The strings on an acoustic guitar affect how it sounds and plays. Some steel strings are easy on a beginner’s fingers while some are not, and some strings go well with a particular guitar while some don’t, making the sound either too tinny or lackluster. In these cases, it’s recommended to change the strings to a set that would better suit the guitar as well as your playing style and level of comfort.
Low-cost acoustic guitars for beginners may not always have the best strings installed on them, which is pretty understandable considering their price point. However, this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them forever because you can replace the strings with a better-quality set. In addition, you do need to change the strings every few weeks if you play regularly to keep your tone fresh and clean and make learning to play the guitar more enjoyable.
Here’s what you need to know about getting the best replacement strings for your instrument.
Steel strings for acoustic guitars are manufactured in a variety of gauges or thicknesses. String gauges are designated in thousandths of an inch, with the lightest usually having a .010 gauge and the heaviest measuring .059 inches wide. The thickness of a string has an impact on a guitar’s tone and playability, so choose wisely!
As a general rule, the heavier the gauge of the string, the harder it is to play. Strings with a heavier gauge require more pressure in order to be fretted properly, which is why beginners are often advised to use lighter-gauge strings. Thinner strings also exert less tension on the neck of a guitar, making them a safe choice for guitars that may not be as sturdily constructed as guitar models with a higher price tag.
Lighter-gauge strings may not produce as much sustain and volume as heavier-gauge strings, but beginners won’t need much of those anyway.
When looking for replacement strings, check the string gauges your instrument currently has as these would be your basis. Dreadnoughts would usually have medium-gauge to light-gauge strings, while smaller models would have light strings. It’s best to stay within the range of the gauges or go for lighter strings rather than heavier ones.
Guitar strings are also made from different types of materials that shape how they sound. Bronze strings, for example, have a bright, clear and ringing tone but would need to be replaced more often because the material has a tendency to oxidize. Other string materials and string variations would have a different effect on a guitar’s tonal character and playing feel.
For beginners or young fingers, it is usually recommended to use silk and steel strings, which have silk, copper, or nylon wrap on a core of silk and steel. These strings are easier on the fingers and produce a more delicate tone.
Do some research on the different kinds of strings available and determine which would be suitable for your guitar and would meet your preferences with regard to tone and feel. It can take some trial and error to finally find the best set of strings for your guitar and playing comfort and style, but it’s all part of the process. Eventually you will find the right string set that meets all of your needs. Good luck!
By Jules Fitzgerald at knowyourinstrument.com