Best Electric Guitar Strings

Finding the best electric guitar strings is the perfect way to amp up your sound without having to spend thousands of dollars on gear. What are the things to look for when you are purchasing new strings? What different options do you have? How do certain types of strings lend themselves to a different type of sound? We strum out all of these questions and much more on today’s sidekick.
Sidekick Pick
D'Addario EXL110-3D
Runner Up #1
Ernie Ball, Super Slinky
Runner Up #2
Elixir Optiweb Electric

Finding the best electric guitar strings is the perfect way to amp up your sound without having to spend thousands of dollars on gear.  What are the things to look for when you are purchasing new strings?  What different options do you have?  How do certain types of strings lend themselves to a different type of sound?  We strum out all of these questions and much more on today’s sidekick. 

Changing your electric guitar strings can be a hassle when you are a beginner, but to any experienced player, it is a life source of sound.  What are some the reasons you should consider changing your strings? 

For starters, the obvious choice is when you have a broken string.  You can’t play electric most effectively if you are missing guitars strings, that is unless you are Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Take a look at the way he changes his guitar mid solo while performing.  Amazing!


For those of us who are not guitar playing aliens, and do not have private assistants to bring out our guitars, we have to take the time to actually change them ourselves.  This is a good thing.  One of the best ways to become a better musician is to learn more about your craft.  

What Should You Look For When Choosing Your Electric Guitar Strings?

For me, the number one thing you should look for when choosing your electric guitar strings is the gauge level.  The gauge of a string refers to the overall thickness or thinness of the wiring, and has to do with the playability of your guitar by it’s strings.  

If you are a beginner and you have an electric guitar with higher action, and you set heavy gauged strings, the overall playability of your guitar is going to be well below what you need.  When you are just starting out, you need strings that are going to be long lasting and ones that are easier to chord and shape.  Light gauge strings are the most effective route to take because they will make your life much easier by allowing you to practice for longer periods of time without your fingers falling off. 

On the positive side, in a light gauge strings setup (between .010 - .46), guitars are much easier to play because of the thinness of the wiring.  This allows for more bending of notes and makes bar chords easier to produce.  

Lighter gauge strings also produce less wear and tear on your guitar by providing a lower tension rate.  This is especially helpful for those who have vintage guitars and are not looking to lower the overall value.  

On the negative side, light gauge strings tend to break more easily because they are much thinner than heavier strings.  Because of their size, they also produce less volume and output because the thin wiring cannot absorb sound long enough to hold and sustain notes.  This will make time in between each note shorter, although most effect pedals can compensate for this.  

Heavier gauged strings are typically reserved for more seasoned guitar players.  Because of their thicker wiring, they are more difficult to play.  Each individual string is much heavier and requires more thumb and finger power to fret.  This is a natural turn off for beginners.  

However, heavier gauged strings do produce a better overall sound.  Because of the thickness of the strings, the wiring allows notes more time to sustain and produces a much larger sound.  The thick wiring provides the proper amount of absorption to excerpt more volume and control.  

Heavier gauged strings are the perfect choice for alternative electric tuning because they can absorb high or small tension rates while producing the right amount of volume. However, they are not ideal for those who are looking to shred their guitar for hours and hours, unless you have fingers of pure gold.  

Choose The Right Material 

Choosing the right material is perhaps as important as choosing the right gauge, but in my experience, it is more next level.  After you begin to understand how to play your electric guitar and you have developed some sort of playing identity, it is crucial that you start looking for the best tone.  

Many will tell you - the most important attribute for any electric guitar player is not their playability, but their tone ability.  Having the right tone to set’s you apart from the rest of the players around you (if that is what you are going for). 

Electric strings are made out of magnetic materials because they are “electric” in nature. They need a pickup in order to produce sound.  There are two main elements used in strings, steel, and nickel.  Upon the nickel or steel wiring, is various types of layers or coating.  These different types of coating are what allows for different types of tonality.  For example, chrome strings produce a warmer tone with less resonance and are a go-to choice for jazz players.  As compared to pure nickel, which is less bright but has more sustain and is used by many heavy metal players. 

If you are interested in learning more about different types of coating, watch this video below.  

Sidekick Spotlight

Elixir Optiweb Electric Guitar Strings

4.5 Stars
Amazon Rating
1,236
# of Good Reviews
10
# of Bad Reviews

Elixir Optiweb Electric Guitar Strings

Elixer’s Optiweb is an impressive set of strings for your guitar.  It features an outer coating that lends itself to a crisp playing style with a natural feel. 

As with most of Elixers strings, they are long-lasting and maintain pretty good shelf life, as compared to other strings. The low gauge levels allow the strings to have very high playability with a great tone.  

The nickel-plated steel wiring gives the guitar a strong attack with balanced brightness and warm tone.  The combination of the coating, gauge, and wiring makes it an easy choice for any electric player. 


Sidekick Spotlight

Ernie Ball, Super Slinky

5 Stars
Amazon Score
16,741
# of Good Reviews
104
# of Bad Reviews

Ernie Ball, Super Slinky Electric Guitar String

Ernie Ball Super Slinky Electric Strings produces a well-balanced tone for your guitar.  These strings are made from nickel-plated steel around a tin plated hex shaped steel core.  These materials achieve for your guitar warmth and brightness. 

The light string guages (.009 .011 .016 .024w .032 .042) allows for easier chording and fretting and note bending. 


Other Great Products Below..

D'Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

The D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wood electric strings are the brands most popular strings, and for good reason.  They are made out of nickel-plated steel with a hexagonal shape.  The carbon steel core wiring allows for a brighter tone and good intonation.  

They are also built with corrosion-resistant packaging so that the strings feel the exact same as if they were coming off the machine.  The light gauges make the strings much easier to chord and fret, especially if you are a beginner.  

GHS Strings GBL Guitar Boomers, Nickel-Plated Electric Guitar Strings

The GHS Guitar Boomers are another great string option for your guitar.  They are made with nickel-plated steel, which gives the guitar a well balanced and bright tone.  

The light gauges allow more playability, fretting, and bending.  The wiring also is derived from roundwound, which helps produce more sustain, bite, and attack on your guitar. 


Vintage Reissue Electric Guitar Strings 

Gibson is a powerhouse brand for guitars for good reasons.  They make amazing products.  These vintage reissue strings are made with pure nickel.  Much like the nickel-plated strings options above, the wiring lends itself for a bright sound, but will a little more warmth.  Think of the “vintage” analog sound.  

The light gauge, again, allows for the guitarist to maneuver between each chord and bends voicing with less difficultly than higher gauges. 


My Recommendation 

As I have already discussed, I really like the D'Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings due to the sound and the long-lasting coating.  In my experience, I really like to feel like my money goes somewhere, and I don’t have the time to change my strings every week.  What I like about these strings are the durability and sound, and for that alone, they get my recommendation.  

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the strings above.  Do you own homework and purchase a few of these strings, add them to different guitars you may own or the same one after each other.  You will be able to find the exact tone and feel you are looking for.  Thanks for reading today’s sidekick.