Top 5 Electric Guitar Strings & Guide to Choosing The Right Strings

Have you ever walked up to the part-time employee teenager behind the counter and asked, “What strings would you recommend for my guitar?” Our sympathies are for the poor fella of a zit-faced teen that has no clue about you or your git.

With 80-200 packets of a string selection on display, you’re bombarded with hordes of options, expertly designed marketing schemes, fancy packaging, and colors galore! It’s a sensory overload moment for your brain and confidence.

That’s why we’re here to limit the options and filter them out to leave only the best strings worthy of consideration!

Since string packaging is more than capable of telling tall tales, let us tell you the real story behind their reputation, practical application, and whether or not their specs live up to the hype.

If you’re considering coated strings or some basic info on what makes electric guitar strings different, then head to our Electric Strings Guide for the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Our Top 5 Electric Guitar Strings

D’Addario EXL110-10P – Best Electric Strings for Beginners

D'Addario EXL110-10PEveryone who has had the opportunity to pluck, bend, and brush up on a set of D’Addario strings knows that there’s something special about them. Maybe it’s their advanced computer-controlled winding technology, or maybe it’s their sealed, corrosion-proof recyclable packaging.

Whatever it is, the D’Addario EXL110-10P electric guitar strings kill it when it comes to build quality, tonal integrity, and durability.

These strings have Regular Light gauges and tension, are a breeze to play, and provide bright and consistent sound quality.

The best part about these strings is they’re excellent for beginner guitarists but high quality and versatile enough for even the most experienced players.

Other than the plain steel strings, the other three are nickel-plated steel that’s precision wound around a hex-shaped, high carbon steel core.

What does this mean for you? When playing, every point of the hex core will be tightly gripped by the wrapwire ensuring maximum string longevity and the traditional round wound texture that players appreciate.

Main Benefits:

  • Round wound
  • Regular Light
  • 10 sets
  • Nickel-plated steel
  • Hex core

Main Drawbacks:

  • 1 set

Customer Reviews

The D’Addario EXL110-10P are the best guitar strings for beginners! They’ll do more than good for a wide variety of music genres and skill levels of all players. But, they’ll perfectly suit the novice who wants to get in with the cool crowd.

While there’s nothing to complain about the strings themselves, it does seem that a few buyers only received one set instead of 10!

On the up side, one set of D’Addarios is better than 10 sets of cheap, off-brand ones!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

How are the 10 Sets Packaged?

Are there other Gauges in the D'Addario XL Series?

Where are the D'Addario EXL110-10P Strings Made?

Are these Strings Expensive?

D’Addario EXL110-10P Specs:

  • String Metal: Nickel-plated steel
  • Gauge: 1.010-0.046
  • Coated: No
  • Tones: Bright/Full
  • Packaging: Anti-corrosion

D’Addario EPS540 ProSteels – Best Steel Electric Strings

D'Addario EPS540 ProSteelsIf you want bite, crunch, and brilliant sustain, then the D’Addario EPS540 ProSteels electric guitar strings are going to rock you all the way to guitar stardom!

These wires are part of D’Addario’s Pro Steels line of strings, known for their rich, bright, and penetratingly high trebles while still punching out some tight and pronounced lows.

The ProSteels strings are round wound for the traditional feel and texture with highly magnetic, corrosion-resistant steel alloy.

Since these are a D’Addario product, these steel strings feature the hex-shaped, high carbon core for tight gripping and long-lasting benefits.

The tension for these strings are slightly higher than nickel, but if you play ear-bleeding, high gain rock and metal, then your git is going to be screaming with the edginess of these strings!

While this is the Light Top/Heavy Bottom gauge string set, the ProSteels series also has a variety of other gauges to consider.

The ProSteels are what you must have if you want loud, long, and biting sonic impact!

Main Benefits:

  • Steel alloy
  • Round wound
  • Hex core
  • Super bright tone
  • Light Top/Heavy Bottom

Main Drawbacks:

  • High tension

Customer Reviews

Edgy, rocky, and crunchy string buyers love the D’Addario EPS540 ProSteels strings! It gives them just the right kind of brilliance and vibrancy they’re looking for in their tunes.

