There are many different types of guitar strings, and the
ones you choose will depend largely on the type of instrument you have, your
level of playing proficiency and the style of music you play. Strings are
available for the four main types of guitar – Electric, Bass, Acoustic and
Classical. These guitar strings differ in the materials used, construction
technique and physical attributes depending on the instrument for which they
are designed and the desired characteristics required by the user.Below are
some facts about the guitar strings
Gauge and Construction
Gauge is the thickness of a string and is traditionally quoted in thousandths
of an inch (e.g. .010in). However, you will often see this written simply as
10. Usually, guitar strings are provided in packets of matched strings.
Sometimes these are referenced by the high string only (e.g. 10), or by the
high and low strings (e.g. 10-46). Because gauge of a string has a direct
relationship to its weight, then the same packets may also be referenced using
weight (e.g. Light). However, different manufacturers use different standards
and construction techniques, so this should be checked individually.
Guitar strings are usually single lengths of plain wire (high strings) or have
a wire core with an additional wire winding (low strings). These wound strings
may also differ in construction with the most common being round wound. This
refers to the cross-section of the wire used in the winding. Other less common
types are flatwound, but these tend to be more expensive. Nowadays also a
string may be coated or uncoated. This coating is a very thin layer of
additional material which protects the string against corrosion and wear.
Whereby the characteristics of gauge and construction can be applied to all
types of guitar strings, the main differences for individual instruments occur
with the actual materials used.
Electric Guitar Strings
Nearly all of these guitar strings are made from a steel core. The most popular
type of winding is nickel plated steel. These produce a bright tone and are
suitable for all types of music. Less common are a pure nickel winding
(offering a warmer, more vintage sound) and chrome or stainless steel. These
latter ones giving a clear, punchy sound often preferred by fusion and jazz
Bass Guitar Strings
These guitar strings naturally use the bigger gauges to give that distinctive
low-end tone. As with electric strings, they are typically made from a steel
core. The most common types of the winding are made from stainless steel or
nickel. An important consideration when choosing bass strings is scale length.
This is the length of string which must be used to match the users own bass
guitar instrument. Scale lengths vary from short (30in/760mm) to extra long (up
Acoustic Guitar Strings
As with electric and bass guitar strings, these too are typically made from a
steel core. Popular types of the winding are made from bronze or from phosphor
bronze (the latter has a significant phosphor content added to the bronze
alloy). Bronze strings have a good sound projection, bright tones and deep bass
response. Phosphor bronze offers an overall balanced tone coupled with longer
Classical Guitar Strings
These strings differ from all the above in so much as they do not use a steel
core. Instead, they use a nylon core with typically either a silver or bronze
winding on the bass strings. Nylon is the modern day equivalent material to the
traditional gut. This results in a crisper, brighter tone normally associated
with classical music. Nylon guitar strings are usually referenced by tension,
with low being suitable for beginners and high for advanced players.
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