Regardless of the type of guitar musicians play, the quality of their instrument directly affects the sound. Whether bass, electric, or acoustic guitar, certain types and brands of strings have different characteristics that change the ease of play and tonality. Whether Ernie Ball electric guitar strings or D'Addario extra light with a Phosphor coating, every musician can order the ideal set for their personal music goals.What are the numbers on guitar strings?
The order of guitar strings from bottom to top in the playing position is from highest note to lowest note and thinnest to thickest. The numbers on the packages describe how thick they are in inches. A set is labeled by the thickness or gauge of the smallest string.What are some brands of guitar strings?
Each guitar string brand has specific characteristics, either a method of wrapping the wires or a specialty Phosphor coating. Three common brands are Elixir, Ernie Ball, and D'Addario. Some details of each are described below.
- Elixir focuses on specialty coatings offering warm Polyweb, bright Nanoweb, and crisp Optiweb options.
- Ernie Ball produces traditional strings and also offers innovations like cobalt coatings and Slinky types.
- D'Addario makes products for all types of stringed instruments. They offer a variety of compositions and coatings including the D'Addario NYXL string and Phosphor Bronze coatings.
Different types of strings are designed for use on specific guitars. They generally have an internal core and are wrapped with another wire. Electric guitar strings need to be compatible with the pickups, and the frame of an acoustic guitar needs to balance the tension of the acoustic strings. Some specifics regarding the types of electric guitar and acoustic guitar strings follow.
- Electric guitars use strings wrapped with steel for metal music, versatile 8% nickel, or pure nickel for classic rock.
- Acoustic guitar strings usually have a steel core with copper and zinc wraps, either in a ratio of 80/20, called Bronze strings, or 92/8, known as Phosphor Bronze.
- Bass guitars typically have steel a nickel outer wires.
- Classical guitars utilize nylon strings. While classical guitar is similar to the other acoustic, the steel strings are not interchangeable.
When first learning to play the guitar, finger strength and agility have not yet developed nor have calluses. At this stage, for both electric guitar strings and acoustic guitar strings, ease of play is most important. Lighter gauge steel electric and acoustic strings are easier on the fingers. Silk and steel strings are marketed specifically for new guitar players as are Phosphor Bronze strings.When do you replace acoustic and electric guitar strings?
This varies between individual guitars and musicians, but on average, the strings need to be changed roughly every three months. This equates to about 100 hours of play. While some musicians leave their strings on for much longer, this can result in poor sound quality.