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Best Electric Guitar Strings

The 10 Best Electric Guitar Strings By Playing Style

For any guitarist, the strings that you use can make a massive difference in terms of function, feel, and even guitar tone. The optimal strings for you will vary wildly based on your guitar model, genre, and overall style of playing.

This guide will cover the best electric guitar strings available today, broken down by genre (rock, metal, jazz, country, etc.), so you can find the best strings for you. We’ll also cover the difference between electric and acoustic guitar strings, string gauges, and what type of material you should consider when looking for new strings.

With that said, let’s get to it!

How Are Electric Strings Different Than Acoustic Strings?

As a beginner, you might not be aware that there is a difference between acoustic and electric guitar strings. But, both strings differ in the material they are constructed from, and often string size (gauge) as well.

Both types of strings commonly have a steel core (nickel core strings are also common for electric). However, acoustic strings are typically covered in bronze. The bronze coating allows for greater resonance, which makes sense given that acoustic guitars need to sound loud and full without an amplifier.

Electric guitar strings, on the other hand, are usually coated in nickel or chromium. While not being as acoustically resonant as brass, they are far more magnetic and will boost the guitar’s signal when played through an amplifier.

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What Is String Gauge And Which Should You Use?

String Guage
When browsing guitar strings, one of the most common phrases you’ll see on the packaging is the term “gauge”.

A string’s gauge refers to the thickness or diameter of the string. This is measured by 1/1000th of an inch, meaning a 10-gauge string is 0.010 inches. The gauge size of strings is referred to by the size of its smallest string. The most common type of strings are “10s”, which means the first (smallest) string is 0.010 inches in diameter.

The size for you ultimately will depend on your style of playing. Strings that are thicker (higher gauge), produce more bass and have a fatter tone. They can also be good for guitars that are tuned in drop or lower tunings, as they can help provide more tension on the string (i.e., the string won’t be too loose or sloppy while playing).

Strings with a lighter gauge have much more treble and are slinkier, meaning they take less pressure from your fingers to play. This can make soloing, bending, and other busier techniques easier on the player’s fingers.

What Type Of String Material Should You Use?

The two most common materials used for electric guitar strings are steel and nickel.

As we mentioned earlier, these materials have electromagnetic properties that help boost the guitar’s signal through an amplifier.

The differences between the two are that steel strings have a bright sound with a lot of treble. This generally makes steel better for rock, country, and metal.

Nickel, however, has a richer and more full-bodied tone that lends itself better to blues. A common product you’ll see are strings with a steel core that is coated in nickel, giving you a versatile sound that is somewhere in the middle between pure steel and pure nickel strings.

ImageProsFeaturesPrice
Best All Around Strings
Ernie Ball 2222 Hybrid Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball 2222 Hybrid Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Known for their sound that is perfectly down the middle: not too bright while not being too heavy and dark.

9.5
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Best For Beginners
Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

The Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky strings are a classic staple of electric guitarists and a perfect option for any beginner.

9.5
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Best For Blues
D’Addario EPN115 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings
D’Addario EPN115 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

The tone combined with the heavier gauge provide the perfect strings for a guitarist looking to capture a signature blues sound.

9.5
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Best For Metal
Ernie Ball 2220 Power Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball 2220 Power Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Famously used by James Hetfield of Metallica to this day. They are reliable, versatile, and capable of the down tuning and distortion metal music requires.

9.5
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Best For Rock
Elixir 19052 Optiweb Electric Guitar Strings
Elixir 19052 Optiweb Electric Guitar Strings

Bright and resonant with a nickel plated steel material, and are standard 10 gauge strings.

9.5
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Best For Country
DR Strings PHR-10 Pure Blues Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings
DR Strings PHR-10 Pure Blues Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

 The DR PHR-10s are a perfect option for country guitarists to consider.

9.5
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Best For Jazz
D’Addario ECG24 XL Chromes Flatwound Electric Guitar Strings
D’Addario ECG24 XL Chromes Flatwound Electric Guitar Strings

These D’Addario ECG24 Chromes are one of the most common strings for electric jazz guitarists.

9.5
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Best For Stratocasters
Fender Hendrix Voodoo Child Bullet End Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings
Fender Hendrix Voodoo Child Bullet End Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings

One of Sweetwater’s highest rated strings and are perfect for any Strat player.

9.5
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Best For Punk
Ernie Ball 2720 Power Slinky Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball 2720 Power Slinky Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings

Designed to have beefy low-end and capable of sounding growly. 

9.5
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Best For String Bending
Ernie Ball 2225 Extra Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Ernie Ball 2225 Extra Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Perfect for bending regardless of the guitar model you are using.

9.5
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Best All Around Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2222 Hybrid Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2222

When factoring in price, versatility, reliability and overall sound, the Ernie Ball 2222 Hybrid Slinky nickel wound guitar strings are the best option. They are known for their sound that is perfectly down the middle: not too bright while not being too heavy and dark.

