Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big string test 2021. Here we present all the strings we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best strings for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to when buying strings.




Summary

  • Steel strings are the right choice if you own an acoustic guitar. An electric guitar needs metal strings and a classical guitar needs nylon strings.
  • When buying guitar strings, the sound, the string gauge, the material and the brand are important criteria.
  • You can buy inexpensive sets of strings for between five and ten euros. Special, higher-quality sets cost around 50 euros or more.

The Best Strings: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying guitar strings

What would a guitar be without its strings? Of course, every guitar needs its strings. But they also need to be replaced, cared for and bought new. This guide is designed to help you decide what to buy when it comes to guitar strings and to familiarise you with the most frequently asked questions and their answers. For example, you should know which guitar strings are available and which ones are needed for your guitar.

Which strings do you need for your guitar?

Every guitar has either 6, 7 or 12 strings. Strings are usually packaged in sets. A set consists of the E, A, d, g, h and e' strings. To remember the order of the guitar strings, there are some auxiliary sayings. An old lady goes to eat chicken is one of them. Depending on whether you have a 6-, 7- or 12-string guitar, you will have to buy several sets of strings. The order of the strings on a 6-string guitar are: E, A, d, g, h and e'. On a 12-string guitar, in addition to the E, A, d and g strings, one octave string each is added and the h and e' strings are doubled. On a 7-string guitar, the B-string is added to the standard strings, but is often tuned down to a C-string.

What is the price range of guitar strings and where can I buy them?

The prices of guitar steel strings vary greatly, as each brand has different prices and qualities. You can get cheap sets of strings for between 5 and 10 euros. The middle price segment is the largest in this industry. Here you can expect good quality strings starting at a price between 10 and 20 Euros. In the upper price range, you will find special strings with additional coating and made of special material from about 50 euros upwards.
Did you know that you can also buy string sets individually? Some companies, such as Labella, offer the possibility to purchase string sets. Customers can even choose the gauge of each individual string.

You can buy guitar strings at a music shop. Sometimes your guitar teacher will also have suitable strings. Of course, you can also buy guitar strings online.

Cheap guitar strings are available for 5 to 10 €. The middle price segment is around 10-20€. For special strings, you have to reckon with at least €50. (Picture source: pixabay.com / Didgeman)

How long do guitar strings last?

Guitar strings should be changed regularly. The reason for this is that guitar strings determine the sound and dynamics of your instrument. Of course, how often you change the strings also depends on how often you play and how long you play.

Playing frequency/duration frequency of changing
One hour a day Every 1-2 weeks
One hour a week Approx. every 2 months
Less frequently Every 3-4 months

If you play about every day, you should change your strings every one to two weeks for the best sound. For guitarists who pluck their instrument for an hour a week, we recommend an interval of two months. If the guitar is used less, changing the strings every three to four months is sufficient. How long your guitar strings last depends on how often you play and how long you play. Change your strings regularly so that you have a nice sound experience.

The manufacturer, the material, the gauge and the handling can of course change these guidelines. If you notice that your guitar no longer sounds full and clear, you should change your strings. Often you will even notice that your guitar strings have become a little darker where you have used them often. This is also a sign to change your guitar strings.

Did you know that electric string cranks are now also produced? These battery-powered devices are easy to attach to the string pegs and take away the manual twisting work at the touch of a button.

Decision: What types of guitar strings are there and which is the right one for you?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of strings for the guitar:

  • Nylon strings
  • Steel strings
  • Special strings

Although the strings of an instrument are important for the sound and intonation, they are often given little attention. In the following, we will explain the different types of guitar strings and present their advantages and disadvantages.

Steel strings are an essential part of an acoustic guitar. The strings are crucial for the sound and the way the guitar is played. (Image source: pixabay.com / USA-Reiseblogger)

What are nylon strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Strings for classical guitars used to be made of gut. Today, they are made of nylon. Strings made of nylon are usually used for standard concert guitars. The three upper strings are made of a single-fibre nylon, whereas for the three lower strings (E, A, D) only the core of the string is made of nylon, which is wound with metal. The type of metal influences the sound. A gold-plated copper wire, for example, offers a warmer sound than a silver-plated one.

Advantages
  • Easy to play due to lower tension
  • Very suitable for beginners, fingerpickers and melodists
Disadvantages
  • Rapid visual ageing
  • Possibly strong string slippage and "clanging"

In general, strings made of nylon thread are easy to play because the strings are softer and also have less tension. Nylon strings can be struck with the fingers, so that a more intensive playing feeling can be developed - especially for beginners - than when playing with a plectrum. Nylon strings are therefore particularly suitable for fingerpicking and playing melodies. However, if a string is struck too hard and vibrates against the frets of the guitar, this can cause a "clang" and unwanted noises for inexperienced players.

What are steel strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Steel strings are used on acoustic and electric guitars. On acoustic guitars, all the strings are made of steel, so they are also called "steel-string guitars". Bass strings are often also wound with bronze. On such sets of strings, you will often find indications such as "80/20", which refer to the mixing ratio of copper/tin. The stringing of electric guitars is not fundamentally different from that of an acoustic guitar. However, thinner guitar strings are usually used for electric guitars.

