Knowing which brand and what gauge (thickness) of guitar strings to buy can seem like a really confusing choice for someone just starting out.
There are so many different options that you can definitely be forgiven for feeling lost or confused. But hopefully after reading this wee blog you’ll be able to choose the right gauge for your acoustic guitar and get some fresh strings on it!
The main differences between a heavy and light set of strings is the tone and the feel. A general rule of thumb is the thicker the strings, the richer the sound and vice versa.
BUT the thicker the strings, the harder they are to play!
There are pros and cons to each, so it's important to find the right size for you.
Some useful info:
Guitar strings are measured in inches - in fact they’re measured in 1/1000th of an inch! So pretty darn small, which means that they can feel very different to different people, depending on finger strength.
In a full pack there are 6 strings, each with a different gauge.
TOP TIP: A very handy bit of jargon is that most people refer to a pack of strings by the thinnest string only. The most common ones you’ll hear are 9’s, 10’s, 11’s and 12’s. (0.009 of an inch, 0.010 of an inch and so on).
In this post I’m going to use Elixir Acoustic guitar strings as an example. They’re the strings I use because they’re top quality and coated with a really effective anti-rust formula.
What gauge acoustic guitar strings sound best?
Elixir 10’s (10 - 47)
Overall the lightest set of acoustic strings offered by Elixir, great for beginners or those struggling to fret the guitar. Most gentle on the fingers - if you’re having trouble with barre chords then this could be the simple answer.
Elixir 11’s (11 - 52) - Great option to start.
I use this gauge! Because they’re a really nice, light, middle ground option. Great level of tone and easy on the fingers. Bendable and vibrato-able. Although most acoustic guitars come strung with 12’s, I often personally recommend these as a standard gauge for those who aren’t sure what to buy. They are slightly easier to play than 12’s, which can make a big difference to your playing without sacrificing tone.
Elixir 12’s (12 - 53)
As mentioned, most acoustic guitars are shipped with 12’s as standard. They are great sounding with a full and rich tone. The heavier the string the louder and richer sound it will produce, so 12’s are on the richer side. A great option for most.
Elixir 13’s (13 - 53)
The heaviest option from Elixir and virtually the loudest, richest sound possible… but also the most challenging to fret. This is a gauge you might want to gradually work up to - it requires a lot of finger strength - certainly doable for an adult guitarist looking to achieve a massive tonal range… or attempting to be Stevie Ray Vaughan!
If you can play with the right pressure, these will sound amazing. 13’s are also ideal for open and drop tunings, or for large bodied ‘strummers’ like jumbo sized guitars.Chris