Have you ever wanted to know how the buy the correct acoustic guitar strings? I have 6 string acoustic guitars, 12 string acoustic, classical acoustic, electric guitar, bass guitar and all the strings are different. The first step to changing your guitar strings is to know what guitar strings are best for you. You do not want to buy nylon strings for an acoustic guitar that was not designed for nylon strings and vice-versa. And for you beginners you certainly don’t want to buy bass strings for a ukulele.
There are many factors involved in making strings. Their material, how they are wound, protective coating and more will give you a specific sound. And another important factor is how long the strings will last before they lose their initial sound. When the protective coating wears off then your sound will change and that happens over time. Does that sound difference happen in a week, a month or even 6 months? It will happen, its just a matter of those strings, how much you play, strings hitting the frets, humidity, cleanliness of your hands and many other factors. Don’t be that guy at a gig eating a big ole cheeseburger and greasy french fries then immediately start playing your guitar! Wash your hands before picking up your guitar!
Acoustic Guitar String Material
80/20 Bronze is 80% copper and 20% zinc to help with a brighter sound, phosphor bronze has polymer coating, and silk & Steel which is a hybrid of metal and nylon strings used on a classical guitar.
How are all strings wound:
- Flatwound – easier to play as part is flat but not as bright as roundwound
- Roundwound – easiest to make – bright sounding
- Halfwound – somewhere between flatround and roundwound
- Hexwound – mostly bass guitars
Protective Coating on Acoustic Guitar Strings
Strings are metal and metal rusts! So a polymer coating on the strings are used to protect them, in order to reduce corrosion. Using string coatings also reduces the finger squeaking sounds. The downside is the string loses brightness as more protection is added. The thickness of that coating plays a role in creating the sound. The down side to buying new strings is that you need to install the strings to figure out if you like the sound. How long do your strings last before they lose their mojo? So if your strings squeak you may have purchased strings with a light coating. Also notice when your strings get discolored. That is when it is definitely time to replace your strings.
String size – gauge
Most musicians buy a full set of strings but you can also but individually to have the guitar sound best for you and your application.
- extra light
- custom light
Who sells acoustic guitar strings, in alphabetical order:
- Black Diamond
- Curt Mangan
- Dean Markley
- Ernie Ball
- Galli strings
- John Pearse
So out of these strings, which ones should you buy? Do you go with the biggest sellers or the best branded name? If you have a classical guitar maybe try royal classics and compare that to your favorite strings. If you have a fender guitar do you go with Fender strings? Its always preference until you know something different.
My suggestion is that you use your current brand and play a specific song and record maybe 10 seconds on a recorder. Then do some research on a couple strings and buy something different than you normally purchase. Put those strings on and record that same 10 second song clip. Then compare the sounds on the recording. Before you listen to the recordings you will probably have an opinion about the new strings. After you play back your recording you will have a better evaluation of the strings. Just remember before you start recording that you mention the manufacturer and the string model number.
If you replace strings every month then you will only be able to test 12 manufactures strings per year. Each manufacturer has a handful of models so that is probably over 100 different types of strings you can try out. It could be many years before you find the perfect strings for THAT specific guitar. But isn’t that one of the enjoyable hobbies you can participate in? Finding the best strings for that one specific guitar?
So now that you know how the buy the correct acoustic guitar strings, let me know your favorite guitar strings!
Happy guitar string hunting!