My favorite guitar strings
Let me guess...You just broke a string, and it's your first time buying a new pack! I don't envy you, because the learning curve here is steep. There are so many variables and so many opinions on the internet that you might as well be shopping for Martian rocks. Any google search will show you an avalanche of "Top Things To Search For When Buying Guitar Strings", so I won't bother with that. Instead I'll just talk about my favorite strings for both acoustic and electric guitars, with thorough descriptions of each and explanations as to why I prefer them for my particular style. Keep in mind though, every player is different and what works for me might not work for you.
First let me explain what kind of player I am, and why that's important. I'm what you might call an intermediate professional player. I took lessons for 9 years, and I've performed in a variety of bands from jazz, to folk, to rock, to metal, basically you name it and I've done it. I use a variety of techniques including fingerpicking, using picks, and "travis picking" or "hybrid picking". Although I have not earned an academic degree, I'm familiar with complex chords, modes and soloing techniques, and rhythm methods. I've spent a lot of time working with cover bands, and the genres have been diverse. For these reasons, I need strings that can take abuse and sound great no matter what I'm playing, for hours on end. I play laminate top acoustic guitars that don't need a lot of maintenance and attention since I play outdoor gigs, always with an onboard pickup system. Because of that, my acoustic strings need to sound full and resonate with clarity when my guitar is plugged into a sound system(as opposed to using a microphone to get the guitar sound). I play a Fender stratocaster with humbucker and single coil pickups through an Egnater 2x12 combo amplifier. The strings I use need to work with well with those variables.
Acoustic Guitars - Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze
Gosh these strings sound great. I mean really, really great. They're more expensive than a basic set of Martin or D'addario strings, but if you're a performer, recording artist, or if you just love your guitar to sound as great as it can, I'd absolutely recommend giving these strings a try. The big reason to go with Elixir strings is their coating. They actually dip their finished strings in a coating that makes their strings last longer and sound better. Choose from their polyweb coating, which is thicker and tends to fray like yarn after a while, or their nanoweb coating, which makes them feel like an uncoated string. They hold up very well against corrosive finger oils and resist breaking very well. They have a bright, chime-like sound that just sings in a way other strings I've tried just don't do. Elixir offers phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze strings, the latter of which is just a bit too much high end for me. Each of these variants is available in various string gauges that fit different players' needs, but my preferred gauge is the .012-.053 set. This makes for a balanced feel across the fretboard that doesn't wear me down during times when I'm playing a lot of barred chords.
Electric Guitars - Ernie Ball Nickel Wound Regular Slinky
In my opinion, the tone of an electric guitar has very little to do with the strings you put on it. This isn't to say that there aren't differences between the available brands, but the real tone drivers are the amplifier and the guitar itself. That's why I use the Regular Slinky strings, is because I know I can rely on them. After that it's all up to the knobs on my equipment! The great thing about these strings is that they're not too expensive. Flip the pack over when you see them at the store and you'll see a hundred well-known bands on the back all endorsed by this brand. Ernie ball offers their regular slinky strings which are wound in nickel, a very popular idea among string brands. They also make strings wound in steel or cobalt, but after testing these out I've found the original nickel wound strings to be the clearest sounding, most versatile strings. I go with with their .010 - .046 set since I use a standard tuning most of the time, though they do offer other gauges. If you're like me and you play a lot of small chords that only use the thickest three strings, but you also bend your thinner strings during leads, you might try the Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky strings. These are great if you can't decide between the string gauges of the .010-.046 set and the .009-.042 set.
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