Electric Guitar Strings 101: The Complete Guide

electric guitar strings 101

Electric Guitar Strings – What You Need To Know

What Are The Best Electric Guitar Strings?

As always, it depends: it depends on what thing you play in, what style of music you want to do, and in some respects, the type of guitar you’re using. Don’t worry, we got everything you need to know covered in this guide.


chris horton

I’ve used every major brand’s strings over the years, and the one I always come back to are Ernie Ball’s Paradigm (10-46). For the price and quality, you just cannot beat them. 

— Chris Horton, ELECTRIKJAM

Best Electric Guitar String Brands

Ernie Ball

★★★★★

D’Addario

★★★★

Elixir

★★★★

Fender

★★★★


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Electric Guitar Strings: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

So you went ahead and treated yourself to a shiny new electric guitar. It’s a beauty – your dream axe with flawless frets, smooth neck, and sweet sound. But every guitar is only as good as its strings. Now you need to re-string your prized possession. What kind should you choose?

You browse the shelves and see strings ranging from cheap $5 packs to premium sets costing over $15. That’s three times the price! But are those expensive electric guitar strings actually worth it or just hype? Let’s break it down.

Are Expensive Guitar Strings Worth It?

expensive guitar strings

When it comes to electric guitar strings, three big brands dominate the premium space:

  • Ernie Ball – The OG string maker, played by legends for over 50 years. Their Paradigm line claims longer life and better tuning through advanced engineering.
  • D’Addario – Trusted by pros for decades, their NYXL series uses high carbon steel for better intonation and corrosion resistance.
  • Elixir – Using an anti-rust coated string, their NANOWEB sets keep out grime for super-long string life and consistent tone over time.

I tested out all three premium strings compared to my usual cheap multipack. Here’s what I found:

Longer Lasting

The first thing you notice is durability. The Paradigms lasted a good 15-20 hours longer before losing tone and intonation. NYXL easily doubled the cheapo strings’ lifespan.

But Elixir Nanoweb blew me away – over 6 weeks and they still sounds great. No corrosion at all thanks to the coating. I change strings every few months now instead of weekly!

Tuning Stability

Tuning stability is huge for playability. I’m constantly tweaking tuners to keep my guitar in tune every song. Expensive strings hold their tune much better through single songs, sets, and days compared to cheap brands.

Tone

This one is subjective but I found the NYXL sounded best – clear, balanced tone with tight lows and sparkling highs.

The Paradigms sound slightly warmer. Elixirs have great sustain but highs seem muted due to the coating. For pure rich tone, NYXL is amazing.

Value Factor

At 2-3 times the cost, are expensive strings worth the investment? The answer depends on your playing style.

For pro/frequent guitarists, premium strings save tons of hassle and sound better along with the price per use cost being lower over time.

For intermediate or occasional players, cheaper strings changed every 3-4 weeks can equal premium strings’ lifespan at 20% of the cost.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, this is your money and you can spend it however you want. To me, paying for expensive guitar strings is totally worth it for all three of the choices we looked at today.

They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but should appeal to just about any type of guitarist.

You have to find out which set might be right for you, by trying them out. I found value in all 3 premium string brands, and I will definitely keep using them in the future.

Overall, Ernie Ball makes the top of my list. But the NYXL, or Elixir Nanowebs also have their advantages and may be exactly what you are looking for.

Expensive guitar strings used to just be a gimmick, but these days you get what you pay for. Treat your guitar – and yourself – to an upgrade to premium strings on your next re-string.

My advice? Get some Paradigms from Ernie Ball – they’re the best of all possible worlds.

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