Light Strings Or Heavy Strings?

Should I use light guitar strings?

I get asked this question often. Heavier gauges give you more tone, and is better for metal, etc. Light strings allow you to play faster and is better for guitar soloing, etc.

So the best thing to do is to try all different strings. I recommend Ernie Ball Strings

A good trick is to use heavy strings for practicing, and then in a few months (or years) make the transition to lighter strings. The reason for this is so you ‘condition’ your hands to use difficult and heavy strings, so that songs are easier to play when you play light strings. The same goes for acoustic to electric guitar: practice on acoustic guitar, and therefore playing on electric will be easier.

Try as many strings as possible. There are more than simply heavy strings and light strings. Period. For example, Ernie Ball makes skinny top and heavy bottom strings. Its the only way of knowing what’s out there and what works best for you. Try different gauges, companies, action, guitars, and even musicians :)

All these things effect how you perform, and your comfort level.

What is Action on Guitar Frets?

Action refers to how high or low the string is in relation to how far it is from the fretboard. High action is more difficult to play because its further away from the fret. (I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn played with extremely high action – but that was his preference) Otherwise, guitar players like Joe Satriani use extremely light strings and low action to play at blazing speeds. Obviously, lower action is easier to play because you don’t have to push down on the string as far.

Here are 2 great posts about Gauges:

http://www.epinions.com/content_1315479684

http://www.epinions.com/inst-review-33D4-36ED75EB-3A26AB0E-prod3

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  • Katelyn Sturdivant

    I was looking into getting new strings for my guitar that I got for Christmas (only a few days ago). I think the strings I have on the guitar might be medium gauge, so I was going to switch them for light gauge strings and also try some coated strings since I prefer to use my thumb over a pick when strumming. After reading this page, though, I saw that you suggested beginners start with higher gauge strings and move to light stings after a while of playing, so I am not sure what I should do about my strings. I was thinking of bringing my guitar to the local shop and seeing if they could lower the action. I’m having issues with buzzing when I play some chords, so I figured I could benefit from having my strings lowered. Do you think I should keep the strings I have and just lower the action?

    -Katelyn

    • http://www.fororchestra.com WaltRibeiro

      Hey Katelyn! Hmm, good questions all around, I would start with light strings in your case. The reason I used heavy strings and moved to something lighter is because it helps with my electric guitar playing and shred guitar etc. But I only play nylon guitar strings now – they’re easier to play, feel great, and sound beautiful

    • http://www.fororchestra.com WaltRibeiro

      yea keeping the strings and lowering the action would help a ton. Just make sure your neck doesn’t bend over time (get a humidifier). If it bends ever so slightly there won’t be room for the string to give, and it will rub against the frets by default – so keep that guitar in great condition!