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What Strings To Use?


One thing we always get asked, perhaps more often than any other enquiry, is 'What strings should I use?'

The honest answer is whatever you are most comfortable with, though there are some things to think about. Obviously what type of guitar you have is the first point. This usually falls into one of 4 categories:


Electric guitar, Bass guitar, steel strung Acoustic guitar and nylon strung Classical or Spanish guitar.


Electric guitars, you have so much choice with new innovations always being produced by the various manufacturers. The standard, if you can call it that, are nickel wound strings as they are a nice balance between bright crisp sound and mellow. Then there are pure nickel which are the old school variant, nice and mellow. The opposite to that are the pro steels which are nice and bright with a bit more output (great if you have nickel allergies). You then have different gauges or thickness to choose from. A simple rule to remember: the thicker the string the better the sound but the harder to play, so you need to find a happy compromise. Fenders’ standard is gauge 9, typically Gibson like to put on gauge 10. If you want to drop tune your guitar from standard tuning you can get strings with a heavier bass end so your strings aren’t too loose with no tension. For steel string acoustic you have Phosphor bronze which is more balenced in tone so they have decent bass end and not too much piercing treble. You then have 80/20 bronze which is just a bit brighter in tone, both are great it is worth trying either. There are different gauages as well a lot of suppliers generally put guange 12’s on their guitars but for something slightly easier to play there are gauge 11’s or for more tone or detuning you can use gauge 13. With nylon strung or classical guitars, there is again lots of choice. Mainly it comes down to brand preference and there are lots of subtle differences between them but you also have a choice of tensions. Normal tension is for your standard classical playing or for beginners. Then you have high or extra high tension which are louder, more percussive and have a bit more snap which is great for flamenco.


All brands are now offering a long life set of strings, which are really useful for a guitar you don’t play very much or you just plain don’t want to change the strings. They sound just as good as the regular version, maybe slightly more mellow, and will set you back a bit more than the standard life equivalent but overall they are a worthwhile investment if you don't want to change your strings as often.


For all these strings there is no right or wrong answer, it is a case of experimenting and finding out which is right for you. Brand-wise, again it is hard to say whether any of them are better or not as everyone prefers something different so even though you may have found the gauge you like it is definitely worth experimenting with brands. I hope this helps and as always if you want anymore advice or tips feel free to pop into any of our stores and ask for our help.


Written By Scott Carruthers, Allegro Music Chelmsford

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