Electric Guitar Strings – Strings By Mail

Determining the Right Electric Guitar String

When determining what gauge or tension electric guitar strings would work best for your electric guitar, there are a few things to consider. Heavier gauge strings tend to be louder, as there is more steel and vibrating mass for the pickups to harness. However, these heavy gauge strings can make it much harder to bend notes while playing, and can often require a slight adjustment to your guitar’s bridge so that the thicker strings do not buzz on the frets – leading to a higher action and a little more effort while playing. Lighter gauge strings are easier for bending notes, and allow you to set your guitar’s action much lower. If you are uncertain of which gauge would match your preference and playing style, 9-42 (extra light) or 10-46 (regular/light) sets are the industry standard “starting point” for electric guitar players.

When you are looking at a set of electric guitar strings, the stings’ gauges are usually listed on the package for easy comparison. String gauges are usually written out from the 1st string to the 6th string when dealing with standard 6-string guitar sets, (ie. 10 – 46), and sometimes every string gauge is detailed on the package along with the associated category of the gauge (ie. Light 9, 11, 16, 24, 32, 42). There are also many other in-between and custom gauge sets that electric guitar string manufacturers provide to meet the dynamic needs of their customers, however Extra Light, Light, Medium, Medium Heavy, and Heavy are some of the more common gauge categories available for easy comparison between brands.

If you really want to experiment with the various electric guitar string gauges available for electric guitar, you can always piece together your own custom set from single electric guitar strings. If you like the results from piecing together your own custom set of electric guitar strings, you can save your custom set to Strings By Mail’s “Custom Customer Concoctions”. This way you can share your research and wisdom with other electric guitar players – and also have the option to easily reorder your own Custom Customer Concoction at the press of a button.

Strings By Mail Presentation | Electric Guitar Strings

The material compositions and manufacturing process of electric guitar strings and the outer wrappings on the wound strings can have a very dramatic effect on the sound, play, and feel of the strings. Plain steel strings are a harder material that lend to a brighter sound with greater volume, however steel strings can also tend to wear down a guitar’s frets at a faster rate. In contrast, electric guitar strings made with softer metals such as gold and nickel can produce warmer and more mellow sounding tones, while being a less abrasive on guitar frets. Meanwhile, using cobalt in electric guitar strings helps to produce a higher magnetism to the magnetic pickups resulting in increased output and clarity.

The various manufacturing techniques used during the wiring and wrapping process of the heavier gauge lower strings can really help to differentiate electric guitar strings for their intended instruments and various users and styles. The core wires of electric guitar strings are made from a magnetic metal that aids in the string’s interaction with the magnetic pickups on electric guitars. This inner wire most often has a round core or hex core shape, and is then wound (wrapped) with an outer wire or wrapping,. The wrapping process can be done mechanically or by hand.

Manufacturing Techniques of Electric Guitar Strings

Roundwound is the outer winding process that is most often used on electric guitar strings, consisting of a round wire wrapped around the core wire which helps produce a bright and loud sound. Flatwound electric guitar strings incorporate a winding that is slightly more flat in comparison to the roundwound strings and are favored by many for their low profile and comfortable playing experience. These flatwound strings also help to eliminate the common finger squeak sound when sliding from note to note, and they are also a little more gentle on frets and fretboard wear as well as the fingers.

Some electric guitar strings can undergo yet another finishing process where they can be further manipulated by grinding down or polishing the outer windings. Half Round electric guitar strings start out as stainless steel roundwound strings, then are precision ground leaving the outer surface smooth and “semi flat”. In our experience this results in a string with similar tone characteristics to flat wound strings, with a smoother feel like flat wound strings, but with a playability and response that is similar to round wound strings.

There are also many electric guitar strings that are treated and/or coated to help protect the strings from oxidation, and from the natural oils from players’ fingers. Treated and coated electric guitar strings also tend to last longer over time because of this added protective layer. Another rather new development in electric guitar string manufacturing is cryogenically freezing the strings at a temperature of -320 degrees in liquid nitrogen, resulting in improved tone and longer life.

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