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The Spaghetti Junction that is the String buyers market, can often be just random luck or you can go forearmed, with a little knowledge from other guys in the know, what strings do I buy? Acoustic, Classical and electric guitars all use different types of strings and there are many brands that offer strings for all guitar types. After working out what type of strings you need you then have to choose from a huge assortment of brands. What brand to buy is as varied as the opinions on which strings are voted “The Best”. This is not an exact science and can be a personal preference that makes a string brand suit your guitar needs. Ever wonder what the differences is between materials strings are made from? There are nickel and steel strings, check out this clip from an article MATERIAL = LONGEVITY Although the nickel alloy, that pure nickel- wound strings are wrapped with, is softer than plain steel, chrome, or stainless steel, pure nickel strings often have a considerably longer playing life because their perceived tone changes less rapidly than that of other strings. Nickel strings start off warm (that is, sounding “played in”) and stay that way, losing high end zing gradually as they age. Chromed and plated sets sound extremely lively to begin with, but that edge tapers off quickly as their coatings are worn away, giving a shorter perceived playing life. Softer nickel strings are also easier on your frets, which are themselves softer than chrome or stainless-steel strings (unless you have newer stainless-steel frets). Guitar Player (Aug 10 2110 ) Coated Strings Coated strings come in various forms of coating like polyweb, nanoweb and PTF coating. Brands like elixirs are long lasting but some people don’t like the feel of the coating. Both acoustic and electric guitars can use coated strings. Fun Strings Some brands now have coloured strings and strings that glow in the dark, these are really a fun gimmick and look cool but the longevity, tone and feel of these strings will need to be tested by yourself, remembering that although these strings look cool new , they may well turn ugly as the colour wears off with playing.. Jazz Strings? Flatwound strings which have a duller sound and smooth texture instead of the ribbed feel of normal strings, these are a favoured type for many jazz players. What Strings and Gauge is right for me? String gauge sets are often named by the gauge of the thinnest string . Sets ranging from a .8 set to .13 gauge set is usually the range of gauges for acoustic and electric guitars. Custom or hybrid gauge sets. Some players like a light thinner gauge at the top string and heavier thick bottom strings for rhythm styles mixed quick lead styles. Manufacturers make specially labelled sets like “light top heavy bottoms” just for these guys. Playing style, music style, technique, tone and what kind of guitar you have are factors that are considered in choosing string gauges. Blues and jazz players often use heavier strings that have a thicker a more tone-full sound but rock/metal players often choose light gauges for faster more technical guitar work . Heavier style players who drop tune lower than standard tuning choose heavier gauges to balance out the slacker tunings. How do I know what gauge is on my guitar? Unless your used to how .9 sets and .10 sets feel on different guitar you may have, or either have the old packaging or a micrometer which can measure your string diameter , you have no way of really knowing . Take it to your local guitar shop and they can usually advise you which gauge is on your axe. There are no set rules but quite often super-strat type guitars like Ibanez or Jackson guitars, with floyd rose floating type trems, have .9 to 42 gauge and fender strat type guitars often have .10 to 46 gauge strings from the factory . Changing to new strings that are a different gauge can often change your guitars setup and playabilty especially if you use floating bridges like floyd rose tremolos. The tremolo can end up at a higher angle or you will find it wont tune or the strings buzz so much that it’s useless to play. You will need to have it set-up again or put the right gauge strings back on it Try different brands or keep to what I know? . It is worth trying several brands, as often guitarists will say that they “feel” different than to their previous brand. FACEBOOK QUESTION POLL Below are several comments from a facebook question , what string do you use? Jon Bex - Elixirs. I like the warmer tone, which is easily brightened using a strat through a blues jr Edward L Garrett - Big fan of Ernie Ball M-steel. They have a very nice tone to them & they do not feel slippery under my fingers like coated strings, but also they feel softer. David Dickerson - Elixirs too, I'm too busy (or lazy) to change strings as often as I should. David Kliment - Ernie Ball - Skinny Top Heavy Bottom (10 13 17 30 42 52) tuned to Drop C = perfect for playing solos while having a heavy kick-ass bottom Anthony Pence - GHS is simply the best for me. I used earnie ball for a while but didn't really like them. Good strings just didn't last long. Kangaroo Jack - Elixir rules,no question Scottwork Stirling - I tried elixir's and found them to feel s##t and out of all the strings I've bought and tried D'addario are by far the best and the NYXL 10's are just brilliant !! Chris Kritsotalakis - Personally, I think that D'addario are sh## for electric and Elixir is the SH##! D'addario is good for classical guitar, nylon strings. Anton Dimov - Ernie Ball Cobalts for 7 strings Tom Cahill - For my 6's D'addario NYXLs They're fantastic, they sound great and add a really nice mid range crunch. For my 7, D'addario 54 - 9. Although if anyone could recommend some strings for a 7 that'd be great! Jared Constable - I just use slinkys (Ernie Ball) Mario Anthony Nevarez - Clear tone strings on acoustic are amazing I won't buy anything else Rexx Gtr - Recently local music store has had front desk specials with "Wirez" strings 3x set for $5 electric 9s or 10s, I basically bought all their stock. That is like $1.67 a set of strings and they're quite good too. Diego Julian Guzman - I use the heavy core 12-54. They feel great, and I have never broken a string with them. EVER! Lol Terry Freer - Ghs custom 13 gauge set, using standard tuning Shane Preston - I bought Elixir Polyweb strings which are for acoustic guitar, I put them on my electric guitar, but they sounded great, compared to the ones I have now, which are Ernie Ball, I'm sure going to try Electric Guitar strings by Elixir. I prefer Elixirs because of the coating, they feel good, sound good, and they last longer than uncoated strings. Rex Allen Goble - I like the Elixers too. Roger Winright - D'Addario .10-56 in D standard tuning, because I don't care how long they last, only that they sound good I have a floyd rose, but I don't mind changing strings when I have to. Loz Ruston -George Benson Thomastik Infelds are freaking awesome, but way too expensive. William Hahs - Acoustic -Martin sp long life, electric- D'Addario 11s. Donald Scott Acoustic- - Martin SP long life 9's, electric- - GHS Boomers 9's for drop tunings, D'Addario 10's. Adegoke 'Tobiano Joel' Tobi - Alice is the only string i have ever lay my fingers on. it's what we get in musical store here in Africa. Ravis Simpson- Martin Marquis for acoustic and EB's on electric. Martins just sound great to me when they're new and mine age gracefully and I got a ton of EB's when I won a few contests years ago and nothing sounds better than free strings. Richard Greer - I played GHS "Boomers" for years then I switched to D'Addarios. Steven Lopez - Elixirs I too like for the same reasons Mark mentioned they seem to last longer no doubt, but for me somewhere in my brain I came to the conclusion that they muted my overall tone and I only used them on my Martin-D28 never for electric so it's just from that perspective probably will give them another shot, D'addario 9-42 is my long-time buddy for Electric Music----like an old dog I keep coming back! to that which I know and love! Shane Preston - I bought Elixir Polyweb strings which are for acoustic guitar, I put them on my electric guitar, but they sounded great, compared to the ones I have now, which are Ernie Ball, I'm sure going to try Electric Guitar strings by Elixir. I prefer Elixirs because of the coating, they feel good, sound good, and they last longer than uncoated strings. Conclusion – As you can see the opinions are varied and it’s up to you to either stuck with what you know or test out the many option you have on offer in today’s string market , good luck
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