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

How to Choose Acoustic Guitar Strings in 2024? 

Choosing the right acoustic guitar strings can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. With so many options available today (and increasing every year), it can be overwhelming to determine which strings will work best for your acoustic guitar, and more importantly, your playing style.

However, selecting the right strings is crucial as they significantly affect the tone and playability of your instrument.

In this guide, we will take you through the important factors to consider when choosing the best acoustic guitar strings. Also, we'll discuss the different types of strings available and their specific characteristics. With this knowledge, you'll be able to make an informed decision and find the perfect strings for your acoustic guitar.

Hot tip: if you need a hand, please don't hesitate to give our expert acoustic guitar string team a call on (03) 9654 5115, and be sure to checkout our acoustic guitar strings here. We're a leading Melbourne CBD Music Store and provide fast and secure shipping all over Australia - we're always happy to help! 

Another hot tip is to try the major guitar sting brands first, as they are the most trusted and highest quality strings around. These brands include D'addario, Elixir, Ernie Ball and GHS.

Understanding the types of acoustic guitar strings, and what they’re best suited for.

Acoustic guitar strings come in various types, each with its unique characteristics and sound qualities. It's essential to understand these differences as they can greatly impact your playing experience.

Bronze Strings - Also known as phosphor bronze, these are the most common type of bronze acoustic guitar with strings. They produce a bright and crisp tone that is well-suited for strumming and flatpicking styles. Bronze strings also have good sustain making them suitable for solo performances. However, they tend to lose their bright tone over time and may require frequent replacements - hence why variations on this string technology came about.

80/20 Bronze Strings - These strings are made of a bronze alloy with 80% copper and 20% zinc. They have a warmer sound than traditional bronze strings, making them ideal for singer-songwriters and fingerstyle players. However, they have less sustain than regular bronze strings. 

Silk and Steel Strings - These strings have a soft, mellow tone and are easier on the fingers, making them suitable for beginners or players with sensitive fingertips. They have a lower tension compared to other types of strings, which can be beneficial for vintage acoustic guitars. However, they may lack the volume and projection needed for live performances.

Coated Strings - A popular option with professional acoustic guitarists, coated strings are more expensive but they have a protective coating that extends their lifespan and prevents them from corroding quickly. They are available in various types, including bronze and phosphor bronze, and can produce a bright or warm tone depending on the type of coating used. These strings are ideal for players who want longer-lasting strings without compromising on sound quality.

Nylon Strings - Nylon strings are made for classical guitars, but they can also work on some acoustic guitars, especially handy if your fingers are not used to the rough metal strings yet. They have a warm and mellow sound with less sustain than steel strings. However, they are easier to play and may be suitable for fingerstyle or classical guitar players.

Please note: Not all steel string acoustics will work with Nylon strings, as your neck tension will be different and your tuners may slip with the Nylon material. Please just contact our expert Melbourne CBD team on (03) 9654 5115 if you are looking to do this. We can help, no matter where you are in Australia.

Consider the scale length of your guitar to determine the ideal string size.

The scale length of your guitar refers to the distance between the nut and the saddle, where the strings are attached. This distance varies from guitar to guitar, with most acoustic guitars having a scale length of 25.5 inches, 24.75 inches (following the Gibson and Fender style lengths) or even shorter if you are using a parlour guitar or student 3/4 guitar. These can be 24 inches or less.

The scale length of your guitar plays a significant role in determining the ideal string size. As a rule of thumb, longer scale lengths require thicker strings to maintain tension and produce a fuller sound, while shorter scale lengths can work well with lighter strings. It's also about string vibration.

If your guitar has a longer scale length, consider using medium extra light or heavy gauge strings for optimal sound and playability, like an 12 or 13 gauge string. 

However, if you have a shorter scale length, lighter gauge strings may be more suitable as they require less tension to produce a good tone. For example, a 10 or 11 gauge string. 

Again, this is a rule of thumb (which can always be broken:), however, it is essential to consider the scale length when choosing your acoustic guitar strings, as using the wrong gauge can affect the intonation and playability of your instrument.

