Purchasing the strings for their guitar is a necessary expense of any guitarist, regardless of whether they’re an amateur performer or a professional one. And since guitar strings are so important to their overall sound, they naturally want to purchase the best guitar strings possible. Which isn’t always easy since there are hundreds of different strings that need to be considered.
Buying the best strings for a guitar doesn’t have to be difficult, however. All that the guitarist has to do is take their playing style into consideration and match that again high-quality strings. With that goal in mind, we’ve selected what we feel are the best guitar strings currently available. It doesn’t matter if the guitarists play an electric guitar or an acoustic one, there’s a pair of strings on here for them.
Best Guitar Strings – Reviews
10D’Addario EJ45 Nylon Classical Strings
For guitarists who prefer nylon strings, D’Addario EJ45 nylon strings are extremely popular. This is probably the case because these strings produce a precise and very consistent amount of intonation and project a nice warm tone that anyone can appreciate. These strings are also made in the U.S using only the highest quality materials and are manufactured using silverplated copper winding on a nylon core. This string composition delivers exceptional tonality each and every time it’s played. They also have normal tension and each nylon string is laser measured to calculate the precise tension and diameter levels of the strings.
9D’Addario NYXL1046 Nickel-Plated Electric Strings
D’Addario NYXL1046 strings use steel core that is wrapped with proprietary nickel-plated steel that makes the strings exceptionally easy to tune and allow them to stay in tune longer than comparable strings. These electric guitar strings are suitable for all playing styles and provide a sustain and dynamic range that is better than other bass strings. They are also exceptionally strong and can be bent further and punched harder than traditional steel strings. With mid-range frequency responses in the 1 kHz to 3.5 kHz range, these string project great presence and really deliver some crunch to the guitarist’s sound. And it also really allows the guitarist to strum as hard as they want to strum.
8Gibson Brite Wires Light Electric Strings
Gibson Brite Wires are strings which are made with a hex core that’s made from Swedish steel and gives these strings a crisp attack that aggressive guitarists love, but is nickel-plated so that the resulting sound also has a tone that’s nice and warm. These electric guitar strings tune up quickly and are designed to hold their tone for a longer period of time than traditional steel strings. And although these strings are manufactured in the United States, they are enjoyed by guitarists all over the world. They’re made for guitarists who want long-lasting strings but don’t want to sacrifice warmth in the process.
7Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze Medium Strings
These Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze strings are made with 80% copper and 20% zinc that gives a warm sound that feels broken-in and has a Polyweb coating that gives the strings a smoother and softer feel. This coating also protects the strings against corrosion and helps to extend the tone of the strings. These fast and slick strings are sold in a medium gauge and have some of the longest tone-life of any other string. Another key characteristic of these strings is that they maintain their mid-range presence much better than lower-quality medium gauge strings. All of which allow these strings to deliver the warmth and tone needed by the guitarist.
6Martin MSP4150 Acoustic SP Strings
These Martin SP acoustic strings are made using a quality steel core and have a phosphor bronze coating that allows them to have a great balance between tone and volume. They’re also extremely playable, and the coating allows them to last longer than non-coated guitar strings. These strings have a light/medium gauge and have an exceptional brightness to their sound. These strings are also extremely beautiful and will enhance the appearance of just about any acoustic guitar. What’s really exceptional about this guitar strings, however, is they are designed to last a long time even when played heavily.
5D’Addario EJ16-3D Phosphor Bronze Strings
Since the 1970s, many acoustic guitarists have used D’Addario’s phosphor bronze strings to great effect. These strings are known for the playability and also for their long-lasting tone. This makes them the choice of many professionals who decide to use these strings in either the studio or on stage. The phosphor bronze coating on these strings protects their hexagonally-shaped steel core safe from corrosion. They’re a good choice for not only anyone looking for a durable guitar string but also for anyone who wants a warmer tone than what other acoustic strings can offer. All of which makes these strings suitable for professional use.
4Ernie Ball 2223 Super-Slinky Pink Strings
These unique pink strings are made using nickel-plated steel wire that’s wrapped around a hexagonal tin-plated steel-core wire. This string composition produces a sound that’s very unique and is extremely popular among many modern guitar players. Over the years, many guitarists have used slinky strings to great effect, and these guitarists include the likes of Eric “Slow Hand” Clapton, Slash and even Jimmy Page. These strings are easily characterized by their bright tone. They also bend extremely well and are very playable. Overall, they’re great strings that deliver great performance and optimal life. As far as these strings are concerned, pink may just be the new black.
3Elixir Strings Phosphor Bronze Light Strings
These Elixir Strings light acoustic strings are constructed with a phosphor bronze wrap wire that protects them from corrosion and allows them to not only stay fresher longer but also makes them more durable. And since these strings are light-gauge strings with a Nanoweb coating, they not only have an uncoated feel, but they’re also extremely easy to fret and play. They also don’t have as strong as a tension as other types of strings, which makes them suitable for use on vintage or classic guitars. These strings also produce a rich full-body tone that just sparkles with brightness and high-end clarity.
2D’Addario EXL110-3D XL Nickel-Wound Strings
These D’Addario regular-light guitar strings are manufactured using high-carbon hexagonal steel cores that have been wrapped precisely with nickel-plated steel. This combination produces an incredibly bright tone and well-balanced intonation that really sounds great on electric guitars. It also has great output levels, and the strings are corrosion-resistant for increased durability and playability. They are packed in packs of 3 and have gauges which include the .026, .036 and .046 string gauges. They are also packed in corrosion-resistant packaging that keeps the strings fresher longer, so the guitarist knows when they play, they’ll always get exceptional sound quality from their guitar.
1Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Strings
Although slinky strings were pioneered more than 5 decades ago, many people feel that they are now the industry standard. Slinky strings have been used by many former and current rock and metal guitarists including legends such as Metallica and Jimmy Page. These strings are professionally manufactured using high carbon-steel hex core that’s been precision wound using nickel-plated steel. This creates an exceptionally balanced and rich tone that many guitarists really enjoy. And since each of these strings are packaged in element shield packaging that’s designed to protect them, they’ll last longer and stay way fresher than strings which haven’t been packed in corrosion-resistant packaging.
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Guitar Strings Buying Guide
Above this article, we’ve listed what we feel are the best guitar strings currently available. However, although all of the strings are the best quality ones available, not everyone is going to agree with the ranking order. That’s because what may be the number ten guitar strings for one person, is going to be the number one strings for another person and vice-versa. After all, different players need different types of strings. Which is why we’ve created this buying guide to help guitarists find the strings that match their playing style and deliver the sound they want.
Since we understand that guitarists are all different, we’ve created this guide to reflect those differences and have split the article into two parts. The first part outlines what the electric guitarist should look for when they choose strings and the second part outlines what acoustic or classical guitarists should look for when choosing a pair of strings. With that having been said, let’s dig in and get started with this buying guide. As promised, we’re going begin with the electric guitarists and end with the acoustic ones.
Electric Guitar Strings
Electric guitar strings are usually manufactured with one of several different materials: steel, nickel, cobalt, chrome or titanium. Actually, to be more precise, most of these strings are made of steel and coated with one of the various metals. This plating results in the strings having unique audio characteristics that the guitarist can use to their advantage. And then there are pure metal strings that are made from either all-steel or all-nickel. These strings also have unique sound characteristics. Below are some examples of what we mean below.
Electric Guitar String Composition
- Stainless Steel: These strings are often described as bright and crisp. These strings also squeak less than other types of strings.
- Nickel-Plated: These strings are warm and bright. They are also often described as being quite balanced.
- Pure Nickel: These electric guitar strings tend to be quite warm and don’t have the same level of brightness as nickel-plated strings.
- Cobalt: These strings have a great pickup and have a fairly bright sound.
- Chrome: These strings are used a lot by blues guitarists and tend to have a warm, low-resonance sound to them.
- Titanium: These strings are durable and produce a bright tone.
- Polymer: Although these strings are more resistant to corrosion than other types of strings, they also have less sustain than other strings.
Electric Guitar String Winding
How the strings sound is also affected by how they are wound. Although this article isn’t comprehensive enough to get into all of the effects that string winding has on the final sound of the guitarist, we can cover some basics. Below are three of the most common string windings and what effect they have on the sound of the electric guitarist.
- Half Round or Ground Round: These strings have many of the characteristics that can be found on a round wound string, but is generally smoother with a darker tone.
- Round Wound: These strings produce a bit of bite and sustain, but they tend to generate a lot more finger noise than other strings.
- Flat Wound: These strings are generally flat and dark. It’s also a string that’s popular with many blues and jazz musicians.
Acoustic Guitar Strings
Although it’s important to remember that this guide isn’t comprehensive enough to list everything a person should know about their acoustic guitar strings, there are a few basics that we can cover that will help the reader buy the best acoustic guitar strings available.
Acoustic Guitar String Composition
The composition of acoustic guitar strings is just as important as the composition of the best electric guitar strings. And acoustic or classical guitarists have several different materials to consider when choosing the right string composition.
- Steel & Silk: These strings are often popular with guitarists who play folk-music and have a soft tone to them.
- Bronze: These strings have a bright and clear sound. They’re also prone to oxidation.
- Phosphor Bronze: These strings aren’t as bright as bronze. They also have a warmer tone and tend to last longer than bronze.
- Aluminum Bronze: These strings produce clear, crisp notes. They also have a clearer sound than phosphor bronze strings.
- Polymer-Coated: These strings tend to be warm and have less sustain than uncoated strings. They are also extremely corrosion-resistant
- Brass: These strings produce a jangling and bright sound that some guitarists seem to prefer.
Acoustic Guitar String Gauge
Although all guitarists have to take string gauge into consideration, it’s extremely important for acoustic guitarists and can have a profound effect on not only how their music sounds but on how easy the guitar is to play. Most acoustic strings have a gauge anywhere from .010-inch to .059-inch. Due to space limitations, we aren’t going to get into detail on what effect each particular gauge has on playability and sound, but we’re going to lump them into two different categories: light string gauges and heavy string gauges. Let’s proceed to the details.
Light Gauge Strings:
- Fretting is easier
- Ideal for vintage guitars
- Have less tension
- Tend to break easily
- Produces less volume
- Produces less sustain
Heavier Gauge Strings:
- Produces more sustain
- Produces more volume
- Exerts a lot of pressure on the neck of the guitar
- Harder to play
The Signs Indicating Strings Need To Be Replaced
It can be difficult to determine how often a guitarist should change their strings because it really all depends on a number of different factors. How often the guitar is played, how much the guitarist perspires, and what type of guitar the guitar strings are used on all affect the corrosion and wear of the strings. It also should be noted that the construction of the strings is also extremely important. Therefore, each guitarist needs to decide for themselves when they need to change their strings. However, while this guide may not be able to tell the guitarist when to change their strings, we can offer some of the signs that a guitar’s strings need to be replaced.
- Guitar is difficult to tune
- Strings are rusted or discolored
- Tone flattens out or becomes dead
- String’s core becomes exposed