If so, you need to read this;
Acoustic Guitar String Guages
Guage just means thickness which is usually measured by thousandths of an inch, so 0.010 is .010 thousandths of an inch.
You will hear people talking about using “10’s”. This basically means they are using the custom-light or extra-light 0.010 set.
The most common guage would be 0.012; the heaviest would be a medium gauge of 0.013.
If you need a lot of volume then 0.013 will give you that, however in the beginning you may find the lighter 0.010 easier to handle. Using lighter strings means you will have to sacrifice some of the tone as well.
I feel that when you are starting on chords for the first time that you will find it easier to use a light set and progress to heavier strings as you progress with your chords.
Bronze or Phosphor Bronze?
Bronze strings are more golden in colour and phosphor bronze strings tend to be more red or coppery.
Bronze strings are made up of 80% copper and 20% tin, they will survive a hot and humid climate and salt water environments.
Phospor bronze strings sound a bit warmer, phospor bronze as the name suggests has a small amount of phosphor added. This makes them less subject to corrosion in humid, salty environments, even more so than bronze.
Some guitarists feel that these phosphor bronze strings are easier to finger pick, as you practice on different guitars you will find out which is best for you.
How much are Bronze/Phosphor Bronze strings?
Expect to pay between $5 and $20 dollars for your metal string set.
Or Nylon Strings?
Nylon string sets are measured by tension, with three different levels; Normal, Hard and Extra Hard.
If you can play fast and your nylon strings are getting loose, now you know why! You need extra tension.
How much are Nylon Strings?
About the same as metal strings, between $5 and $20.
Attachments; Ball end or Tie end?
You will see different ways of attaching the string to the bridge of your guitar. It will be either a ball end or a tie end. As most guitars have a tie end string, even though it is sligtly more work to change, it is considerably more commonly used.
Bell end nylon strings are not so easy to find, they may be slightly easier to change.
Should you use Flatwound or Roundwound Strings?
The simplest strings are roundwound strings, as they are easier to manufacture they are less expensive, as the name suggests they are wrapped round in a spiral around a core. The drawbacks being the friction created may cause extra wear on the fingerboard and frets, the sound may be squeaky, however some guitarists will even use it in a creative way!
Flatwound strings have a less shallow groove in the core which makes them more comfortable to play. They will also last longer as there is less space for build up of dirt and grime. What makes them more expensive is less demand more precision and higher overhead costs.
If you wish to specialise your guitar playing there are many other types of strings to consider such as halfwound strings, ground wound strings, pressure wound strings, hexcore, round core (traditional vintage design) and for now it is easier to stick to the flatwound and roundwound strings.
When Should You Change Your Strings?
Sound is always going to be the foremost important way to know if your strings need changing.
If they are starting to sound dull and flat, it is time.
You can also go by the feel and look of the strings.
Do they feel a bit dry, a bit rusty?
Do they look dull and sad?
Cheer yourself up and treat yourself to new strings, maybe try using different types, play around and enjoy your guitar, take care of it as you would your car or bike!
How to Take Care of Your Guitar Strings
Washing your hands every time you play can help a lot, as does using a polish cloth on the strings and the guitar to keep it dust free.
Keep a spare set of strings, in the beginning you will break them when you are not used to different tensions and types.
Most importantly enjoy your guitar!