If you’re a beginner guitarist, it can often be overwhelming to know what the right strings are for you. Many companies have lots of different strings available and in addition to this, there’s often a lot of terminology thrown around that can be difficult to understand.
However, fear not. In this article we’re going to tell you what the best guitar strings for beginners acoustic are, as well as everything you need to know about guitar strings.
Which acoustic guitar strings is best for beginners?
There are many different guitar strings available on the market. However, we recommend light strings for beginners as they a reduced string tension and are much easier to play.
In terms of string manufacturers that produce the best guitar strings, here’s a quick list of five of our top three favourite string companies:
- Ernie Ball.
Each of these companies have many different products available, however to help you out, we’ve put together a review for each of their best guitar strings for beginners. Let’s check them out.
Best Guitar Strings For Beginners
Ernie Ball Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Extra Light
Ernie ball strings are easily one of the most famous guitar string companies in the world. Producing guitar strings for artists such as Eric Clapton, Slash and many other popular guitarists, they really are at the top of their game.
As a company, Ernie Ball produce a wide variety of strings from acoustic and electric guitar strings and other specific types of instrument string, however some of the best guitar strings for beginners is the Ernie Ball Earthwood series.
The Ernie Ball Earthwood series is easily one of the best guitar strings around. Boasting a variety of string gauges, quality string materials and a hex plated steel core, these wound strings are some of the best guitar strings on the market.
In terms of sound quality and tone, the 80% copper and 20% zinc used on these strings gives the user a bright, clear tone that resonates beautifully.
In addition to this, the lock twist mechanism on the construction of the string prevents it from slipping. This enables all six strings to have increased tuning stability and projection.
One unique aspect of this string is that they tend to work particularly well on archtop style guitars. The vintage nature and dark voicing of those particular guitars works beautifully with the brighte sound of 80/20 strings and provides an excellent overall balance to the string tone.
Furthermore, one excellent aspect of these strings for acoustic guitars is that they are extremely affordable.
One downside of a cheaper string is that they don’t last as long or lack quality, however this isn’t the case with Ernie Ball Earthwood strings. They are of an excellent standard and are easily some of the best guitar strings for beginners.
- 80/20 strings produce a bright and present tone that works for a number of musical styles.
- These strings are available in a variety of string gauges.
- Hex shaped steel core increases tuning stability and tuning.
- Available in both bronze phosphor or 80/20 material.
- The bright tone of this material may not suit all players.
Best Guitar Strings For Beginners
Elixir Strings Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings With Nanoweb Coating
Elixir is most famous for producing coated guitar strings. String coating is a technique that enhances the longevity, tuning stability and tone of a string. Elixir specialise in this type of string construction and are known for producing acoustic and electric guitar strings.
Some of their best guitar strings are the Elixir Nanoweb strings, let’s learn more about them.
One of the best acoustic strings out there is Elixirs Nanoweb line. Offering a discrete coating, these strings are amongst the best that you can buy for acoustic guitars.
Firstly, the coating stops your strings from rusting so easily and allows them to last for long periods of time. Some users have experienced them lasting for over 6-8 months, which is colossal for a string. What this means for you as a guitarist is that you’ll have to change strings less and can focus purely on playing.
In addition to this, these strings provide users with greater tuning stability and a performance that you can rely on. However, our main criticism of this string is that are very expensive. Coming in at just under $20, these strings are twice the price of standard strings and may not be suitable for beginners.
As well as this, if you don’t have much experience playing guitar, the coating on these strings can feel stiff and plastic-like.
However, if you don’t want to change guitar strings every five minutes, then the Elixir Nanoweb series are some of the best guitar strings available on the market.
- Elixir make some of the best guitar strings out there and these are no exception.
- The coating increases the overall string life and tone of these strings.
- If this particular is too thin, Elixir offer variety in this area.
- These strings are corrosion resistant, so if you wear out strings quickly, these could br a great fit for you.
- Expensive for beginner guitarists.
- The plastic polymer can feel strange and doesn’t suit all players.
Other Notable Mentions…
As well as D’addario, Elixir and Ernie Ball, there are a couple of companies that make strings for acoustic guitars that are worth mentioning, here’s a quick list of some of our favourite companies:
- DR Strings.
- Dean Markley.
What are the different types of guitar strings?
In terms of acoustic guitar strings, there are many different types. However, as a general rule they fall into the following two categories:
- Steel strings.
- Nylon strings.
This is the type of string that is seen on a typical acoustic guitar. Perfect for strumming chords, executing flourishing guitar solos as well as a number of other playing styles.
Tonally, these strings have a bright, vibrant sound with a warm low end. If you want to hear these classic guitar strings in action, check out these recordings:
Nylon strings are typically seen on a classical guitar. As the name suggests, they are made out of nylon. This type of string works well for classical guitar music, flamenco, bossa nova and pop styles that require a softer sound.
In addition to this, they make fantastic guitar strings for beginners as they are much softer to play than their steel siblings.
These guitar strings have a soft delicate sound with an overall texture that is warm and comforting.
