After purchasing a guitar and using it for a bit, there will definitely come the time when you need to buy new accessories, like guitar strings, for your musical instrument. The thing is, many people underestimate how important the right set of strings are to get those chords sounding the way you want.
It's not just a matter of heading into a music store or placing an online order to purchase a set of strings. Guitar strings, like guitars, come in a variety of styles with different thicknesses (known as the gauge) and different construction materials. These differences help the player create the perfect sound for their instrument. For example, a thicker gauge will give you a warmer tone, whereas a thin gauge will produce a lighter and brighter sound. The material the strings are made from plays a part in getting the tone you're after as well — from vintage nickel to steel or nylon, there are so many options.
Choosing your strings wisely is essential! Before tuning your guitar, buying a capo or pulling out your pick, read this article to find out everything you need to know about buying that set of guitar strings, including the most important question: how much do guitar strings cost?
A Few Basic Considerations
Before you head online or into a shop, take stock of a few simple details regarding your guitar and the music you want to play.
- What type of guitar do you have — classical, acoustic, acoustic-electric or electric?
- What level are you at — beginner or intermediate?
- What style do you want to play?
- What is your budget or price range?
Once you are clear on the above details you will have narrowed down your options, making your choice a little easier.
So, how much do guitar strings cost?
While cost is usually the most important factor for many people, we would advise you to avoid buying low-end guitar strings (less than $8) as they may quickly detune or even break while playing. The guitar strings price range is very broad, however, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 up to over $100 for a set of strings.
To start your online guitar lessons off on the right foot you need to have the right strings for your instrument!
Before You Choose Your Strings
Whether you're buying a used guitar or a new one, it's a good idea to know how much is a good price for a set of strings and how to choose your guitar strings.
Generally, when you buy a guitar, the strings are the basic product type and will not necessarily match your level or style of play.
Do you know the expression 'worn to the bone'?
Yes, even guitar strings wear out and change.
So what is the best technique to adopt when it comes to guitar strings price comparisons?
Should you buy low-end, inexpensive strings and change them regularly? Or, on the other hand, should you buy expensive ones and change them less often?
To help you make your choice in the jungle of guitar strings, here are some free tips that every guitar player will find useful.
Which Strings Go With Which Guitar?
It is, of course, necessary to take into account the model of your guitar before choosing your strings.
If you’ve bought an acoustic guitar (including classical and folk guitars), you can see that it will not require the same strings as an electric guitar and vice versa.
Are you a beginner guitarist and don’t know which strings to choose?
Good news! You cannot order the wrong strings! In fact, there is no 'wrong' guitar string.
The Classical Guitar
The most common material for classical guitar strings is nylon. It gives a brilliant sound.
The nylon string has a very high elasticity and must be manufactured with precision. While steel guitar strings will be louder, the nylon guitar strings are better for playability (as they are easier to press on the fretboard), and they have a rounder, less bright, sound. These guitars, such as those made by Taylor guitars, are intended for styles like flamenco and for guitar players who opt for Latin sounds.
Usually, nylon guitar strings come in packs of different string tension: 'hard' or 'soft'. Often, the guitar shop will sell packs with an extra G string, as these tend to need replacing more often. Even more often than the thinnest first string!
Whichever you choose will be able to fit any nylon string guitar - a dreadnought, parlor, orchestral or those with a cutaway.
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The Folk and Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Two types of strings are mainly used for folk and acoustic-electric guitars: steel strings and alloys such as phosphor bronze are most commonly used, but you can also find nylon strings. These aren't common for acoustic guitar strings, however.
If you’re afraid of making the wrong choice, look at your folk guitar manufacturer’s product website and you will find the type of strings installed — usually 'light'. You don't want to install heavy gauge string or bass guitar strings when you want acoustic strings.
Steel strings have particularly strong tension so check to see if there are any contraindications for the installation of the truss rod. Again, check the factory advised string gauge.
To add to the issues, the biggest disadvantage of steel strings is that they oxidize due to sweat from your hands. Therefore, it is necessary to wipe the strings well after playing the guitar so that they do not rust. You could get strings that are corrosion resistant strings. If not, change the strings often.
The Electric Guitar
Electric guitar strings are generally made out of nickel plated steel, the steel is used to make a stronger sound and the nickel improves the durability and the touch. There are also strings only made out of nickel or stainless steel. The nickel gives a more vintage sound, while the stainless steel produces a brilliant sound and will be chosen for its longevity.
If you’re just starting out playing the guitar and you're not sure what to choose, don't add to your confusion — pick regular strings (.010/.046) for now, regardless of your goals or style. The light strings are easier to press against the fingerboard on the guitar neck, whilst the higher gauge types are designed for jazz guitar and those committed to a rich tone. When you are more experienced, you will know your needs and desires better.
While you're thinking about strings, check out everything you need to know about the guitar strap.
Guitar Strings Price: Which String Set will Fit my Budget?
