Blues guitarists spend a lot of time worrying about getting the best electric guitar strings for blues and then dealing with the struggle of changing them often to achieve optimum performance. While that may sound like a lot to deal with, it should not come as a surprise considering the vital role that guitar strings play in your overall performance.
Blues is a broad, impressive genre that can accompany any mood. Additionally, it is technical, mainly if you play lead or compose. As a blues player, you have to be careful about the strings you pick for your electric guitar. Considering it is essential to find the best electric guitar strings for blues to accompany your instrument.
The best electric guitar strings for blues offer the most economical and fastest way to enhance your setup, giving you a comfortable feel, reliability through various performances, and generate a glorious tone. However, finding the right strings for blues can be a challenge considering the genre’s depth, but it is possible.
Here is a guide to help you and suggestions of the best electric guitar strings for blues.
While progress is inevitable and vital because things get better with improvements and time, the old school holds a special place, giving us that sweet nostalgic feeling. The two worlds sometimes merge when modern technology is incorporated into traditional designs to come with excellent products, such as the D.R. Strings Pure Blues electric guitar strings.
These incredibly soft strings are ideal for blues and other softer genres, and available in various gauges. Although the 10-50 gauge is suitable if you want it for the lower tunings, the 10-46 also sounds good and perhaps better suited for beginners.
The D.R. Strings Pure Blues have a round core for a relaxed, pleasant tone that sound great for mellow blues music and a pure nickel wounding which lends the strings a nice punch, richer overtones that generate a full and creamy texture. They are quite sturdy but extremely flexible, so you can use them for various techniques without breaking easily.
- The pure nickel wrap wire adds harmonics and warmth as the strings age.
- The round core increases the tonal density.
- Great sustain.
- Hints of a vintage tone.
- Sensitive to touch, allowing complete transmission of playing nuances.
- Can be unwound easily.
D’Addario has been making high-quality guitar strings for many years, and the EXL115 provide the bending and soloing experience suitable for playing blues music. These medium gauge strings are excellent for energetic, electric, and shocking blues guitar songs as they were made for jazz and blues genres.
They are made of high carbon hexagonally shaped steel core, nickel-plated steel, and are roundwound, resulting in durable strings with excellent intonation and a distinctive bright tone. They come in a corrosion-resistant, environmentally friendly packaging, keeping the strings fresh.
Their flexibility provides versatile playing while its durability and relative thickness letting you enjoy a full tone. It has a slightly uncommon customized gauge that suits the preference of using heavy low E string shared by several blues players.
The nickel wound offers excellent sustain and makes these strings exceptionally flexible. However, despite the flexibility and durability, you will need strength to get used to using them and playing effortlessly. You should consider the EXL115 if you enjoy an impressive sustain with full and beefy tone.
- Great sustain.
- Flexible and smooth.
- Rich tone.
- High-quality build and performance.
- Highly durable and low exposure to wear and tear.
- Not ideal for beginners.
These are pure nickel electric guitar strings that generate a warm and mellow vibe that a guitarist that you will appreciate if enjoy the traditional blues styles. However, they do not limit you to old-timey blues because they are not overly warm that other music styles sound muddy and unclear. Therefore, you can also jam to jazz and rock music with pleasure.
Although they are a bit hard on the fingertips because they are roundwound, the soft nickel wraps make it easier to use. To guarantee a precise placement of every coil, D’Addario utilized a digitally-controlled wrapping system which eliminates any inconsistencies translating to a smooth playing surface.
The entire length of these strings is silky, eliminating any annoying rough spots or fingers snags. Additionally, the heavy-gauge construction allows you to fret without warping the notes. The EPN115 combine the D’Addario medium gauge set’s playability with a warmer and vintage tone.
EPN115 is nickel-plated steel strings that feature a roundwound on a hex core. The pure nickel provides warmer, classic timbres that characterize several genres, including classic rock, blues, and rockabilly.
- Excellent construction.
- It offers a traditional blues music tone.
- Smooth playability.
- The digitally-controlled winding technology produces consistent strings.
- The strings get grime-coated and dirty quickly.
The slinky design of these strings offers more twang than the standard light gauge strings, making them suitable for blue styles with slightly a crackle and pop in the high end. They are a worthy option for guitarists who enjoy blues but also wish to explore other genres.
The Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickels have tin-plated steel core wire made for accurate intonation, ensuring that every note sounds like it should be. They also have a well-balanced tone, so high and low sounds are even and delightful. Bends and fretting come effortlessly at 010 gauge
Compared to strings with similar gauges, The Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickels have a lower tension for looser playability that beginner players enjoy as it is easier on your muscles and fingertips. While nickel-plated steel is less smooth than pure nickel wound strings, the lowered tension compensates for the rougher material predominantly.
- Pocket-friendly prices.
- It has a durable core wire and long-lasting strings.
- The Ernie Ball precision winding technique raises the string intonation.
- It generates a balanced tone ideal for blues.
