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  • Writer's pictureRubber Monkey

What Electric Guitar Strings to Use & Why

One of the core parts of a guitar is its strings. The sound you want to create will depend heavily on the type of strings you use. This post is all about electric guitar strings: What you need to consider when choosing strings and some of the best electric guitar strings available. So, read this post before you start strumming.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Electric Guitar Strings

Pick the Right Strings

One of the most crucial things when buying electric guitar strings is to make sure that the strings you are purchasing are meant for electric guitars specifically. These strings are tailor-made for the particular instrument, so if you have an acoustic guitar, stick to strings designed for acoustic guitars and likewise for electric. Don’t try to mix and match here, as you’ll notice distinct differences in the sound quality if you don’t pick the right strings for your guitar.

The Thickness of the Strings

In technical terms, the term ‘gauge’ refers to the thickness of the guitar strings. Guitars, irrespective of their type, are manufactured in a range of gauges. The thickness of the strings has a significant impact on the sound quality your guitar delivers. So let’s quickly run you through the types of gauges:

Light Gauge

These strings are super flexible, making them easy to bend and play. Ideal for beginners, these strings are gentle and will not leave you with cuts and marks on your fingers. These strings are the perfect match for vintage electric guitars and are typically known for their bright sound quality.

Heavy Gauge

These are just perfect for seasoned electric guitarists, as they require more finger pressure to fret and bend notes. While these strings exert more tension on the guitar neck, they are known for the punchy, good quality sound they render.

Look for the Numbers

String manufacturers often describe their products as ‘light’, ‘medium’, and even ‘extra light’. Rather than focusing on these words and deciding which guitar strings to buy, here’s a better idea: always check the numbers. Numbers don’t lie; one glance at the specifications of the strings will let you know precisely how ‘light’ or ‘heavy’ the strings are.

Material of the Strings

Now, you have a wide variety of materials to choose from. Do note that each of these materials delivers different sound quality, so make sure you pick strings that match the output required or your playing style. Cobalt strings give out a wide, dynamic range of sound with effortless low ends and perfect highs. Likewise, the nickel strings are known for their warm, bright tone.

If you’re looking for a rich, full-tone, M-Steel strings are what you need. For a vintage output with a modern, warm tone, opt for the pure nickel strings. Lastly, stainless steel strings are the best for a crisp tone with just as much brightness. Apart from these, you also have several other popular materials such as bronze, phosphor, and mixed materials.

Type of Strings

There are two main types of strings – coated and uncoated. The coating works wonders for your strings, and it protects them from corroding. It helps to maintain the tone of the guitar for a longer time. These also last a lot longer than the uncoated ones.

However, if you are a beginner, a quick word of advice here – pick the uncoated strings. These are way better when it comes to mastering the art of playing the guitar, making them a perfect pick for your practice sessions.

The Best Guitar Strings

When it comes to guitar strings, Ernie Ball is a reliable brand. Top guitarists across the world vouch for the brand’s quality. The brand offers a wide range of guitar-specific products, and strings are one of them. Ernie Ball is a brand you can trust, thanks to the impeccable quality guitar strings they deliver.

Ernie Ball has different types of electric strings made from a variety of materials and gauges.

Let’s have a look at their products:

Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

It is, hands down, one of the most popular products from Ernie Ball. Preferred by the most popular guitarists, these strings produce a well-balanced, bright tone for your guitar. The Nickel Wound Strings feature nickel-plated steel wire. The core, unplated wire, is made from tempered tin plated with high carbon. The gauge of this 5-string set varies from .045 – .130.

Bass strings tend to be on the expensive side, but with the quality and price that Ernie Balls offers, you are in for a great deal. Moreover, the strings are durable and last long.

Slinky Cobalt Strings

Cobalt is one of the best materials for guitar strings; soft and silky, these strings offer the perfect magnetic pull between pickups and strings. These Slinky Cobalt Strings provide an incredible sound range, which means you have an increased low end and crisp, clear highs.

Slinky Flatwound Electric Bass Strings

Ernie Ball’s Slinky Flatwound Bass strings combine the smoothness of traditional flats and the power of Cobalt. These strings feature the SuperBright Cobalt ribbon wrap as well as cobalt under wraps. Adding to this, you also have an optimal hex-core to wrap ratio, which gives out a darker, deep tone. The smoother playing feel is what makes these strings popular among guitarists.

Slinky Plain Steel Electric Guitar Strings

These strings feature tin-plated high carbon steel ideal for use on electric and acoustic guitars. Steel strings are brighter and livelier as compared to their nickel counterparts. The exceptional sound quality and balanced tone these Plain Steel Strings offer to make them a preferred choice amongst guitarists worldwide. Ernie Ball has taken it a notch higher, offering custom gauge single string options, allowing guitarists to create personalized string sets.

Slinky Stainless Steel Wound Strings

These are plain tin-plated, high carbon strings wrapped around a tin-plated, hex-shaped, steel core wire. The Stainless Steel Wound Strings are super durable, corrosion-free, and stay in tune for a longer time. They are known to deliver a bright, impactful sound, making them perfect for live music.

Slinky Phosphor Bronze Electric Guitar Strings

These Phosphor Bronze Electric Guitar Strings comprise three different metals – you have 92% copper, 7.7% tin, and 0.3% phosphorous. These alloy wires wrap around a tin-plated hex-shaped steel core wire. The colour of these strings is what will catch your eye instantly – they have a lovely light orange-golden shade and offer warm tones too. The mellowing, ringing sound from these strings comes with exceptional sound clarity, making these strings well suited for different genres of music.

Summing Up

When choosing strings for your guitar, always keep your requirements in mind. If you are a beginner, you need to pick strings accordingly. Strings make a whole lot of difference in the sound quality a guitar renders, so choose wisely. If you have any questions, contact us and we can help you find what you’re looking for. 


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