Ask even some of the most road-hardened guitarists and they’ll tell you that good guitar strings are good guitar strings, and that no make is necessarily better for the beginner to use, well, I’m here to disagree! There are a few things to consider when it comes to starting playing guitar, and after all you want it to be comfortable and enjoyable if you’re going to stick with it, so what are the best strings to help you do so, and what do we need to think about?
So, you’ve started strumming away on a friends guitar or maybe even bought your own and begun playing, and your fingers hurt! That’s pretty normal at the start, especially if you’re playing an acoustic guitar. Eventually, our fingers get calloused and harder to cope with the fact that we are (hopefully) playing a lot of guitar on hard strings, but don’t worry, you don’t necessarily have to just grin and bear it at the start.
Gauge of the Strings
The gauge plays a huge part when it comes to how hard the strings will be on your fingers. The gauge, simply put, is the thickness, you can see a detailed description on our home page but all you really need to know is that the lighter gauge strings will be easier to take for your fingers, something starting at a .9 or a .12 will help, even if they don’t exactly feel like velvet on your fingers.
String Construction (Flatwound)
If you can find flatwound strings then you should think about buying these. This is all about the construction of the strings, roundwound for example will be harsher on your fingers. For a more detailed description of the string construction see wikipedia.
Coated or Elixir Strings
This is a matter of opinion, but many people claim that using coated or elixir strings have a softer time of things than those who don’t! It is a case of experiment and see but some manufacturers do claim that their coatings help, and may be better for beginners.
These are definitely easier on the finger and good for beginners, BUT, you can’t simply go and restring your guitar with Nylon, they won’t work on all models. Traditionally these are used with classical and folk guitars so perhaps if you haven’t decided which guitar to buy yet you might lean towards something with nylon strings, something like this lovely classical guitar:
A full sized classical gee-tar from music gear all-rounders and manufacturers yamaha, you might not see one on stage at glastonbury any time soon but they are the perfect guitar with the perfect strings for a beginner looking for a classical or folky sound.
Grin and Bear it Method
Of course, if you plan to become a pro and want to sacrifice your comfort in order to simply become the best, just remember that your skin will learn to deal with it pretty soon. Most of the best tones for pop and rock will come from harder strings, so at some point you will probably want to progress to them. Going through the pain barrier may be for the best in the long run.