“Sometimes the guitar will tell you what it likes the best. Each piece of wood is different, in the same way that each of us is different”: How to choose the right strings for your guitar (and your playing style)

Curt Mangan strings beside a dreadnought acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Curt Mangan)

While many of us agonise at length about what the perfect set of pickups for our Strat or 335 might be, fewer devote the same amount of deliberation to strings. This is a bit unfair, I think, as not only do strings influence the tone of our guitars more than we give them credit for, but they’re also our tactile interface with the instrument.

Looked at that way, we should be treating them like tone-making royalty and, crucially, trying out different makes, types and gauges of string – not so we can select one and have done with it for the rest of our lives, but to find the set that best fits each guitar we own. 

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Jamie Dickson

Jamie Dickson is Editor-in-Chief of Guitarist magazine, Britain's best-selling and longest-running monthly for guitar players. He started his career at the Daily Telegraph in London, where his first assignment was interviewing blue-eyed soul legend Robert Palmer, going on to become a full-time author on music, writing for benchmark references such as 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and Dorling Kindersley's How To Play Guitar Step By Step. He joined Guitarist in 2011 and since then it has been his privilege to interview everyone from B.B. King to St. Vincent for Guitarist's readers, while sharing insights into scores of historic guitars, from Rory Gallagher's '61 Strat to the first Martin D-28 ever made.