What Strings are You Using?
Guitar strings are by far the most popular accessory for a guitar. There are a plethora of options on the market. Choosing between brands, sizes, and metal alloys can be an overwhelming process. Some players are happy playing with the guitar’s “original strings” and some change them every week. Each individual’s choice is a long journey and it can be ever-changing.
For this week’s blog we asked local electric guitarists what strings they use. Let’s take a look:
Trey Gosche - Local Guitarist, Genre Modern Metal
“I like to use 8 String 2625 Ernie Ball Nickel wound on my 7 string ltd electric. They last long and sound really crisp. I also like the tension it gives me for drop tunings.”
Josh Tomlin - The Scatterguns; Rhythm Guitarist
“I use Ernie Ball strings on both of my Epiphone guitars: Skinny Top/Heavy Bottoms on my SG and Not Even Slinkys on my Explorer. I’ve been using EBs for over 15 years on multiple guitars for multiple genres and they’ve been solid. The quality for the price is exceptional and I can find them at any music store in any town in case of emergencies. And the package has a pretty rad-looking eagle on it and I think that counts for something.”
John Ruedrich - Recording Guitarist
“I've been using coated strings on most of my guitars for years now. I prefer coated strings for several reasons. They last longer, which is important when you are trying to keep a handful of guitars setup. Another huge reason I prefer coated strings is the reduction of string noise when moving up and down the fretboard. When recording guitar parts, too much string noise can ruin a take. I've usually went with Elixirs, but recently was given a set of Daddario XS Coated strings to try out. I put them on an American tele and was instantly impressed. One drawback I experienced with Elixirs was when I put them on my teles, I lost a bit of that"spank" teles are known for after a few days of playing. The Daddarios however are around 3 weeks old and still feel and sound fresh. I’d recommend giving them a shot ,even if you don't usually use coated strings. I'll definitely be putting Daddarios on most of my guitars in the future.”
Joe Ettling - The Scatterguns; Lead Guitarist
“The only guitar strings I currently use are DR strings Veritas. Most of my guitars including my Telecaster, SG and both Les Pauls are strung with 10-52s. I tried DR strings years ago and really liked how they felt and how long they lasted. They don't seem to be as bright as some brands, but they don't seem to go dead, even when I've had them on a guitar for over a year.”
Eric Burton - Worship Leader
“I have been playing guitar for almost 20 years and have almost exclusively used Ernie Ball Regular Slinky's on my electric. The quality, price, and playability are just hard to beat. I've tried other strings over the years but have always navigated back to the Slinky's. You just can't go wrong with them and they are a great addition to my HSS Fender American Pro Strat. “
After selling guitar strings for over 9 years I’ve definitely learned a lot about the art of the guitar string. There’s no right answer, a lot of it is personal preferences. But as you begin your journey there are crucial guidelines:
- Start with the size that originally came on the guitar
- Scale length and tunings have a lot to do with gauge size
- Some music genres requires lower tunings which means you should use heavier gauge to compensate for the looser tension
- Metal alloys found on D’addario NYXL or Ernie Ball Cobalts offer excellent tuning stability and a greater output
- Coated strings last longer and reduce string noise
Hmmm…I guess there’s a lot of guidelines too eh. Here’s my rundown:
Ernie Ball strings are my personal top choice. EB Paradigms are my favorite, they offer great tuning stability, amazing tone, and they seem like they last forever. The downside is the price costs about twice as much as a standard string, but if they last a strong 6 months they are worth it. Standard Nickel Wound Slinkys are my top choice for budget minded players. Overall, they are an excellent string and there are so many gauge sizes available for even the most picky player. My next favorite brand is D’addario. Their NYXL Strings are excellent for recording, great tuning stability and very high output and dynamic. The downside for me is the cost and they tend to lose their dynamics quickly. Other string brands I love are DR Strings and Curt Mangan strings. Both brands offer great products and unique products. Worth every penny.
There’s only so much info I can put in a blog. There’s so many options and different applications it’s hard to cover them all. Fortunately, we have a great retail store at JAMS where we answer any and all questions in regard to strings. But hopefully, this will help point you in the right direction. Part of the fun of playing guitar is the journey of discovering gear, and strings are an essential part of that ride.
Special thanks to all who contributed to this blog. I appreciate you providing your input and helping the guitar community grow.