- Specially-designed tying method ensures the string does not slip during changes and tuning.
- It comes with some manufacturing flaws on the G strings causing early breakage.
These are among the best-coated string in the market and excellent for generating the best blues sound. They are made of steel wrap nickel-plated wire and designed with Elixir’s Optiweb coating.
Elixir 19052 strings are thinner than the already thin Nanoweb products produced by the company. Due to this, these strings generate a more natural tone compared to other coated strings.
When it comes to coated strings, Optiwebs are exquisitely round and sound soft , especially when used on a humbucker guitar.
The coating allows you to play incredibly fast, making them ideal for fusion blues and blues as it lets you play fast licks with ease. It also prevents dirt and sweat build-up, making these strings suitable for guitarists with acidic sweat.
If you value longevity, Elixir 19052 is an excellent choice for you. However, they may not be the best strings for single-coil pickups because they make the sound a bit tiny and harsh.
- String coating extends the durability.
- It generates a warm, natural tone ideal for blues.
- It offers a natural playing feel.
- Anti-rusting plating prevents corrosion and rust.
- It’s not the best for guitars with single-coil pickups.
Picking the Best Electric Guitar Strings for Blues
Considering that blues is a broad music genre, choosing the right strings requires knowledge of what to look for and careful consideration. The following electric guitar strings facets can help you develop the kind of blues music you wish.
1. The String Gauge
The string gauge you choose affects the performance of the strings significantly. Every string has a numerical number attached to it, representing the thickness and a higher number means a thicker string. You may have seen 09-42, 10-46, 11-49 among others attached to strings sets which gives a summary of the gauges within every set.
Blues guitarists usually express their individuality through vibrato and bending, and your gauge can help you achieve your desired style. While it is easier to bend and add vibrato on lighter gauges, strings with heavier gauges have thicker diameters, so they have more tension translating to a stiffer feeling.
Despite difficulties in achieving vibrato and bends with heavier gauges, they add body and depth to the tone. The 10-46 or 9-42 gauges are a better option for beginners as they will let you concentrate on playing and developing without getting fatigued quickly and having sore hands.
Strings are made of different materials, ranging from gold-plated steel to plain nickel and many more variations. The material affects the playing feel and tone, making it a vital aspect to consider when choosing the right electric strings for blues.
Many modern strings are manufactured using nickel-plated steel (NPS) which offer several benefits. It provides enough brightness to produce great sound and warmth without the overabundance of harmonics. NPS is a great option but you can certainly explore other options.
Pure nickel strings were popular in the 50s and 60s, so they are an excellent option if you are looking for a vintage tone. They are warmer than Nickel Plated Steel strings and provide a superior resonance. While it lowers the brightness a bit, it offers the classic blues vibe that most players love.
Monel strings are also good alternatives with more warmth than NPS, more brightness than pure nickel, and high resistance to corrosion. If you do not know what to pick, try out different ones to know what will work best for you.
Guitar strings can either be roundwound, flat round, or half-round, and each affects how the strings sound and feel on your fingers. Roundwound strings are commonly available in the market and offer a pleasant and balanced brightness with the brightness adding the extra power required to crank up to those blues solos.
Roundwound strings also provide an enhanced sustain and a smoother feel. Half rounds are also a good option if you want to tone down a guitar that sounds bright.
4. Core Size and Shape
The core shape is often overlooked, but it is quite essential because it impacts the feel of the strings. There round cores and hex cores, and while both are ideal for blues, it is vital to know their unique attributes. Hex core strings feel a bit stiffer and provide slightly more brightness while round core strings feel softer and give a boomier, warmer tone.
Also, read: Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Warm Sound
1. Which Strings Should I Buy For Blues?
Blues is an individual-oriented genre, so you can put your personalized song on every song you play. Due to this, there are things you should take into consideration when picking the best strings to achieve what you need.
If you play the historic delta blues, pure nickel strings with a classic sound is an outstanding choice while heavy strings are a better alternative for Texas blues. Aim to find strings with an excellent middle ground between harmonic richness and clarity.
2. How Frequent Should I Replace My Guitar Strings?
High-quality strings can perform well through several gigs, but low-quality ones often breakdown easily. Therefore, you should ensure that you buy reliable electric guitar strings if you intend on using them for a prolonged time. However, replace them when their performance is compromised.
3. How Do I Tell When To Replace Your Guitar Strings?
How the strings sound, feel and look will tell you if you should replace them or not; however, the sound is the most crucial factor to consider. There is no reason to change them if they sound good, but if it generates a flat, muddy, or dull sound, then you should probably start looking for new ones.
When it comes to guitar strings in general, your choice should be based on numerous factors, including the amount of time you spend practicing, your genre and playing style, and how long you have been a guitarist. We have gone through the specific factors for choosing the best electric guitar strings for blues, and we hope they help you.
Since guitar strings are quite affordable, you can try out a couple of them before settling for the one that sounds best and feels good.