When taking guitar lessons it’s important to have all of the right tools to help you succeed in your musical journey. For most, this involves choosing a quality guitar, signing up for guitar lessons in Scottsdale, and maybe adding in a metronome, guitar tuner, or amp – all of which are extremely vital to a guitar player’s musical abilities and sound. But, unfortunately, for most newbie guitar players, the list stops there. What’s often overlooked is one very small, but critical tool that has just as much of an impact on a guitar player’s performance as their fingering techniques, chord knowledge, and ability to keep time. What’s this little, but mighty accessory I’m speaking of? Why it’s the guitar strings, of course!
Believe it or not, the type of guitar strings you use can affect everything from tune to fingering and volume. Figuring out the right type of guitar strings to use with your guitar lessons is a lot like shopping for a new pair of shoes. There are hundreds of types of shoes to choose from, but, as with guitar strings, the choice really boils down to two main factors: size and style.
Guitar String Size (AKA Gauge)
Like shoes, guitar strings come in a variety of different sizes, otherwise known as gauges, which refers to the thickness of the string, and is measured in thousandths of an inch. While gauges vary depending on the type of guitar (acoustic or electric), the rule of thumb for both types of guitars is the thicker the gauge, the heavier the string.
So what’s the difference between light gauge strings and heavy gauge strings? Here’s a quick overview for you:
Light Gauge Strings:
Better for beginners because they are easier to play
Produce less tension
Easy to fret and bend, but also easy to over-bend and/or break
Heavy Gauge Strings:
Require more effort to play
Produce more volume and a fuller sound
Exert more tension
Remember that what works for some, might not work for others. A new student just beginning to take guitar lessons in Scottsdale probably wouldn’t use the same string gauge as an old pro who’s been playing the guitar for decades. Experience, sound, functionality, and a guitar player’s own level of touch are all factors to consider when picking out the perfect string gauge.
Guitar String Style
The other thing to consider when choosing guitar strings is the style, and by that, I’m referring to the material of the string. Again, the type of guitar you use, whether acoustic or electric, plays a big role in the material that’s used in the construction of your guitar strings.
For example, most electric guitar strings are either made of steel or nickel. The main difference between the two types of material rests in the sound. Steel strings have a bright sound to them, while strings made of nickel have a more vintage, mellow sound.
On the other hand, nylon and brass are most often used for acoustic guitar strings. Generally speaking, nylon strings produce a soft, smooth tone, whereas brass strings produce a sharp, crisp tone.
While the materials mentioned above are most commonly used in the construction of guitar strings, other materials, such as chrome, titanium, cobalt, bronze, and silk, are also used to make guitar strings, with each possessing their own unique sound. Whichever type of guitar string you choose to use, just remember that acoustic guitar strings should never be used on an electric guitar or vice-versa. Doing so could damage your guitar over time, and no one wants that!
Guitar Strings Summary
No matter what your musical goals are, you should play around with different types of guitar strings to help you decide which one is best for your style of playing and the sound you’re aiming for. Changing small details like string gauge or construction material can have an enormous impact on your performance. Finding your preference of guitar strings might take some time, but once you do, you’ll be amazed by how much your sound will transform!
For questions about guitar strings or guitar playing in general, considering taking one of our many guitar lessons in Scottsdale. Give us a call at (602) 751-3537 to learn how we can help enhance your guitar playing skills and help put the zing in your string!