Blog - Electric Guitar String Gauges

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When changing your guitar strings for a fresh set it is sometimes worth considering what gauge strings will best suit you and your playing style?

String gauge simply refers to the thickness of the guitar string and is usually referenced by the high E string. The overall thickness is measured in a thousandth of an inch so an example high E string would be expressed as .009 and the larger the number the thicker the string / heavier the gauge. Guitarist often use slang terms to reference strings so instead of saying .009 the common name would be 9’s etc

What Gauge is best for me?

Lighter Gauges

  • Easier to play / less resistance / kinder on fingers

  • Comfortable string bending

  • Prone to breaking (debatable)

Heavier Gauges

  • Better tuning stability especially for detuned guitars

  • Increase in tone? (debatable)

One could argue the benefits of lighter or thicker strings though like most choices it will ultimately come down to your personal taste and how you set up your guitar. Light gauges strings are easy to bend however thick strings on a guitar with high action and big frets are equally easy to bend too.

Electric Gauges

There are many string manufactures on the market and certain gauges differ from pack to pack. I have personally always used Ernie Ball strings for no other reason than I like them.

Here are a few of their string gauges (High E to Low E)

Extra Slinky 8, 11, 14, 22, 30, 38

Super Slinky 9, 11, 16, 24, 32, 42

Hybrid Slinky 9, 11, 16, 26, 36, 46

Regular Slinky 10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46

Skinny Top Heavy Bottom 10, 13, 17, 30, 42, 52

Power Slinky 11, 14, 18, 28, 38, 48 (my favourite)

Beefy Slinky 11, 15, 22p, 30 44, 54

Not Even Slinky 12, 16, 24p, 32, 44, 56

Final Thought

Be sure to start with lighter gauges strings if you are a beginner and slowly work up the gauges until to reach a happy medium of playability and tone. Most guitars today leave the factory with either 9’s or 10’s as these gauges seem to be the ‘standard’ for most players. Thicker strings may require a small truss rod and nut adjustment though this should always be done by a Luther or someone with expertise on guitar neck adjustments.

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