Whatever your budget and level may be, choose a string set from a well-known brand.
After purchasing a classical guitar, go for La Bella strings, Savarez, D’Addario or even Augustine.
For folk guitars, there’s La Bella and D’Addario, but also Elixir or RotoSound.
After buying an electric guitar, choose brands like Dunlop, Ernie Ball Slinky, D’Addario, Elixir (and Elixir Nanoweb), Fender, Dean Markley, and Dr Strings.
The majority of these brands will make strings for bass guitars, including electric bass, and mandolin and banjo strings, as well as lap steel guitar strings and other stringed musical instruments.
I'm a Beginner (or I have a Low Budget)
I have a classical guitar
|D'Addario Classical Guitar (Hard Tension)||$6||You have the possibility to choose nylon strings with high tension. These strings are shiny and D’Addario is a very good quality brand. They will not let you down if you’re on a tight budget.||Strings: .029/.045|
|Ibanez Classical Guitar Strings||$15||Ibanez is another brand to choose a string set from. The sharp strings are made out of nylon and the low strings are silver-plated. They require normal tension and adapt to all classical guitars.||Strings: .028/.043|
I have a folk guitar
|D'Addario 85/15 Bronze||$5||Strings: .010/.050||These strings are made of 85/15 bronze and are very durable. They have good resistance from oxidation over time, but they lose their shine as they age. The sound is balanced. Their monetary value is quite good for a beginner guitarist.|
|La Bella Phosphor Bronze||$7||Strings: .011/.052||These phosphor bronze strings will give your folk guitar a rich and complex sound. They have good resistance to sweat from hands. The material of the strings allows for great versatility: from simple rhythmic playing to finger picking.|
I have an electric guitar
|Ernie Ball Regular Slinky||$5||Strings: .010/.046||These nickel-plated steel strings may not be coated, but they are not lacking in quality! They have a long life and are the best compromise between sound quality, holding a chord, resistance, and price.|
|D'Addario XL Nickel Wound||$6||Strings: .009/.042||Ideal for beginners who need help setting up their strings, this set offers a color code from the sharpest to the lowest string. They offer a brilliant and metallic sound and have good resistance, provided that they are wiped after each use.|
I’m at an Intermediate Level (or I have an Average Budget)
I play a classical guitar
|La Bella 2001||$7.25||If you don’t want to take any risks, choose La Bella 2001 strings! The nylon 202 treble set offers a clear sound, while the silver-plated bass wire brings sound consistency and regularity. Think about wiping them after each use to avoid oxidation. Their lifespan is longer than that of conventional strings.|
|Savarez||$15||Strings: .028/.042||These strings offer great playing versatility. From classical to bossa nova, to simply passing the guitar around a campfire. Made out of nylon, these strings are perfect for guitarists with sweaty hands.|
I play a folk guitar
|La Bella Silk and Steel Light||$9||Strings: .011/.051||If you have sensitive fingers, choose La Bella Silk & Steel strings, that are made out of, you guessed it, silk and steel. Yes, yes, there’s silk in these strings, which makes them softer on fingers and ideal for finger picking. The sound is warm and soft.|
|D'Addario Nickel Bronze||$12||Strings: .010/.047||D’Addario is a high-quality brand and offers nickel and bronze strings. These strings bring clarity, resonance, and projection to the sound of your guitar. The harmonics are rich and balanced, so you get the best out of your instrument.|
I have an electric guitar
|Elixir Nanoweb||$9||Strings: .009/.046||What do we ask for from our strings? To be comfortable and pleasant to touch of course! Elixir strings perfectly fulfill this role and have a longer, brilliant sound. They slide well, especially after applying Fast Fret (string cleaner/lubricant).|
I'm a Professional (or I don't want to Change my Strings Too Often)
I have a classical guitar
|La Bella Professional||$16||Ideal for professionals, these La Bella strings have gilded alloy basses and nylon trebles. Every professional will find what they want, from classical music to finger picking. Consistency, precision, and sound projection are ensured thanks to these strings|
|Savarez Corum Alliance||$34||These strings are near perfection. The bass strings are polished in silver. They require standard tension and are very durable. Their touch is pleasant and the strings are good for sensitive fingers. The slides are very easy to make and are made without parasitic oscillation.|
I have a folk guitar
|Elixir Nanoweb||$16||Strings: .010/.047||Elixir is known for the long life of its strings. These are made of phosphor bronze and have a soft touch, as well as a pure and precise sound in addition to its longevity.|
|Nexus Polymer Coated||$16||Strings: .011/.052||We haven’t yet talked about RotoSound, which is another good brand for guitar strings. This set is sheathed thanks to a polymer resin, which prevents unpleasant filaments that can be formed, like on Elixir strings for example. The sharp strings are plated in platinum.|
I have an electric guitar
|La Bella Vapor Shield||$14||Strings: .009/.046||The Vapor Shield technology present in these strings is unique. It allows them to have the same resistance as the Elixir strings, but without the sheathing. The strings are more flexible and their lifespan is very important. They were voted 2015’s best electric guitar strings in the United States.|
Where Can I Buy Guitar Strings?
