Aside from the instrument itself and the guitarist playing it, nothing impacts the sound of a guitar more than its guitar strings. A guitar that’s equipped with quality strings can help the guitarist produce the sound he or she is trying to produce. A worn out pair of strings, however, will do nothing more than frustrate the guitarists and muddy up the guitar’s sound for the audience.
Before choosing a new pair of electric guitar strings, however, it’s best to have an idea of what the best strings are for your sound and for your guitar. This is especially true since so many competing strings are now available. To help our readers out, we’ve written this guide on buying the best electric guitar strings available.
Best Electric Guitar Strings – Reviews
10Dean Markley Blue Steel Regular
Dean Markley’s Blue Steel strings are made a little bit differently than other types of electric guitar strings. That’s because during the manufacturing process they hit them with a blast of liquid nitrogen which takes their temperature down to 320 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. The company says they do this to tighten the strings up and to reduce any gaps that may exist in the strings on a microscopic level. Although we’re not entirely sure of their reasoning, it’s quite certain that these strings do have a nice tone, have a nice sound and do seem to last longer than comparable strings.
9D’Addario Nickel Plated Regular Light
Guitarists often say that these D’Addario guitar strings stay in tune better and bend further than comparable strings. Although we’re not sure if that’s really the case, we do know that these strings produce a nice sound and have the ideal tone for electric guitars. That’s because they’re made with a high-carbon steel core and have a steel alloy winding that makes them fun to play and allows the guitarist to develop a little bit of confidence in their sound. These strings are made in the United States made from quality components and are also sealed so they maintain freshness.
8Gibson Vintage Reissue Light
These quality strings are a reissue of the guitar strings that Gibson created in the 1950s. These strings are manufactured the way they used to be manufactured and use a quality nickel wire. This wire is then slowly wrapped around a Swedish steel hex core that helps to maintain the string’s stability and durability. The way these strings are constructed also make the guitarist’s sound warmer and fuller than comparable strings have a tendency of doing. This makes them ideal for use on vintage guitars or to achieve a more vintage sound on modern guitars. And since they vacuum sealed for freshness, a guitarist should probably always keep a set around.
7Gibson Brite Wires Light
Gibson strings use the slogan “American Made, World Played,” and after using these electric guitar strings it’s easy to see why these strings are so popular. That’s because they have a warmth to them and playability that few other strings can compete against. They are made with a hex core made of Swedish steel and are nickel plated to add a bit of warmth to its overall tone. These strings aren’t just extremely stable and hold their tone for a long time, but they also tend to quickly tune. Which should make these strings on just about any guitarists short-list.
6GHS Guitar Boomers Light
Before talking about these guitar strings, it’s probably a good idea to talk about the packaging they come in. That’s because GHS Strings have created one of the first resealable guitar strings packagings that help to keep the strings in great condition. They are sealed at the factory and are placed in a tamper-proof package, so the guitarist knows they are always getting the freshest strings possible. These packs are also just the right size to fit into a guitar case. Which makes them the perfect packaging for these round wound nickel plated guitar strings that offer a powerful attack and a bright tone.
5Fender 150R Pure Nickel Regular
Many guitarists who play classic rock, blues or jazz on their Fender guitars like to equip these Fender 150R Regular guitar strings. That’s because they are not only always fresh right out of the package, but they also produce some great vintage full-throated tones that complement these musical genres. These wires are manufactured using state of the art technology and are made from pure nickel. They have a consistent sound that doesn’t decay rapidly, and they have a tendency to last longer than some lesser quality strings. All of which makes it a great pair of strings for a classic sound profile.
4D’Addario EXL110-3D XL Regular Light
These electric guitar strings are wound using nickel-plated steel that’s over a high-carbon steel core. This creates a bright tone and a great output level. It also means that these strings are more durable than comparable strings and suffer less fret wear during extended playing sessions. They have a great innovation that sounds great on just about any electric guitar as well. Each set is packed with .010, .013, and .017 plain steel strings, and .026, .036 and .046 nickel wound strings. Any guitarist looking for long-lasting strings that pack a bit of a punch may want to check these strings out.
3Elixir Strings NANOWEB Coated Light
These light gauge strings are known for not only their playability but are also known for delivering a consistent performance every single time they’re played. Guitarists who equip their guitars with these strings know that they will deliver the punch and personality they want out of their guitar. And because it’s made with nickel-plated steel that’s been coated with a NANOWEB coating, it also has an extended tone life that many guitarists simply love. When guitarists use these high-quality strings, they don’t have to worry about changing their strings constantly. And that’s probably why the popularity of these strings is on the rise.
