Guitar strings are the most crucial parts of the instrument, as they contribute the most to the performance, quality of sound, and playability of your guitar. There are many different types of guitar strings available in the market, and a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration to purchase the best electric guitar strings.
Not only are there many different types of guitar strings, but also a variety of brands that sell these. The quality differs from one brand to another. It can be quite a challenging task to search for the right strings for your guitar.
With the plethora of options that the music industry has to offer you now, you might end up getting confused. However, if you follow certain protocols like keeping the crucial factors mentioned in this review in mind, and doing some research of your own, you will surely find the suitable strings.
Factors To Be Considered Before Buying The Best Electric Strings
These factors will guide you in choosing and purchasing the best electric guitar strings. Taking this decision can be tricky and confusing for guitarists, especially beginners, who do not have much experience in this field.
There are three categories of guitar gauges mainly – light, medium and heavy sets. Some brands, however, also make gauges of two more categories – super light and super heavy. Most brands have a standard quality of gauges, and there is hardly any difference between them.
If you are a beginner who has only recently purchased a guitar, the medium gauge strings are a good option, as they are well-balanced in nature, suitable for general playing styles.
The reason why lead guitarists, and even beginners like playing with light strings is because these are very easy to use. As compared to other strings, light strings put less pressure on the bend and the fret. The drawback, however, is that they are more prone to breaking easily.
If the genre that you play is metal and rock, then heavy strings are ideal for you as they match perfectly with electric guitars. For heavy and aggressive strumming, these strings are the best as they do not break easily, and hence, are prone to rough usage.
The different categories of strings available are made of different materials or metals. Every metal has unique characteristics and sounds different due to unique tones of each. The most popular strings that electric guitarists use are nickel-plated steel strings, as these are well balanced and quite versatile in nature.
If you are looking for a resonating, crisp and sharp sound for your guitar, then stainless steel strings are your best bet. On the contrary, to produce warm and soothing tones, the ideal choice is pure nickel strings.
Other than the materials mentioned above, there are many other materials used to make the best electric guitar strings, such as titanium, cobalt, chrome, and copper-plated steel. Each material has its own tonal characteristics which you must get a demonstration of, before purchasing.
Durability is a crucial factor that you must take into consideration before purchasing certain guitar strings. You do not merely want your guitar strings to sound good, but also to be able to withstand rough usage and abuse.
For example, light gauges tend to break easily, so if you are someone who plays aggressively and expects the strings to be able to endure it, you have to go for a different category of strings. However, there are strings that will serve all your musical needs as well as last for a long time, and all you have to do is search for them.
Another crucial factor is the brand from which you are purchasing the strings for your electric guitar. This is an important step, as every brand differs from the other in certain ways, be it the quality of materials used or the style of making strings.
Sometimes, the same strings with the same wrap and gauge but manufactured by different brands, might not be completely identical. They may have variations in terms of the quality of metals used and the manner in which they are wrapped. At times, the difference will be evident in the way the strings feel in your hands.
However, it is only with experiment that you will know which strings suit you the best. It is best to purchase strings from a well-known brand because they are trusted by people and many have years of experience.
5. String Core
The core essentially lies under the winding of the bass strings on the outer side. A guitar has two types of cores- round core and hex core. Initially, all guitars consisted of only the round core, but eventually the hex core became equally popular, after it was introduced by a brand called D’Addario.
Hex core became the standard string core in the years thereafter because of a number of reasons -it had a good grip over the outer wire because of which sufficient friction was created. It also helped in making machine winding more consistent and accurate.
The hex core is stiff, bright, sustains less, has a stronger attack, and produces a modern tone which is also quite consistent. On the other hand, a round core is more flexible, produces warm, vintage and inconsistent tones, can sustain better, and has a gentler attack.
6. String Coating
There are different types of string coatings available as well. The concept of coated strings was introduced for the first time by a brand called Elixir in 1997. The brand used micro-thin polymer to coat strings, and this coating ensured that no amount of sweat, oil, or dirt could damage the strings.
