Learning a new instrument is great fun, but with it comes a lot of technical details, like what sort of guitar strings you should choose. Even guitarists with years of experience can find it hard to switch strings, as the price tag can be quite high and picking the wrong sort can set you back a pretty penny. When it’s time to pick out new guitar strings, keep these three factors in mind to ensure you make the right choice.
Choose the Right Gauge
Gauge refers to how thick the strings are in millimeters and should be displayed on the package. The gauges may go by different names depending on the manufacturer; for example, Ernie Ball classifies their gauges as “slinky,” “super slinky,” and “beefy slinky.” The gauge you pick will have an impact on how difficult your guitar is to play, but it will also influence the tone of your playing. Heavier gauges are less flexible and rougher on your fingers, but they also produce a much richer tone. This makes heavier gauges ideal for metal or hard rock. Lighter gauges, on the other hand, are smoother on your fingers and much more pliable, making them easier to fret. But, the sound they produce is much brighter and they are easier to break. Beginners should start with medium gauges and introduce lighter or heaving strings slowly over time.
To Coat or Not To Coat
A plastic coating on your strings can help prevent rust and increase the string’s lifespan. The brand Elixir is especially known for their plastic coated strings – they call their coating “Nanoweb” or “Polyweb”. Elixir strings are excellent, but should be reserved for the more proficient guitarist. The reason for this is that you will notice a significant price difference between coated and non-coated strings; even more importantly, it is vital that new guitarists learn to play on strings that feel natural, and plastic-coated strings have an entirely different texture and feel. Beginners should first learn on uncoated nickel-wound strings until they have enough experience to move on to plastic-coated strings. Even then, although plastic-coated strings don’t need to be replaced as often as non-coated, a guitarist may decide he prefers the sound and feel of natural uncoated strings. Whether you grow acclimated to the feel and tone of uncoated strings, or you feel that coated strings are the best value for their lifespan and sound quality, this is a personal choice based on your preferences and particular needs.
Save Money, Buy Bulk
No one likes paying a lot of money up front, but sometimes it’s the best solution for a guitarist on a budget. The fact is that you are going to need new strings throughout your guitar-playing days, and if you buy in bulk you will save a lot of money in the long run. Even if you are only saving a couple of dollars per unit, the savings will add up – plus you won’t have to worry about guitar strings for a while! Not only will you certainly need to replace guitar strings over the course of time (you should be changing your strings at least once a month, if not once a week for more vigorous or regular guitarists), but you’ll be quite unwilling to let that investment go to waste. Look up deals and discounts on the internet or coupons for your local music store to soften the economic blow. Just make sure you know what sort of string you like before you buy a case of the wrong kind!