How to Select Guitar Strings

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There are so many types of strings on the market today that it can get quite confusing for the beginning guitar student. Here's help with picking the right strings for your type of guitar.

Things You'll Need

  • Guitar Amplifiers
  • Guitar Cables
  • Guitar Cases
  • Guitar Picks
  • Guitar Stands
  • Guitar Straps
  • Guitar Strings
  • Guitars
  • Keep in mind that the string you select depends on the type of guitar you play, the sound you want to create and your preferences for ease of playing.

  • Go to your local music store and look at its selection of strings.

  • Get nylon strings if you are a beginner. They have a soft, mellow tone and are easy on the fingers. You will stay with them if you decide to play classical guitar.

  • Pick ball-end nylon strings, frequently called "folk nylon," if you want to become a folk guitar player. They are a little heavier than regular nylon and take vigorous strumming.

  • Get Monel strings if your fingers are strong enough to handle metal strings. They have a much sharper and louder tone than nylon. The thickness varies according to the type of set purchased; medium-light gauge is recommended for beginners. Do not use them on classical or electric guitars!

  • Select silk and steel for finger-style playing. They are much easier on the fingers than the regular metal strings. Do not use them on electric guitars because they will not pick up electricity.

  • Pick bronze strings for fingerpicking on a folk guitar. They provide brilliance in sound. Select light gauge for finger-style playing, heavy gauge for strumming.

  • Buy a set of brass strings if you want your tone to be sharp and harsh; they are usually more brittle than bronze.

  • Get flat-polished strings if you desire ease of playing. They are easier on your fingers than standard metal strings. These strings come for both acoustic and electric guitar.

  • Select flat-wound strings for any electric guitar. They are comfortable to the left hand and give a smooth tone when amplified. This string is preferred by many jazz guitarists.

Tips & Warnings

  • As you can see, selecting the right set of strings for your guitar is a highly personalized decision involving many considerations. After trying different sets, you will know which ones are right for you.
  • Replace old strings on your instrument. When a string gets old, it sounds dead. Beginning students can start looking for wear after about five weeks. When in doubt, ask your guitar teacher.
  • Never use metal strings on a classical guitar - the neck is not built to sustain the tension and may warp quickly.

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