This resulted in strings that had a better longevity and felt smoother, making no squeaky noise. Over the years, many other brands have come up with other forms of string coatings. In the present times, the most popular ones are nanoweb coating and polyweb coating.
If you are looking for string coating for electric guitars, then the two different types available are nickel plated steel nano and nickel plated steel poly. The options are limited in nature, which can be a good thing as it makes your task much simpler.
If you keep in mind the factors mentioned above, you will be able to make the decision of which strings to buy easily. In addition to this, a list of the best electric guitar strings has been provided to further help you make a choice.
Top 15 Best Electric Guitar Strings 2020
1. Ernie Ball Regular String
Established in 1962 in the USA, Ernie Ball is a brand for music accessories, best known for their guitar strings. These have been used by some of the most iconic musicians over the years such as Eric Clapton, Greenday, The Rolling Stones, Slash and many others. This brand was a pioneer of slinky gauge combinations.
This Ernie Ball flow-wrap package consists of a set of 3 guitar strings that come at quite an affordable price. The packaging has been done carefully with extra protection, so that the strings stay as fresh as when they were manufactured, without rusting.
The plain strings are made of high carbon steel round wire that prolongs the life of the string by preventing it from rusting. The wire is structured in a lock twist manner that maintains adequate friction.
The wound strings are made of nickel plated steel wires that produce sound which is balanced and classic. Even the consistency and the intonation is of an immensely superior quality. The core wire is a high carbon steel hex core that is highly durable and can withstand any amount of abuse.
The strings have been manufactured using some of the best materials available. High quality performance and playability is ensured by the brand. Since these guitar strings have been used by the best musicians in the world, you can be rest assured that the strings will be to your liking.
2. D’Addario EXL110-3D Strings
D’Addario is well-known for being the pioneer in hex core strings. This particular product is a bestselling set of nickel wound electric guitar strings. The XL series is able to produce music that is well balanced, consistent and has excellent intonation.
The packaging of this product also has been made well, to prevent rusting or any other kind of damage. This keeps the strings as fresh as the time when it was manufactured. The nickel plated steel strings are structured into a hexagonal shape.
The strings have a hex core that is made of a high carbon steel core that delivers bright tones, prevents the frets from wearing out prematurely and ensures durability of the strings. All this enables a great performance and playability.
The strings are highly versatile in nature, as they can be used for a variety of guitars and suits different music styles. Across all genres of music, these strings are used by musicians to make music that is beautiful. The string gauges are made of plain steel and nickel wound.
D’Addario has years of experience in making some of the best electric guitar strings. It delivers strings that are not only durable, but also has consistency and is of high quality.
3. Ernie Ball Cobalt String Sets
Slink technology is advancing everyday with new kinds of slinky guitar strings being introduced. The Ernie Ball cobalt slinky strings are such an innovation that promises maximum output and clarity, as it is engineered in such a manner.
The strings come in a well protected flow-wrap package that ensures resistance to rust or any other kind of damage. There is a combination of 3 individual sets of guitar strings inside the package.
The strings are made of cobalt, which makes the magnetic relationship between pickups and strings stronger as compared to any other alloy. A dynamic range is provided by the cobalt strings, as it delivers an increased low end, an incredible harmony along with highs that are crisp and full of clarity.
The plain strings are made of steel and they are structured in lock twists. This is done to maintain friction and prevent slippage. A better durability of the strings are also ensured by this. The wound strings are plated with nickel steel which produces music that is consistent and superior in quality.
The high carbon steel hex core, also ensures that the strings have a long life. Popular musicians such as the band – Every Time I Die, Steve Lukather, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Andy Anderson also use the Ernie Ball cobalt slinky guitar strings for their electric guitars.
4. D’Addario NYXL1046 Strings
Yet another excellent and efficient product from the house of D’Addario, the NYXL guitar strings encourages music that is fearless and that has no boundaries. The strings are strong, and will not break easily. This is an advantage for those guitarists who play aggressively.