Better yet, there’s not a single, valid complaint about string quality – they’re that top notch! But, some players don’t like the higher tension, maybe because they’re not ready for high gain, heavy strumming, open chord, shrieking tunes?

After having a taste of these rockin’ strings, all others will lack luster!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

Do these Strings Come with Multiple String Sets?

What kind of Music Genre are these D'Addario EPS540 ProSteels for?

How much Brighter are Steel Wrapwires versus Nickel?

D’Addario EPS540 ProSteels Specs:

  • String Metal: Steel
  • Gauge: 0.010-0.052
  • Coated: No
  • Tones: Penetrating/Brilliant
  • Packaging: Anti-corrosion

Ernie Ball Slinky – Best Nickel Electric Strings

Ernie Ball SlinkyErnie Ball strings is well known by famous musicians such as Eric Clapton, Green Day, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, AC/DC, and many more! So, how would you like to get your hands on a brand that’s known amongst the stars?

Now’s your chance with the Ernie Ball Slinky strings!

But, don’t let the packaging throw you off! All of Ernie Ball’s string packaging looks eerily similar to a “French letter”, like something that belongs in the prophylactic aisle of a grocery store – get where we’re going with this?

Fitting right in line with its packaging, the wrapper seems to promise hours of fun, slinkiness, and stamina! But, there’s more to the packet than just its likelihood to get you up and stiff – ready to play!

The strings are protected to prevent from oxidation while they sit on the shelf helping to prolong string life and tonal integrity when you finally get them onto your git. This is thanks to their funky Element Shield packaging!

The strings are made with nickel-plated steel wrapwires with a high carbon steel hex core. Both plain and wrapwire strings are outfitted with brass wire ball ends with an improved finish to help make restringing your git just that little bit easier!

Main Benefits:

  • Price
  • Set of 3
  • Element Shield packaging
  • Nickel-plated steel
  • Brass ball ends

Main Drawbacks:

  • Some reports of easy breakages

Customer Reviews

The Ernie Ball Slinkys have been around for decades, and buyers love that they’ve held true for all these years. Buyers also appreciate that they’re affordable, they bend like no other, and with proper maintenance, they can last forever!

However, some users don’t like the cheap feel of the steel strings. They’ve experienced easy breakages, but it’s not a popular trend.

What is popular is how well the masses highly recommend these strings! They’re by far the most commonly bought and satisfying strings you’ll find!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

What are the Plain Strings Made with?

What Genre of Music are these Strings for?

What does Slinky mean?

How Many String Sets comes with the Ernie Ball Slinky?

Ernie Ball Slinky Specs:

  • String Metal: Nickel-plated steel
  • Gauge: .010 – .046
  • Coated: No
  • Tones: Rich/Balanced
  • Packaging: Element Shield

Fender 150L – Best Pure Nickel Electric Strings

Fender 150LIf you haven’t yet tried a set of pure nickel strings, then you don’t really know how mellow your git can get. If you’re tired of huffing and puffing over your shrieking and pronounced styles of the past, then get ready to chill out with the Fender 150L pure nickel strings!

The main feature about nickel strings is their life. Their long-lasting durability means less string replacements! They’re simply the best.

While many git players are familiar with the bright and crisp sounds of nickel-plated and steel strings, pure nickel offers mellow, gradual, warm, and classic tones. Although brilliance, brightness, and sound projection is diminished, you’re gaining rich harmonics with smooth and rich sound.

Additionally, the strings have color-coded ball ends to make restringing your guitar a hassle-free process!

If you’re into blues, jazz, classical rock, and even some country, you might just sound even more classic with pure nickel strings! This is the way the stars of the good ol’ days did it!

Main Benefits:

  • Pure nickel
  • Price
  • Color-coded ends
  • Long-lasting
  • Made in USA

Main Drawbacks:

  • Some reports of quality control issues

Customer Reviews

Hundreds of buyers of the Fender 150L worship these strings! They get exactly what they want out of a pure nickel set without compromising on tones. The color-coded ends are also a hit for beginner players!