If you’re unsure what a classical guitar string sounds like, check out these recordings:
- Lianne La Havas – NPR Tiny Desk (Home Concert)
- John Williams – Cavatina
- Girl From Ipanema – Tom Jobim
Guitar String Gauge: What does it mean?
A guitar string gauge is how light or heavy the string is. Acoustic or electric guitar string gauges tell us how thick the string is. It actually refers to the overall diameter of the guitar string
The easiest way to under guitar string gauges is like this:
- If the number is low, this gives us the size of the thinner strings.
- If the number is high, this gives us the size of the thicker strings.
It’s extremely important to know what guitar string gauges are, as understanding them will allow us to have a greater command of the guitar itself and in turn, could potentially make our life a lot easier as guitarists.
What gauge guitar strings should a beginner use?
The best strings for beginners are light ones. We recommend 10s or 11s as they are the easiest to play.
Let’s take a look at each string size in more detail.
Extra light gauge strings – What are they?
In the guitar world, lighter gauge strings are usually seen in the following size:
- 10s – The individual string sizes are as follows: 10 (High E/thinnest string) , 14 (B) , 23w (G) , 30 (D) , 39 (A), 47 (E).
What’s good about light gauge strings?
The main benefit of lighter gauge strings is that they are generally easier to play on acoustic guitar, as a result of this, it makes them a fantastic choice for beginner guitarists.
As a beginner, you’ve probably experienced the frustration and pain of trying to fret notes. As well as this, your patience may be wearing thin due to your calluses not getting thick enough just yet.
This is why light gauge strings are a great choice for beginners, the just make the learning experience much easier and more pleasurable.
As well as this, a lighter gauge string tends to have a softer tone than heavier strings, leading to a slightly different sound in your playing.
What’s bad about light gauge strings?
There is nothing bad per say about light gauge strings, however it’s worth bearing in mind that they won’t sound as big or as loud as heavier gauge strings.
So it may mean that you have to strum a bit more with your right hand to get more out of the instrument.
Although lighter gauges are much easier to play, it does mean that your calluses will take longer to develop.
As well as this, lighter strings can feel a lot looser to play and can sometimes be harder to control.
Medium gauge strings – What are they?
For medium gauge strings we can generally categorise them into the following categories:
- 11s – The individual string sizes are as follows: 11 (High E), 15 (B), 22 (G), 32 (D), 42 (A) and 52 (E).
- 12s – The individual string sizes are as follows: 12 (High E), 16 (B), 25w (G), 35w (D), 45w (A) and 56w (E).
What’s good about medium gauge strings?
Medium gauge acoustic guitar strings work extremely well for a variety of playing styles. We find that they strike the balance between light gauge strings and heavier gauge strings.
They have more stability and pack more of a punch than lighter strings. As a result they have a large, bold tone that is thick and defined.
In addition to this, although they are slightly harder to play, they will help you develop your calluses more efficiently.
What’s bad about medium gauge strings?
These strings don’t sound as soft or mellow as extra light strings and their extra tension can tire you out much quicker when playing guitar.
Furthermore, they require more finger strength so can lead to frustration in your playing.
Overall, we’d recommend these strings to advanced beginners who have had some previous experience on the instrument.
Heavy gauge strings – What are they?
When discussing heavier gauge strings, they usually fall into the following sizes:
- 13s – 13 , 17 , 26w , 35 , 45 , 56
- 14s – 14 , 18 , 27w , 39 , 49 , 59
The main benefit of heavier gauge strings is that they have a large, bold sound that works perfectly for heavier strumming techniques.
As well as this, the tension of these strings can make them good for techniques such as slide guitar. These acoustic gutiar strings also have increased tuning stability and a higher overall output.
These are probably the worst beginner acoustic guitar strings as they are much harder to play than a light or medium string gauge.
We’d only recommend this guitar string gauge if you’ve had a wealth of experience on the guitar and you’re looking to upgrade your tone.
Guitar String Materials: What are they?
As mentioned previously, guitar strings are made out of metal or nylon. However, these fall into more defined categories. Here’s a list of the most common materials used in guitar strings:
- Phosphor Bronze.
- 80/20 (80% Copper, 20% Zinc).
- Silk and Steel.
This is an extremely popular steel string material. A fairly new alloy present in the string world, this string contains92% copper, 8% tin and usually contains traces of phosphorus in the string.
In terms of tone, these strings have a warm, balanced tone with a rich mid range. In addition to this, the phosphour within these strings can make them last for longer.
For some players, the overall warm sound of these strings may not suit them. They don’t have as much high end compared to other string alloys.
As well as this, steel strings can be much harder to play, so they are not the best choice of strings for beginners.
80/20 Guitar Strings
Similar to phosphor bronze strings, 80/20 strings use a combination of metal alloys to create this acoustic guitar string. However, we have a lower percentage here. 80/20 guitar strings
are made up of 80% copper and 20% zinc.
The combination of these two materials allows the strings to have a bright, vibrant tone with accented bass frequencies. This is great for players who enjoy strumming open chords or playing genres like country or pop.
