At this suggest in my life, I was young, naïve, and kbrand-new extremely bit about my instrument. “Uh… the excellent type,” I responded, before beating a hasty retreat to the bar. Fun fact: the strings on my acoustic guitar were not “the great kind.”They were, in reality, the cheapest set they stocked in my regional guitar shop.

You watching: Acoustic guitar string sizes

The just reason I’d reinserted the collection of strings that were on the guitar when I bought it was bereason I broke my top E string in the time of an especially frenetic strumming session.

Like young me, many kind of guitarists don’t provide strings a 2nd believed.


They must, though.


While seemingly inconsequential to the uninitiated, strings have actually a enormous affect on your tone and also your playing. That’s something I realized after this awkward encounter, and it’s stayed via me ever given that.

But just how do you discover the best collection of strings for your acoustic guitar? There’s a minearea of gauges and products out tright here to navigate, and also it have the right to get pretty overwhelming if you’re not in the understand.

That’s where this guide comes in. If you don’t recognize your custom-lights from your heavy gauge, or your silk from your phosphor-bronze then read on. This is the oversee for you.

Note: For the purposes of this overview, we’re talking around acoustic steel string guitars. We might come earlier to you classic nylon players in a future edition!

Getting to grips with gauges

Strings come in a selection of different “gauges.” The gauge sindicate describes the diameter of the string; in other words, exactly how thick it is. String gauges array from light to hefty – here’s a run down of the most prevalent types:


Those numbers on the finish tell you how thick each string is in inches. And they get thicker as the strings gain reduced. With additional lights, for instance, your optimal E string would be the .010, while your bottom E would certainly be the .047.

As a dominance, lighter gauge strings are simpler to play, and therefore discover favour through beginner guitarists. However, they likewise have actually a tendency to break more easily. Heavier strings meanwhile, deserve to administer a fuller tone, even more volume and are even more long lasting against harder strumming.

See more: 10 Of The Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under 2000, 7 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $2000

In truth though, it’s not a straightforward as “light strings for beginners, heavy strings for pros.” There are, in reality, a number of determinants various other components that will affect your choice in gauge.

You must element in the size of your guitar’s body, for instance. Smaller bodied guitars often feel much better and also sound nicer through lighter strings. Contrastingly, the bigger sound chamber of a big body or a jumbo acoustic benefits a heavier gauge. But then, this can be tempered by the sound you’re going for. Heavier gauge strings emphasize your guitar’s low-end tones, while lighter strings are, by-and-huge, brighter and sweeter sounding.

And, you need to element in whether you’re a finger picker or a plectrum player. Lighter strings benefit fingerpickers as they’re kinder on the fingertips, while heavier strummers need heavier strings (I’m absolutely in the last category).

Material types:

It’s not simply about the gauge! Strings come in a range of products, and also these have the right to influence tone, playing and also longevity:

Bronze: Constructed via 80 percent copper and also 20 percent zinc, these will carry out you through a bright and ringing tone. But, as anyone that knows their chemisattempt will tell you, bronze oxidizes, so expect them to age conveniently.

Phosphor bronze: As the name says, these are bronze strings via phosphor included. Phosphor exoften tends the life of the strings, yet also alters the tonal quality, making them warmer and also darker than conventional bronze.

Brass Strings: Less well-known than their Bronze and Phosphor Bronze countercomponents, these ones are quite harsh and in-your face sounding; nearly banjo-prefer tonally. Their benefit is that they cut with a noisy mix, and also they’re handy for buskers and those that percreate in public locations.

Silk and also Steel: Soft and mellow, these ones are basic to play, yet not that durable. They’re good for fingerstyle players as they mimic the feel of a nylon string guitar and develop much less string noise once fingers slide-up and also down the fretboard. They are additionally the perfect strings for youngsters or others just founding out, who uncover it hard to fully depress the strings.

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A last note on acoustic guitar strings: YOU NEED TO CHANGE THEM! How regularly counts on just how often you’re playing. Occasional strummers might gain amethod via a switch every six weeks while gigging guitarists might need to change them every few days. Whatever you carry out though, don’t leave your strings on till they sound duller than a seminar on paint drying – it’s not fair on your guitar!

What strings execute you usage on your acoustic guitar, and exactly how often do you readjust them? Let us understand in the comments.

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