Top Electric Guitar Strings – Guide & Comparison
This guide should help you find the best electric guitar strings, especially if you have little to no time on your hand or if you’re tired of browsing through all of the electric guitar strings reviews without finding what you need. This guide wouldn’t be complete without some recommendations and for that, we did the research for you and found out that the Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel strings are a good suggestion for any player. Their core is made of carbon steel plated with tin and this should give them the resistance needed. Furthermore, they are used by legendary players around the world, including Eric Clapton, Slash, or Jimmy Page. Especially the plain strings are much more durable compared to other models thanks to the lock twists present at their endings. If you can’t find them anywhere, have a look for a D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound set.
Our Top Choice
You won’t find many other strings that are as durable as these ones, and that is thanks to the steel carbon hexagonal core. Coming in 3 separate sets, the strings are all enclosed in a package that helps prolong their life. The materials used in making them are of the highest quality.
After you play them for some time they will slowly start losing their intonation.
Being some of the most influential strings on the rock stage, these ones are used by popular artists and they have been a standout piece of equipment for more than 50 years. They offer a balanced sound.
These strings are produced using advanced technology controlled by computers that wind them with precision. Each string is sealed separately and this prevents air from entering when opening the package. You can use these strings for multiple playing styles and music genres.
When you pull a string out, the rest will follow with it and that makes things messy.
D’Addario strings are known for their bright tone and these ones represent the brand properly. They can be considered highly durable and you won’t be disappointed with how they perform over time in all genres.
Also To Consider
It’s hard to find a set of strings that let you play good jazz or blues, but these ones are perfect for that. They are made in the USA and this means they go through rigorous testing and precise procedures before hitting the market. The materials used in the process of making them are of the highest quality.
They are lighter than some other Fender strings but also a lot more fragile.
Being a popular brand all over the world, Fender has been creating precise strings for many decades. These ones are proof of the innovation the brand is up to, and they should be a good choice for jazz fans.
10 Best Electric Guitar Strings (Updated Reviews) in 2021
If you are looking for the best electric guitar string set you must keep in mind some basic things. From durability to sound our team has done the research for you and we hope that the following electric guitar string reviews will be of great use. Here are our top preferences.
- 1. Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel
- 2. D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound
- 3. Fender 150R Pure Nickel
- 4. Elixir Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating
- 5. D’Addario NYXL1046 Nickel Plated
- 6. Ernie Ball 2223 Nickel Super Slinky
- 7. Elixir Electric Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating
- 8. GHS Strings GBTNT Guitar Boomers
- 9. GHS Strings GB-DGF David Gilmour Signature Series
- 10. Elixir Strings 16542 with NANOWEB Coating
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions:
Used by famous artists such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, or Slash, these nickel-plated electric guitar strings offer you the sound of a rockstar. They have been used for more than 50 years and Ernie Ball pioneered them many decades back. As a result, the strings have a huge influence on the sound of rock.
They are made using a nickel-plated steel material wrapped around a high carbon steel core that is plated with tin. This offers a balanced tone that is good for most of the guitar types and music styles.
To secure the wire around the ball and avoid any slippage, the plain strings have a series of lock twists at their ends. This ensures maximum longevity and fewer changes of the string getting loose. The wound strings are able to provide a balanced tone, and a great consistency and intonation thanks to the precision wounding process they go through.
Being made of carbon steel hex wire plated with tin, the core is capable of offering excellent durability.
Legends around the world use them – Eric Clapton, Slash Metallica, Jimmy Page, and others have been using these strings for years and that showcases how good they are.
The strings come in 3 individual sets enclosed in a single package that is protected using something called Element Shielding that helps prolong their life.
Made in California, USA, the strings are created using the finest materials and following strict regulations.
They are strong strings, especially the plain ones when compared to other models, thanks to the lock twists at their ends.
Thanks to how they are made and the materials used in making them, the strings are able to offer a balanced tone suitable for all genres.
They start to lose some of that perfect intonation once you play them for a prolonged period.Buy from Amazon.com
2. D’Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound
Being D’Addario’s best selling set, this one will allow you to pursue your passion when it comes to playing the guitar. The strings will give a long-lasting bright tone that feels so distinct, and the intonation is unique. To make sure that the strings stay in pristine shape for longer, the packaging is corrosion-resistant, keeping the strings fresh.
