All About Guitar Strings

There isn't much in this world as satisfying as a set of new strings on an old guitar.  Sometimes a new set of wires is all you need to improve your guitar's intonation, clarity and tone.  That said, there are endless varieties of brands, gauges and styles of strings to choose from and it can be tough to make an informed choice about what kind of strings to try if you're looking for a change.  Here is a list of some of my favourite guitar strings, so that maybe you can benefit from my years of trial and error navigating my way through the tyranny of choice in today's market.

D'Addario 11-50 Balanced Tension

These strings are by far my favourite, and they're my go-to.  I have an undisclosed number of sets of these strings hidden all over my home and in every guitar case.  11-50 is a bit on the thicker side in terms of the gauge, and if you're used to using a thinner gauge like 10's or even 9's, I wouldn't recommend changing to 11's unless you want to start using thicker strings.  Its a well known fact that Jimi Hendrix preferred a very specific gauge of string for every string on his guitar, and was even rumoured to use banjo strings for his high E, and my understanding is that what he was seeking out was a set of strings with balanced tension.  These D'Addario balanced tension strings are the only brand that I've seen that attempt to have "balanced tension" and I find that the slightly altered gauges from a normal set of 11's feels and sounds great.

D'Addario 10-49 Balanced Tension

If you're interested in trying out the balanced tension strings but you use 10's and have no interest in moving to a thicker gauge, check this out!  3 sets of 10 gauge balanced tension.  

DR Pure Blues Handmade



These strings are absolutely the best sounding guitar strings I've ever used.  I don't know if its because they're made with nickel, I don't know if its because they're made by hand, but these strings sound way better than any other string I've ever used.  You may be wondering, if these are the best sounding strings I've ever used why are they not my go to string?  The answer is simple.  Due to the fact that these strings are hand made, it is possible to buy a pack where one or more of the strings will not intonate.  I had this happen to me once and it was very frustrating.  Since then, I have learned that there is a technique you can use when stringing your guitar that will prevent this from happening, however consistency for me is important.  Notwithstanding, I mean what I say when I tell you that these strings sound really, really great.  

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky/Power Slinky

11-48 Power Slinky

10-46 Regular Slinky

These strings sound amazing, are reliable, and best of all they are the cheapest of the brands that I have talked about so far.  The Ernie Ball brand has a very wide variety of gauge options that are worth looking into, however the regular slinky and power slinky have a slightly less thick gauge on the lower strings, which can be desirable depending on your personal preference.  I remember when I was young I loved Ernie Ball because they used to put their endorsing artists on the cover of every package, and I felt so cool using the same strings as some of my heroes.

Notable Exemptions

In this article I have intentionally left out certain very popular brands of strings, and perhaps the most obvious omission is Elixir strings.  While this brand is very reputable, and many of my close friends use and even endorse this brand I have never really liked them.  They are quite expensive, and are coated in one of two types of coating that they use, called either Nanoweb or Polyweb coating.  This coating is intended to prolong the life and the tone of the strings, and many musicians who I respect swear by these strings.  My issue is, for some reason my fingers always seem to ruin the coating and the strings turn into a bit of a mess, with the coating peeling off like skin on my sunburnt shoulders.  

Another omission is any irregular string gauges, such as Ernie Ball skinny top heavy bottom, or string gauges intended for guitars that are tuned to drop C or anything like this.  This article is really only meant to offer insight derived from personal experience, and the candid truth is that I don't have much personal experience with any of these types of gauges.  

I hope this article was helpful if you're looking for a change of strings, and I hope some of these options are new to you and spark your interest.  

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