However, only a handful of reviews say they’ve had strings break easily. But, pure nickel strings have proven themselves year after year and they’re sought-after for good reason.

If you want to sound like the pros did back in the classic days of the ’60s, then you’ll restring your git with these as fast as you can!

Popular Questions (and Answers)

How Long do the Fender 150L Strings Really Last?

What are the Gauges of all the Strings?

What are Bullet Ends?

Fender 150L Specs:

  • String Metal: Pure nickel
  • Gauge: 0.010-0.046
  • Coated: No
  • Tones: Mellow/Smooth
  • Packaging: Sealed

Elixir Electric Guitar Strings – Best Coated Electric Strings

Elixir Electric Guitar StringsWhile all strings are technically “coated” with a metal plate for a wrap wire, another noted brand goes a step further and treats their strings with a slick or traditional coating for maximum playability! Enter here, the Elixir Electric Guitar Strings with NANOWEB coating!

The NANOWEB coating is ultra-thin to allow players to experience the traditional feel of steel strings. They also provide ultimate protection to the strings from corroding from oxidation, skin oils, sweat, dirt, and debris.

Plus, if you live in a humid environment, you might have experienced strings literally rust and corrode right under your eyes! The NANOWEB coating can help with that! The entire string, including in between the wrapwires, are all coated for ultimate protection.

Although these treatment coatings have been known to dull tone and sustain, this isn’t the case with the ultra-thin NANOWEB treatment.

The wrapwires are tightly wound around the steel and because of the coating along the whole string, debris and other tone-deadening factors can’t build up and corrode the steel or your sound.

These strings are nickel-plated for awesome brilliance and clear sound. These are also the light gauge strings so beginners can play without issue and even experts can try their hand at mastering the bend technique!

Main Benefits:

  • Nickel-plated steel
  • NANOWEB coating
  • Anti-rust plating
  • Sealed packaging
  • Light

Main Drawbacks:

  • Some reports of easy breakages

Customer Reviews

Several hundred buyers of the Elixir Electric Guitar Strings can’t rant and rave enough about them! Even for the hefty price for only one set, it seems it’s well worth it. The majority of the buyers say that their guitar really comes alive in a way that’s indescribable!

However, some buyers have experienced strings breaking while tuning. As most learned guitarists know, sometimes it’s not always the string – user error maybe?

Popular Questions (and Answers)

Are these Elixir Electric Guitar Strings Easy to Bend?

Are these Good Strings for a Beginner?

What is the Life Length of these NANOWEB Strings?

How are the Elixir Guitar Strings Packaged?

Elixir Electric Guitar Strings Specs:

  • String Metal: Nickel-plated steel
  • Gauge: 0.010-0.046
  • Coated: NANOWEB
  • Tones: Bright/Vibrant
  • Packaging: Paper

A Guide to Electric Guitar Strings

Coated Strings: Good or Bad?

Is it a fad or does it have substantial contributions to string integrity? Let’s explore with the aspects you must know about buying coated guitar strings!

What is a Coated String?

It’s a metal string that’s been coated with a type of polymer coating. It makes it easy, slick, and fast to play, protects the metals, and eliminates finger squeak. Coated strings can sound fresh even if they haven’t been sold or used for ages because they’re protected oxidation.

Coating Density

The thickness of the coating is something you want to consider. Thicker coatings can absolutely affect tone, sustain, and volume. They can also feel sticky. Thinner coatings might wear away faster than thicker ones, but they allow the player to feel a more traditional texture of the strings while playing. They won’t be as smooth and slick as thick coated strings.

