Best electric guitar strings for beginners

Ernie Ball Super Slinky

It's something most new guitarists don't think of until they break their first string - "what are the best guitar strings for me?". There are a bewildering range of guitar strings available, with terms like Nickel, roundwound, gauge, light, medium, skinny top etc to confuse the uninitiated. So here's some simple advice for the beginner:

1) You need 'Nickel' strings. These are the basic, cheapest silver-coloured srings. Don't be tempted to use Phosphor-Bronze (gold-colored) strings on your electric guitar, as these are for acoustic guitars only.

2) You need roundwound strings. Again, there are the most common ones around, so if it doesn't say flatwound, pressurewound, tapewound etc you can be pretty sure they are roundwound strings.

3) If you play mostly rhythm guitar (strumming chords), choose "10 gauge". Popular examples are Ernie Ball Regular Slinky or Rotosound Yellows, but the main thing is to look for "10 gauge". This means that the thinest string (the high E) is 10 thousandths of an inch thick - this is generally the best for beginners playing rhythm guitar.

4) If you play mostly lead guitar, choose "9 gauge". Popular examples are Ernie Ball Super Slinky or Rotosound Pinks, but the main thing is to look for "9 gauge". This means that the thinest string (the high E) is 9 thousandths of an inch thick - this is generally the best for beginners playing lead guitar as the strings bend more easily.

5) Change all of your strings at once, even of you're only changing them because you've broken one. You'll be amazed at how much brighter your guitar sounds with new strings and by changing them all you can be sure that you have a compatible set.

That's it! If you want to know more about guitar string gauges or manufacturers, see the "tab" links at the top of each page of GSG.

But remember, the most important thing for beginners is gauge - use 9 or 10 gauge as described above and don't be tempted to go for Extra Light or Heavy strings until you have mastered the basics of guitar playing.


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