Which Guitar Strings Suit which Fingers? | Guest Post

''Which Guitar Strings Suit Which Kind Of Fingers?' is probably one of the first questions that come to mind among beginners who are worried that their fingers are 'too fat' or 'too meaty' to play the guitar. Some also worry that some types of guitar strings are painful for newbie fingers. Those concerns are all valid and we’re going to address those here.

Here’s a look at the different kinds of Guitar Strings and what they are best for to help you decide which would suit your fingers, your instrument, your playing style and tone preference best.

Notes about choosing Guitar Strings

Guitar strings come in different gauges from light to extra heavy. Each type exerts a different level of tension on the neck of the guitar, which means that if you switch to a different size you will also need to adjust the guitar’s truss rod and get your fingers used to the string action on the fret-board. It may be necessary for you to do a bit of experimenting to see which works for you. The size or gauge of guitar strings affects playability, which would also depend on the music genre you’re playing. For instance, Blues players who constantly bend strings may want to use a lighter string gauge to make it easier on the fingers. Generally, the lighter the string gauge, the easier and faster it is to bend and fret. 

Strings and Tonal Output

String Gauge also affects the sounds a Guitar produces. Thinner strings produce a tinny, lighter tone while thicker strings give off a meatier or bigger sound. Your choice of string would also depend on your playing style and tone preference. Light strings tend to have a brighter sound and accent more of the high notes. Medium strings bring out more bass and heavy strings are best for booming low ends.

String Material

The core metal used to make Guitar Strings also affect the tone. Different string materials create different string tensions as well and affect playability. There are different string materials for Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars and Classical Guitars. Each type produces a different tone, so it’s ideal to hear them yourself.

Strings and Playing Style

As mentioned, the kind of strings to choose would depend on your tone preference and playing style. A beginner who is just getting started on fingerpicking, may find lighter-gauge strings easier to play. If you are more of a strummer and use a pick to play, medium-gauge strings may be ideal. If you think you have tender fingers and are just starting to learn to play the guitar, there’s nothing wrong with using heavier-gauge strings, the choice is up to you. Initially you will feel a bit of pain on your fingers, but it’s something that all new guitarists experience anyway. Don’t worry because the more you practice and get used to playing, the more you fingers will become stronger. As for the kind of fingers you have - whether they’re slim or thick - it really doesn’t matter when choosing guitar strings. Beginners all have difficulty fretting notes without touching the adjacent strings because you are not used to fretting or making the right hand and finger movements yet. If the great Israel Kamakawiwo'ole could play a tiny Ukulele with his big hands, you should have no problem playing the Guitar!

You may find this next blog useful from our guitar expert on How to Restring a Guitar.

You can read more from Sarah at Know Your Instrument here.