Strings have a big impact on the way our guitar sounds, and no matter which type of guitar we are wielding on stage (bass, electric, acoustic) it is important to find the right strings for our purpose. In this article I am exploring the best electric guitar strings available, to follow on from the acoustic string article I have already written.
It is easy to think that you are looking for the same things from your electric strings as you are from your acoustics, but I would beg to differ for a couple of reasons.
- The tone of your acoustic guitar is a lot more natural, it is not processed via an amp and effects, whereas your electric guitar probably is. Even if you spend all the time in the world focusing on the sound to come from your electric strings, they’re going to go through a lot of processing to get to the end result.
- Electric strings are easier to break, especially if you are bending or playing quite harsh genres of music, which means you need strings that will try and combat this.
So we’re looking for slightly different things with our electric guitar strings, and though the tone is very important (if you start off with an awful tone, no amp is going to make it sound sweet as a nut), we are probably looking more for the following:
- Reliability. Not going to break easily.
- Tune. They have to stay in tune! If you’re playing on stage you don’t want your strings going out of tune mid song or to have to retune your guitar 20 times in a set. It is important that your strings are good at staying tuned once you have put them there.
So which strings and brands do I recommend as the best electric guitar strings?
My number one recommendation for electric strings has to be Ernie Ball. If you were to survey thousands of guitarists about their favorite strings, I’m pretty sure most would say the same. These strings have a rich history, a great tone and fit the criteria we have already mentioned of being reliable and staying in tune! Most opt for their Slinky strings, played by Eric Clapton and John Mayer among many others:
These are nickel wound, but flat wound and other types and gauges are available. It’s about experimenting to find what works best for you.
Already mentioned on our home page and in the acoustic strings article, D’addario are another very strong brand when it comes to strings of all descriptions. I prefer the tone that comes from the Ernie’s but I know some prefer D’addario, and they’re also good at keeping in tune and won’t break every few minutes of playing! You can get three sets for under $10, which is very good value!
Elixirs are worth a special mention. There’s no denying their coating makes for an exceptional tone, but in all honesty they’re a double edged sword, losing their tone quite quickly and in many cases breaking easier than other strings. Still, if it’s all about tone for one big performance, they’re definitely recommended.