For many of you this may be the one topic that eludes you every time, I know it did with me for a lot of years. I’m talking about the Holy Grail for guitarists, the most sought after but rarely found thing called ‘tone’. You see, you can have the best gear in town, the most flashy set up, but still have it sound like mud without some core principles of great sound…which by the way is rarely taught unless you get into sound engineering and the like.
If you’re wondering how to get a great guitar tone then you’re in luck as there are quite a few things you can do to improve your sound instantly and at very little cost, and here is just one of them that will point you in the right direction.
Strings are something that guitarists are expected to know about but surprisingly a lot don’t, and they especially don’t know the effect it has on the tone and sound of your playing. There are 2 main things to think about when choosing strings – Flexibility and sound. If you plan to play solos (and my guess is you want to or you wouldn’t be reading this) then you’ll need to be able to bend the strings. The second part is the tone, and that comes from the thickness of the strong, the material and how it’s made.
As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the string the greater the tone.
Choose a set of strings that gives enough flexibility to bend while keeping that control over the note (no more), and gives a fat tone at the same time. If you tune down then you’ll also need to get a heavier gauge string to allow for the depth of sound and to give a little extra clarity. A heavier gauge for lower tunings also keeps the strings tighter, giving you more of a ‘crispness’ to your sound.
Have a close look at the different choices in strings and see what artists are using what (not just endorsing but actually using). You’ll find that there are so many different brands and a few different types, but there are one’s that will give you the edge you’re after for you’re style of music. Have a read of reviews online as well and see what people recommend, and then try them out for yourself!
Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy a standard set of strings in the packet…I get the guys in my local guitar shop to make up custom sets to get exactly what I want, why settle for what other people want to sell you? May as well get what you want:)
For more info on how to select guitar strings check this out