Coating Application

It’s important to discover if your coated strings were coated before or after they were wrapped to the steel. When coated strings first came out, they were a flop because it was cheaper to coat the wrapwires before winding them onto the steel strings. The sounds from these strings were worse than listening to your old, dead strings. That’s because the core string couldn’t couple to the wrapwire because of the coating. Substantial loss of tone and sustain is the result. However, if the strings are coated after the wrapwires have been wound, this can make a huge difference

Adhesion

Do a simple scratch test to see how well the polymer coating clings to the string. If a single stroke of sandpaper is enough to remove the coating, then ditch the strings. While it’s normal for polymer coatings to eventually wear off, it shouldn’t be that easy.

Friction

While slick and fast might be your kinda style, some bending fanatics might have a difficult time keeping the string from slipping out of their fingertips! While the finger squeak is gone, the ability to increase friction for better gripping is also gone. But, each manufacturer makes their own kind of polymer coating, so you may find one coating works for you while another coating you can’t stand works best for someone else!

So... Do You Need Coating?

While acoustic guitar strings are made with bronze and brass metals that are highly corrosive, it makes sense to invest in high quality coat treatments. But, when it comes to electric guitar strings, steel, tin, and nickel metals are much more resistant to coatings.

So, do you really need a coating on an electric guitar string? Since the corrosive factor has been ruled out, you’ll need to ask yourself about how you play your guitar, if you want added protection from dirt, dust, sweat, and oils, and how fast, smooth, or slick of a texture of string you prefer.

Plain vs Wound Strings

This is pretty straightforward, so we’re going to keep it simple.

The plain strings are the top three strings on a guitar, the high-E, B, and G strings. These are simple plain steel strings in all its humble glory. They have the lightest gauge of all the strings and provide bright and high treble notes.

The wound strings are the bottom three strings on a guitar, the D, A, and E strings. Wound strings consist of a core that can be steel, silk filaments, nylon, or monofilaments. However, steel is the most common.

Over the core, various other wire metals are used to wrap around the core. This is known as the wrapwire. Electric guitar strings use stainless steel, nickel-plated steel, pure nickel, and chrome metals for wrap wire for the tonal inclinations and anti-corrosion properties.

Its quality also depends on how it was wound, how tight the wrapwires are wound and to the core, and if it’s been coated with polymer or not.

Wrapwires and Shapes

Between all the strings, metals, coatings, and all the other hoo-haa of strings, you still have to determine what wrapwire shape is best for you. The shape of the wrapwire affects the feel and texture of your strings and also the sound.

  • Round Wound – Rough (traditional) texture. Bright, brilliant, crisp, and full sounds.
  • Half Wound – Smoother texture. It provides warm, rich, and balanced sound.
  • Flat Wound – Smoothest texture. They’re mellow, dark, and bassy.

Packaging Matters

You might have noticed that we make it a point to mention the packaging of your guitar strings. That’s because it matters!

You’re probably accustomed to seeing the strings in a clearly-marked paper envelope that’s been put into a little clear baggie with a flap. Nothing unusual there, except if you’re keeping your extra set of strings in your gig bag while you travel. Or maybe, you’ve opened your spare set to only use one string and left the remaining five strings in the package.

Temperature changes and even an unsealed baggie can cause damage to your strings, even if they’re brand-spanking new! While paper can protect the strings from high humidity, if the envelope has been exposed to any moisture at all, the paper absorbs the moisture and in turn tarnishes the strings. This can happen with a torn plastic baggie, living in a humid environment, and the circumstances are endless. Furthermore, the plastic baggie then turns on you and acts like a suffocating, mini-green house to keep moisture trapped right where you don’t want it.

So what do you do and what do you look for?

  • Shrink wrap can also protect from moisture.
  • Air tight and vacuum sealed packs to keep moisture out and prevent oxidation. This is the best option to look for.
  • While coated strings don’t need special packaging, the plain steel strings do. They’re still prone to diminished tone and oxidation, so don’t let coated string companies get away with poor packaging.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover!

This goes for guitar strings too! The packaging might be seductive, the marketing may even be music to your ears, but you may miss the strings you’ve been waiting for if you’re depending on these buying factors alone.

The best way to know if you’ve found the strings of your life is to know what you want, do your research, and test them out!