The strings are precisely wound using nickel-plated steel which has been wrapped around a hexagonally shaped steel core strengthened with high carbon. This gives out a bright tone, an output that can be described as magnetic, and a perfect intonation once you tune your guitar.
With these strings, you should be benefiting from reduced fret wear over time. Being highly versatile, the strings are ideal for electric guitars of many types and musical styles. Many professionals across the world use them for different purposes. Made in the USA, you know that these strings are made to last.
Using advanced computer-controlled winding technology, the strings are brought to life and are more durable and consistent than ever.
For an increased lifespan, while packaged, the strings are sealed separately and then sealed again in sets.
Being the most popular electric guitar strings designed by D’Addario they have been used by many professionals.
The strings are highly versatile and they can be used on many guitars, and for many different music genres.
Precision-wound using nickel-plated steel, the strings are carefully drawn onto hexagonally shaped high carbon steel cores that ensure strength and elasticity.
Delivering a bright tone and precise intonation, the strings are excellent for picking playing patterns and high-pitched songs.
One of the cons of the packaging is the fact that once you pull a string out you are likely to get the others out too. Pulling out each string separately will most likely result in a mess.Buy from Amazon.com
3. Fender 150R Pure Nickel
Fender is a colossus amongst guitar string names worldwide and they have been creating instruments and accessories since 1946 when the brand started, and these strings have been around for almost that long. Their popularity is the result of the innovation put into making them and the brand’s commitment to quality. These strings are proudly made in the USA, and you can see the attention to detail in them.
The finest materials are used to create them and that ensures a great feeling and the best possible sound. A guitar is only as good as its strings and that’s why when you buy a guitar with these ones, they will always be in tune and ready to go.
Although made for Fender guitars, they can also be used on other models, and they still sound great. They are a great choice for blues, classical rock, or jazz, and their design has been tested and tried extensively.
Using the highest quality wire that can be found and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, these strings are brought to life to ensure a modern-day consistency combined with a vintage tone.
Blues and jazz guitarists often have it though when it comes to choosing the perfect strings, but these ones are here to help them.
You can use these strings for any Fender guitar, and with many different models too, proving that they are highly versatile.
Made in the USA, the strings go through intense testing and precise manufacturing procedures before being put to sale.
These strings have been present for a long while and many artists have been using them over the years.
Although these are professional strings, the normal Fender nickel ones which are a bit thicker are also stronger, even if you’re only playing blues and not heavy stuff like metal.Buy from Amazon.com
4. Elixir Electric Guitar Strings w NANOWEB Coating
Coming in a light gauge, these strings have a nanoweb coating which ensures increased durability and better performance. The brand uses two separate patented coatings to reduce finger squeak and noises. The protective layer also helps against corrosion in hot or humid areas and protects the strings from sweat, dirt, or skin.
The NANOWEB coating has been designed as a response for those that want a more traditional feel. It’s a thin coating that allows for a brighter and crisper tone, offering protection at the same time. The whole string is coated, unlike many other models that only protect the string surface. Gunk usually builds up in those spaces between the windings and this coating avoids that.
For better protection against elements, the strings also come with anti-rust coatings, and even the plain steel strings get this treatment. The set brings out a bright and vibrant tone and dynamic punch.
Constructed with nickel-plated steel wrap wire, the strings are capable of delivering a crisp and clear sound that is excellent for any kind of musician.
The ultra-thin coating called NANOWEB provides protection while still giving the uncoated and textured traditional feel.
Thanks to the coating technology the strings are better protected against corrosion, the tone life is extended, and there is a smaller likelihood of grime building up on them.
You will find that the whole string is coated and that ensures better protection and more durability in the long term.
Made using the best available materials, the strings will stay in better shape for a longer time.
From bright and colorful sounds to warm and powerful ones, these strings should offer you everything you need.
The strings have the tendency to unravel faster than they should, especially the A string which should be a strong one.Buy from Amazon.com
5. D’Addario NYXL1046 Nickel Plated
Featuring better materials and a new way of making the strings, this set from D’Addario will allow you to play without the fear of breaking them. The high-carbon steel core is break-resistant and also features plain steel alloy that will give you the confidence and freedom to play as you want.