Hot tip: If you are replacing strings on a vintage acoustic guitar, like 30+ years old, maybe consider using a lighter gauge strings to avoid putting too much tension on the neck. 

It's essential to experiment with different materials to find the one that best suits your playing style and desired sound. Keep in mind that even within each material category, there may be variations in tone and quality depending on the specific type of string. For example, phosphor bronze strings may have a warmer sound compared to traditional bronze strings.

In addition to sound, consider the durability and playability of different materials. Bronze strings may require more frequent replacements, while coated strings tend to have a longer lifespan but may feel different under your fingers compared to uncoated strings.

Choose a string gauge that suits your playing style and musical genre

String gauge refers to the thickness of the top-coated acoustic guitar strings, which can greatly impact the sound and playability of your acoustic guitar. The most common string gauges for acoustic guitars are light (0.012-0.053), medium (0.013-0.056), and heavy (0.014-0.059).

Light gauge strings are the most popular choice among acoustic guitar players as they produce a bright and balanced tone with easy playability. They are suitable for various playing styles, including strumming and fingerpicking, making them a versatile option for different genres of music.

Medium gauge strings are slightly thicker than light gauge and produce a fuller sound with more volume and sustain. They can work well for players who prefer a heavier strumming or picking style custom light one. However, they may be harder to play for beginners or those with sensitive fingers.

Heavy gauge strings are the thickest and produce a strong, deep tone with plenty of sustain. They are best suited for players who use heavy strumming or prefer a more aggressive sound. However, they may be challenging to play for beginners and can put additional strain on the fingers and guitar neck due to their high tension.

Choosing acoustic guitar strings to suit your playing style.

It's essential to consider your playing style and musical genre when choosing a string gauge for your acoustic guitar.

Light and medium gauge acoustic guitar strings may be more suitable for folk or pop music, while medium and heavy gauges may work well for blues or rock music. However, don't be afraid to experiment with different acoustic guitar string gauges to find the one that feels and sounds best for you.

In addition to your playing style and musical genre, as mentioned, keep in mind the scale, length and material of your guitar when choosing a string gauge. A longer scale length may require heavier strings, while certain materials may sound better with specific gauges. It's all about finding the right balance that suits your preferences and enhances your overall playing experience.

Use reviews to narrow down the acoustic guitar strings that suit your preferences.

With the vast variety of acoustic guitar strings available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your guitar - aside from trying one of each, which also works. Just pick a popular brand and try a few gauges.

Short of that, one helpful way to narrow down your preferences, is by reading reviews from other guitar players, or look to your favourite acoustic players to see what they use.

Reviews and peer setups provide valuable insights into the sound, playability, and overall quality of different acoustic guitar string materials, brands and types. They can also give you an idea of how long the strings last and if they are suitable for your playing style or musical genre.

When looking at reviews, pay attention to any complaints about a particular string brand or type. These can help guide your decision and avoid any potential issues that others have experienced. In general, the bigger brands like D'addarioElixirErnie Ball and GHS will always be a good option.

Like all music gear, it's also essential to keep in mind that everyone has different preferences when it comes to strings. What may work well for one player may not necessarily work for another. Therefore, it's beneficial to read a variety of reviews and compare them to get a better overall idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each guitar string type.

You can also get in touch with the team at Coleman's Music, we're happy to help and our team have been playing guitar for longer than we like to remember: ) 

Change your acoustic guitar strings regularly to keep them sounding their best.

As a guitar player, you may have heard famous players say "change your strings regularly,". It's because over time, strings can become worn and lose their tone due to a buildup of dirt, sweat, and oils from fingers. This not only affects their sound quality but also their playability.

Old strings can be challenging to tune and may feel rough under your fingers, making it difficult to play smoothly and comfortably.

So, how often should you change your acoustic guitar strings?

The answer varies depending on factors such as the frequency of use, playing style, and environmental conditions. As a general rule, it's recommended to change your electric guitar strings every 2-3 months for average use. However, if you play often or have gigs regularly, you may need to change them more frequently. On the other hand, if you play less frequently or store your guitar in optimal conditions (e.g., humidity-controlled room), you may be able to stretch out the time between string changes.

