The one accessory I always buy with any new guitar is a pack of new strings. However, when picking out guitar strings, most beginners and even people who've been playing for decades aren't really sure what kind of strings to get. Well, I've got great news, I have a couple simple questions for you that will help you find the perfect set of strings.
First of all, what kind of sound are you looking for?
Most companies string their guitars with something called light strings. These strings have a bright and crisp sound, very clean, they almost have a ringing tonality to them. If you're looking for light strings for your acoustic guitar, get the package that has .11 as the smallest number (if you want an even brighter tone you can go for .10s). If the strings are for an electric guitar get one that has .9 as the smallest number.
If you want a bass-ier, more resonant sound, the strings are going to be a little harder to play because you need thicker strings when you want that rosier tone. Thicker strings mean your fingers are going to have a harder time pressing the strings down. If you want a more resonant sound, you should get medium strings, for an acoustic the number you're looking for is .12. For an electric .11 will do just fine.
The other question that will help you on your journey is: what kind of wear and tear does your guitar see?
If there are harsh weather conditions or you are playing very frequently, you're going to want to get some coated strings. These tend to cost a bit more than regular strings but it's better to buy one set that will last you more than a year than to pay twice as much because the regular ones can't take the pressure of their environment.
For those of us who don't practice very often and live in an area that doesn't have extreme weather conditions, as long as you keep your guitar in a nice case that is well sealed and make sure to clean the strings every once in a while, you are free to buy regular strings for your guitar. I would always recommend getting the coated strings simply because they last a while longer than regular uncoated strings, but as long as you take care of your guitar, your regular strings will last almost as long.
So now you have a basic idea of what you need to look for when you go to pick up a pack of strings from your local Music and Arts Center. If you would like more help narrowing down the selections, any of us here would be glad to help you out! From all of us here at Music and Arts, enjoy yourself and have fun!