If you’re using a whammy bar and you bend your strings a lot, these are the ideal choice for you. Thanks to the NYXL technology, these ones will provide improved tuning stability, for more precise guitar string notes, especially when compared to other nickel wound strings. You will be able to keep them in better shape thanks to the corrosion-resistant packaging.
Most strings have the tendency or giving out a sharp sound, but these ones are great for the midrange, and that should give you more crunch and a better presence in the overall mix. The combination of plain steel and nickel wound gives you all you need.
Following centuries of string-making craftsmanship, the D’Addario brand is known for its quality strings, and that can be seen in this set.
The strings are made in the USA using advanced machinery and processes, and that brings out the best of them.
New York steel is used in making them and that steel is exclusively processed in the wire factory the company has in New York. This helps create high-quality high-carbon steel strings with unmatched tuning stability.
D’Addario was the pioneer of hexagonal core technology and these strings follow that design, with the wrap gripping the core better and as a result providing better dimensional stability.
Enhanced durability and increased performance are offered by the precise machinery making them and the design and materials used.
Despite being marketed as the high-class option for the regular Slinky strings, these ones don’t seem to add too much to the quality of the sound.Buy from Amazon.com
Being the most popular out of the Ernie Ball list, the Nickel Super Slinky electric guitar strings come in packs of 3 sets, and that should ensure that you can use them for even years. Their gauges are as follows – for the plain ones 9, 11, 16, and 24, and for the wound ones 32 and 42.
They are made wrapping a nickel-plated steel wire around a tin-plated steel core wire coming in a hexagonal shape. These strings are mostly used as replacement ones, but they can be used with no worries on any kind of electric guitar. Their advantage is the well-balanced and good all-around sound.
Precisely manufactured to respect the highest standards, the strings make sure you have stability in your sound, optimum performance, and they last longer. For these reasons, they have been used over the years by famous guitarists like Steve Vai, Slash, or Eric Clapton.
The powerful nickel-plated steel wire wrapped around the core ensures durability in the long run and a precise tonality.
Hexagonal core wires provide a better grip and as a result, they don’t let the wound wire slide off them over time.
The strings last longer, have great performance and better sound stability, all thanks to the standards and procedures they go through while manufacturing.
They have been used by many famous artists and they are the most popular strings that the brand ever produced.
You want your strings to be consistent in sound, unfortunately, the low E string has a metallic resonance to it which doesn’t match the tone of the other ones.
While they are easy to play and malleable, they tend to lack in volume and tone. You will often find yourself having to strike them harder than you’re used to.Buy from Amazon.com
7. Elixir Electric Guitar Strings w POLYWEB Coating
Elixir strings are known for their quality coatings and these ones come with the NANOWEB coating which is a newer and more protective version of the brand’s renowned POLYWEB technology. The layer helps with reducing finger squeak, and it also prevents other common annoyances.
With these strings, the sweat, skin, or grime won’t accumulate on them thanks to this technology. They are also well-protected in hot or humid environments thanks to this coating. The new strings are closer to a traditional feel and for the inexperienced player, they might feel like they are not coated.
Both the outer surface is protected and the gaps between the windings to avoid the accumulation of dirt and gunk there. The strings are also protected against corrosion and they are able to retain a good tonality over time. Thanks to all of this the tone is a warm and robust one and the strings will last you for a long time.
You will find that these strings have an uncoated and traditional textured feel while still providing protection thanks to the ultra-thin NANOWEB Coating.
The strings are made using nickel-plated wrap wire made of steel, and these are able to give you a clear sound and a crisp tonality, great for any kind of genre.
Protection against corrosion is given by the coating technology, and as a result, the tone life is extended as well, and you will find less grime on it.
Durability in the long term, as well as overall protection, is ensured by a full coating covering all of the strings.
The set is capable of producing bright and colorful sounds great for any kind of music.
These strings are made using the best materials the company could find, and that means they will be strong for longer periods.
You will find the strings unraveling faster than they should, even the thicker ones.Buy from Amazon.com
8. GHS Strings GBTNT Guitar Boomers
As the “flagship” series for the GHS brand, these ones need to deliver what is expected of them, and they are a good choice for any kind of player. Called “Boomers”. These strings are strong enough to withstand all playing styles. They have been putting their mark on music for several years.
