The 10-46 electric sets and the 12-53 acoustic sets are the 2 most popular selling sets for almost any string company… and I don’t understand why. There are such a vast array of string gauges and materials available, and they all can really change how your guitar plays. Before I knew this, I had a lot of questions when I first started playing guitar. Is guitar supposed to be this uncomfortable to play? Why do my strings die so quick? How do guitarists bend notes so far without their strings breaking? If you’re like me when I was just starting out, I assumed any discomfort was due to growing pains with building my hand strength, and it would go away over time. While that may be partly true, it had a lot more to do with the type of strings I was using.
I had very little knowledge of different string brands, gauges, care and maintenance, so not only were my hands getting tired quickly, I was also noticing the strings were also quickly getting rusty, and even breaking over abnormally short periods of time. I figured this was all part of getting used to going through the motions of learning to play guitar. Once I really dove in to learn about all the different string brands, and the different types of strings out there, I started noticing that the more I was learning, the more enjoyment I was getting out of playing, because guitar became so much more comfortable to play. Many go for the most popular string gauges and brands, because they figure if they work well for most others, they will work well for me. This could really not be farther from the truth. Otherwise there would be no reason for the massive variety of strings available today. Though the below may be common knowledge to guitar techs and professionals, it likely isn’t to many others. 4 of my must-know tips before buying strings:
Triple your string life.
1.Wash your hands, play guitar. Wash your hands…
I remember watching a cartoon growing up that had a character who was a germophobic turtle who while reading a magazine, would repeat “Turn the page, wash your hands..” over and over. This might be going too far, but really, if you think “Wash your hands, play guitar..” over and over, and make this a habit, your strings will last an incredibly long amount of time. Also, wipe down your strings after playing and they’ll last even longer, and sound brighter. Dirt is what causes dullness, and that’s the last thing you want your guitar sounding like after spending all that money on it. No amount of money can buy pickups that will sound great projecting sound from dirty strings.
Improve comfort, reduce fatigue
2. Hand’s hurt after playing guitar? Just try using lighter strings! This helps improve comfort immensely, even on cheap guitars. Instead of lowering the bridge, performing any major adjustment, or even considering buying a new guitar in the hope that it will be well balanced and ergonomically superior, lighter strings will absolutely make your guitar easier to play if you’re experiencing hand fatigue. Of course, there are many advantages to using heavier strings, including more tuning stability, they’re easier to fast-pick, harder to break etc. but it’s definitely worth a shot. Our lightest sets in electric & acoustic are below, check them out!
Change the sound of your acoustic guitar
3. Do you play acoustic? Know your phosphor bronze vs. 80/20 bronze
You will immediately notice a drastic difference in acoustic tone just by using different materials in your strings. Looking for a warmer, fuller sound? Use phosphor bronze strings. Want a brighter, crisp sound? Use 80/20 bronze. Simple. Phosphor Bronze strings are characterized by the bronze look and a slightly higher price tag, where as 80/20 bronze strings have a golden brass look to them.
Use high quality strings
4. Get better, fuller, more consistent tone
Strings matter, so get good ones. When such an incredible amount of thought and craftsmanship goes into making a guitar sound and play a particular way, you’re selling yourself short if you’re using low quality strings. You’re bottle-necking your guitar’s full sonic potential. Let’s say you have an electric guitar. Think back to when you were purchasing that guitar. You play different guitars until you find one you like the best. It plays great, it looks great, but that guitar comes with all sorts of different features, specifically to give it different tonal qualities, even down to the type of wood the neck is made out of. Then, there are the electronics. Single coil or humbucker pickups? Which type of humbucker or single coil pickups? In which configuration? Active or passive? At what strength? Pickups are like the engine in your car, strings are like the gasoline. You don’t fuel a high performance engine with low octane gas because the engine won’t run well. Same concept here. High quality strings, like Cleartone Strings, are precision-wound using super high tension winding to maximize vibration throughout the entire length of each string. This process also greatly increases volume and durability. Then, they’re carefully treated to give you much longer string life on top of that. This is why Dave Mustaine, Tommy Emmanuel, Stone Sour, Fall Out Boy, New Politics, Chevelle and so many others choose Cleartone Strings.
Now go out and restring that guitar!