Light Vs Heavy Guitar Strings

Guitar strings on your electric or acoustic guitar play a huge role in your instrument’s playability, feel as well as sound. Many beginners don’t really think about the strings on their guitars, they just simply go with whatever is on the guitar they have. The problems start to arise when you break one of the strings and you need to buy a new set.

Guitars are built from different wood types, so they may sound a little bit darker, brighter and anything in between – but without the strings, you would not hear any of that. The strings kind of uncover this magical sound hidden in the construction of your guitar. They can make your guitar feel very loose or very tense. It all depends on the type and size of your guitar strings.

Lighter strings tend to feel very soft. They feel very easy to play the guitar and the truth is, they are easier to play. This is one of the quickest tweaks you can make to change that stiff feel of a guitar.

Lighter strings are also very easy to bend, they are great for bluesy-type articulation. But this light feel comes with a downside. Light strings tend to sound a little bit out of tune if you strum them too hard, and it is harder to keep them in tune. On the acoustic guitar, lighter strings will also produce a quieter sound. Less metal in the strings (thinner strings) means less of the ability to resonate with the body of the guitar. It is not a bad thing, it is just a different result. A lot of professional guitarists prefer this kind of lighter/brighter sound of the guitar.

Heavier strings are obviously harder to play. There is more metal between the fretboard and your fingers, which means that the friction is bigger. These strings will also feel more tense and will definitely produce a louder sound in comparison to the lighter strings. The guitar will stay in tune more easily, but it might be harder to do things like string bends. After a while of playing on heavier strings, your fingers may start to hurt. So that good, strong, sound also comes with a price.

The question is which guitar strings should you use? I would recommend lighter strings for beginners. You will be able to play for longer and possibly the whole experience won’t be that frustrating. At the early stages, it is all about learning the basics, so you may want to use something that makes studying these basics a little easier. Beginners also won’t usually hear all those nuances, I’m talking about. For more experienced players, I would recommend experiencing heavier strings. The initial pain in the fingers is worth the quality of the sound you will get.

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An easy way to memorise the names of the guitar strings

Why would you memorise the names and the numbers of the guitar strings?  It will help you with tuning up the guitar – the letters and numbers wont look like a secret code when you use your tuner. Also, it will help you to learn new chords because usually, we refer to the string names or numbers when we describe fingers position.

The guitar has 6 strings, looking down from the guitar players perspective, you will see the thickest string first. This is not a number 1 – it is string number 6. Unfortunately, it is a little bit awkward here. So remember the thickest string is number 6! Then the next one will be 5 and so on. The thinnest string is string number 1. (think about it in this way – the thinnest string is much slimmer than the thickest one so it has a smaller number).

Each of the strings has its own name. That is because each of the strings creates a certain pitch (sound) that you can name (and for example also find on the piano). So the 6th string is called E, the 5th one is A .

Here is the full list of the strings numbers and names:

  • 6t – E
  • 5th – A
  • 4th – D
  • 3rd – G
  • 2nd – B
  • 1st – E

Did you notice that we have two strings with the same name? The 6th and the 1st string have the same name – because they generate the same sound just in different octaves (one sound higher than the other one, but it is the same kind of sound).

How would you memorise the names of the strings?  The simplest way would be to repeat them over and over – EBGDAE … EADGBE … eventually you will memorise it 🙂

You can also assign the following words to each of the letters that represent one string :

  • Elephants
  • And
  • Donkeys
  • Grow
  • Big
  • Ears
  • Every
  • Amateur
  • Does
  • Get
  • Better
  • Eventually

Although it may be a little bit tricky to memorise the names of the strings right now, you will get very, very good with it very soon. Just keep repeating the names daily and in no time you will remember everything!

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