Ok ok – I’m not that smart – but seriously – Strings!! Which ones are the best and which ones should you play? This is a subject that is just about as diverse as how to pick your pick…. While there is no right or wrong answer parse – I just wanted to share with you my two cents – and hopefully it helps a little. If not – I’m sorry?

Gauge: So the bigger the gauge the better right?! Coming from the school of Stevie Ray Vaughn – I always thought big strings = big tone. When I tried to make the jump from .11 gauge strings (a respectable heaviness) to the mighty .13s – I learned a stiff lesson (pun intended.) My bends weren’t quite what they used to be and after 1 set – my fingertips resembled something that looked a lot like hamburger. (not the delicious kind either.)

Quickly I found out that thick strings aren’t for everybody. As I delved deeper in in to the metaphoric rabbit hole- I also learned that great tone could be achieved with much lighter gauge strings. Guys like B.B. King and Billy Gibbons were using much lighter gauge strings and still getting their tonal point across. (A great guitar set up helps a ton!) So what is right and what is wrong? Only you can decide that one. While bigger strings can produce a bigger tone – play the gauge of string that is comfortable and makes you want to play everyday and won’t murder your fingers after the show.

Coated vs. Uncoated: Aside from the cost, coated usually being way more expensive, what’s the big deal? Lots! Because of the coating on coated strings – dirt and grime usually doesn’t build up on your strings – increasing the longevity of life of the strings. Coated strings usually sound “fresher” for longer periods of time. Some players would beg to differ – saying the coating prevents the string from ringing as true as an uncoated string. I see both sides of the coin – but my personal preference is a coated string between 10 and 11.

I’m a big guy and sweat a lot on stage and usually after a long set – my fresh, uncoated strings are shot. They also feel harder under my fingers after a full 4-hour gig. With coated strings, I can get a couple more gigs with them before I feel the need to change them. In my personal opinion they also feel a little softer under my finger and ring just as true as an uncoated string.

So which string is best for you? Whether it is a light – medium- or heavy gauge string – coated or uncoated – this manufacturer or that manufacturer – only you can really decide what is best. I encourage you to try out different brands of strings of different thicknesses and see which one feels and sounds the best for your rig.

– Max

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