Are extra light strings best for a beginner learning guitar?
Extra Light guitar strings are normally 8 gauge for electric guitar and are available from most major string makers. Beginners are often tempted use extra light strings because they are easier to hold down and aren't so hard on the new guitarist's fingers - all guitarists have experienced grooves in their fingertips and the pain that goes with it! However, there are a number of problems with using very light strings on your guitar...
1) Light guitar strings snap easily!
Light strings need more skillful playing and even in the hands of experts are more likely to break sooner.
2) Light guitar strings are difficult to tune accurately.
Tuning is often difficult for the beginner, and very light strings can be even more difficult to tune - and easier to snap during the tuning process.
3) Light guitar strings are more likely to buzz.
Because they have less tension, the string moves when picked or strummed and can be more prone to buzzing
4) Light guitar strings move out of pitch more easily.
One of the great things about very light gauge guitar string is that they are easy to bend, allowing the lead guitar player to put lots of expression into his playing by bending the pitch. Unfortunately this ease of bending can be a big problem for the beginner, especially when struggling to play chords. If the fingers aren't used to accurately holding the chord there is a tendency to bend the strings, taking the notes of the chord off-pitch even if the correct notes are being fretted.
5) The thinner the string, the thinner the tone! (A generalization... but generally true)
So for all of those reasons and more, we would recommend that electric guitar beginners start with 9 or 10 gauge strings. With a little practice you should find that both of these gauges are suitable for the beginner, can be tuned and played easily and don't snap too often.