The core is a round one and it comes covered tightly in wound nickel-plated steel. This ensures a long-lasting tone and gives the sound its characteristic brightness. Each of the strings gets sealed in a separate nitrogen envelope to eliminate all the oxygen and prevent corrosion. This means that whether you’re using a single string or more, they will still stay intact.
Manufactured in a climate-controlled facility using state-of-the-art technology, the strings are made to endure the test of time. All the best materials are used when creating them, and the strings should bring you the consistency, quality, and intonation that you expect.
Designed in 1964 and perfected over time, these strings have the intonation that reminds you of those times, but they can also be used for newer genres.
The strings are made to let you play them harder for longer, so they are perfect for heavy-style guitarists.
Those making these strings consider themselves a family comprising of artists and experts and they all put in the hard work needed to create something beautiful and long-lasting.
All the best technology is used in making these strings, and they are produced in a climate-controlled facility to ensure they stand the test of time.
The materials used in making them should offer the quality and consistency a heavy player needs.
You get each string sealed in a separate envelope where there is no oxygen. This keeps the string more resistant to corrosion.
If you play them for a few hours they will start to turn your fingers black, especially at first.Buy from Amazon.com
9. GHS Strings GB-DGF David Gilmour Signature Series
The Wall is one of the best-known albums in history and Pink Floyd’s guitarist, David Gilmour was using a set of the GHS Strings Boomer series when the band recorded the songs. There are two different gauges that these strings come in, and they depend on the two guitars that Gilmour used – the Fender Stratocaster, and the Gibson Les Paul.
Also described as “the power strings” these ones are still making their mark on the music world nowadays, and they have the strength to stand strong in every music genre. The strings have a round core and they come covered with wound nickel-plated steel wrapped tightly around it. Their characteristics make them have a long-lasting tone and a bright sound.
Each of the strings is separately sealed in an environment where oxygen has been pushed out and nitrogen has been introduced instead. This should ensure a long-lasting, corrosion-free life.
No matter if you’re using a single string or the whole set as the ones that you don’t use will still stay fresh in their package.
These strings are manufactured in a climate-controlled environment in a facility that uses state-of-the-art precise equipment and the result can be seen with the naked eye.
Only the best materials available are used and that is why these strings are so strong over time.
The package these strings are placed in is filled with nitrogen to keep them corrosion-free and it’s also tear-resistant.
Designing and creating strings from 1964 GHS Strings is a renowned brand that is always capable of delivering to your expectations.
Although the strings sound good you will sometimes find small blemishes on them and those can become annoying when you run your fingers across them.
Taking into account their package these strings should don’t stay fresh enough when stored in humid environments.Buy from Amazon.com
10. Elixir Strings 16542 with NANOWEB Coating
Capable of delivering an extended tone life, and consistent performance without losing any of the presence and punch of traditional electric guitar strings, these ones will offer you great playability. You won’t need to change them that often and because that requires less hassle you will be happier when playing your guitar.
Elixir is one of the few brands that coats the entire string, from the outer surface to the gaps between the windings. This helps the strings keep their tone for longer compared to other models. Furthermore, the plain steel ones are anti-rust plated so you know that they won’t suffer from corrosion.
The nanoweb coating should ensure the durability needed, and at the same time will give the player the feel of traditional uncoated strings, thanks to how thin it is. In terms of sound, these strings can give you a crisp tonality.
You will be able to see the thin NANOWEB coating present on these strings and over time you will observe the protection it can offer while still giving you the traditional feel of older strings.
Being an excellent choice for any kind of musician, the strings are wrapped in nickel-plated wire, and they can give out a crisp and clear sound
The whole string gets coated and as a result, better protection ensues over time and that makes the strings stay in better shape.
The NANOWEB coating also protects against corrosion, extends the strings’ life, and prevents grime from building up on the strings.
For longer life and better performance, the strings are made using the best materials available.
Given the bright and colorful sound, these strings are great for a multitude of genres.
The coating isn’t enough to prevent the wound strings from unraveling sooner than they should.Buy from Amazon.com
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
There are some basic things that an experienced electric guitar player keeps in mind when buying new strings. We all have our preferences, but whether you want a set of cheap electric guitar strings, or you’re looking for a premium feel, try to look for the following aspects.