The Ernie Ball name is clearly one of the strongest in the guitar string industry and the 2222 Hybrid is their most well-rounded product.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel plated steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .009 .011 .016 .026 .036 .046
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 5.5 in x 4.25 in x 0.5 in (139.7 mm x 107.95 mm x 12.7 mm)
Weight: 1.15 ounces (0.032 kg)

Runner up: D’Addario EXL110 XL Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Sticking with our established brands, these D’Addario EXL110s are awesome, well-rounded guitar strings that provide a balanced sound and will serve guitarists well across most genres. They are a medium gauge and have an awesome tone.
Purchase these strings here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Beginners

Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2221

The Ernie Ball 2221 Regular Slinky strings are a classic staple of electric guitarists and a perfect option for any beginner. They are at the standard gauge of 10, which won’t put unnecessary stress on a new player’s fingers but will also prepare the player for the market standard of string gauge.

They are nickel-wound with a steel core, the most common specification with an extremely versatile sound. They are also quite cheap, while maintaining the quality that the Ernie Ball brand name guarantees.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel-wound
Core: Steel
Guage: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.5 in x 4.5 in x 0.25 in (114.3 mm x 114.3 mm x 6.35 mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (0.03 kg)

Runner Up: Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

These Ernie Ball strings are nearly identical to the 2221s, except they are a slightly lighter gauge. They are just as quality made but they will be easier on a beginner’s fingers that have not yet developed callouses.

The difference between these two strings comes down to personal preference and although it would be more beneficial to use strings in the standard 0.010 gauge rather than the 2223’s 0.090, the Ernie Ball 2223’s are a lighter option that will serve you well. Purchase them here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Blues

D’Addario EPN115 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

D'Addario

Like Ernie Ball, D’Addario is another staple in the guitar string industry and the EPN115 is equally a staple for blues guitarists. These strings are pure nickel, providing a warm and rich tone, and are a heavier gauge at 0.011. The tone combined with the heavier gauge provide the perfect strings for a guitarist looking to capture a signature blues sound.

The differences are subtle and these strings can still be used to play other genres of music, mainly rock, but for someone looking to fine tune their blues guitar sound.

Key Specs

Material: Pure Nickel
Core: Hex-steel
Guage: .011 .014 .018 .027 .037 .047
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.2 in x 4.2 in x 0.3 in (106.68 mm x 106.68 mm x 7.62 mm)
Weight: 0.74 ounces (0.021 kg)

Runner Up: D’Addario EPN110 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

Sticking with D’Addario, the EPN110s are also pure nickel guitar strings, but at the standard gauge of 0.010. These strings will be a little lighter which will be beneficial to a player who prefers the feel of a standard gauge versus the heavier 11s.

The pure nickel composition still makes these strings excellent for blues guitarists and can be purchased here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Metal

Ernie Ball 2220 Power Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2220

Going back to Ernie Ball, the 2220 Power Slinkys are iconic nickel wound strings that have a rich history in metal music. They are famously used by James Hetfield of Metallica to this day and there is a clear reason why. They are reliable, versatile and capable of the downtuning and distortion metal music requires.

The heavier gauge provides a deeper, more powerful sound that will suit any metal guitarist well.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel plated steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .011 .014 .018 .028 .038 .048
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.5 in x 4.5 in x 0.25 in (114.3 mm x 114.3 mm x 6.35 mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (0.03 kg)

Runner Up: Dunlop DHCN1048 Heavy Core Electric Strings

A great, slightly lower cost alternative to the Power Slinkys are the Dunlop DHCN1048s. They are 10 gauge strings that are also very common in the metal world that are known to be great for downtuning. They also have a wonderful low-end sound as well.

Purchase these Dunlops here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Rock

Elixir 19052 Optiweb Electric Guitar Strings

Elixir 19052

While D’Addario or Ernie Ball offer strings that will serve any rock guitarist well, these 19052 Optiwebs by Elixir are a wonderful option to consider. They are bright and resonant with a nickel plated steel material, and are standard 10 gauge strings.

While they may be on the pricier side compared to competitors, the 19502s have a special Optiweb coating that makes them last a very long time without negatively affecting their sound.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel plated steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.7 in x 4.1 in x 0.5 in (119.38 mm x 104.14 mm x 12.7 mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (0.03 kg)

Runner Up: Elixir Strings 12050 Polyweb Electric Guitar Strings

A slightly cheaper option to the 19052 Optiwebs are the 12050 Polyweb Guitar Strings by Elixir. They have a similar coating that cuts down on string wear as well as finger squeaking while maintaining a bright, rock and roll sound.

Purchase these Elixir strings here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Country

DR Strings PHR-10 Pure Blues Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

Dr Strings

Similarly to blues, a pure nickel guitar guitar string provides a depth and warmness that electric country guitar requires. The DR PHR-10s are a perfect option for country guitarists to consider. They are reliable, low-cost and have a great vintage tone.

These strings are durable and resistant to corrosion and will help you achieve a classic country tone with your guitar.

