Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – An Essential Guide

The best guitar strings for beginners are long-lasting and sound great. Let’s talk about what to look for in the ideal guitar string!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • What the best guitar strings are for beginner guitarists
  • The difference between light and medium gauge strings
  • The difference between acoustic and electric guitar string gauges
  • A short list of the best guitar strings for beginners

What Are The Best Guitar Strings For Beginners?

Your guitar strings are the most important part of your instrument!

Every guitarist has a different preference when it comes to which strings they use, but it’s a good idea to know where to start when we’re looking for the best strings for beginners.

  • As a rule, we recommend you start out playing using light gauge strings.
  • These strings have a bit more forgiveness to them, and will help you break your fingers in slowly while getting used to the feel of them.

As you progress, you may find your preferences for guitar strings will change, but for right now we’re going to stick to the best guitar strings for beginners.

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When it comes to brands, you have a wide variety to choose from.

Guitar string brands like D’Addario and Ernie Ball make strings for just about every possible type of guitar and guitarist out there.

Many factors play into what makes the best guitar strings for beginners, with a few of the more obvious ones being:

  • String gauge/weight
  • Material
  • Winding
  • Moisture & Rust-Proofing

Many guitar strings are made with a variety of different materials that affect the sound. Let’s jump into that now!

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What Are The Different Types Of Guitar Strings?

By 2019, we’re pretty deep into the guitar string manufacturing game.

Many different companies have stepped forth to tackle very guitarist-specific problems through innovation in the guitar string world.

  • Elixir for example has created an acoustic guitar string that guards itself against moisture, rust and corrosion.
  • This process extends the life of your strings and keeps them feeling (and sounding) fresh!
  • Ernie Ball have developed a brand of guitar string called the “Paradigm” that they claim does not break – period!

In short, it’s an exciting time to be a guitarist.

All of these wonderful options can complicated things, however.

As you will inevitably learn, ‘option paralysis’ is a real thing that we all must deal with in the music world.

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Some of the best guitar strings keep things simple. Ideally, we want something that won’t rust easily (if at all). Rust is a huge factor when considering the best guitar strings for beginners – or any level of guitarist for that matter.

  • If you’re an acoustic guitarist, check out the Nanoweb coated strings by Elixir.
  • For you budding electric guitar shredders, the Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinkys will stay fresh and last you a long time without too much fear of breakage.
  • D’Addario also make some fantastic strings for both electric and acoustic guitars that suit any price point and last long.
  • For our nylon-stringed friends, Savarez 500CJ guitar strings are the perfect fit for most classical guitars. These guitars keep their tone well and don’t wear down easily.

Next, let’s talk about what string gauges are, and why they’re important.

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Different String Gauges

‘String gauge’ refers to the size of the guitar strings.

Each string has its own gauge, and every string pack will display the gauge size of both E strings, low and high.

  • For example, the average light string gauge is roughly 0.009-0.042.
  • The numbers are representative of the size in millimetres,
  • The higher the string gauge goes, the heavier the strings get.

As guitar strings get heavier, they become more difficult to play and will tend to fight against our fingers a bit more.

The best guitar strings for beginners are lighter in gauge, as they allow us to play more freely.

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Pro Tip: You’ll want to start out on light gauge strings, but you should feel free to experiment as time goes on and you become more experienced in the ways of the guitar.

There are so many small things that affect our tone, and your string choice is one of them.

  • Once you’ve gotten used to the feeling of light gauge strings, try out a set of mediums!
  • Be warned that putting on a new gauge of string without setting your guitar up first can result in warping in the neck of your guitar and other massive inconveniences.
  • Check with your local music store guitar tech first, and have them help you put the new strings on with a proper setup.

Your guitar will thank you!

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Why Use Light Gauge Strings?

As a beginner, an argument can be made for both light and medium gauge strings, but less so for heavy gauge.

  • Heavy gauge strings have more specific uses, and are far less geared toward usage by the everyday guitarist.
  • You will find these gauges used most often in genres like funk and metal that require a much thicker guitar tone, and potentially lower tunings.

There is much debate surrounding whether guitarists should begin their journey on light or medium gauge, so we’re going to provide you the pros and cons of both gauges!

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Light Gauge Strings

Pros

  • Easier to learn and play on
  • Lets you focus on what you’re learning and less on fighting string tension
  • Loose and enjoyable feeling under the fingers
  • The ‘twang’ sound of light gauge strings is adored by many guitarists

Cons

  • Potentially ‘too loose’ of a feeling for some guitarists
  • Floppy strings may cause to much vibrato and not provide enough stability
  • Might not help us to develop calluses on our fingertips as quickly due to less string mass
  • Although light gauge strings are thinner and potentially more loose, they put less stress on our fingers when we begin playing guitar.
  • No matter what brand you decide to go with, light gauge strings are definitely among the best guitar strings for beginners.

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Why Use Medium Gauge Strings?

If you’re the type of person who needs a challenge to succeed, or isn’t quite satisfied with the feeling of light gauge strings, then mediums are definitely the way to go.