There are various metals used when making electric guitar strings. They are usually created using steel because this is a good material for transmitting the vibrations to the magnetic pickups.
A popular option amongst manufacturers is nickel-plated steel, and this is because this material can give a balanced tone. The sounds won’t be too warm or too bright, and the attack will be fast. For more warmth, you can go for vintage nickel, which is mellower in sound.
Stainless steel gives a really bright tone with plenty of sustain. Even if you think of stainless steel you can imagine that, and another advantage of this material is the resistance to corrosion. This makes strings made of stainless steel more resistant over time, but they can be brittle and because they sound so bright not many players prefer them.
Core and winding method
When it comes to the core they are also made of steel most of the time. When discussing the core we are talking about the center of the string (wound strings have this core), and the windings come around these cores to make the strings larger and change their pitch.
Traditionally, these cores are made of round wires, but in modern string constructions, they are hexagonal-shaped. This helps to keep the outer windings in place better and as such provide a better tune and more resistance to wear over time. The wire that wraps around the core has different shapes as well.
There are the usual round wires that get wrapped around the core, but some manufacturers also use flat wires (similar to tape) and strings like these are called flatwound. Although round-wounded strings are the most popular, and they can be found easier, they don’t do great in all music genres. They have a brighter tone and good sustain, however.
Flatwound strings are great for jazz thanks to their smoother feel when played and the mellow tone they give. They also feel easier on the fingers and that’s why an electric guitar strings review will recommend them for beginners.
Referring to the size and thickness of the string, gauges measure the diameter of the string in thousandths of an inch. On a classic electric guitar, the gauges will go from the smallest for the high E string to the thickest for the low E string. However, with different string sets, the overall gauge of the set can be thicker or thinner.
Lighter gauge string sets will be easier to play because they bend more easily, but they will also sound brighter. They will also exert less tension on the guitar’s neck but will have less sustain and reduced volume and they will break easier. On the opposite side of the spectrum, heavy gauges have plenty of sustain and volume.
Heavier gauges will also let you play harder, and are good for drop-tunings or alternate tunings. They are more difficult to bend or fret and they put more tension on the guitar’s neck.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What gauge electric guitar strings should I use?
The gauge you choose depends on what your intended style of play is and how much of an experienced player you are. Lighter gauges are easier to bend and tend to be less painful when played. As a result, they are good for beginners that don’t want to get their fingers hurt too much.
The .010 gauge is the smallest and it refers to the thinnest of the strings while having a gauge of 0.46 for the thickest string. Surprisingly, these are still able to offer an impressive balance between playability and tone, even if you buy a set of affordable electric guitar strings.
Heavier gauges are usually used to play mellower sounds and by those that want to play heavier styles, using more aggressive strikes. Gauges that are over .011 are usually used for lower tunings because they tense the guitar’s neck more. There are also hybrid light and heavy sets that mix the two styles together.
Q: Should you replace all guitar strings at once?
If you’re not sure how to change electric guitar strings, you have to know that, while some experts recommend changing them one at a time in order to keep the tension on the neck pretty much constant, there are others that advocate for changing all the strings at once.
You could say that there are pros and cons to both of these options, and because the necks of nowaday’s electric guitars are able to withstand much more pressure, you could change all of the strings at once without risking too much. Furthermore, doing this allows you to clean the fretboard and the guitar better.
If your guitar has suffered before, and if you know it’s neck has some problems, it’s better to keep the pressure constant on it and avoid changing all the strings at once, and that also applies if you are adding an affordable electric guitar string to a set of older ones.
Q: Can I replace just one guitar string?
One reason why guitars are so popular is that they don’t require that much care, compared to other instruments. You could leave your guitar to sit in a room for months and when you come back to it you should still be able to play it, of course, it will probably need some readjusting. And speaking of readjusting, you will often find yourself in the need of replacing just one string.
You can sometimes find yourself picking a string too hard and if it’s a cheap electric guitar string it breaks so easily. If that happens you can grab a new string and set it up immediately. Some might say that it’s even better if you replace a single string because this ensures you don’t mess with the overall tuning of the instrument and the neck stays under the same pressure.
If you’re not sure how to string a guitar, ask a friend or an expert to help you.