You will gain a new found confidence and power to play from the high carbon steel, along with the plain steel alloy. You can now play as you wish, with your whammy bends without having to worry about the durability of the strings of your guitar.
These strings also help you tune your guitar faster so that you can get in tune easily, and the consistency of the tuning is also maintained.
As compared to the conventional nickel wound strings, these strings over scope for tuning that is more stable. You can now easily cut through the mix with the help of the mid-range frequency response that is in the approximate range of 1- 3.5 kHz. This range is further enhanced by the nickel plated wound strings.
The electric tone of the strings is ideal and it delivers a great performance. The playability of the strings must also be praised for allowing the freedom to musicians to play as they will without any inhibitions. The strings rank well in terms of comfort as well.
The superior stability and durability of the strings are maintained by the hex core construction which was first introduced by D’Addario itself. Taking all these features into consideration, you cannot help but agree that these guitar strings are one of the best electric guitar strings.
5. Fender 150R Strings
The brand, Fender, dates back to 1946 and since then, it has been a popular choice for some of the best musicians across the world. The brand is known for producing musical instruments and accessories that are innovative, of great quality and unique.
The Fender 150R electric guitar strings are ideal for you if your genre of music is jazz, classic rock or simply good old blues. The tones delivered by these strings are round and full, that resonate the classic tones.
The wire used for the strings are of the highest quality with a tone that is vintage, yet has the consistency of modern times. The strings are colour coded for your convenience. All you have to do is match the colour on each string according to the chart provided.
This makes restringing hassle-free. Fender aims for perfection by producing products manufactured with attention to details. A combination of the traditional and the modern is ensured to give a unique tone to the music produced.
6. Ernie Ball Super Slinky Strings
Ernie Ball is the pioneer of slinky electric guitar strings, which happen to be some of the best electric guitar strings in the world. Here, we have super slinky guitar strings from this brand that has become popular over the years, as it manufactures strings of high quality and which are easy to play.
This particular model comes in a set of 3 guitar strings that have been packaged with much care to prevent any kind of rusting of other damage. With such efficient packaging, the strings are not damaged easily and they have the same freshness as the time of manufacture.
The wire wrapping is made of nickel plated steel and it wraps around a steel core wire shaped like a hexagon, plated with tin. This kind of plating ensures that the strings can be easily played, producing the right amount of friction. Sweat, grease, oil, dust or anything else cannot cause any damage to the strings.
The tone that is produced is well-balanced and is of superior quality. Further, due to the materials used to manufacture these strings, they remain highly durable and can withstand endless amounts of abuse.
Even though the Fender strings are made in the dry deserts of California, it can deal with humidity without getting damaged. No matter how aggressive a player you are, these strings will not break easily.
7. D’Addario ECG23 Strings
The D’Addario XL chromes bring to you a set of flat wound electric guitar strings that are quite different from the round wound ones that we have been talking about all this while. Jazz players of all kinds will find these strings ideal for their genre, as it produces a low sound but which is also round.
What makes for the mellow, smooth and full tone of these strings, is the flattened stainless steel wrap wire that is used. This wire wrapping is polished and wound properly to produce such tones.
The hex core construction was pioneered by D’Addario way back in the 1930s. This construction ensures stability and intonation of a superior nature. The string winding is done by digital machines that ensure speedy productivity, consistency and attention to details.
The wire drawing is done in a manner to ensure the best playability and performance. The strings will suit all your needs and are manufactured keeping individual specifications in mind. Lastly, the string gauges are made of plain steel.
8. DR Strings Strings (NMCE-10)
This New Jersey based company manufactures some of the best guitar and bass strings in the west. DR Strings is a brand that dates back to the year 1989, when it was first established by Mark Dronge. They have been providing excellent service to musicians since then.
This medium sized 10-46 package is well packed and shielded from rusting or any other possible damage. The set of guitar strings are multi-colored with neon shades. Each one is a different color, and this adds to your persona while playing on stage by giving your guitar a touch of pop and funk.
