How to Choose Acoustic Guitar Strings
It's important to change guitar strings once they get old or break. Choosing the wrong type of strings can damage your guitar. There are several things you will want to consider when buying strings for the first time. Scroll on for more information about choosing the right guitar strings.
Understand the difference between steel and nylon strings.It's important to know that using strings meant for acoustic guitars on a classical guitar will ruin the neck. The tensions of the strings and guitar necks are different, so you can't use classical strings for an acoustic guitar either. Classical guitars usually have nylon strings. The bass strings look steel but the insides are made of nylon fibers. This article will discuss steel strings.
- If you play a lot (on stage), you may want to stick with 80/20 bronze. Phosphor strings tend to last longest.
Be aware that the material you choose will affect the sound you get.The three most commonly used materials are bronze, phosphor bronze, and silk and steel. There are other materials too, but these are the main ones.
- Bronze strings are sometimes called 80/20 bronze because they are made with 80% copper and 20% zinc. They can be used for all styles of playing. They have a bright sound that fades away quickly after a few hours of playing. Bronze strings are the most commonly used strings.
- Phosphor bronze strings are bronze strings with phosphor added. They can also be used for all styles. They have a warmer sound that lasts longer than bronze strings.
- Silk and steel strings produce a soft, mellow sound. They produce less tension and come in lighter gauges so they are good for vintage guitars that require special strings. They are quieter and less durable but easier to play.
Check the gauge.The gauge of the strings is how thick the strings are. It’s usually measured by the diameter of the 1st string (high e string) in thousandths of an inch. The gauges might be listed in numbers ( .009, .010, .01) or words (extra light, light, medium…) or both. A higher gauge (thicker string) has more volume, longer sustain and a generally warmer tone (more overtones, less bright, less treble versus bass volume), but is harder to play due to the increased force required to fret and bend strings.Lighter gauges are easier to play but sound thinner and sometimes buzz. Beginners should start with light or extra light for easier playing; you can upgrade when you feel more confident playing.
Decide if you'll choose strings with coating.Some guitar strings are made with coating to make them last longer. This also creates a smooth texture that some players like and some hate. Coating helps your strings last longer and resist rust. Coated strings usually cost more than regular strings. Coated strings can also come in colors like red, blue, black, and more.
Check the price.Buy strings that you can afford. They don’t need to be super-expensive to sound great. Make sure no one is ripping you off on price. A set of cheap strings can cost as low as a few dollars. Average strings can cost you anywhere from - . Expensive strings may cost up to - but remember, you don’t need extremely high-quality strings to sound good. Researching strings using a review site or guide can be helpful in determining which sets represent high value.
Go to the store and try out some strings.Test out different materials and gauges and see which works best for you. Ask the store clerk and your friends what brands they use.
- Pick out two brands minimum and try them both. Compare both and choose the one you like most.
- Repeat this process until you have found a few brands and types you like best. It's also helpful to have another brand to fall back on when you visit the shop and it's out of the ones you usually like to buy.
QuestionWhat type of strings should a 12-year-old beginner use?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLight gauge -- they are more easily manipulated by the fingers. Also, the action of the guitar (the distance of the strings to the frets of the guitar) makes a difference. If the strings are higher off the fret board, it is harder to press them down and a buzzing or muting sound may be heard rather than the clarity of the notes. This could be a problem with a warped neck or improper setting and should be checked by a music store's repair shop.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best acoustic guitar?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't need to find 'the best," you need to find the best fit for you. A Fender guitar might be nice, but an old, beat up Yamaha can feel better. Go sample some chords on one at a store.Thanks!
QuestionI have a signature Blade series Gogo acoustic guitar, which strings should I use?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart with the gauge - do you like the strings on it now? Would you like them stiffer or looser feeling? Most acoustics are strung with sets where the high E is .10 (which is very light) to .13 (bluegrass players tend to use heavier strings). As far as brand goes, there are many to choose from and no wrong answers. Experiment, if you can. I've used D'Addario, Ernie Ball, Martin, Gibson, DR and webstrings - all are good; I don't tend to notice a difference, for the most part. I'd suggest buying what you can afford.Thanks!
- For beginners, try light bronze or phosphor bronze strings.
- If your guitar is very old or vintage, you may need to make special repairs or buy lighter strings.
- If you want to sound like a specific band, look up what type of strings they use.
- Round wound strings are a bit rougher and “squeak” more than flat wound strings.
- Never stop trying different brands; someone may come out with a new line that may be more to your liking.
- If your guitar has been carefully made for a specific gauge, you may need to make repairs to change gauges.
- Never use steel strings on a classical guitar and never use nylon strings on a steel-string acoustic.
Sources and Citations
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