Which gauge guitar strings should I buy? – Question of the Day

Guitar strings come in different widths or “gauges”, from “light” (thin) to “heavy” (thick). Heavier gauge strings can boost volume and sustain (the amount of time the string rings) but can be painful to play as they are strung tighter and make bending harder work. Light gauge strings are easier to fret (i.e. to play bar chords) and to bend but are more easily broken and are sometimes considered to have a slightly thinner sound.

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Guitar-plucker, piano-tinkler, sonic-mangler, Red Dog Music-owner, lion-tamer, and Weetabix-devourer. One (or more) of these is a lie.

6 Responses to “Which gauge guitar strings should I buy? – Question of the Day”

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  1. Matthew says:

    Totally depends on how you play and what style. I think mixing gauges works quite well. For example, if you play metal and do a lot of soloing, you might want a light gauge on the G, B and top E. However, for those nice fat bottom end power chords and deeper riffs, you might want a heavy gauge on the low E, A and D.

    It also depends a little on your guitar set up. Some set ups will mean that the lighter strings are too quiet compared to the heavier strings – you can compensate for this with altering your pick ups but if you’re switching between rhythm and lead, that may not be the ideal solution, depending on the effects etc you’re using.

    I play mostly rhythm with 10 gauge strings but for little arpeggios or rhythm-based riffs, the G, B and E can be a bit light if I’m not playing the E, A and D and I sometimes put heavier strings there. I have used a D for a G, a G for a B and a B for an E, although these days I tend to buy heavier separate strings (so far I’m yet to find a good wound G-string; they tend to unwind at the bridge and need replacing quite quickly).

    Some people say you become a better player if you use heavier strings to learn and then switch to lighter ones if suitable later on. That is what I did. But I also think that because lighter strings makes it easier to play, it might help you to learn lead guitar more quickly. So there are pros and cons for new players either way.

  2. Matthew says:

    No problem. I also have quite strong opinions on brands but thought you might not want them shared here!

    • RedDogMusic says:

      Share away! It’ll help us decide what to stock 🙂

      • Matthew says:

        I don’t think it will because I was just going to say that I think Ernie Balls are poor quality. They corrode very quickly and break a lot. I now use d’addario and they’re far better for around the same price. A lot of people use Ernie Balls though.

        Elixirs are great but are a bit more pricey. Possibly worth it, depending on how likely you are to break them.

  3. Strings.ie says:

    If you're new to Guitar (or any stringed instrument) its best to start off with light gauge strings, once your fingers develop you can try heavy gauges. 11's & 12's would be the most popular for Acoustic Guitar, 13's for the serious strummers. Give us a shout at http://www.strings.ie if you have any questions, we'll be delighted to help you choose the correct strings 🙂

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