Guitar Tricks Blog

Choosing Strings for the Best Electric Guitar Experience



By John Wunsch, President of Strings By Mail

YIKES!...Chrome, pure nickel, round wound, hex core, vapor shielded, black coated, cobalt... WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN???

You could do quite a bit of reading and experimenting, but instead let’s just look at 10 questions that can solve some of the most common problems with choosing the right strings for your electric guitar.

In these examples I have used the standard extra light 9 gauge sets, but certainly a different gauge may fit your needs. And a different manufacturer of the same string TYPE listed should help deal with each problem. I will give 2 options from different price ranges in each example, the premium options are higher priced and worth the cost, but the budget options will have the suggested effect and are very good as well.

All these options can be found at Strings By Mail on the Electric strings page

  1. How can I get an old style mellow sound from my guitar?
  2. A string that can do this is a traditional round wound pure nickel string and a good budget option is the Ernie Ball 2253 Classic Regular Slinky Pure Nickel Electric 9-42. A fine premium option is the Pyramid Pure Nickel Hand Wound Electric Guitar Strings Ex Light 9-42.
  3. What should I do to get a more edgy modern sound?
  4. For this you are going to need a contemporary hex core set of strings, it will move you into that edgy direction. For a budget option try Everly Rockers 9009 Electric Guitar Strings Extra Light 9-42 and for a more premium option I recommend the Ernie Ball 2923 Slinky M-Steel Electric Guitar Strings 9-42.
  5. I’m not getting a good signal after I go through all my pedals, do you have a solution for this?
  6. Yes, higher output strings have stronger magnetic properties and can solve this problem. My recommended budget option would be Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky 2723 Electric Guitar Strings 9-42, while for a premium solution I would use Thomastik-Infeld Super Alloy IN109 Electric Guitar Strings 9-42.
  7. I just don’t have as much sustain as I want, what can help with that?
  8. Once again the stronger magnetic properties of higher output strings will help improve sustain, and a good budget option is once again the Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky 2723 Electric Guitar Strings 9-42 with a premium option in the Thomastik-Infeld Super Alloy IN109 Electric Guitar Strings 9-42.
  9. I am getting a lot of slap from my strings, what should I use to reduce that?
  10. Slap will be reduced with heavier gauge strings, budget options would include GHS Big Core Nickel Rockers Electric Guitar Strings BCL 10.5-48 and a great premium option is the Dogal NY Steel RW155C Round Wound Electric Guitar Strings 10-46.
  11. String breakage, it is a real problem on my gigs, what strings can reduce breakage?
  12. NY Steel, a newer particular steel used by D’Addario, is standing out for reducing breakage so I have one particular recommendation here: D'Addario EXP120 Coated Electric Guitar Strings Super Light 9-42.
  13. I have trouble playing fast enough; can a string change help me
  14. There is no doubt that a lighter gauge string calls for less effort and potentially leads to better speed, so for a budget option I would try GHS Boomers GBUL Nickel Plated Electric Guitar Strings 8-38 and for amore premium options I would suggest Pyramid Pure Nickel Hand Wound Electric Guitar Extra Super Light 8-38.
  15. My strings go dead really fast, is that going to happen with all strings?
  16. No, coated strings give more life to a string, especially for those with more corrosive hand oils or perspiration. For your budget option try D'Addario EXP120 Coated Electric Guitar Strings Super Light 9-42, and to step it up to the premium level check out the new La Bella VSE942 Vapor Shield Electric Guitar Strings 9-42.
  17. My sound is just too bright, what can I use to darken it down?
  18. Softer materials like pure Nickle or Gold give a warmer sound, and should help you with that problem. A nice budget option is the DR Strings Pure Blues PHR-9 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings 9-42 and a fine premium option is the Optima Maxiflex 24K Gold Wound Electric Guitar Strings 9-42.
  19. My sound is very dark, how can I lighten it up?
  20. You can change that by using strings made of harder metals such as nickel wound or pro steel , which give us a brighter sound. For a budget solution the DR Strings Hi-Beam LHR-9 Electric Guitar Strings 9-46 should help and in the premium range I would recommend the Pyramid Stainless Steel Electric Guitar Strings Light 9-42.


Next month we will take on understanding and choosing the right acoustic strings. Enjoy your music and Good luck!

We at Strings By Mail are popular and respected for our comprehensive and low priced string offerings, fast order turnaround, and superior customer satisfaction. We sell strings, accessories, instruments, and sheet music. We welcome phone orders and specialize in providing complimentary consultations regarding string choices and design of custom sets for specific instruments, styles, and personal preferences.

If you have a question of any sort, please let us know. At Strings By Mail we are always happy to provide more details and options by email or by phone. Give us a call 9AM - 3PM Monday - Thursday and 9 AM - 4 PM on Fridays, Eastern Standard Time - 800.531.8271

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