Learning how to play guitar does not end by playing a piece, but there are basics that you need to learn too; one good example is the guitar strings.
As you have noticed, acoustic guitars have 6 strings and each string has a different gauge. Each gauge on the guitar string has a different tone – the thicker the string, the lower the tone, and the thinner the string, the higher the tone. For this reason, thick strings are ideal for strumming, while thin strings are great for fingerpicking or plucking.
So, are you ready to buy your first acoustic guitar string?
#1: Know the different gauges
As mentioned, each guitar string has a different gauge – extra light, custom light, light, medium, and heavy.
- Extra light guitar strings gauges from 0.10 – 0.47 and known as the 10’s.
- Light guitar strings gauges from .012 – .053 and used for acoustic guitars, while strings with .010 – .046 gauges are for electric guitars. Light guitar strings are known as the 11’s.
- Medium-gauge guitar strings gauges from .013 – .056 and known as the 13’s. Most acoustic guitars start their medium gauge at .013, while electric guitars have their medium gauge at .011.
- Heavy-gauge guitar strings play at .014 – .059 and are known as the 14’s. While acoustic guitars start their gauges at .014, electric guitars play at .012. The heavy-gauge guitar strings emphasize the bass-forward guitar tone.
- Custom light guitar strings are at .011 – .052, which is known as the 11’s.
#2: Decide according to 5 factors
To decide what string gauge to use, you need to consider the following factors:
- The body style of the guitar
Generally, if your guitar is small-bodied, you have to choose lighter gauges; while, larger-bodied guitars must use a heavier gauge. For instance, a Dreadnought guitar is best suited to medium – heavier gauge strings. Meanwhile, parlor guitars or guitars that are at ¾ in size are suited to lighter-gauge strings like the 11’s and 12’s.
- Playing style
If your guitar playing style is finger-picking or finger-plucking, you should look for lighter-gauge strings. However, if you are into hard strumming, you need medium-gauge strings. If your guitar playing style is mixed, the light-medium-gauge strings are best suited.
If you have not figured out which guitar string to purchase, you should choose heavier-gauge strings. The strings can produce deep and strong tones. However, if you want to bring out treble notes or subtle tones, you should consider lighter gauges. Also, you may check out this review to find the best guitar string today.
#3: Consider the string material
Another factor to consider when buying a string is its string material;
- Bronze with a clear, bright ringing tone.
- Phosphor bronze strings produce a warmer and darker tone.
- Aluminum bronze produces a crisp and bass sound but with great clarity than phosphor bronze.
- Brass has metallic but bright and jangling character.
- Polymer-coated strings are less sustainable and less bright than uncoated strings.
- Silk and Steel are commonly silk, nylon, or copper wire. The material can produce a softer and delicate tone. For that reason, these types of guitar strings are popular with several guitarists.
If you are still confused about different guitar strings, you may read more about it or consult the experts.