Acoustic Guitar String GaugesFirst, we’ll address the most important, but sometimes the most confusing, element of choosing the right acoustic guitar strings: the gauge. The gauge of a string refers to the thickness of a string measured in thousandths of an inch. The larger the number, the thicker the string. Here’s a quick cheat sheet for what gauges to select.
- Easier to bend, suitable for fingerpicking or single note playing
- Ideal for vintage or smaller-bodied acoustic guitars
- More treble, meaning subtle picking and strumming techniques stand out more
- More bass, meaning deeper and stronger tones
- Work well with larger acoustic guitars
- More volume and sustain
Acoustic Guitar String MaterialsAcoustic guitar strings can be composed of one or more types of material, and the different material(s) create different tones and sustainability. Here’s a quick comparison of the different types of Ernie Ball acoustic string compositions.
Ernie Ball Our new state-of-the-art wire drawing process coupled with our patented RPS (reinforced plain string) technology dramatically increases tensile strength by up to 35% and provides up to 70% more fatigue strength than traditional strings. Our PARADIGM wrap wire uses an exclusive plasma enhanced process to remove defects and greatly improve corrosion resistance. Get strings that last longer and sound fresher – without the tone-killing side effects of a coated string.
Earthwood 80/20 BronzeMade from 80% copper, 20% zinc wire wrapped around hex shaped tin plated steel core wire, this is the most popular type of acoustic guitar string. They provide a crisp, ringing sound with excellent projection.
Earthwood Phosphor BronzePhosphor bronze strings are made of 92% copper, 7.7% tin, 0.3% with phosphorus wire wrapped around tin plated hex shaped steel core wire. These guitar strings have a light orange, gold color and provide a rich warm tone, with excellent clarity.
Aluminum BronzeAluminum bronze strings are made from a blend of copper and aluminum specifically tailored for acoustic guitar strings. They offer more projection and clarity than traditional bronze strings, while also providing improved corrosion resistance. Ernie Ball maraging steel hex cores and aluminum bronze wrap wire provide more pronounced lows coupled with crisp brilliant highs.
Uncoated vs. Coated
Ernie Ball coated acoustic guitar strings use groundbreaking nanotechnology that repels unwanted moisture and oils that negatively impact your tone. Unlike most coated string products on the market, our proprietary treatment is applied to both the inner hex core and outer wrap wire to provide ultimate protection without compromising tone or feel. Ernie Ball offers Everlast Coated 80/20 Bronze and Everlast Coated Phosphor Bronze acoustic strings that are virtually indistinguishable from our uncoated string products allowing for the natural feel and sound players are accustomed to.
Coated strings generally last longer than uncoated strings and cost a bit more. Ultimately, coating is a personal preference; try both and decide which suits you best!
Ernie Ball Acoustic String DemosIn summary, there are several main things to keep in mind when selecting the right acoustic guitar string. Your own playing style, the desired tone, and finally, the age and condition of your instrument are all important factors to consider. The combination will determine which material and gauge is best for you and your guitar. Experiment with what feels best to you and what sounds best for the kind of music that you want to produce. Take a listen as Paul Riario and Andy Mckee demo popular Ernie Ball acoustic guitar string sets, and explore all of our acoustic guitar strings on ErnieBall.com.
Ernie Ball sells over 100 different types of bass guitar stringsin a diverse selection of materials, string gauges, and styles. Before you start shopping, you`ll need to consider several factors: the number of strings on your bass, your playing style/musical genre and the tonal quality desired. Whether you are a beginner or a professional bass player, you can find the right strings for your level and bass type with this electric bass string buying guide.
Electric Bass String Gauges
Electric bass strings are manufactured in a range of thicknesses or gauges. The thickness of an electric bass string has a large influence on the playability and sound in addition to other factors like the string material. As with electric guitar or acoustic guitar strings, there’s no set rules for choosing the perfect gauge. To determine the correct gauge, first decide what sound you’re trying to achieve and what feel you prefer.
- Good for fast lead bass or walking bass lines
- Good for country or funk/slapping techniques
- Good for heavier styles like metal
- Preferred if you like to tune your E string down to D
Electric Bass String MaterialsElectric bass strings are made using various metal alloys which have a significant impact on the strings’ sound. Here are some general tonal characteristics our various bass string materials.
- Nickel: Bright, balanced tone
- Cobalt: Wide dynamic range with increased low end and crisp highs
- Stainless Steel: Bright, crisp, “edgy” tone
Electric Bass String Winding
Ernie Ball electric bass strings all share the same basic construction: a tin-plated, high-carbon steel hex wire is precision-wound with an additional wire. The wrap wire construction can vary, providing a different feel and tone. Here’s a breakdown of the different winding methods used on Ernie Ball electric bass strings.
Most of Ernie Ball electric bass strings, like Slinky Nickel wound, are roundwound electric bass strings. Roundwound strings consist of a round wire that is wrapped around the core wire, producing a series of rounded ridges along the string. They produce bright tones, making them a favorite for rock and funk players.
Up until the 1960s, these were the only type of bass string available. Flatwounds are constructed with a a flat (ribbon) wire wound around the core, producing a smoother and more mellow tone vs. roundwound strings. For that reason, they work well with jazz, blues and soul music.
Ernie Ball Electric Bass String ComparisonErnie Ball electric bass strings come in a variety of materials, gauges, and windings. Here’s a quick comparison of the different types of Ernie Ball electric bass string types. You can also use our useful compare tool on ErnieBall.com to compare any of our electric bass string products.
Slinky Nickel Wound
Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Bass strings are the classic Ernie Ball bass strings and are wound for a bright, balanced tone. The list of endorsers for Ernie Ball Slinky bass strings reads like a who’s who of top selling artists
Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinky bass strings are the latest innovation in string technology. Cobalt strings provide an extended dynamic range, incredible harmonic response, increased low end, and crisp, clear highs. Cobalt provides a stronger magnetic relationship between pickups and strings than any other alloy previously available. Cobalt Slinkys are also soft and silky to the touch, making string bending a breeze.
Ernie Ball Slinky Flatwound Bass Strings combine the smooth feel of traditional flats and the power of Cobalt. Featuring a SuperBright Cobalt ribbon wrap, Cobalt underwraps and optimal hex-core to wrap ratio, the new Flatwound Bass strings are the first flat that actually feels like a flat and sounds like a round.
These strings maintain the feel and sound of uncoated strings, combining the added protection with the vibrant tone Ernie Ball customers have relied on for over 50 years.
Slinky Stainless Steel
Made from stainless steel wire wrapped around tin plated hex shaped steel core wire. These strings provide brighter sound and longer life.
Flat stainless steel wire wrapped around a hex shaped tin plated steel core. Provides a smooth feel and mellow sound.
Our web series, String Theory, explores the styles and string selections of some of the world’s top bass players. Watch our Mike Herrera episode below and explore more episodes at ErnieBall.com/StringTheory