What are the best new strings for my electric guitar?

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  • By Erik Bogaards
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What are the best new strings for my electric guitar?

Playing zero gigs and spending lots of time at home? That could be a perfect opportunity to put a new set of strings on your electric guitar, 'because life is too short to play with shitty strings!'


When should I replace strings on my electric guitar?


As with strings on western guitars, this differs strongly from: after each performance, till: if they break. Even with electric guitars, it really depends on the player how often string replacement is required, but we do not recommend leaving them on until they break.


Because a fresh set of strings just gives a guitar that little sparkle we love so very much. That's why all the guitars we sell, leave our store only after a setup with a new set of strings of your choice. If you have one guitar and you play it every day for a few hours, some strings will last no more than a week. If you throw in a performance or practice session, strings suffer even more due to sweat, temperature changes and transportation. No matter what  strings you use and no matter how many times you play, they need to be replaced when  they're dirty or  they start to sound a bit dull or the tuning becomes a little trickier and less and your guitar slips out of tune quicker.


What are the best strings for an electric guitar?


One might swear by Ernie Ball, the other by  D'Addario and the next prefers Elixir.  In addition, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of brands. Thanks to years of experience in our workshop and customerfeedback, we have already selected the best strings for you. This will make choosing a lot easier, because you know, that no matter which strings you buy from us: they are always good.


Strings provide you with a great opportunity to change the sound and the playability of an electric guitar. So the question should not be about ‘The Best’ strings. That is impossible to answer. It is more an issue of which strings suit your playing style best?


Most guitarists are somewhat in the habit of sticking with what they know when it comes to strings. So they choose the same brand and gauge over and over again. Even when they change guitars. That's a bit of shame, because with the right string and guitar combination there is really a lot to be gained. Costs are not so bad, it  just takes some of your time, but after that it may just be that things that didn't work out first are now suddenly a breeze.


Do you ever have trouble reaching that one note with a bend? Try a set of extra thin strings. This does not have to cost more than five euros and can give you a lot of fun and convenience.


Are you trying to add a more 'umpf' to your sound? Or do you like to play in different tunings? Thicker strings will help you. Want a nice jazzy sound? There are  special strings for jazz-cats. Our advice: just try! Do you want to compare strings? It's best to do that by buying a few sets at once and replacing them after a week. Otherwise, the difference between old and new strings becomes too big. We guarantee that you will notice differences and experience very quickly what does and does not work for you.


Should I buy nickel, nickel  plated or coated strings for my electric guitar?


That depends mainly on your preferences and the only way to find out is to try.


Nickel Plated


The most popular string that provides a good balance between warmth and clarity.


Nickel/Pure Nickel


Offers more warmth that especially classic rockers love.




Coated strings are usually made of the same metals, but a thin plastic layer is added. This coating makes strings last longer, they squeak less and are softer on the fingers. Some players love that, others despise it. Elixir has started with coated strings, but now more brands offer  coated versions, such as Ernie Ball's Paradigm strings.


What thickness or string gauge should I choose for my electric guitar?


To indicate the thickness (gauge) strings have a name: from Extra super light to Super heavy and/or a number. That number represents 'thousandth of an inch':


Super Light: .008 .010 .015 .021 .030 .038, also called: zero eight or eight


Extra Light: .009 .011 .016 .024 .032 .042, also called zero nine, or nine


Light/Regular: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046, et cetera.


Medium: .011 .015 .018 .026 .036 .050


Heavy: 012 .016 .020 .032 .042 .054


The differences may seem minimal, but if you play a set .008 after a set of .010, it feels completely different! With acoustic guitars, the model plays an important role in the choice of string, but that is slightly less the case with electric guitars. That means you have a lot of room to try strings. Do you play solo guitar? Opt for something thinner than the standard .010. Usually that gives more speed and bends become easier. Do you play metal? Go for a Heavy set. Do you want the best of both worlds? There are also 'mixed' sets. For example, with thick low strings and thin high strings (light top heavy bottom). Not sure what to choose? We can always help, just call, e-mail or use the chat function on our website.


If you try something else, it can change the tension of the strings. If you choose thinner  strings, for example, your guitar could start to buzz or rattle a bit. This can all be solved with a setup during which we can easily adjust electric guitars to the desired string gauge.


Do thick strings sound better?


No. Thick strings sound different. They can give a fuller sound, but also make sure that after an hour of play you have sore hands or just have to work harder to make your playing sound the way you want it to. It's a persistent myth that all the great guitarists play with thick strings. Stevie Ray Vaughn did, but Eric Clapton, BB King and many others do and did their thing with relatively thin strings.


Flatwound or roundwound strings for my electric guitar?


Strings for electric guitars consist of a thin inner string with a thin wire wrapped (wound) around it. The type of wire used for the winding affects the sound, feel and price of the strings. Roundwound is usually cheaper and by far the most popular.


Flatwound is the mellow-fellow for electric guitars,  like Silk and Steel strings are for acoustic guitars. They sound and feel a little softer, squeak less and give a nice round tone. You don’t get as much attack and loose some sustain and volume, but especially jazz musicians love these strings.  


What tools do I need when I'm going to replace strings?


It can be done without tools, but a plier is useful for cutting the remaining ends and a string winder helps you to finish the job a lot quicker. D'Addario has put both tools in one supereasy device. A tuner comes in handy and will also be useful after replacing the strings. Recently we have create our own tuners, in collaboration with ENO and they cost less than 10 euro’s!


How do I replace strings on my electric guitar?


Fender guitars made a great video:



Help! I have a Gibson, PRS or other model?


For this, Guitar Academy has made a very detailed video:



Can I cut all the strings at once?


As you can see in the first video by Fender, you can cut all the strings at once, but you have to release the tension first. If you loosen the stings a bit more, you don't have to cut. Whatever you do, never ever cut the strings if they are under tension. Your guitar might be able to handle it, but more importantly, you don’t have control over those strings when you cut them. A string might jump in your face or scratch your guitar. Or both. Are you going to replace strings? Release the tension first.


I often break strings, how do I solve this?


If you often break strings, it can be caused by very different reason. Maybe you'll leave strings on your guitar for too long and then they break at a very bad time. Usually after some travel i.e. at a gig or rehearsal.  Maybe you dig in a bit too hard and a heavier gauge fits your playing style better. Maybe you're trying to do things that more flexible strings can do without any problems. There could also be a sharp edge on the bridge of your guitar or somewhere else. I can be a bit of a puzzle but usually there is a solution for frequent string breaking.


Feel free to contact  us if you have any questions.



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