The brighter frequency associated with these strings really makes them pop and cut through a mix too.
The main downside to these guitar strings is that they do not last as long bronze strings. The material deteriorates much quicker, so if you want a string that is long lasting, these types of string may not be suitable for you.
However, you can get coated versions of these strings which does increase the lifespan of these acoustic strings.
In addition to this, the steel string material isn’t the best choice of guitar strings for beginners due to it being tough on the fingers.
Silk and Steel Guitar Strings
Silk and steel strings are a unique type of guitar string. Traditionally, acoustic guitar strings are made completely of a steel alloy. However, with silk and steel you get a combination of both. The silk material is wrapped around the inner core of the guitar string.
In terms of playability, the silk material reduces the overall tension of the guitar string and makes it much easier to play. This is makes it one of the best guitar strings for beginners as it can really aid the learning process.
In addition to this, the tone is warm and mellow and the overall noise of the string is reduced too.
Now the main downside to these strings is that they are not as vibrant as other materials. As well as this, if you have a heavy strumming hand, they might not work out for you.
However, if you’re a beginner who wants to make life little bit easier, check out this string material.
Nylon Guitar Strings
Nylon strings could be considered as the ‘original’ guitar string. As you may have already guessed, this string material is made out of nylon and is featured predominantly on flamenco and classical guitars.
These strings are a great choice for classical and jazz musicians, or beginners who don’t want to deal with tough steel strings.
The main reason we like nylon strings is that they have a soft, delicate tone that is perfect for genres of music such as jazz, pop, classical and bossa nova.
As well, they are easy to play. So if you’re a complete beginner, they can make learning acoustic guitar an extremely enjoyable process. This is why you often see classical guitars being used by children in elementary and primary schools.
Although nylon strings have a unique and beautiful sound, they’re not the best type of string for heavy string. They work great for fingerstyle guitar, but if you want to strum like Oasis or The Beatles they’re really not the best choice.
As well as this, as the string is softer, it can mean that it takes you longer to develop the calluses on your fingers.
Coated Strings vs Uncoated Strings: What are the main differences and why are they important?
Over the past few years, there has been a number of technologies developed within the guitar string market. One of these techniques included coated and unocated guitar strings. The development of this technology has given guitarists across the globe a wealth of options to choose from. Let’s took a look at the two types of strings and compare their adcvantages and disadvantages.
Strings With Coating: What are they?
This is a relatively new technology initially developed by string manufactures such as Elixir. The main idea of these strings is that they have extra coating on the strings, this coating is usually made from a plastic polymer.
This plastic polymer can be wrapped around the wrap wire, core wire or the entire guitar string.
The main benefit of this type of string is that they last for longer, have consistent tone and maintain tuning stability and intonation.
These are great for guitarists who don’t like to change acoustic guitar strings on a regular basis as some people have reported that these can last for a whopping 6-8 months.
There are two main drawbacks of this type of acoustic and electric strings. Number one, they are expensive. They usually retail at between $15 and $30. However, you could argue that you save money in the long run as you don’t have to change them as often.
Two, they can have a plastic and stiff feeling. However, one way around this is to choose strings that have a lighter coating. For example, brands like Elixir have a couple of different options when it comes to thickness of string coating.
As well as this, this type of strings can a reduced bright tone due to the plastic polymer used.
Uncoated Strings: What are they?
These are the most traditional guitar strings. These don’t have any polymer coating, and offer less protection compared to strings with coating.
The main pro about this type of stirng is that they are much cheaper than coated counterparts. Therefore if you experience string breaks they are relatively easy to replace.
In addition to this, these strings have a balanced tone and can be more consistent. As well as this, due to their being no polymer on this string, you can get a more natural feeling string.
The main disadvantage of this type of string is that they have no protective layer. This means that it is much easier for dirt, debris and sweat to get in the winds of the string. This results in the sound, tuning and playability decreasing at a much faster rate.
How often should you change your guitar strings?
This all depends on how often you play your guitar. As a general rule, the more you play your guitar, the more often you’ll need to change your strings and vice versa.
Here’s a small guide that should give you an indication of how often you should change your strings:
- If you play guitar for about 30 minutes a day or less, aim to change your guitar strings every 6-8 weeks.
- If you play guitar 1-2 hours every day, aim to change your guitar strings every 4-6 weeks.
- If you play guitar for 2-3 hours each day, aim to change your guitar strings roughly every two weeks.
- If you play guitar for 4+ hours a day, you may want to change your guitar strings once a week.
If you go through guitar strings fairly regularly, it may be worth considering coated guitar strings as they will last much longer than standard uncoated guitar strings.
Should you clean your guitar strings?
Yes! There are many ways you can do this. You can either use string lubricants and cleaners, or you can purchase something like a micro-fibre cloth.
Both products will keep your strings in top shape. You can pick these types of accessories up from any music retailer and they’re usually $10 or less.
However, make sure that the products are specifically made for acoustic or electric guitars. Avoid any sprays that you would normally use for clean kitchen or house appliances.