How to Choose Electric Guitar Strings? The Ultimate 2024 Guide!

Electric guitar strings are an essential part of any guitarist's gear. They can greatly impact the sound and playability of your guitar, making it crucial to choose the right strings for your instrument.

And unless you're Keith Richards, who famously rubs cigarette ash into his strings to make them feel old, for most of us, the feeling of new guitar strings makes us want to pick up the guitar!

With so many options available like Australia's best electric guitar strings here, the trick is figuring out which ones will work best for you. In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know to make an informed decision when choosing your next electric guitar strings. From materials and gauges to coatings and brands, we will cover it all.

Understanding the different types of strings and their benefits

If you find the info below a little overwhelming, please just give our Coleman's Music Melbourne CBD team a call on (03) 9654 5115 and we can help find the right strings for your style and need. 

Here are the most common types of electric guitar strings and their benefits:

  • Nickel-plated Steel: These strings have a bright and balanced tone, making them versatile for various playing styles. They also have a smooth feel, making them comfortable to play.
  • Pure Nickel: These strings have a warmer and more vintage sound compared to nickel-plated steel strings. They also have a softer feel, making them ideal for playing blues and classic rock.
  • Stainless Steel: These strings are known for their bright and crisp sound. They also have a longer lifespan compared to other types of strings, making them a popular choice among gigging musicians.
  • Coated: Coated strings have a polymer coating that protects them from dirt, oil, and sweat. This results in a longer lifespan and consistent tone compared to uncoated strings.
  • Flatwound: These strings have a flat outer wrapping, giving them a smooth and mellow sound. They are popular among jazz and blues players for their warm tone and easy fretting.
  • Roundwound: These strings have a round outer wrapping, giving them a brighter and more aggressive sound. They are popular among rock and metal players for their cutting tone and increased sustain.

Knowing the different types of bass strings can help narrow down your choices based on the sound you want to achieve.

Know the gauge of strings and how to choose one that best fits your playing style

Additional to the types of strings, perhaps the most important factor when choosing electric guitar strings, is the gauge. The most popular electric guitar string gauges are 9 - 42 if you like lighter feeling strings, and 10 - 46 if you like medium feeling strings.

But, you can also get super lights like 8 - , and super heavy like 12s, which is getting into Stevie Ray Vaughn territory - and everything in between like Skinny top heavy bottom strings options.

If in doubt, our recommendation would be to get 9 - 42 if you are on a Fender style guitar with a 25.5 inch neck, and 10 - 46 if you are on a Gibson style guitar with a 24.75 inch neck. This will put you in the middle of all the string options and you can choose to go lighter or heavier from there!

Here are a few more considerations for string gauge selection: 

  • String Tension: Gauge refers to the thickness of each string, which directly affects its tension. Lighter gauge strings have lower tension and are easier to play, while heavier gauge strings have higher tension and require more finger strength.
  • Playing Style: Your playing style also plays a significant role in choosing the right gauge. If you are a beginner or play mostly rhythm guitar, lighter gauge strings will be easier to play. On the other hand, if you are an advanced player or prefer to play lead guitar, heavier gauge strings can provide better control and sustain.
  • Tuning: The tuning of your guitar can also affect the gauge that works best for you. If you tune your guitar in standard E, lighter gauge strings will suffice. However, if you tune lower or play in drop tunings, heavier gauge strings are recommended to avoid floppy and muddy-sounding strings.
  • Tone: The gauge of your strings can also impact the tone of your guitar. Generally, lighter gauge strings produce a brighter and thinner sound, while heavier gauge strings have a warmer and fuller tone.
  • 7-12 String guitars: Guitars of course, don't stop at 6 strings. 7, 8, 9 and 12 string guitars are common these days and thankfully, a lot of the big brands cater to these awesome guitars!

It is important to experiment with different gauges to find the one that suits your playing style and preference.

Research the various brands of strings to determine which is best for you

When it comes to choosing to research the various brands of electric guitar strings, there is no one-size-fits-all all. Every brand has its own unique characteristics and reputation among musicians. Here are some factors to consider when researching different brands.

First, consider the genre of music you play. Some brands of string sets specialise in certain genres and may not be suitable for others. For example, D'Addario is known for its versatile strings that work well for various genres, while Ernie Ball is popular among rock and metal players. Then you have awesome string manufacturers like Elixir and GHS that also offer a range of options to suit your playing style. 

Consider the price point and budget. Some brands are more expensive than others, but often more expensive strings will either last longer, or sound better, you just need to find a balance between quality and cost.

If you're lost in the amount f choice, don't fret! Just give our Coleman's Music Melbourne CBD team a call on (03) 9654 5115 and we can help find the right strings for your style and need. Our team include gigging guitarists and musicians who have personal tried hundreds of different electric guitar strings - so they are an amazing resource.

Decide whether you want coated or uncoated strings

Another factor (yup it gets even more confusing if you don't already have a go-to string), is to consider whether you want and like coated or uncoated electric guitar strings. Coated strings have a polymer coating that protects them from dirt, oil, and sweat, resulting in a longer lifespan and consistent tone compared to uncoated acoustic strings only.

Here are some pros and cons of each type:

Uncoated Strings


  • Uncoated strings have a more natural and authentic sound, as the coating can affect the tone of the strings.
  • They are typically less expensive than coated strings.
  • Some musicians prefer the feel and grip of uncoated strings on their fingers.


  • Uncoated strings have a shorter lifespan compared to coated strings, as they are more prone to corrosion and dirt buildup.
  • They may require more frequent string changes, which can be costly in the long run.

