What Are The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings?

Wondering what the best acoustic guitar strings are? You’re in the right place! 

In this quick guide you will learn:

  • 3 essential tips that will help you pick the best acoustic guitar strings for you.
  • The no#1 secret to finding the best acoustic guitar strings for live and studio use.
  • 5 quick secrets which will help you change your guitar strings fast.

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What are the best acoustic guitar strings?

In our opinion, the 4 best sets of acoustic guitar strings are made by these companies:

It used to be the case that certain string brands were higher quality than others. There were most definitely good strings and bad strings.

But these days acoustic guitar strings are consistently well made. You won’t go wrong with any of the above brands.

best acoustic guitar strings

Ok, so what are the BEST?

Having had a chat between all of us at the National Guitar Academy, we would rank the string brands in this order:

  1. D’addario
  2. Elixir
  3. Ernie Ball
  4. Martin

We’ve have found that the Elixir strings tend to last longer than any of the others. The D’addarios are sweet sounding, and the Ernie Balls and Martin strings are reliable and solid choices.

The Elixir strings tend to be more expensive than the others but last longer, so there’s a value trade-off that you should consider when buying.

What’s string size is best for me?

Acoustic guitar strings come in a variety of thicknesses. We refer to these thicknesses as ‘gauges’.

They vary from:

  • Extra light gauge
  • Light gauge
  • Medium gauge
  • Heavy gauge
  • Extra heavy gauge

People often refer to the gauge of a pack of strings by the thickness of its 1st string.

For example you might hear someone walk into a guitar shop and ask for a ‘set of tens’.

For 99% of guitarists, the preferred string thickness is between 10 & 13. The lower the number, the lighter the gauge of string.

As a rule, the lighter the strings are the easier they are to play.

The heavier the strings, the harder they are to play. It’s much harder to barre all 6 strings with heavy gauge strings.

Extra light strings are perfect for beginners as they’re far easier to play!

Heavy strings are more suited to the experienced guitarist.

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Which string gauge sounds best?

Lighter strings sound quieter than heavy gauge strings.

Heavy gauge strings are perfect for scenarios where you need to project a full sound such as:

  • Busking
  • Recording

What’s the golden rule?

String choice is a very personal thing. One person’s PERFECT string gauge is another person’s worst nightmare. You have to experiment to find the best acoustic guitar strings for you.

It’s pointless using heavy strings if they don’t help you play the guitar or get better!

Pick the string gauge which sounds and feels best to you. Sometimes there’s a trade off. You have to sacrifice one for the other. (But you won’t know until you try. So try lots!)

For beginners we recommend:

  • Extra light gauge
  • Light gauge

For intermediate players we recommend:

  • Light gauge
  • Medium gauge

For advanced players we recommend:

  • Medium gauge
  • Heavy gauge

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.

What are coated strings?

Coated strings are guitar strings which are coated with a thin layer of polymer coating.

This polymer coating acts as a barrier between your fingers and the strings.

This protects your guitar strings from damaging substances such as oil, sweat, dirt and skin. (Yuck!)

These strings are perfect for beginners as they can help your guitar strings last MUCH longer.

There’s nothing worse than picking up a guitar with old strings on.

Try and buy coated guitar strings, your guitar will thank you for it. (To buy coated acoustic guitar strings go here.)

best acoustic guitar strings

Do I need to change my guitar strings?

Yes, you do! Guitar strings are the bread and butter of your guitar tone. If you guitar strings sound bad, you sound bad. Simple as that.

For the average home player, you should change your acoustic guitar strings every 4-6 weeks.

best acoustic guitar strings

How do I know when I need to change my guitar strings?

It’s pretty clear when you need to change your guitar strings.

  • Watch out for ‘dirty’ looking strings. They start of gold and shiny, then turn orangey (this is when you should change them). If neglected for a long time they will turn brown and if left for years they eventually turn black!

If you can’t even remember when you last changed your guitar strings, trust us, they need changing!

How to tell is the strings need changing

If nothing sounds GOOD. If you feel you’re stuck in a rut. These are classic signs that you’re guitar needs freshening up.

The best thing about putting new strings on is you INSTANTLY sound 10% better as a guitarist.

How to change guitar strings like a pro…

To learn how to change your guitar strings, watch this video where Mike shows you how:

Check out this article to learn how to change your guitar strings in more detail: How To Change Guitar Strings

What tools do I need to change my guitar strings?

Here are 5 essential tools that you need to change the strings on your guitar:

1) A pack of fresh guitar strings

Obviously, you need some brand new guitar strings. Whichever you decide are the best acoustic guitar strings for you, pick up a set.

2) A string-winder

A string winder makes changing strings quick and easy.

3) A pair of pliers

You’ll need to snip those strings as you’ve changed them. Pliers help you keep everything neat and tidy.

4) A decent cloth

If you want to look after your guitar, make sure you wipe down all the dust and grime off of the neck. A microfibre cloth is ideal.

5) Lemon oil or fretboard conditioner

It’s important to look after your fretboard. Rubbing lemon oil or fretboard conditioner into the neck stops your fret board from cracking and splitting. It also helps you zip around the fretboard more quickly.

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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