The Complete Guide to Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

The benefits of the acoustic guitar, with the bonus of being able to be plugged in and turned into an electric guitar… many great artists have a wide selection of these hybrid guitars in thier arsenal. That being said, it takes a special type of string to handle both types of playing. In this guide to acoustic electric guitar strings you’ll learn tons of details that make these strings special.

 

Tone and Appeal of Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings

The strings found on your acoustic-electric guitar have a huge impact on how the guitar will play. The tone, quality, feel, and overall sound of the guitar are significantly impacted by the strings.

For you to produce that heartwarming music, you need to choose the perfect strings for your instruments. It is important to know that every type of a string comes with its playing characteristics and sonic qualities. Exploring different options is rewarding and fun part of you creating your unique and signature sound. Read on to know more about the best match for your Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings.

Why acoustic-electric strings cannot be used for normal acoustic and electric guitars

This is a very common, and very good question. You technically could use them for either acoustic or electric, but the results would be less than inspiring.

Acoustic-electric guitar strings have a lighter gauge that struggles to produce enough sound for an acoustic model. You do need to have a heavier gauge string for you to provide the force that is required to get vibrations and produce resonance and good volume.

The electric guitar, unlike the acoustic, relies on vibration that is picked up directly from your guitar string passing over the magnet, A “light” acoustic string is known to be equal to the “medium” of the acoustic-electric strings. Also, a medium acoustic-electric string may be too heavy for a standard electric model.

Factors you should consider when shopping for your Acoustic Electric Guitar Strings.

The major points to keep in mind when shopping for your electric guitar strings include:

  • How Often do you Usually Play your Guitar
  • What your idea music genre and playing styles are.
  • Tone, Volume, and sound you’d like to attain.

Things that impact these characteristics include:

  • String Gauge
  • String Winding method
  • Construction materials
  • Coated vs. Uncoated finish

 

Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings playing characteristics

We know that lighter strings are much easier to play than the heavier ones. Hence, if you do inspire to become a shredder burning up your fretboard with intense rhythm cording and lightning-fast leads then you will want to use the lighter gauges. However if you are a metal player and you do use the detuned scales like drop D you need to use the heavier set of gauges.

Classic rock and blues guitarist who are used to lots of string bending often opt for medium measures since they combine well with bending, and they have more sustain with a richer, fatter and darker tones.

Mainstream jazz guitarists are known to use the heavy gauge with a Flatwound winding strings since they do not play many notes with bending, and they have a broad tone spectrum.

The main key to finding your ideal acoustic-electric string gauge that works excellent for your unique playing style is to experiment. Try different brands, string composition and gauges and check out how they feel on your fingers and the ones that are pleasing to the ears.

 

Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings Gauge

Acoustic-Electric Guitar strings have been designed in a range of thickness, and these gauges are duly designated in thousandths of inches. The thinnest string is known to have a 0.008-inch diameter (usually called “eight”) by the guitarists. And the heaviest strings a 0.56-inch diameter(referred to as fifty-six).

 

Characteristics of Lighter Gauge Strings

  • They are very easy to play
  • They allow you to enjoy more natural bending of frets and notes
  • They are weaker and thus break frequently
  • They cannot produce the sustain and volume of a heavier string
  • Strings tend to cause fret buzzing in guitars with small action
  • Exert less tension on the neck of the guitar
  • Ideal for Vintage Guitars

 

Characteristics of Heavier Gauge Strings

  • Harder to hold down, thus harder to play
  • They produce plenty of sustain and volume with minimal effort
  • Tend to be preferred for lower tunings such as the drop D
  • Extend more tension on the guitar neck

String Sets Gauge Designations

Most of the Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings manufacturers usually identify gauges in their different sets using terms like “heavy” or “extra light.” Although the exact string gauge may differ among different manufacturers, here are the typical gauge ranges for the standard electric guitar string sets.

Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings set gauges

Heavy – 0.012.0.016, 0.020, 0.032, 0.042, 0.054.

Medium – 0.011, 0.015, 0.018, 0.026, 0.036, 0.050

Light – 0.010, 0.013, 0.017, 0.026, 0.046

Super light – 0.009, 0.011, 0.016, 0.024, 0.032, 0.042

Extra- super light – 0.008, 0.010, 0.015, 0.021, 0.030, 0.038

String sets are occasionally recognized by the gauge of its high E string- usually the thinnest gauge string. A “medium” set of the Acoustic-Electric Guitar Strings just an example can be identified as a “0.11 set”.

Strings for an Acoustic Electric Guitar

Acoustic Electric Guitar String Materials

All strings for electric guitars are made of nickel, steel or another kind of magnetic conductive metal alloys. The metal alloys are essential for transmitting the string vibration to the guitar magnetic pickups. The type of plating or your guitar coating that is applied to strings steel alloys has a significant impact on the kind of sound produced. Here are the major tonal characteristics of electric guitar strings:

Nickel-Plated steel

Comes with warmth and has more attack. Overall, it has balanced brightness than some of the other materials

Pure Nickel

Less bright than the nickel-plated steel but with more added warmth.

Stainless Steel:

It is less prone to fingers squeaks and it has a bright, edgy, crisp tone with corrosion resistance and sustain.

Chrome

Crome has a low resonance and often is used by blues and jazz guitarists.

Titanium

Features a relatively bright tone and an excellent strength

Cobalt

Has a wide dynamic range with pickup response and a notable brightness.

Polymer-coated

Has a relitively small amout of sustain with less corrosion-resistance.

Color-coated

More for show than any actual benefits for sound or tone, simply a visual appeal factor.

Types of String Winding

In many sets from the manufacturer the high E, B and occasionally G strings are usually unwound. The other strings have the winding wire that is wrapped tightly around the cores. The methods that are used for covering this strings affects playability and tone. Here are the modern winding methods:

Roundwound

Most well-known winding method and it has a noticeably ridged texture. It is known to produce more attack, bite, and sustain and at the same time, they produce more finger noise and cause fretboard wear.

Halfwound

Has a smoother texture with a darker tone and it has less attack than the roundwounds.

Flatwound

Flatrounds tend to have a dark tone and flat features, hence, it has less responsive to guitar picking dynamics. You’ll commonly find this method of wrapping used by guitarists of blues and jazz genres.

Signs that you need to change your electric strings

  • When you see discoloartion or rust on the strings
  • Getting correct tune from certian strings becomes more difficult
  • Tone sounds dead/flat

Hopefully, with the information in this post you’ll have an adequate amount of knowledge to select your next set of strings for your Acoustic-Electric. In many cases, it will take time to experiment to find the exact match for not only your playing style but also the genre and feel you prefer. Happy shopping, and even happier playing!

The Final Note

There you have it! This guide should give you more knowledge about acoustic electric strings than most players that you’ll come across. Personal experience is probably the only way you’ll find out which particular strings are your favorite, but now you’ll have a much better idea what you’re looking at when you start shopping around!

For more information on acoustic electric guitars make sure to head back to our category page!