Guitar Strings 101: Different String Types for Acoustic Guitars

If you’re an avid guitar player, then you are probably aware that you’ll need to change your guitar strings occasionally. In this article, we’ll discuss the different string types for acoustic guitars and share some tips that may be helpful the next time you’re purchasing guitar strings.

WHAT ARE GUITAR STRINGS?

Guitar strings are essentially what produces the sound from a guitar (that and the hollow which provides the echo). Guitar strings are an important part of how the tunes you play sound. If you have bad guitar strings, your tunes may fall flat or sound off-key.

TYPES OF GUITAR STRINGS

There are five main variants of string. We have brass/bronze, nylon, steel, and nickel. We won’t be speaking much about steel and nickel because it is mostly used for electric guitars, and this article focuses on acoustic guitars. 

Before we begin, you should know that the thicker a string is, the more volume it tends to produce and the warmer the sounds will be. Thinner strings like the steel and copper string are easier to play and very bright and sharp which make them great for the electric guitar.

  • Brass and Bronze Strings – Brass and Bronze strings are favored options for acoustic guitars. The strings tend to be steel. However, they are either brass plated or bronze plated. Steel strings tend to be bright, which produces clear sounds that stand out in a mix. Steel strings are great for high-end responses. Steel strings are perfect for songs or tunes with aggressive tones, i.e., country, metal, and rock. This makes them quite unsuitable for acoustic guitars.
    • Brass strings are brighter, and some of them are called 80/20 bronze. This is because it’s made from 80% copper and 20% zinc. This combination provides brass strings with their bright tune and very high response. If you combine brass strings with a high response guitar, you may produce thin tunes, so it’s important to strike a balance.
    • Bronze strings or Phosphor bronze strings produce warm, rich, and mellow tones. This is why they are a favorite of folk and indie players. They are also well suited for smaller guitars, while Brass strings are great for larger guitars.
  • Nylon Strings – When you heat the word nylon, you’re probably thinking of a nylon bag. This is quite different. A nylon-string produces soft and smooth tones. This is why they’re well suited for nylon guitars and classical guitars.
  • Silk and Steel Strings – While this technically falls under the steel strings, the combination is a favorite for acoustic guitars. The silk and steel string is a cross between the nylon string and the usual acoustic string. This string is made of three layers. A thin wire is at the base or center. It is then covered by a layer of nylon, and finally, the outer winding is a silver-plated tin or bronze alloy. A silk and steel string produces mellow tones that are even more mellow than the phosphor bronze strings. It is important to note that they are not very loud. However, they’re easy to fret and play.

How to Take Care of Guitar Strings

If you’re purchasing new guitar strings, there are tips that will help you make them last longer. You can always purchase strings in larger packs and save them for later use. As long as they remain in their original package, they will be fine. For strings already in use they can get damaged when they come in contact with oil or water. This process is called oxidation and is what leads to rust.

Get Listening! Get Playing!

Start learning guitar! With a little practice, you can learn chords and even finger-picking methods relatively quickly. Fender offers lessons for almost any instrument with excellent instructors.

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