Guide to Guitar Strings

guitar strings

Don’t get strung up when buying new guitar strings for your acoustic or electric guitar. There are literally hundreds of different strings on the market, but one way to choose between them is to pick a material that best suits your instrument and style.

Bronze

This is a misnomer, for bronze strings actually are made of brass wire (80% bronze and 20% copper) wound around a steel core. Bronze strings tend to have a mellow sound and a medium tone and are suitable for acoustic guitars. Occasionally, the bronze content is as a high as 85%, which give the strings a more even tone.

Phosphor Bronze

This string is copper in color and is made from the same durable steel used to make industrial-strength ball bearings. The strings are brighter and louder than bronze strings, and, because they are stronger, they retain their original tone longer.

Silk and Steel

Another misnomer. The string is actually a regular bronze string wound around silk rather than steel. They have mellow tone and are easier to fret, but they don’t have the durability of the bronze or phosphor bronze strings. These strings are more appropriate for acoustic guitars than electric.

Nickel Plated Steel

The most widely used string for electric guitar, nickel plated strings strings are steel wound with nickel plating applied. The plating enhances the feel and reduces finger noise and fret wear. These strings provide great sustain and a brighter sound.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel strings are brighter and provide even more sustain than nickel plated steel. They are the longest-lasting strings, resistant to oils, acids, and sweat (obviously a good rock and roll string!) However, because stainless is a harder material, these strings can cause more fret wear. Stainless steel is the most common material used for flatwound strings.

 

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