Advantages
  • Full and clear sound
  • Especially suitable for playing chords
  • Durable and robust
Disadvantages
  • Unsuitable for melodies and fingerpicking
  • Harder to play as high force must be applied in fingers

Because of their full and clear sound, steel strings are particularly suitable for playing chords. Thick strings resonate in lower frequency ranges so that basses can develop better. However, steel strings are unsuitable for playing melodies and fingerpicking, because softer strings are more advantageous here (see nylon strings). Since guitar strings are only a few millimetres from the fingerboard, it often takes a lot of strength in the fingers to pick them. With steel strings, this is intensified by the high tension force, which is why it can happen that your fingers hurt.

What are special strings and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

There are also different windings of the strings. Round wound strings are the classic variant with a bright tone and good grip. There is a lot of finger noise here. Half round strings have less finger noise, a darker tone and are easier to handle. Flat wound strings have a soft feel and a dark, mellow tone without finger noise.

Advantages
  • Avoidance of secondary noise from the fingers (especially the fretting hand)
  • Less susceptibility to dirt
Disadvantages
  • Dull, distinctive tone

Flatwound strings are often used. These strings consist of steel string cores wrapped with flat wire. Flatwound strings are mainly used on electric guitars and electric basses. Because of the flattened strings, the noise produced by the fingernail is reduced, so the sound is muffled. Flatwound strings are therefore particularly popular with jazz guitarists. Due to the smooth, rough surface, ambient noise is largely avoided and the strings are less susceptible to dirt, which can also have a positive effect on the life of flatwound strings.

There are guitar strings in many colours. This can be especially practical for learning. (Image source: pexels.com / SplitShire)

There are also other special types of guitar strings. Usually, guitar strings have the colour of the material that was used for the string. Thus, metal strings tend to be grey and nylon strings are transparent. However, some manufacturers dye the guitar strings. On the one hand it looks cool and on the other hand it might even be easy for guitar beginners. In addition, there are also guitar strings that glow in the dark under black light.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate guitar strings

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate guitar strings. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Tone
  • String gauge
  • Material
  • Brand

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Sound

A string must of course sound good. Each string brand has very different timbres, because the strings are of different compositions and therefore have different nuances in the sound. However, the sound quality is again mostly very subjective, because you have to decide for yourself which sound colour is most beautiful for you.

String gauge

The string gauge is very important because, for example, thinner strings sound quieter and brighter and your guitar will buzz more often as a result. For larger models such as a dreadnought or jumbo, thicker strings - often called heavy strings - are more advantageous, as they make the sound much more voluminous and assertive, while smaller models and 'fingerpickers' usually use light strings.

Strummers, on the other hand, usually prefer medium strings. Thinner strings are also easier to bend and play, but they are also more prone to breakage. Thick strings are better for lower tunings. However, thicker strings can also be a little more difficult to finger. Some strings also have a NANOWEB and POLYWEB coating, so they are more durable, don't get dirty as quickly and the durability of the strings is improved.

Material

A major difference in sound colour is the choice of material. There are basically two important types of strings the 80/20 bronze - also called pure bronze - and the phosphor bronze. The former are the standard strings for acoustic guitars. They have a lively, bright, somewhat metallic and transparent sound, whereas the phosphor bronze strings are characteristic for their soft-silky and warm sound. These not only have more overtones, but are also more durable than standard strings and therefore usually last longer.

Brand

Usually the strings of different brands only differ in terms of their thickness and material. Here you have to decide for yourself which tone colour or string thickness and material is most suitable for you. Each brand also has different string characteristics and timbres. Each brand has different types of strings of different texture, material and thickness. For example, the most common acoustic guitar strings are Elixir and D'Addario strings.

Facts worth knowing about guitar strings

Do I have to care for guitar strings?

Yes, many guitarists don't know this, but proper care of guitar strings can significantly extend their life. Finger sweat should be removed from the strings after every guitar playing session. This works with a simple and clean cotton cloth. This helps the strings by making them less corroded and sounding good for longer.

How do I change guitar strings myself?

To change your guitar strings yourself, first remove the old strings. To do this, take a string crank and turn the peg on the guitar head clockwise. This loosens the strings and you can pinch them with pliers. Of course, you could have done this with the strings taut. But it could have happened that the strings jumped away due to the high tension. So it is safer to loosen the guitar strings first.

With concert guitars, you can easily change the strings yourself. (Image source: pixabay.com / Couleur)

With a classical guitar, you can simply unthread the guitar strings. Then clean your guitar. With a spray and cloth, followed by fretboard oil, your guitar will be super clean again. Then arrange your strings from light to dark. Usually you start with the lowest, the low E-string. For concert guitars, pull the string through the hole in the bridge, hit the end of the string once under the string and tie a knot.

Hold the end of the string and pull hard. The pull anchors the string firmly in the bridge. The upper end of the string now comes from the top and goes into the hole of the machine head. Then turn the string crank anticlockwise until it is taut. Make sure that the guitar string holds firmly at both ends. With pure nylon strings, you can tie a knot immediately at the end of the string or form a small ball at the end with the lighter so that the string slips through when you pull. After that, all you have to do is tune your strings.

Where can I have my guitar strings changed and how much can it cost?

Of course, you can have your strings changed at a music shop. If you ask your guitar teacher, he can probably help you change your guitar strings. First of all, you need to know which guitar you have so that you know which strings you need. Changing strings from other guitarists or professionals can vary quite a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some charge nothing, others 10 to 30 euros for stringing and tuning new guitar strings.

How can I reuse old guitar strings?

Used guitar strings don't necessarily have to be thrown away. Be creative! Guitar strings can be turned into necklaces and earrings. They can also be used to make bracelets. Rings are wound and guitar strings are also used in decoration.

Image source: unsplash.com / Evgeny Lazarenko

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