GEAR TALK | Strings & Gauges
Guitar and bass strings are manufactured in ranges of thickness or as we call it, gauges. Gauges are designated in thousandths of an inch. You can get them from the lightest at typically 0.008 and the heaviest at 0.56. String gauges play a big role in playability and sound.
The only way to find the right gauge for your style of playing is through experimentation. Try different gauges, brands, and compositions to find which feels best for your hands and ears. The differences can be very subtle, but choosing the right strings can also lead to your own signature sound. However, keep in mind that changing strings may require adjustments to your instrument. Depending on your own skill and type of guitar, this may be better worked on by a guitar tech at the nearest Guitar Pusher branch.
Things to consider when using lighter gauge electric guitar strings:
- easier to play
- bending of notes and fretting are easier
- produce less volume and sustain
- are prone to cause fret buzzing, especially on guitars with low action
- exert less tension on the guitar neck and are a safe choice for vintage guitars
Things to consider when using heavier gauge electric guitar strings:
- harder to play
- require more finger pressure to fret and bend
- notes produce more volume and sustain
- are preferred for low tunings such as "Drop D"
- exert more tension on the guitar neck
All electric guitar strings are made using magnetically conductive metal alloys since they’re what the magnets in the pickups are picking up. The coating applied to the steel alloy has a significant impact on the strings’ sound. Here are some tonal characteristics of the most common types of strings:
Nickel-Plated Steel: Has a balanced brightness and warmth with more attack
Pure Nickel: Are less bright than nickel-plated steel with added warmth
Stainless Steel: Known for its bright, crisp, “edgy” tone with sustain and corrosion resistance. They are also less prone to finger squeaks
Polymer-coated: Provide less sustain than equivalent uncoated strings; corrosion-resistant
Color-coated: The tonality of color-coated strings varies
How Often Should Electric Guitar Strings be Changed? Unfortunately, there is no stock answer to this question. We all have different styles of playing, strength in strumming, the environment where we keep our instruments, how often we play, and even acidity when our hands start sweating. That said, an easier question to answer would be “When do I change my strings?” Signs such as rust and discoloration are the easiest way to know when to change your strings, but sometimes we take good care of them that we don’t notice. When getting and staying in tune is more challenging or when your tone sounds flat or “dead”, it’s time to change the strings.
FEATURED GUITAR | Solar Guitars
Solar Guitars is one of the most recent brands that took the Metal world by storm! Founded by Ola Englund, guitarist in the bands Feared and The Haunted, Solar Guitars was born out of his mission to design an absolutely killer line of guitars for the modern player, no matter if they are beginners or professionals. He does not like labeling players as he believes that everyone has their own musical goals and aspirations.
To this end, Englund made sure that Solar guitars are of high-level quality. Precision and innovation are key to the brand, with certain models in the line featuring Evertune Bridges, stainless steel frets, through-neck construction and Englund has collaborated with Seymour Duncan to create a range of ‘Duncan Solar’ pickups for the lineup.
FEATURED GEAR | Boveda Humidity Control
Dried and aged wood used in instruments is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture in the atmosphere. Humidity levels have various effects on guitars, such as lifting bridges, bloating of the soundboard, cracks on the finish, wood warping, deformation and most visible, oxidation of metal parts.
The best way to protect your instrument from humidity is to store your instrument in an environment with RH between 45% to 55%. This is where Boveda comes in. Some don’t want to be bothered by reading and carrying a hygrometer around so Boveda came up with a kit that you can store together with your instrument and in its case. The Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control helps prevent warping, cracking, buzzing, shrinking and expansion by keeping the humidity level between 45% and 55%. This is the perfect condition for your guitars to stay in perfect shape for performing or even for storage.