Coated Strings


  • Coated strings have a longer lifespan and maintain their tone for a longer period of time.
  • They are more resistant to dirt, oil, and sweat, making them ideal for gigging musicians who play frequently.
  • They may feel smoother and easier to play, especially for beginners or those with calloused fingers.


  • Coated strings are typically more expensive than uncoated strings.
  • Some musicians find that the coating can affect the tone of the strings and make them sound less natural.

The decision between coated and uncoated strings is a personal preference. If you prioritise durability and consistent tone, coated strings may be the better choice for you. However, if you prefer a more natural sound and don't mind changing your strings more frequently, uncoated strings may be the way to go. It's important to try out both types and see which feels and sounds best for your playing style.

There are also more advanced technologies you can find in electric guitar strings like NYXL strings, with their improved durability and high-carbon steel core that provide a longer lifespan compared to traditional strings. String technologies are always improving!

Use proper maintenance techniques for longer-lasting strings

There are the key steps to properly maintain your electric guitar strings:

The biggest step you can take to extend the life of your strings, is to regularly wipe down your strings with a clean cloth after playing. A simple guitar care kit like these ones come in super handy here, as you can just grab your kit and give your guitar a quick once over.   

A wipe over, and a one every few month fretboard clean will help remove any sweat or oil buildup that can cause corrosion and affect the tone of your strings.

When not in use, it can be a good idea to store your guitar in a case or gig bag to protect it from dust and debris. Our pick would be a Mono case if you don't have a guitar case already.

Because more often than not, a guitar get damaged by simple being left around. And the same goes for strings, especially if you live near the coast or in hot areas, your strings can go dead too quickly if not wiped down and cared for.

How often you should change your strings depends on factors such as frequency of use, playing style, and the type of strings used. It's recommended to change them at least every 3-4 weeks for optimal performance, but every 2-3 months is really idea if you're on a budget.

By following these maintenance techniques, you can prolong the life of your electric guitar strings and ensure they sound their best for as long as possible.

Understanding why some brand's strings may be more expensive than others

One factor that can greatly influence the cost of guitar strings is the materials used.

Higher-end brands with thicker strings may use premium materials such as pure nickel or titanium, which are known to have better tone and durability compared to cheaper materials like steel. Additionally, some brands may have specific coating technologies that can contribute to a higher price point.

For example, coated strings have multiple layers of coating on thinner strings may be more expensive. These coatings can help prolong the life of the strings and maintain their tone, making them a popular choice for professional musicians who need top-notch performance from their strings.

As a personal recommendation, we would suggest budgeting $15 - $20 per set of strings, or if you would like to cut down costs, you can but electric guitar strings in 3 packs and even 10 packs for further savings.

If in doubt, just give us a call on (03) 9654 5115 - we also have online chat on our homepage if you prefer that! Our team can guide you based on your guitar playing style, tone you're chasing and favourite guitarists.



Q. What are flatwound strings, and how do they affect the tone of an electric guitar?

Flatwound strings are a type of electric guitar strings known for their unique characteristics. These strings are constructed with a smooth, flat wire wrapping around the core. This design minimises finger noise and offers a mellow, warm tone. The bright tone of electric guitar strings typically comes from roundwound strings, so flatwound strings tend to produce a more subdued, jazzy sound. If you prefer a mellow, vintage, or smooth sound, flatwound strings might be a great choice for you.

Q. How do I determine the right gauge of electric guitar strings for my playing style and preferences?

The gauge of electric guitar strings refers to their thickness. Thin strings are those with lower gauges, while thicker strings have higher gauges. To choose the right gauge, consider your playing style. If you want to bend notes easily and have a bright tone, lighter gauges like 9s or 10s are ideal. For a more powerful, sustained tone, heavier gauges such as 11s or 12s can be preferable. It's essential to find a gauge that matches your playing style and feels comfortable under your fingers.

Q. Can I mix and match different string types and gauges on my electric guitar?

Mixing and matching electric guitar strings can be an option to create a customised sound. You can blend flatwound and roundwound strings to achieve a balance between bright and warm tones. However, it's essential to be cautious when combining different gauges, as this can affect your guitar's setup. If you're considering such modifications, consult a professional guitar technician to ensure your guitar remains playable and intonated properly.

Q. How often should I change my electric guitar strings to maintain their tone and playability?

The longevity of your electric guitar strings depends on factors like your playing frequency, sweat, and the environment in which you store your guitar. In general, it's advisable to change strings every 1-3 months for optimal tone and playability. If you're a frequent player or notice a decrease in brightness, you may need to change them more often. Regular string maintenance is essential to keep your electric guitar sounding its best and feeling comfortable to play.


Taking care of your electric guitar strings is crucial to maintaining a good tone and prolonging their lifespan. Regularly wiping them down, using a string cleaner and lubricant, and storing your guitar properly can all help prevent corrosion and damage. Finding the right string height and tension for your guitar neck is important for playability and comfort.

Different brands may have varying costs due to factors such as materials used, coating technologies, and brand reputation. It's important to experiment with different brands and types of strings to find what works best for you and fits your budget.

Where do I buy Electric Guitar Strings in Melbourne CBD or online from Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra, Adelaide or anywhere else in Australia!

At Coleman’s Music of course! If you're looking to buy Electric Guitar Strings, even on a tight budget, simply buy online today or get in touch with the friendly Coleman's Music team and our stores in Melbourne CBD, with fast online shipping all over Australia, or give us a call on (03) 9654 5115 with any questions, we’re always happy to help!

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