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What to Buy

If you have just started playing, chances are you may be unsure just what strings to buy.

We have included here, OUR suggestions as to which strings to start with.  Once you have decided what's right for YOU then you can search for the tone...

We can give advice, but only you, the player can tell what is right for you!

Should you feel unsure as to what strings you need, email us with your instrument details and we will do our utmost to help you choose the right strings.

Starting Point:

Electric Strings & Acoustic Strings for beginners:  WE would always suggest having a starting point. So with Electric guitar strings - start with a standard .009-.042 gauge nickel wound set. With Acoustic guitar strings - start with a set of .012-.053/.054 gauge bronze wound set.

You must then determine whether these feel either too heavy or too light for your own style of play and you can judge whether you want to go up a gauge (heavier) or down a gauge (lighter).  There are so many gauges on the market, we're sure that you will eventually find the right set for YOU, but the gauges suggested above are a great start to that discovery.

Novice Players

If you have only just started out on the road to rock & roll stardom, fear not!  Here are some useful tips on how to begin getting the right strings for you.

Electric Guitar Strings 

As mentioned earlier, the best place to start is with some lighter strings such as 09-42 gauge. We recommend Legacy Pro-Tone Nickel Wound Electric strings.  These strings are inexpensive and will give you an idea of how electric strings feel. From here you can decide whether a heavier or lighter gauge would best suit your style of play plus they also come with a free 1st & 2nd, handy!

Acoustic Guitar Strings

Much like Electric guitar strings, novice players are advised to go for a lighter gauge such as 11-52 or 12-53. Legacy Tru-Tone Phosphor Bronze Strings are again are a great starting point to give you a first hand idea of which direction you should head in. There are of so many different strings out there from coated strings to flatwound to different alloys of wraps.  All this can seem quite daunting if you are not familiar with strings but finding the right gauge is certainly the best place to start.

Bass Guitar Strings 

With bass strings a perfect starting gauge would be 40-100 we advise beginners to go with either Rotosound or Elites as both are well respected manufacturers and will stand you in good stead for the future. If these are a bit out of your price range you can always try the Legacy Bass Strings...again a great starting point at a more economical price.  

Intermediate Players

Assuming you are happy with your gauge of strings, finding the right sound can be a never ending search for some. Remember - If you are happy with the sound you have, it is usually best to stick with it as you maybe looking for something that isn't there.

Electric Guitar Strings - Nickel wound strings such as D'Addario EXLs and Ernie Ball Slinkys are great sounding strings, but if you want a bit more of a traditional sound then Pure Nickel strings maybe for you (i.e Fender 150's). Or you may prefer a brighter tone? In which case Stainless Steel sets are another option.  Please note Stainless Steel sets may wear your frets quicker.

If you have a Stratocaster with a whammy bar you might want to try the Fender Super bullets. The ends of these strings are bullet shaped so they fit neatly in the block of the Strat so even with heavy use of the whammy bar the bullet end still stays firmly in the block keeping the guitar more in tune.

Acoustic Guitar Strings - On an acoustic guitar 80/20 bronze would give a very bright, vibrant sound (i.e Martin M140 or D'Addario EJ11) but if you are looking for a rich, warm tone a Phosphor Bronze would be a better choice (i.e Martin M540 or D'Addario EJ16).


Classical Guitar Strings:


Novice Players: a beginners string choice are Tonesearch Classics which come in normal tension this tension being more forgiving.


Intermediate Players: there are a range of classical strings in this category such as D'Addario Pro Arte coming in Normal, Hard or Extra Hard tension, Augustine Gold, Darco by Martin going up to Savarez. We recommend for an intermediate player either Normal or Hard tension.


Experienced Players: More experienced players find a string that has good projection,low string noise combined with long string life is something that can elude them but there is a huge range on the market these days with ever increasing improvements being made.


Bass Guitar Strings - Bass players used to boil their strings to add extended life to their sets (we are sure some still do!) but the truth is there is no need anymore. With prices ranging from under £10 a set to there is something for everyone. D'Addario, Ernie Ball & Rotosound are superb strings and serve all budgets and abilities. Bass guitar strings are similar to guitar strings in that there is a whole host of gauges, windings and alloys used. Nickel wound sets will provide you with a great sound but for a more bright, punchy sound a stainless steel string would prove a wiser choice.  

Jazz Guitar Strings - A lot of Jazz players like to invest in a set of Flatwound/Tapewound strings which give off a smoother, warm tone with string noise tempered similar to that of Wes Montgomery.  Nowadays most manufacturers produce flatwound sets so there are a whole host of jazz strings to choose from.  You may wish to even try the Thomastik BeBop sets...a roundwound jazz set or even a halfround/groundwound set (where the windings on a roundwound set are slightly flattened off to give a smoother tone and feel).