Imagine if there is UV black lighting on stage and you enter with the guitar, looking all colourful and standing out. The crowd is sure to go crazy by the entire aura created by your performance with those multicolored strings.
Neon colored K3 coating is applied on all the strings to enhance their projection. Even the durability of the strings are increased due to this coating. You do not have to worry about your strings breaking easily now, no matter how aggressively you play.
Unwanted overtones are reduced to a minimum with the help of the neon K3 coating. To add to all this, the sound produced by the strings is clear and every tone is detailed to the very core. There are 6 strings available in the package, with every string having a different color.
Much like the strings mentioned above, this one also features a wrapping of nickel plated silver and a core that is hexagonal in shape. The luminescent colours of these strings will surely brighten up the mood and get rid of any environment that is morose.
9. Elixir Polyweb Strings
Elixir is one of the leading brands when it comes to manufacturing the best electric guitar strings. With years of experience, the brand has become the most trusted in this business due to the high quality material it uses and the excellent durability of most of its products.
These strings have a nickel plated steel wrap wire constructed around them. This enables the strings to deliver a performance with tones that are full of clarity, warmth and boldness. The strings will feel soft and sleek in your fingers when you play them.
The reason for this is that it has a coating of original polyweb around it. This ensures that you play the strings without any difficulty and with maximum comfort. This polyweb coating is unique to strings manufactured by Elixir as it prevents the strings from corrosion.
The durability of these strings are hence, longer than any other strings produced by other reputed brands. The tones that these strings produced are so dynamic and versatile that you can try it to decide which tone suits you best. Noisy squeaks are reduced to a minimum with the help of the patented coatings.
The strings are engineered to endure sweat, dirt, humid weather, oil among other things. It is better than most uncoated or even coated strings available in the market today.
10. Ernie Ball Classic String Set
Ernie Ball has surely set the standard for guitar strings that are especially made keeping in mind electric guitars. Iconic musicians and some of the pioneers of a variety of guitar styles, have used the Ernie Ball strings and delivered some of the best performances of their lives.
The wrapping around of nickel plated steel has been done with precision in mind. This wrapping is done around a core that is tin plated with high carbon steel. These materials used to wrap the strings produce tones that are warm, smooth and which perfectly suit genres of music like jazz, blues and rock.
The packaging is done in an environment that is low in humidity. The strings are well protected inside, from any kind of damage, especially rusting. Made in the USA, some of the finest quality materials have been used to manufacture these strings.
The core wire in the strings have been made using tin plated high carbon steel hex wire. These coatings ensure a greater longevity of the strings and sets the endurance levels of these strings to the maximum. Musicians like Eric Clapton, Glen Tipton and others have praised Ernie Ball for its stellar strings.
A set of six strings are available in the package, and these strings are regular slinky in nature. One could even say that these set of strings are the best electric guitar strings for beginners.
11. GHS Strings GBL-5 Strings
GHS strings have brought to you this model, GBL-5 electric guitar strings that are packaged with a set of 6 strings. The packaging has been done quite well. It is an air tight, resealable, Nitro pack that remains fresh from the factory for a long time.
These boomer strings are really powerful in nature and have a lot of strength. No matter what your playing style is, these strings can be played by all as they can adapt to almost all genres of music.
These are called power strings, because of the coatings of nickel plated steel on a round core that ensures long durability. A bright and long lasting tone is expected from these strings.
The GHS strings are some of the best you will come across, as these are manufactured in a state of art manner, within a controlled environment and using the finest materials available. With these strings, you can be rest assured about consistency, quality and a sound that is smooth and harmonious.
12. Gibson Brite Wires Strings
The Gibson Brite Wires electric guitar strings have a bright and crisp attack. The sound is also very warm and smooth, due to the nickel steel plating on the strings. A longer and better durability is also ensured by this plating.
