more volume.
Does string brand matter?
String brands may have formulated a way to gain advantages, but it does not really matter. Popular brands may be recommended when searching the internet but, better music quality is not guaranteed.
In choosing strings, gauge and material are the most necessary thing to take note of. The genre you’re playing must also be taken into account when browsing for strings.
Is it OK to put electric strings on an acoustic?
There are specific strings made especially for electric and acoustic guitar. You can observe some physical differences between the two instruments, and these distinctions impact how the instruments produce sound. The acoustic guitar has a small hole in the upper soundboard, while the electric guitar doesn’t.
The soundhole is made to enhance the volume of the guitar by a natural vibration called air resonance. Acoustic guitar relies on the soundhole for amplification therefore, it is most compatible with heavy gauges because it produces more volume.
However, on desperate occasions where you badly need to perform but can’t find any replacement, using an electric guitar string won’t hurt.
Why do acoustic guitars use bronze strings?
There are many types of bronze string. The most common is the 80/20 bronze which is made from 80% copper and 20% zinc, thus the name. These strings produce a bright tone but tend to age rapidly. Phosphor bronze is an alloy.
It creates a warmer and darker tone and has a longer life than pure bronze because the phosphor avoids corrosion. Another kind of bronze string is nickel bronze. It produces a more natural sound.
Can you put steel strings on an acoustic guitar?
Putting steel strings on acoustic guitar will not harm the instrument or the music quality. However, most acoustic guitar players use bronze strings for more volume.
But if you are a beginner you might want to practice on easier strings until your fingers get used to the numb feeling. Steel strings on acoustic guitar are compatible with some genres like country or bluegrass.
Is it OK to put nylon strings on an acoustic guitar?
Acoustic guitars that use nylon strings are referred to as classical guitars. Modern acoustic guitars and classical guitars only have minimal differences, like their size and shape. However, it still works the same.
Classical guitars are best for fingerstyle and strumming without a pick. Some acoustic guitars are made for steel strings and some for nylon strings. Make sure that before changing g your strings you are buying the right kind for your guitar.
Is my guitar classical or acoustic?
The most obvious difference between classical or acoustic guitar is the strings used. Nylon strings are for classical guitar, while steel strings are acoustic. There are also minimal differences in the physical feature of the two.
Acoustic has a smaller neck and slimmer string gaps than classical. They also differ in tuning pegs materials and genres. Classical guitar is used for flamenco and Bosa Nova. Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, are used in folk, pop, and country.
Are nylon guitar strings easier to play?
Nylon strings are made with softer materials and have lesser tension making them easier to handle than other strings. However, pain and difficulty in pushing down guitar strings are part of the learning process.
Taking an easy way may be good at the beginning but, there is no shortcut to success. You’ll end up having those guitar blisters and callouses anyway, so there’s no point prolonging the process. The faster you’ll get callouses, the quicker you’ll be used to the finger pressure.
What gauge strings are best for acoustic guitar?
Acoustic guitars need heavy gauges to produce more volume because it only relies on natural amplifiers. The most common gauge number for acoustic guitar is 12 and 11. Strings with gauge number 11 are easier to push down and fret because it is thinner than 12’s.
However, number 12 offers brighter, and clearer sound than 11. Gauges lower than 11 may not be advisable because they might not produce enough volume than the instrument requires.
What is the difference between electric and acoustic guitar strings?
The difference between the strings used in electric and acoustic guitar strings is the material. The strings for electric guitar are made of nickel, steel, and chromium alloys. Strings used on acoustic guitars are typically made of bronze, bronze alloys, or nylon. Acoustic guitar also requires a thicker string gauge for amplified sound.
How do I know if my acoustic guitar strings are bad?
Most pro players have the “rule of thumb” meaning they just know when to replace their guitar strings. On the other hand, beginners fail to notice these signs: corrosion; kinks; and dull tone. Corrosion is when the metal is exposed to moisture in the air and rusts.
Kinks are the tiny dents from the fret lines. Strings with kinks must be replaced before it breaks unexpectedly. When you just can’t tune your strings, maybe old strings are to blame, not because you are bad at playing. So don’t feel bad and change those strings.
Why are acoustic strings thicker?
Unlike the electric guitar, acoustic guitars only use soundhole as amplifiers. They rely on natural vibration for clearer sound. Thicker strings produce fuller, warmer, and more volume.
But string gauge may be chosen according to preference. Some novice prefers lighter gauge because it gives them more control than heavier ones, and some pro-players chose light because of the genre they play.