Jazz Flatwound Bass Strings - In the same light as Flatwound guitar strings, bass strings also play smoother with less string noise perfect for Jazz Bassists or Fretless players. Flatwound sets do tend to be more expensive than ordinary roundwound sets but certainly give the desired tone.

Bridge Pins - Changing your bridge pins can have a remarkable effect on your guitar's tone and really bring it "alive."  New pins can help the guitar stay in tune longer, make string changes easier and they can look great as well! We stock lots of variations from plastic to ebony to brass.  Each have their own unique tonal characteristics and can come with different inlays on top to match and accentuate the beauty of your guitar.



Guitar Cables - Now you are happy with your choice of strings you want to amplify you guitar and annoy the neighbours as much as possible. Beginners may want to start with a lead which is not too expensive but is still reliable. The next step up are Smart Cables made with high quality cable and genuine neutrik jacks. A Smart cable is of a quality which believes its price and can bring your guitar alive. Another step up you have the much raved about Planet Waves instrument cables by D'Addario, produced with special input=output jacks and gold plated plugs they ensure the exact signal from your guitar gets to your amplifier.

In the way of patch cables an excellent choice is Piranha 1 metre Patch Cables coming in a variety of colours these leads are made with non-crackle cable and metal neutrik connectors ensuring a high quality signal. Also available in angled jacks in 12" / 24" & 1 metre.

Guitar Straps - OK you have your guitar, the right strings, your plugged in and ready to rock, do you want to be sitting down? NO! Everyone needs a strap. If you are looking for a standard strap to do the business then look no further than Ernie Ball Polypro strap you cannot go wrong.

Perhaps you were looking for something slightly more funky, then maybe Levy's Leathers would be your choice ranging from the flamboyant designs of the polyester straps to the graffiti artist street design straps to the classic signature series suede straps there is something for every player, Levys also offer a high quality standard webbing strap available in black, red, blue & extra long .

At one stage or another every player using a strap comes across the annoying consequence of the strap slipping off the guitars end pin, there is a simple answer to this problem straplocks. Schaller straplocks ) are a simple contraption fitted as standard on all Fender USA guitars which is easily attached to your guitar and locks your strap firmly in ruling out any chance of it falling off. If you are looking for a more cost effective way of tackling this problem then you may want to look at the Jim Dunlop Lok which is low cost and requires no modification to your guitar just put your strap on the end pins and slip the Lok over the top securing it firmly.

Guitar Slides - For the Slide players who have visited Strings Direct.co.uk here is the low down on the slides we carry in stock. Firstly we can start with the Standard Jim Dunlop Glass Slide this slide gives off a warm, thick tone that accentuates the middle harmonics of your sound, probably the most popular of all the slides at the moment and for those who like a slightly thicker/heavier glass version try the Clayton glass slide . Then we have the sister to the glass slide the Jim Dunlop Standard Steel Slide produces a bright tone and is very lightweight perfect for electric guitar.

Next we have the Jim Dunlop Solid Brass Slide favored by both acoustic & electric players for their comfortable weight and mass, also available with added mass. At the top of the ladder are Shubb Axys Slides and Tonebars. The Axys Slide is designed to allow you to switch from regular guitar playing to slide it has a half cavity which with a simple twist of the slide you can alternate between the different styles. The tonebars are for lapsteel players and with 4 different styles will suite any player.

Guitar Tuners - If you are just starting out then chances are your ear is not to the point at which you can tune your guitar without a guitar tuner. We offer a wide range of tuners for all levels starting with the Korg GA-40 Auto Tuner which suits bass, acoustic & electric guitars as well as violins. Also in that price range we have Korg CA-40 Chromatic tuner being chromatic means that the tuner will tune all notes including flats & sharps. Next on ladder we have tuners such as then headstock tuners by Snark and Korg and plenty of other choices. These are really handy & compact products which are really accurate. Finally we step up to, for the gigging musician, pedal tuners to which you cannot get better than the Boss TU-3, accurate, compact and build like a brick at its a tuner built to last a lifetime.

Metronomes -

The Korg MA-1 is a portable, versatile metronome for precise rhythm training, it has a compact metronome that contains complete functionality for accurate tempo production and display. It is pocket sized for easy carrying, if you're uncertain of the numeric tempo of a song, simply press the MA-30's tap-in button in time with the rhythm you hear, and the Tap function will set the tempo accordingly.

Guitar Capos - The first capo we have to offer is the simple yet effective Jim Dunlop Standard Elastic Capo at whether you are just starting or simply want an easy solution you cannot go wrong with this capo. Next up we have the Shubb series of capos one of the best if not the best capo on the market with various different models to suit different shaped fretboards - i.e. nylon, 12 string, electric & acoustic. Also available in the Shubb range is the Shubb Deluxe which has a new roller mechanism for ultra smooth operation and comes in stainless steel. Finally is the Kyser capo with its trigger style mechanics for quickly changing is designed to fit every 6 string instrument.

