Recording guitars with new strings is often overlooked and that’s a mistake. Using old strings for recording is not recommended.
Electric guitar strings should be changed regularly if you play live or record often. In general, strings should be changed every 100 hours of playing. Especially if you play a lot.
But what is the best electric guitar string for recording? How you can choose strings for your guitar or what string gauge should you use? These are the questions I will answer in this post.
What Are The Best Electric Guitar Strings?
Here are the best electric guitar strings you can try for playing and recording. Also, I will explain which string gauges are perfect for you.
1. Ernie Ball Slinky
Ernie Ball Slinky guitar string is very popular and my favorite string for guitar. It’s been a while since I switched to Ernie Ball strings and I’m happy I did it. These are amazing electric guitar strings with a high-quality tone and a very affordable price. I love regular and super slinky strings.
Ernie Ball nickel wound strings offer different string gauges like 9s, 10s, 11s, and so on with different configurations. Also, you can get strings for 7-string or 8-string guitars. The sound is very clear, doesn’t go out of tune, and lasts longer than standard guitar strings. This is a great string for metal, rock, and blues.
2. Daddario NYXL
Daddario is a well-known brand in the music industry and I have used them in past. I can say that Daddario makes great guitar strings and my favorite is Daddario NYXL. It comes in different gauges and configurations. You can look through the collection and find the one for you.
Daddario strings are uncoated and have great tuning stability and durability, and almost never break. You can do extreme bends and it will be still in tune. Daddario strings are made from steel wire, using Fusion Twist technology, and offer rich and clear tones. NYXL strings are used by famous guitar players like Tosin Abasi.
3. Elixir Nanoweb
I remember when Elixir strings were very popular but didn’t try it yet. Recently I had the pleasure to play with these strings and I can say that Elixir Nanoweb strings are amazing. This is a long-lasting nickel-plated steel string for guitar and is great if you play live very often. It will last longer than other electric guitar strings.
Soundwise it’s a great string but I prefer the Earnie Ball sound. Although, it’s not very different in sound. I know players who have been using Elixir strings for years and never switched to another company. If you want to avoid string corrosion and have reliable strings then Elixir strings might be the best choice.
4. DR Strings
DR strings might not be as well-known as others but it’s used by famous guitarists like Derek Trucks and Dimebag Darrell in the past. They offer different types of electric guitar strings but my favorite is DR Pure Blues which has an amazing and rich sound. Although it says blues in the name you can use it for rock and even metal.
DR Pure Blues offers a warm and balanced sound with vintage flavor. Has great tuning stability and last long. You can create a great guitar recording tone with DR strings and it’s a reliable string for live playing. DR also offers other strings such as Tite-Fit and Dragon Skin.
5. GHS Strings
GHS offers various types of electric guitar strings and I have played several of them. All the strings were good and had very good sound with durability and tuning stability. If you ask my friend GHS Strings are the best electric guitar strings and he has been using them since 2010. Great electric guitar strings for Gibson Les Paul.
My favorite is GHS Burnished Nickel Rockers which are round wound strings with a nickel cover and a hex core. It’s warm, balanced, and has a very deep and rich sound. This particular set of electric guitar strings are 11s and is amazing for drop tuning such as drop D or drop C. Nickel Rockers is a great guitar string for the metal in my experience.
6. Rotosound Strings
Rotosound was my first string brand ever and I still love these strings. I think they are one of the best electric guitar strings and very underrated. It’s one of the most durable strings I have ever used and they stay in tune almost all the time. They offer different string configurations and my favorite was Rotosound Yellow.
Rotosound is a British company that offers strings for bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and folk instruments. They have a variety of strings you can choose from. Rotosound strings have a very mellow and warm sound and are great for rock, blues, and lead playing. If remember correctly Guthrie Govan uses Rotosound which is one of my favorite modern guitar players.
7. Dunlop Strings
For a short period, I used Dunlop strings for the guitar. From the beginning, I was skeptical and didn’t like the sound and feel of it but as I played more, I fell in love with it. It had a distinct sound and was a great string for metal.
The particular one I liked the most was Dunlop Heavy Core which is great for heavy music. I bought 12 gauge strings and played a lot of Slipknot and it was amazing. The feel, string tension, and sound were great but it wasn’t as durable as other strings. So, then I switched to another brand. However, this is a great string for playing heavy and low-tuned riffs.
8. Cleartone Strings
Cleartone strings became popular in recent years and I was always curious about them. I watched and read many reviews and they praise Cleartone for its quality. I can say that it’s true – Cleartone offers great quality, durability, and sound. They have strings for different instruments in different gauges but my favorite is Cleartone Super Lights, particularly 9-gauge strings.
Cleartone offers other types of strings such as hybrid, light, medium, etc. All of them are good for different use cases. Some are good for lead playing, some for rhythm, and so on. If you want to try some new guitar string brands then you can try Cleartone strings.
9. Dean Markley Blue Steel
Dean Markley Blue Steel is one of the best electric guitar strings if you like light string gauges. These strings come in different gauges but my favorite is 8-gauge strings for blues. It sounds rich and huge although it’s a very light string. Bends are easy, lead playing is amazing, and stays in tune.
The sound is very balanced without harshness or muddiness. The tone is clear, and rich, and works with clean and dirty tones. I won’t recommend it for heavy music but for rock or blues, it’s amazing. Also, Blue Steel offers different string gauges in different configurations. These are perfect strings for Fender Stratocaster.
10. La Bella Strings
And lastly, La Bella strings are new to me because I tried them a couple of months ago for the first time. I knew about them because one of my guitarist friends uses them but never had the chance to try them. So, I bought it, installed it, played and I understood why my friend likes it.
La Bella offers different gauge strings for different musical instruments such as guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, and so on. I played on La Bella nickel wound regulars which are 10-gauge strings. The sound was good, the tone and feel were good too and I had it for about a month. I can say that it still sounded like new but I didn’t play it all day. So, I can’t say how durable it is.
What String Gauge Is Best For Electric Guitar?
There is a debate about string gauges and which one is best for a specific music style or which has the best sound.
In my career, I have used many different guitar string brands and I can recommend which guitar string gauge is best for you.
In general, a heavy string gauge is great for metal and light gauges are great for lead guitar. But there is not a single best string gauge because taste and sound quality are very subjective.
But my favorite string gauge is 10-46 because it’s the sweet spot. Has enough tension for rhythm, soloing and string bending is pretty easy and also can be used drop D or low tuning such as standard D.
You can easily test it yourself by buying different string gauges and recording the same riffs and leads with each string gauge. Then you can compare them and find out which one sounds best to you.
In my opinion, thinner strings like 8s and 9s are great for lead and rock rhythm. It’s easy to play but has low tension which might not be good for everybody.
Guitar string gauges like 11s or heavier are great for heavy music, especially for low-tuned guitars. If you play drop C or drop B riffs, then you should get 11s or 12s, even 13s will be great for more string tension.
And remember that if you change guitar strings and install new gauges, you have to adjust the string action, truss rod, and intonation.
Also, remember that a heavy gauge doesn’t mean a big guitar tone. Many tests showed that lighter strings can produce a much bigger sound. For example, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons has one of the fattest guitar tones and he uses 8s.
Choosing the right guitar string gauge is critical for great tone and it’s vital to use a new string for recording. These are the best electric guitar strings I can recommend for different styles of playing or music genres. Each brand offers different string gauges, and configurations and you will find the right one easily.