With all the different brands and types of guitar string available today one could be forgiven for not knowing which are the most suitable, and how they will affect the tone and ultimately your playing. Read our rough guide and hopefully we can demystify this and point you in the right direction the next time you’re faced with the choice!
This may seem obvious to most but first and foremost we need to identify which guitar you have. The three main types would be Electric, Acoustic and Classical. Now, these three types can also be called other things, for example an Acoustic could also be ‘Steel String’, ‘Folk’ or ‘Western’, a Classical could also be known as ‘Nylon’ or ‘Spanish’, and an Electric could also be called a ‘Solid Body’, ‘Semi-acoustic’ or ‘Jazz’.
Next we’ll break down the main types of string compatible with each guitar.
Acoustic – 80/20 Bronze & Phosphor Bronze
- 80/20 Bronze includes 80% Copper/20% Zinc.
- Phosphor includes 8% Tin & a small amount of Phosphor.
- The two terms above refer to the 4 wound strings included in a standard set of acoustic strings (the other 2 being plain steel which are exactly the same as found in an electric set).
- In essence, 80/20 will sound a little brighter whilst Phosphor produces a warmer, richer and more complex tone.
- Think about the tone of your guitar and select a winding to suit.
- The core of the string is also important too – Some strings have a hexagon shaped core instead of round, which can add more presence and clarity to the tone.
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Electric – Nickel Wound & Winding types
- Nickel wound strings are used for the majority of the time on electric guitars.
- It is possible to buy sets which have a wound third string like in an acoustic set but for a standard set you should aim for 3 wound and 3 plain.
- The two main types of winding included are ‘Round’ and ‘Flat’ wound.
- Round wound strings are the standard for most guitars and offer a bright clear tone.
- Flat wounds are mainly used by Jazz players wanting a warm and slightly dulled tone.
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Classical Guitar – Silver wound & Tensions
- The go to string set for Classical will include 3 plain nylon and 3 silver wound strings.
- Making the mistake and using acoustic or electric strings is a bad idea and can damage the guitar due to the tensions involved.
- Classical strings are available in low, medium, hard and extra hard tensions.
- My advice would be stick to either medium or hard and get a feel for both on your guitar.
- Low and extra hard can be used on certain guitars but for standard use and playing they are not required.
Click here for our range of Classical Guitar Strings
For bespoke advice, custom setups and restrings, please contact our guitar department on 0161 445 4466 or send us an email