Choosing the best acoustic guitar strings will go a long way in helping you develop as a musician. For beginners, if your strings are too thick, it’s going to make life harder on you and you definitely won’t be as motivated to play. Strings that sound really good, and are easy to play, will make you not want to put your guitar down all day. That’s what you should be looking for. We can help you decide on which strings work the best for you.
If you want to sound like this guy above, it’s going to take some practice. What makes you practice better? Strings that don’t make your fingers cry after five minutes of playing.
First Time I Changed Strings… AH!
I remember the first time I changed my strings on my guitar by myself. I was a nervous wreck. All the times before I had seen my good friend changing his strings, he made it look so easy. As I put my strings into the peg wholes, I remember a few of my peg knobs falling in the sound whole. It was honestly a complete disaster.
For me, it was one thing getting the strings onto the guitar and it was another to try and tune them. I had never tuned from a random note to a particular one before. As I turned my tuning knobs, I was sure one of my strings was about to break into the abyss. Sure enough, one of them did. That feels in my right hand of the string breaking is something that has never left me. Today, even though I am 20 years behind the first time I changed my strings, my right hand still gets a little tingly.
The point in telling you all of this is for you to understand, if you are a beginner, it’s not easy changing strings. Every time I tell my students that they are about to change their strings, they give me a wide eye.
Having The Right Acoustic Guitar Strings Affects Your Play
Changing your strings is a very underrated part of playing guitar. It is crucial to not only learn how to do it effectively but to have a good understanding of what strings do what. There were many times in my early years that I would put on a certain type of string, only to hate it a few hours later.
There are some things, as a beginner guitar player, that you don’t really have control over. You are not a level where you can jump in and play with anyone. You don’t have the experience to hear a song and then play a song. Your music ear isn’t developed. You can’t play the riffs you hear just yet. BUT, you can control the way you practice and the strings you have on the guitar. This is HUGE!
As mentioned, there were many times in my early playing days where I would have to heavy of a gauge of string on my guitar, without me knowing it. Then, after playing a buddies guitar, I would ask them, “why is your guitar so easy to play?” After my question, they would immediately offer up a follow-up question, “what gauge are you playing with?”
At the time, I had no idea what gauge meant. I think they could tell by the look on my face, but they would always ask a follow up. “What kind of strings do you use?”
“I don’t know?” I would respond.
“Go with extra-light.” They would say with a smile.
It was great advice then, and it is great advice now!
What To Look For In Guitar Strings As A Beginner
As a beginner acoustic guitar player, I think the number one thing to look for is the gauge of the strings. If you don’t know, gauge refers to the overall thickness of the individual guitar string. If the gauge is bigger, then the string itself is going to be bigger, which means, for you, the string will be harder to press down.
When picking out strings, you want to make sure you find strings at a lower gauge level so that you are able to play the guitar with more comfort.
Let’s face it, when you are starting out, it’s all about comfort. It’s hard enough trying to remember which chords to play. If you fingers are about to die fifteen minutes into practice, then you need to change your gauge. Going with a lighter gauge will increase your ability to play longer, practice harder, and sound the best starting out.
The material of the string is also important, although not as much as the gauge. Typically, most light strings are made from what is called phosphor bronze, which is known for a warmer, balanced tone. Strings that are 80/20 bronze are a little more bright and have a little more melodic sound.
Does A Lighter Gauge Affect Your Tone?
Many would say no, and technically it doesn’t, but clearly, when you play, you will notice a thicker gauge will have a fuller sound. The guitar itself plays a huge part in this, obviously, but a thicker string is able to absorb tension longer, which will allow for more resonance and sustain. On the opposite, a smaller string will not absorb tension as long and will not be able to sustain as long. It just makes sense.
As a beginner, your focus should not be on tone, it should be playing and practicing. Throughout the years, you will learn how to develop more tone once you are around different guitar players and develop your ear more. In the beginning, focus on comfort and get strings that support your practice level. Basically, make things easier on yourself, not harder.