This blog post was written by Aisha Kellaway
We all know that apart from the guitar itself, nothing helps you to sound as awesome as you can (and deserve to) than a decent set of guitar strings. With so many different brands, styles and gauges on the market it can be hard to choose the set of strings best suited to you, your guitar, and your style of music.
Of course, everyone’s preferences of strings vary and there’s no solid rule as to which are the best guitar strings, ultimately it is simply up to personal preference based on your own unique style. Despite this, we thought we’d put some of the most competitive, affordable brands on the market to the test so we could help lead you in the right direction. Whether you’re looking specifically for cheap guitar strings, acoustic guitar strings, electric guitar strings, nylon guitar strings or even bass guitar strings I hope these tips can help you out.
1) Cheap But Good Quality: Affordable Guitar Strings: Ernie Ball
To be honest, when it comes to value for money, at the cheaper end of the scale you can’t overlook Ernie Ball’s range of Slinky Guitar Strings (available in a variety of different gauges from “extra slinky” [8’s] to “not even slinky” [12’s]). The most standard and popular of these probably being the “Regular Slinky” Strings [10’s] which are suitable for most guitarists and genres from blues to rock although metal guitarists may prefer the “super slinky” set for ease of bending and faster pace. These nickel-plated steel guitar strings combine longevity with bright, clean and crisp lasting tones. They are relatively soft to the touch and suitable for pickers and strummers alike.
2) The Classic Choice (Nylon): Best Classical Guitar Strings: D’Addario (EJ45 Pro-Arte Normal [.028-.043] Classical Guitar Strings)
We found the best nylon guitar strings to be D’Addario. Another cheapy, but let’s face it; there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we’re still reaping the results. Although I personally wouldn’t rate D’Addario for their steel strings, their nylon guitar strings carry excellent tone and resonance. These babies won over professional grade guitar strings in their niche because although they may be of a slightly lower quality, for less than half the price they still sound awesome and hold a note perfectly comparable to the bigger competition.
3) Best Electric Guitar Strings: Elixer (Electric Guitar Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating – Super Light [.009-.042])
Don’t be put off by the fact that these guitar strings are coated. Despite the association people make between coated guitar strings and greasy fingers/uneven coating, these guitar strings have never presented me with this problem, nor have I heard of them doing so. The tone these strings present is great and long-lasting. Experienced guitarists won’t find the strings hard to bend and their longevity makes them more desirable to this market than slightly cheaper options such as D’Addario’s electric guitar string range.
4)Best Acoustic Guitar Strings: Elixer (80/20 Bronze Acoustic Sets Ultra-Thin Nanoweb Coating – Extra Light [.010-.047])
Again my pick has to be the Elixers when we’re considering both quality and price. These acoustic guitar strings are quick to settle which avoids the initial constant tuning many acoustic guitar strings require. I personally believe that the coating in this case acts as a benefit; it minimises the noise created by sliding your fingers up the wound strings, and also makes it easier to do so. They are more expensive than non-coated guitar strings in the same market, however the longevity of these strings makes up for this; you are definitely coming out on top.
5) Best Bass Guitar Strings: Rotosound
Base line is; these bass strings kick-arse. Rotosound offer a range of different bass guitar strings with various gauges and marketed to different genres (Funkmaster, Swing Bass, Jazz Bass, Roto Bass etc). You’re sure to find the bass guitar strings suited to you and your style. Rotosound’s “Jass Bass” guitar strings are flatwound, which have the benefit of being easier on the fretboard. The “Jazz Bass” strings reminded me of the old 60’s style of bass, clear and mellow but with that bit of oomph 60’s jazz music was famous for. Generally speaking though, Rotosound guitar strings are easy on the fingers compared to other bass strings, present a sustained melodic, resonant tone and hold their tuning well. Although we’ve placed them as the best bass guitar strings I’m going to sneakily add that all Rotosound guitar strings hold their own and are a safe string of choice. They provide players of all levels of expertise with excellent tonality, and are comparatively indestructible. What more can you ask for.
On a finishing note, a main problem associated with guitar strings is premature snapping and general wear. A lot of damage to guitar strings is not primarily due to playing hard (which we all enjoy and aren’t going to stop any time soon), but by wearing strings down by the oil and sweat residue left by your hands after you’ve finished playing. In turn, this then makes the strings, no matter what the quality or promised string longevity, more susceptible to premature breakage. A small tip which takes little effort and may prolong your average string life is to simply wash and dry your hands properly before and after you play. Running a thin piece of cardboard under each string and down the neck of the guitar to remove any build-up of residue is also handy as it not only prolongs the life of your guitar strings but also helps to keep the guitar neck and frets clear of grease build up. Look after your guitar and your guitar strings and you will get the best results any of these products can offer.