2Ernie Ball Nickel Regular Slinky
Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings are made with a tin-plated hex-shaped steel core wire that’s been wrapped with nickel-plated steel wire. This reduces the amount of fret wear that the strings experience and product a vibrant tone each time they’re played. These strings are also exceptionally bendable, which makes them great for fast fret fingering. Another positive thing about these strings is that they are easy to play, so it should be no surprise that novice guitarists often choose these strings for practice. All things considered, these strings are great for anyone who needs a highly playable set of strings.
1Elixir Strings OPTIWEB Light
These electric guitar strings are the choice of many professionals for playing on stage. And there’s a good reason they are so popular. These guitar strings have a number of features which allows them to play consistently each and every time they’re played. It all starts with these string’s nickel-plated steel wrap wire that’s been coated with an OPTIWEB coating. This coating provides not only a more natural feel but also helps to keep dead skin cells and debris from corroding the strings. This results in enhanced performance and durability. From the moment they’re unwrapped to the moment they’re replaced, they provide bright consistent tones any guitarist will appreciate.
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Choosing The Best Electric Guitar Strings
Without strings, an electric guitar would just be an expensive paperweight. It’s the instrument’s strings that convey the notes played by the guitarists. And different electric guitar strings can have a dramatic effect on the tonality and the expression of these notes. If the musician purchases the wrong strings, then it can have a real effect on how they sound and even how they play.
That’s why guitarists should pay as much attention to the strings they purchase for their electric guitar as they do their guitar. If they put in the research, there’s no reason they can’t buy strings which express the notes in the way they want them expressed. Keeping that in mind, below are some tips for purchasing the best electric guitar strings possible.
When it comes to choosing a string gauge, there is no right or wrong choice. That’s because different guitarists have different preferences when it comes to choosing strings for their electric guitar. Some guitarists prefer a heavier pair of strings, so they choose strings with a higher gauge. Other guitarists like lighter strings, so they choose strings with a lower gauge. However, putting personal preference aside, there are some things worth considering when choosing a pair of strings. The thicker the gauge, the harder it will be for the guitarist to fret notes. It’s for this reason that many beginning guitarists go with a lower gauge of electric guitar strings that are easier to fret.
All guitar strings are manufactured using some sort of steel. Sure, some manufacturers may make small adjustments to how this steel is coated, but those adjustments really don’t affect the string’s sound as much as the wrap that goes over the steel string. A stainless steel wrap allows for brighter tones than a nickel wrap does—which is just a little warmer. We’ll cover string winding a little bit later. Of course, the wrap isn’t the only modification that manufacturer’s make to strings to alter their sounds. There are a number of other processes such as cryogenic processing and Nanocoatings which can also have a profound effect on the sound of the string.
The String’s Core
Although there are some variations on the basic principle, string cores can be basically broken down to two major types of cores: hex cores and round cores. Hex cores are the most widely used because they give a bright sound and consistent performance. However, round cores used to be the standard, so they tend to give a guitar a vintage tone that’s flexible and well balanced.
String windings are made from different materials and available in different types. Round wound strings are perhaps the most common type available, but flat wound strings are used as well. Round wound strings have a brighter tone than flat wound strings, which tend to have a more mellow tone to them. What the windings are composed of is also important. Pure nickel provides the warmest tone available, and steel provides the brightest tone available. Steel alloy windings tend to also have a fairly bright tone.
Tips For Maintaining Electric Guitar Strings
Now that we’ve covered how to purchase new electric guitar strings, it’s time to turn our attention to maintaining those strings once you have bought them. Below are some tips for getting the most out of your strings and keeping them in tip-top shape longer.
- Wipe Your Strings After Playing: Sweat can really be corrosive to guitar strings, so be sure to wipe them down after playing. Use an old cotton T-shirt to wipe the sweat off those strings and keep them in good condition.
- Keep The Strings Away From Humidity: Humidity can also be damaging to your electric guitar’s strings, so it’s best to keep them stored in plastic freezer bags in humid areas when they aren’t being used. This will ensure that they last as long as possible.
- Keep The Strings Clean: Dirt and oil from your fingertips can really do a number on your strings, so you may want to clean your strings every once in awhile using a quality guitar string cleaner.
- Wash Your Hands: It’s also important for the guitarist to keep their hands clean whenever they’re playing their guitar to prevent dirt and debris from being transferred from their hands to their strings.
- Replace After 100-Hours Of Play: No matter how well you maintain your strings, they’re going to eventually need to be replaced. Many guitarists replace them after about 100-hours of play—or about every 3 months. And it’s always a good idea to regularly change your strings because corroded strings can have an adverse effect on the guitar upon which they’re installed. So it’s always a good idea to have a few sets of strings available for regular string changes.