Key Specs

Material: Pure Nickel
Core: Steel
Guage: .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.1 in x 4.1 in x 0.4 in (104.14 mm x 104.14 mm x 10.6 mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (0.03 kg)

Runner up: DR Strings PHR-12 Pure Nickel Electric Guitar Strings

A very similar product to the PHR-10s, the PHR-12s give you a pure nickel electric guitar string that is great for country music but at a heavier gauge. It is at the same price range as the PHR-10s so your decision will come down to your own personal preference regarding string gauge.

Purchase the PHR-12s here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Jazz

D’Addario ECG24 XL Chromes Flatwound Electric Guitar Strings

D Addario ECG24

These D’Addario ECG24 Chromes are one of the most common strings for electric jazz guitarists. The strings are full stainless steel and have a shockingly clean and bright tone, which is absolutely perfect for jazz players.

They are on the pricier side, but their flatwound design allows for smooth and mellow playing and will certainly be a staple of yours.

Key Specs

Material: Stainless steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .011 .015 .022 .030 .040 .050
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.72 in x 4.53 in x 3.15 in (119.89 mm x 115.06 mm x 80.01 mm)
Weight: 0.01 ounces (0.0003 kg)

Runner up: Thomastik-Infeld GB112 George Benson Jazz Guitar Strings

These George Benson strings are specifically designed for electric jazz guitar and play wonderfully. They are rather expensive and a heavier gauge than the D’Addarios, but these strings are a perfect, high-end option for a professional quality jazz guitarist.

Purchase the GB112s here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Stratocasters

Fender Hendrix Voodoo Child Bullet End Nickel Plated Steel Electric Guitar Strings

Fender Hendrix

There aren’t many more, if any, iconic Stratocaster players as Jimi Hendrix and these Fender Voodoo Childs do not fail to live up to the name. They are one of Sweetwater’s highest rated strings and are perfect for any Strat player.

These strings start off at a standard gauge of .010, but the rest of the strings remain on the low end, only going up to .038 at the thickest string. This makes these strings perfect for bend and soloing, aspects that are integral to any Stratocaster.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel plated steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .010 .013 .015 .026 .032 .038
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 4.5 in x 4.5 in x 0.1 in (114.3 mm x 114.3 mm x 2.54 mm)
Weight: 1.13 ounces (0.032 kg)

Runner up: D’Addario NYXL Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

These D’Addario strings are an excellent alternative to the Hendrix strings as they also are a relatively light gauge throughout and are made with a special high carbon steel core that makes the strings perfect for bending while remaining in tune.

Purchase them here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Punk

Ernie Ball 2720 Power Slinky Cobalt Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2720 Power Slinky Cobalt Strings

Check On Sweetwater

What better strings for punk music than these cobalt strings by Ernie Ball? The cobalt alloy helps the strings last for a long time and are strong enough to hold up well to hard and intense playing. They are also designed to have beefy low-end and capable of sounding growly. These strings are reliable and have a signature sound you will love for your punk guitar playing.

Key Specs

Material: Cobalt
Core: Steel
Guage: .011 .014 .018 .028 .038 .048
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 5.5 in x 4.25 in x 0.5 in (139.7 mm x 107.95 mm x 12.7 mm)
Weight:  0.96 ounces (0.027 kg)

Runner Up: Ernie Ball 2721 Regular Slinky Cobalt Guitar Strings

If you want the strength and durability of cobalt strings but prefer a less heavy gauge, the Ernie Ball 2721 Regular Slinkys are the strings for you. Their gauge ranges from 0.10-0.46 and are made from the same cobalt alloy that gives them their toughness and strong low-end sound.

Purchase them here.

The Best Electric Guitar Strings For Bending

Ernie Ball 2225 Extra Slinky Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball 2225

As you might expect, you will gain the best string-bending results by using slinky strings (light gauge). These Ernie Ball 2225 Extra Slinkys are a popular option that will be perfect for bending regardless of the guitar model you are using.

These strings are reliable and low-cost and will give you light, bendable strings for your electric guitar.

Key Specs

Material: Nickel plated steel
Core: Steel
Guage: .008 .011 .014 .022 .030 .038
Quantity: Single pack
Dimensions: 5.5 in x 4.25 in x 0.25 in (139.7 mm x 107.95 mm x 6.35 mm)
Weight: 1.06 ounces (0.017 kg)

Runner up: Ernie Ball 2212 Primo Slinky Electric Guitar Strings

The 2212 Primo Slinky strings are a very similar, slightly heavier gauge option to the Ernie Ball 2225 Extra Slinkys. They are the same price and have a near identical design, so it really depends on how they feel on your fingers.

While your personal preference will decide which of these strings is best for you, both are cheap. Purchase these here.

Finding Your Best Strings

While this list is a great guide for buying guitar strings, finding the perfect ones for you will certainly take some trial and error.

The feel of the strings on your fingers is of the utmost importance and with all of these options and brands for reference, you will find your perfect strings in no time.

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