Tone ’em Up: Electric Guitar Strings Edition

Are you getting a little tired of your sound? Or maybe just looking to explore fresh sonic boundaries?

Changing your strings is an easy way to accomplish that with little investment on your part.

Now, just as putting new tires on your car isn’t going to turn a beater into a high-performance vehicle, changing your strings isn’t going to magically turn your guitar into another instrument. But it will change how your guitar sounds.

Here are three sets of strings that earned high marks from reviewers. I’d recommend buying a few sets of strings and experimenting. In making these recommendations, I’ve intentionally mixed cores (what the string is made of—chrome, stainless steel or nickel-plated steel), windings (how the core is wrapped—flatwound or roundwound) and gauges (weight of the core) to give you options with which to experiment.

Have fun. Let me know how it goes.

1. D’Addario ECG23 Chrome Extra Light Electric Guitar Strings $12.19

D’Addario is a fine brand of strings and this set is light and made of chrome. This set is made of 10 gauge chrome and is uncoated and flatwound. Flatwound strings tend to be smoother to the touch than roundwound strings, and this cuts down on chord hand noise. They also tend to deliver a darker, mellower tone that a lot of jazz players prefer—but has lots of possibilities in other genres.

18 reviewers gave these D’Addario strings 4.9 stars.

D'Addario ECG23 Electric Guitar StringsD'Addario ECG23 Electric Guitar Strings Back

2. DR Strings Legend Light Flatwound Electric Guitar Strings $14.99

DR Strings is another well known brand. Theses strings are stainless steel at their 12 gauge core, uncoated and flatwound for a mellow, darker sound that dampens player chording noise (fewer squeaks.)

6 reviewers gave these DR Strings a 4.0 rating, mentioning good tone and consistency as highlights.

DR Flatowund Electric Guitar Strings

3. Elixir Nanoweb Heavy Electric Guitar Strings $10.19

Elixir is another well-known brand of strings, and I use Elixirs on my guitars. This set is heavy gauge and made of nickel-plated steel that’s both coated (with a life-extending polymer) and roundwound. Roundwound strings tend to be brighter in sound so expect some hand noise when you chord. It’s part of the deal. The polymer coating greatly extends the life of the strings by preventing dirt and sweat from working their way between the windings, where corrosion takes hold. These strings also came with an anti-rust plating that extends their lives.

16 reviewers gave these Elixir strings a 4.9 rating. Some people complain about the price but if they extend string life two or three times, that likely offsets the initial investment. Personally, they are in line with other top-rated strings in price.

Elixir Heavy Electric Guitar Strings


Strings are an easy, fast change. Try a few. Find your sound. It’s worth it.

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