Guitar Stands & Hangers - The Fender Mini Guitar Stand is a superbly designed stand with the traveling musician in mind, the Mini Guitar Stand is sturdy, folds quickly and easily, and is small enough to fit inside most guitar cases . For wall mounted hangers you cannot go wrong with the bespeco wall hanger which screws securely to the wall and fits all types of guitars & bass, or if your budget is abit tight try the Stagg wall hangers

Guitar Care - Everyone has to look after their guitar to make sure that it sounds and looks at its best, Guitar surfaces can fade, become cracked or brittle, and lose their luster. Without proper maintenance the life of your guitar will be shortened. Here are some products you may find useful to perfect the performance of your instrument.

GHS Fast Fret is a string and neck lubricant which prolongs fingerboard life and lets your fingers slide freely over the strings and neck, Fast fret is designed specifically for stringed instruments so it will not damage, stain or soil your guitar in anyway. Also around the same area as the Fast Fret we have the Kyser Polish & Lemon Oil. Kyser Polish protects your guitars finish & even improves playability. Kyser Lemon Oil is formulated for fingerboards and other oil-finished wood surfaces, cleans & protects against drying & tones down scratches and blemishes.

Planet Waves Polish & Planet Waves Conditioner is available, Planet Waves Polish is a pump action spray that cleans, protects, removes fingerprints, smudges, and has a nonabrasive formula suitable for wood, metal and plastic surfaces. Planet Waves Conditioner is specially created to restore and maintain your guitar, this polish has been researched and designed to meet the requirements of professional luthiers to give your guitar a longer life. Now we come to cloths Planet Waves Pretreated cloth for use with less or no polish made with a double napped cotton flannel picks up dirt, dust & oil better than any other material. Also available are Planet Waves Untreated Cloth designed to buff & polish without scratching.

Guitar Picks - Obviously picks are a personal thing whether you like heavy or thin, big or small, wedge or teardrop we at Strings Direct have a vast range of guitar plectrums, here are just a few to set you in the right direction in choosing the correct pick for yourself and your style of play. Firstly you have the standard shape which everyone has used at one time or another, this pick is available in almost every make we stockFender, Gibson, Jim Dunlop etc...with a wide body and a round tip this pick is a favorite with many guitarists. Next we have the Jazz Style with a more oval shaped pick it is a nice compromise for players looking for something slightly smaller than the traditional pick. Now we have a similar shape to the standard shape in the Teardrop style it is slightly more narrow but the same length if you need a pick with a slimmer profile.

Lastly we have the a pick that many bass players use for its large sturdy shaped to cope with the heavier strings on bass guitars. The wedge style pick is a large rounded triangle which provides three edges if one wears down just switch sides. The wide body provides plenty of surface to hold & the rounded tips give a nice, smooth action.

We also stock some specialist plectrums such as the Dava Control , coming in a pack of 5 these picks have a revolutionary multigauge system where the pick itself changes gauge from soft to medium to hard depending on where you grip on its surface.

Don't miss out on some great funky designed picks as the Alien series & Jim Dunlop Blackline Series, and many other shaped and sized picks.

String Winders - To make replacing strings easy it is best to use a string winder on the pegs to quicken up the winding process, here are some choices from the Strings Direct range. Firstly we have either the Fender Clear winder or the Jim Dunlop winder both of these are standard & very simple to use. On from there we come across the Planet Waves Deluxe Guitar Winder & the Planet Waves Deluxe Bass Winderboth specifically designed for their instruments & with built in string stretchers they allow you to tune your instrument quicker. Finally we have the Planet Waves Pro-Winder Tool this useful contraption comes complete with a super quick winder and built in clippers making restringing fast and easy.

Guitar Books - Strings Direct are now stocking a range of guitar books and DVD's including tuition books with lessons on playing the blues, acoustic riffs & guitar scales and much more.

Gig Bags - CNB gig bags are the choice of many, we stock the range from electric to acoustic to classical. They are a great bag at a great price! The Mono gig bags are at the pinnacle of the gig bag ladder, a real quality product. Yes they are not cheap but if you want the best, look no further!

Effects - Almost everything is sorted you've got the right strings, a cool strap, the best picks, a reliable tuner, a great cable and your guitar is being taken care of. Now you want your own sound, you don't want to sound like the average joe strumming away to the same old familiar tune, you want a distinctive tone that makes you stand out, effects can help you achieve that goal and here are some effects products and reasons why they may be the right bit of gear for you!