You can buy guitar strings from any music store that sells guitars. It's a good idea to check their website for price and perhaps compare these with other stores, if you have that option. In some cases, you may need to place an order ahead of time, especially if you are after a specific brand, style or product.
If you don't know how to install your guitar strings, it would be a good idea to buy them in person and ask the shop assistants to help you.
If someone can help you with installing your guitar strings or if you already know how to do it yourself, you can simply order them online. Getting your strings by mail is fairly handy — one of the benefits of making an order for new strings online. You will have quite a few choices. Artist Guitars and Guitar Strings Online are some popular websites to buy from, and, of course, there's always E-bay or Gumtree.
The guitar strings price in-store and online tend to be roughly the same, so in most cases, you will not see a big difference. Of course, an online order will include a postage cost but that's a small price to pay for convenience and occasionally, depending on what you buy, the delivery may even be free.
Whether it’s better to buy entry-level strings or to spend more is a personal decision. By all means, ask the shop assistant or your guitar tutor for advice.
A few reminders:
- Consider your guitar model — classical, acoustic, acoustic-electric or electric. Remember that an acoustic guitar string is not appropriate on an electric bass guitar, nor a black nylon string on an Epiphone Telecaster.
- Remember to consider your level and the style that you want to play. You don't want to play blues on an ultra thin and light set, nor do you want to play Bach on a Stratocaster with flat wound strings.
- If you are not obsessed with the best guitar strings, any old brand of electric guitar string will be fine — just remember the gauge (or the string sizes).
- Guitar strings are an essential guitar accessory. More than tuners, a metronome, a plectrum, and a string winder — strings are the things you need. They are even more important than any guitar amps, microphones, or pliers.
Consider taking private guitar lessons (including online guitar lessons) with Superprof to get you on the right track. Here are a few popular searches: Guitar lessons Brisbane, Guitar lessons Sydney, Guitar lessons Perth, Guitar lessons Melbourne.
And follow this link to learn what to consider before buying your first guitar.
Looking After your Guitar and its Strings
Now that you've found out where to buy new guitar strings, and how much do guitar strings cost, you should probably also think about how to best look after them. The fact is that strings are probably the most expensive item you'll need to buy for your guitar, because you have to replace them over and over again — let's find out how to make them last as long as possible.
Four Simple Steps to Make Sure Your Strings Last as Long as Possible
Looking after your guitar strings is not rocket science — in fact, when you read this, you'll probably wonder why we're telling you the obvious ...
Step 1: Wash your hands before playing
The dirt and oils on your hands can hasten the deterioration of your guitar strings, meaning you'll have to order another set sooner than you want to. If you wash your hands before playing, or use hand sanitiser, you'll be less likely to damage the strings or your instrument over a period of time.
Step 2: Wipe the strings down after playing
Even if your hands are clean when you start playing, they will have an oily or sweaty build-up (as yucky as that sounds) as you play. It takes less than a minute to wipe the strings down. Just get a dry, soft cloth and wipe each string individually.
Step 3: Use a string cleaner
This is a good practice to get into, perhaps weekly, along with wiping the strings down with the cloth. Check with your guitar tutor, or in the shop where you bought your instrument, to see what they recommend for your type of guitar and strings. Whatever you do — don't use a general, all-purpose cleaner off the shelf at your supermarket! If, after your post-practice wiping and use of a string cleaner, you start to notice a grimy build-up that you can't remove, then it's time for some new strings.
Step 4: Change your strings regularly
No matter how diligent you are with your hand-washing and string cleaning, dust and oil will still collect on your strings and build up over time, affecting the quality of sound and tone. The recommendation is to get a new set of strings every couple of months. It's a good idea to have a spare set ready to go.
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In addition to the above, it is also a good idea to:
- keep your guitar away from moisture (this includes not cleaning your guitar strings with water)
- take extra care when you're transporting your guitar — this is what cases are for
- get your guitar's setup checked regularly — including checking the tension on the strings.
How to Change Your Strings
If you’re just starting out learning the guitar and you need advice and help to change your strings, head to your favourite music store or luthier. The salesperson will be happy to help you — and they might even fix your strings for you. Alternatively, if you have a guitar tutor, you can ask them to show you how to install the strings — if you plan on playing the instrument for some time, knowing how to replace the strings is certainly one of the finer maintenance details you should learn.
A few quick tips for when you are changing your strings:
- Don't take all the strings off at once — if you do, this can lead to loss of tension over time and a bent neck. Your instrument will never sound the same again.
- Start with the two lowest strings, remove and replace them, then move on to the next two.
- When you're replacing your strings, make sure you clean the frets and fretboard at the same time.
So, get some strings for your guitar, tune them, learn how to play and look after your guitar.
Happy music making!