Keep in mind, while you can get away with not changing your electric guitar strings for long periods of time, on an acoustic, the strings "are" the sound. On an electric, the pickups do much of the work when it comes to tone.

Another factor to consider is the type of strings you use. For example, coated strings are designed to last longer and may not need to be changed as often as uncoated strings. Saying that, even coated strings will eventually lose their tone and need to be replaced. Therefore, it's essential to pay attention to any changes in sound or playability and change your strings accordingly.

Should you change all strings at once, or one at a time?

When it comes to changing your acoustic guitar strings, there are two common methods: replacing all strings at once or changing one string at a time. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and ultimately, the decision may come down to personal preference.

Replacing all strings on an acoustic guitar at once can save time and potentially reduce the risk of damaging your guitar, and give you a good chance to clean the fretboard with some basic guitar care packs like these. You might want to oil the fretboard and clean off any gunk. Most experienced guitarists will change their strings like this.

The downside to taking all of strings off at once though, is that the neck may adjust itself. Also, as a beginner, you might also get the string order wrong, or even wind strings the wrong way. 

Changing one string at a time allows you (especially if you're a beginner) to gradually change them while referencing the other strings. It also keeps tension on your acoustic guitar's neck, so you can avoid having to adjust it if it does move.

So for example, just cut and take off the high E strings, and put the new one on. Do the same for the B strings, G String etc.


What are the different types of acoustic guitar strings, and how do they affect the sound of my guitar?

Acoustic guitar strings come in various types, such as bronze, phosphor bronze, and silk and steel. The type of strings you choose significantly impacts the tone and playability of your guitar. Bronze strings deliver a bright and crisp tone, while phosphor bronze offers a warmer and more balanced sound. Silk and steel strings provide a mellow and soft tone. Consider your musical preferences and the sound you want to achieve when selecting the right type of strings.

How do I determine the appropriate gauge of acoustic guitar strings for my playing style and guitar type?

The gauge of acoustic guitar strings refers to their thickness, typically described in terms of light, medium, or heavy. The gauge you select affects both your guitar's playability and tone. Lighter gauges are easier to play and ideal for fingerstyle and delicate playing, while heavier gauges are suitable for strumming and projection. The body size and scale length of your acoustic guitar can influence your choice of gauge. Choose a gauge that suits your playing style and guitar specifications.

Can I use coated or uncoated strings for my acoustic guitar, and what are the benefits of each type?

Both coated and uncoated acoustic guitar strings have their advantages. Coated strings, such as those with a layer of phosphor bronze, are designed to resist corrosion and last longer. They also offer a smoother, mellow tone. Uncoated strings, on the other hand, may provide a brighter and more natural sound but have a shorter lifespan. Your choice should depend on your preference for tone and how often you're willing to change strings for optimal performance.

How often should I change my acoustic guitar strings to maintain their tone and playability, and what signs indicate it's time for a change?

The frequency of changing your acoustic guitar strings depends on your playing habits, the type of strings, and your desire for tone quality. In general, consider changing your strings every 2-3 months for consistent tone and playability. Signs that it's time for a change include reduced brightness, increased string buzzing, or visible signs of wear and corrosion. Regular maintenance and string changes will keep your acoustic guitar sounding its best and ensure an enjoyable playing experience.


Choosing the right string gauge for your acoustic guitar is crucial in achieving the best sound and playability. It's essential to consider factors such as playing style, musical genre, scale length, and material of your guitar when making this decision. 

Moreover, regularly changing your strings is vital in maintaining the tone, playability and performance of your acoustic guitar. As they become worn over time, acoustic strings can lose their tone and "stretch", which affects playability. 

It's generally recommended to get new strings and change them every few months for average use, and if you need a hand, please don't hesitate to give our expert acoustic guitar string team a call on (03) 9654 5115, and be sure to checkout our acoustic guitar strings here.

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