The core is hexagonal in shape and made of Swedish steel. These strings can ensure any kind of weather, especially if it’s humid. No matter the sweat, oil, dust that touches these strings, they will not get damaged very easily.
Gibson Gears is a company that is well known for manufacturing music accessories. This brand is situated in the USA and has as its logo- “American made, World played”. As the logo says, musical accessories made by the company are sold all across America and outside as well.
13. GHS Strings GB-DGF Strings
The GHS strings GB-DGF is a favourite and quite popular among musicians because of one man – David Gilmour, the famous Pink Floyd guitarist. These strings are, in fact, a part of the David Gilmour Signature Series. He played these strings for the first time in 1979 for ‘The Wall’ project.
These are some of the best electric guitar strings that are used by musicians from almost all genres. Each string has been packed in a controlled nitrogen environment from which all oxygen is gotten rid of. This level of protection ensures that the strings do not suffer from rusting and are fresh as ever when you open the packing.
These strings are a state-of-the-art production that have been crafted keeping minor details in mind to attain utmost perfection. The strings have been made using nickel plated steel wrapping, and have a steel hex core.
GHS is a brand that ensures the best quality, consistency and music that is warm and smooth.
14. Ernie Ball Paradigm Strings
Yet another stellar product by Ernie Ball, these regular slinky paradigm electric guitar strings are known for their legendary tone and strong strings that resist vehemently against any breakage. These have been used by quite a large number of iconic musicians like Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton among others.
Both the nickel plated wound strings and the plain strings have an immense amount of strength that can endure high degrees of aggressive playing. These strings can also be tuned fast, and they remain tuned for a long time.
There is no need for a traditional lock twist, as the string is locked to the ball end with the help of the Reinforced Plain Strings (RPS). The strings are resistant to corrosion and all other possible defects have been carefully removed from them by using plasma.
The nanotechnology used ensures that no matter the amount of dust, sweat or oil, the strings will play without any difficulties, and produce warm and smooth tones.
15. Gibson Les Paul Strings
Gibson Gears brings to you these legendary Les Paul premium electric guitar strings. This has been specially designed with the guidance and input of the guitarist, Les Paul. He later went on to endorse these strings, and that is one of the reasons behind the popularity of the Gibson strings.
The strings have been wound up with nickel plated steel wrappings. These ensure that the strings deliver a tone that is smooth and warm. However, they can also add that level of punch when you require it to.
Ambient noise is minimized by the ends that are silk-wrapped. These strings are widely available in the market. However, you must try playing them a few times before actually making the purchase. Your fingers must be comfortable with the strings.
These strings have a light gauge which means that they are ideal for soft, smooth tones as they are prone to breakage. Rapid aggressive strumming on these strings will cause damage to them.
FAQs on Electric Guitar Strings
1. How Often Should I Replace My Guitar Strings?
This depends on how often you play your guitar, and also the genre of music that you play. A professional guitarist with gigs almost everyday must consider replacing the strings after every two shows, and those who play occasionally can do so once a month or even a year for some hobbyists.
2. What Gauge Of Strings Should I Use?
There are two factors that determine this – your preference and the function of the gauge. Depending on your style, you might go for a heavy gauge if you tend to tune your guitar down a half step or more. Heavy strings can also ensure more output from the guitar – if you use it with magnetic pickups.
Whereas, light strings are always preferred if you play solo.
3. Are Used Strings Worth Buying?
No, used strings are absolutely not worth buying and wasting your money on. Strings are prone to wear and tear. Those that have been used a lot can easily break.
You surely do not want to purchase strings that are on the verge of breaking, due to rapid usage and finally break during one of your performances.
It might take some time and some amount of trial and error before you find the perfect strings for your guitar. Keeping all the factors in mind and doing research of your own will surely bring you closer to that goal. However, remember to stay calm and not get overwhelmed by the tide of products the market has the offer.
The list presented above is also a limited one and there are many other strings that are equally good. The decision comes down to which strings feel comfortable in your fingers. Once you find the ideal string, you will never want to experiment with any other.