Written by Guitar Chalk Editorial
WHY TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT? Guitar Chalk makes gear recommendations based on the opinions and experience of actual guitar players who have spent time using the gear at hand.
2: Ernie Ball Skinny Top and Heavy Bottom
3: D'Addario Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
4: Ernie Ball Power Slinky Electric Strings
5: GHS Medium Boomers (nickel-plated)
POLYWEB coating means they'll last a lot longer. Tone sounds smooth, yet chimey with a lot of sustain. Great on both clean and dirty tones.
Custom gauge gives you three light, unwound top strings and heavier bottom-three strings. Great for rock players specifically.
The nickel wound design gives off a warm tone, similar to the Ernie Ball set. Open chords sound especially good.
Perfect for rhythm rock players. Heavier gauge provides a thicker tone. Great price point.
Popular with the pros and often with fans of classic rock. A little edgier with some brightness that lead players appreciate.
No coating. Sweat kills 'em
Too expensive for uncoated strings
The additional cost pays for itself in the lifespan of the strings. Elixirs also give you a noticeable tone quality bump.
Without having to pay the expense of a custom set, Ernie Ball gets you a string set perfect for melding rhythm and lead rock guitar duties.
A great strumming string, especially for players who like to use a lot of clean tones or modulation effects.
A heavier set that pairs well with distortion and plays with plenty of thickness on the low end.
This set feels more at home in a lead guitarist role, with especially prominent highs and good response/sustain on the upper register.
10 - 46
10 - 52
10 - 46
11 - 48
12 - 52
Guitar String Sets Considered
Actual Musicians Consulted
Customer Reviews Considered
Electric Guitar Strings vs Acoustic
Electric guitar strings are often lighter and wound with different material than acoustic guitar strings. Variations between the two types of strings occur in primarily three categories:
- Type of raw materials used
- Type of winding
- Core type
The simplest distinction is in the raw materials. Electric guitar strings are most often a combination of steel and nickel, while acoustic guitar strings are usually a bronze alloy or phosphor bronze.
Both acoustic and electric guitar strings will typically employ a roundwound winding type.
Can you use electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar?
It is possible to use electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar. However, the bronze construction of an acoustic guitar string is heavier and made for natural, audible resonance. Electric guitar strings are made to be lighter and more easily magnetized. This means that while you can string an acoustic guitar with electric strings, it won't sound as good or be as loud as acoustic strings would be.
What size string electric should I use?
When it comes to style and musical genre, string gauge is a fairly significant consideration. While individual players might have varying preferences, there are some broad conventions within the rock guitar playing style:
- Lead guitar (melody focused): Lighter string gauge, usually 46 or 48
- Rhythm guitar (chord and bass line focused): Heavier string gauge, usually 52 or higher
Again, this is highly subjective and dependent on personal preference, as well as a number of other variables. But gauge certainly matters, especially within the rock style. Most players - as they learn - will establish a familiarity with a particular gauge and even brand.
These suggestions are just starting points.
While stringing a guitar is generally a straightforward task, there are a few common problems that can creep up as a result.
String Rattling and Buzzing
String rattling can be caused by several different factors. Usually electric guitar strings will rattle or buzz before you tune up and plug in the guitar. From there, the problem isn't likely to persist or even be very noticeable. Make sure you wind the strings enough around the tuning pegs. The more the string is wound, the tighter and more sturdy it will be once it's tuned properly.
Sometimes string rattling can be a matter of simply not pressing on the frets hard enough, which is usually an issue faced by beginners.
However, it can also be due to issues with how your guitar is setup, like the truss rod or the bridge. In this case, you'll need to take it to a shop to get everything set correctly.
New Strings Breaking
The lighter the string gauge, the more likely it is to break. Also, electric guitar strings are more susceptible to snapping because they tend to be lighter and not as strong as acoustic strings. A good way to prevent this is to start by tuning your strings low, and make sure you tune up to standard E tuning.
As you're winding the strings, make sure you don't wind them tight the first time. Get them snug, but low enough that you can tune up into whatever tuning you want to settle on.
Typical Electric Guitar String Prices
Buying guitar strings by the single pack is almost always more expensive than buying them in bulk. Here's how the pricing breaks down for most uncoated brands of electric strings:
- 1Single Pack Uncoated: $3 - $5
- 2Three-Pack Uncoated: $11 - $15
- 3Six-Pack Uncoated: $28 - $36
Coated electric strings are a little more expensive, but do last longer and are usually available in single or three-packs:
- 1Single Pack Coated: $8 - $15
- 2Three-Pack Coated: $28 - $35
How long do electric guitar strings last?
There are a lot of factors that determine how long your electric strings will stay nice and/or usable. Namely, the frequency you play, how thick the strings are, and whether or not they have some kind of protective coating, like the Elixir strings do.
Since electric guitar strings are usually made of nickel, they'll almost always have a silver color that has a little bit of shine to it, especially fresh out of the pack. Once they start to corrode, they'll lose that shine and the silver coloring will fade in spots.
You'll also notice a gradual, yet distinct decrease in tone quality and resonance.
More so than with acoustic strings, electric guitar players will often get "attached" to a specific brand and gauge string. The more you play and form a playing style, the more easily you'll be able to identify strings that fit that specific style.
As we eluded to earlier, this page is meant to give you a helpful starting point.
These strings are some of the most popular available, and we can vouch for them, having bought and tested them ourselves. However, that doesn't mean that other string options (brands, gauges, etc.) aren't worth your attention as well.
Try a few out and see what works best for you and your playing style.