So you’ve made the decision to buy an electric guitar, but there is still one crucial decision before you can rock like your favorite guitar heroes: what kind of strings do you use? If you’ve ever walked into a music store, you’ll notice a huge selection of strings. Choosing strings for your beginner’s electric guitar will help determine the styles of music you can produce. There are a few things to consider when making your selection, including gauge, material and of course your own musical preference.

First off, you should understand that strings come in a variety of gauges that determine the tone and playability of the guitar. A heavier gauge produces more tension from the guitar, and produces a louder sound and fuller tone. This is why most rhythm guitarists choose medium or heavy gauge strings.

Lighter gauge strings make it easier to quickly move up and down the fret board and are easier to bend to help modify the guitar’s tone. This is exactly why lighter strings are preferred by lead guitarists and jazz musicians. Once you get used to music jargon, you’ll also notice that guitarist describe their strings by the thickness. When you hear someone say “I use 9’s” they are referring to a very light gauge string.

What Type of Guitar Strings are the Best for a Beginner?

The material used also plays a part in determining the type of string you want to use. For your beginner’s electric guitar, you’ll be using stainless steel or nickel strings. Bronze and brass strings cannot be used for electric guitars because the pickups on electric guitars require strings to be made with magnetic alloys. Nickel electric guitar strings are generally nickel-plated and deliver a clear, captivating sound that is favored by many rock musicians, but are also popular choices for metal, funk and jazz players. Brands like GHS produce affordable nickel strings for the aspiring guitarist.

Stainless steel electric guitar strings feel smooth on your fingers and are ideal for long gigs or lengthy studio sessions. This type of string reduces the noise of your fingers moving up and down the fret board, and generally holds out better against corrosion and rust. Stainless steel strings are often used by rock and metal musicians. Ernie Ball stainless steel electric guitar strings are affordable, but provide a wide variety of quality tones that make them a favorite of guitarists like Dave Navarro, Eric Clapton, Angus Young and Jimmy Page.

It is generally recommended to start with a lighter gauge electric guitar string, because they produce less tension and are easier for a beginner to work with. Depending on the style you wish to play, you can test different strings on your beginner’s electric guitar to help you decide. Once you decide your style, you can always play around with different gauges and string materials to help craft a tone that is unique to you. Be sure to browse our selection of guitar strings.