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All acoustic guitar strings are not the same

Without strings, your acoustic guitar would just be a nicely carved piece of wood with a hole in the middle. Strings are what gives your guitar life and more accurately – sound. However, not all acoustic guitar strings are the same, and if you are a musician you should know the differences between string types, and how to find the right one for your playing style. It’s additionally important to choose the right kind of strings for your guitar, not only for tone and playability, but also because of the effect they can have on the long-term health of your instrument.

String gauge range for acoustic guitar

One of the most important considerations you will have to make when choosing an acoustic guitar string is the gauge. Novice players often overlook gauge, which basically translates to the thickness of the string. What these novice players don't understand is that the gauges of the guitar strings that they're using have a huge impact on their overall sound.

Typically, lighter-gauge strings are easier to play, but can break more easily. Thicker strings usually have a fuller tone, can be louder and are harder to break. Moat beginner players prefer to use lighter strings at first. So, which gauge string is best suited for your needs? That depends on several factors:

Acoustic guitar body size and age

The size of your acoustic guitar can help determine what gauge of string you need. Typically, a smaller bodied guitar will sound and feel better with lighter gauge strings. Conversely, you will likely want to try a medium or heavy gauge on a larger body acoustic guitar to take full advantage of its bigger sound chamber. You also want to be careful if you are using an older instrument, as if you put too heavy a gauge string on a vintage instrument there may be too much tension put on the neck.

Playing style

Depending on your particular play style, you will need different gauge strings. A lighter gauge string is more ideal for someone who prefers fingerpicking, as it is easier on your fingertips. However, if you consider yourself more of a strummer, then the durability of heavier gauge strings will suit you better. More of an all-around player? That’s where the medium gauge strings come in.

Desired tone

The thicker, and heavier gauge strings will have more of an emphasis on the lower, bass-ier sound, while the lower the string’s gauge, the higher and brighter the sound.

Materials and tones of acoustic guitar strings

The material that acoustic strings are made from or coated in also makes a huge difference in sound, durability and how they feel on your fingertips. Each material a string is made from also has different sound qualities, and appeal to different players based on the type of music they prefer to play.


These strings have brighter tones and a crisper sound. They do, however tend to wear out more quickly due to oxidization.

Phosphor Bronze

The phosphor in the mixture makes these strings last longer and produce warmer tones than bronze.

Aluminum Bronze

These strings produce a clearer and crisper tone than phosphor bronze or bronze strings.


These produce a distinct metallic sound almost reminiscent of a banjo.


These are corrosion-resistant but produce a bit more of a muted sound that is less crisp.

Silk and Steel

These are typically used by folk guitarists and fingerpicking style players. They are known for producing a warmer, yet still crisp and clear tone.

Other considerations

If you have a 12-string guitar, then you will of course need to purchase two sets of strings with which to string your acoustic guitar. Additionally, you can’t mix acoustic and electric guitar strings. Electric guitar strings are meant for sturdier necks and will damage your acoustic instrument. Conversely, acoustic strings on an electric will not have enough tension, so they will snap or cause the neck to warp.