  • These strings have a bit more fight in them, but in turn they also more stability. This is due to the heavier gauge in the string.
  • These strings will sit tighter on your guitar, but they will have a bolder, thicker and more defined sound to them overall.

Medium gauge strings require a bit more pressure and force from the fingers, but they result in stronger fingers overall as well

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Medium Gauge Strings

Pros

  • Thicker gauge = More defined tone
  • Builds finger strength quicker
  • Helps us develop calluses quicker due to more string mass

Cons

  • Not as much ‘twang’ as light gauge strings
  • Can exhaust our fingers quicker at first
  • Requires a bit more force to play well
  • Medium gauge strings can be a bit more of a challenge to some, but they will ultimately help you develop your finger dexterity and build reliable calluses on your fingers.
  • This gauge is among the best guitar strings for beginners who want a challenge, and the potential for additional hand strength at a quicker pace.

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – The Gauge Difference Between Acoustics & Electric Strings

Acoustic guitar strings are considerably heavier than electric guitar strings by default.

With that, it can get confusing when we go into a guitar store, ask for ‘light gauge’ strings and get handed a pack of 12-gauge strings instead of the 9s we thought we were asking for.

  • Understanding the difference in what ‘light gauge’ means in the acoustic world, versus what it means in the electric world is important.
  • The standard ‘light gauge’ electric guitar string is 0.009, whereas the typical light gauge acoustic string is 0.012.
  • Elixir have popularized their own ‘Custom Light’ gauge of acoustic guitar string that measures at 0.011 – 0.052.

This makes it a bit easier on our hands to get used to the stiffness of the acoustic guitar.

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Acoustic Recommendations

We’ve included a short-list of some of our favourite and most reliable acoustic guitar strings based on personal experience below.

Personally, some of the best guitar strings for beginners that we have found are those that have a warm and defined sound, as well as easily playability and rust-proofing.

Writer’s Pick: When I first started out playing acoustic guitar, I used a brand of strings where the winding around the strings themselves would chip off and cut my fingers. Not pleasant!

After much experimentation, I personally settled on Elixir strings as my go-to brand. Along the way, I found a whole slew of different strings that offered their own character and personality to my guitar.

Guitar strings are personal – experiment with different brands to see what sounds the best to you!

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Acoustic

Ernie Ball Earthwood

Elixir Nanoweb Strings

Elixir Polyweb Strings

D’Addario Phosphor Bronze

D’Addario XT

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Electric Recommendations

In the electric world, the best guitar strings for beginners match much of the same criteria as outlined above.

Guitar strings need to feel good to play. We don’t want to be fighting constantly against them to get the sounds we want. Instead, we want a string that will work with us instead of against us.

Writer’s Pick: I’ve experimented at length over the years with different types of electric guitar strings to find the ones that were right for me. As of late, I’ve settled on Ernie Ball Cobalts for their durability and consistent sound. These strings can endure quite a bit of work without losing their brightness and tone, and that’s important for beginner guitarists too! We don’t want our strings to sound dull, so try and find a set that you like that holds their tone well over time.

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Best Guitar Strings For Beginners – Electric

Ernie Ball Cobalts

D’Addario NYXL

Rotosound Guitar Strings

Elixir Polyweb Electric Strings

GHS Nickel Rockers

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What ‘Feels’ Right?

A massive part of finding the right guitar string is feeling.

This is a broad concept, but the right strings will always feel right in our hands.

  • Every type of guitar string is different, from its sound and tone to the way that it plays.
  • It’s up to you to experiment and find what you like best!

Ask yourself the following the next time you pick up your guitar:

  • How do the strings feel?
  • Are my strings fresh and easy to play, or do they feel slow and sluggish?
  • Do I have to fight hard against the strings to get the sound that I want?
  • Do these strings feel too heavy for my hands?
  • Do they not feel heavy enough?
  • How do they sound?

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With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Stringing Your Guitar The Right Way

Pro Tip: Don’t skip this section, it’s important!

There are many right ways to string a guitar, but there are also plenty of wrong ways as well.

  • It’s important to find the right method for stringing your guitar in order to ensure a long life for your guitar strings.
  • The very best guitar strings for beginners are worth nothing if they aren’t strung up properly, so check out this video here to see our favourite and most reliable method for stringing an acoustic guitar.

If you’re an electric guitar player, we’ve got you covered too. Click here.

Look After Your Guitar Strings!

One important component we don’t want to miss out on is string maintenance.

After a while, our strings can experience buildup of dust, pick attack damage and even skin cells!

  • It’s important to wipe down our guitar strings after every practice session with a dry cloth to remove any excess material from the strings.
  • Keeping our strings fresh will help us stay on top of our practice easier and not have to focus on changing strings as often.
  • The best guitar strings for beginners will last so much longer if we take care to look after them.

Make sure to pick up a string maintenance kit to keep your guitar in top shape at all times!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Do you want more info on the best guitar strings for beginners? Check out these videos below for more:

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