What are the Best Electric Guitar Strings and why?

I have long since settled on D’Addario EXL120 guitar strings. These are 9 gauge electric guitar strings and the pack consists of .009 thru .042. For me, these are the easiest string sizes to work with, on the electric guitar that is. The problem I have with the .010 gauge strings is that they are just too hard to bend. In fair comparison, the issue I have with the .008 gauge strings is that they are just too small and notably lacking in tone as well. Like a lot of guitarists, I tend to play a lot of bends, pinch harmonics and some whammy bar tricks etc.

D'Addario EXL120 Guitar Strings

The 10 gauge string is just slightly larger then the 9 gauge yet it really makes it feel slightly “off” because I am not used to them. If you don’t happen to do many whole step bends or you have fingers like Super Man then maybe the 10’s would be better for you! I still play with 10 gauge strings on some of my guitars though but I don’t like them for shred guitar, they are best when you will be using them for mostly rhythm playing. The point is that the 9’s are just more comfortable; they simply feel better to my fingers for everyday all-around playing.

A lot of guitar players will say that “the bigger strings are going to deliver more tone”. But that is not the definitive component to a huge tone! Larger strings are obviously going to deliver larger tone, but I have decided that the feel is simply more important than the degree of heavier tone that 10 gauge (or larger) guitar strings are going to bring to the table. There are simply too many other ways to address tone than without having your fingers be uncomfortable when you are playing guitar licks and leads etc.

If you think about it there is a lot more involved in your tone than just what string gauge you happen to use right?

There is your guitar, the wood it is made from, the era it was made in, where it is made and on and on. Cloth wire vs. rubber wire can mean a ton in the vintage guitar market after all. Then of course you have the pickups. There is an endless variety of humbuckers and single coil pickups out there, and each has its own very distinct personality when it comes to tone generation. You can also get really picky when it comes to how you setup your guitar and this includes the distance each of the pickups is from the strings themselves!

So like I said, it all comes down to the feel of the strings when you are playing the guitar. That should be the main point. I just happen prefer the .009 thru .042 D’Addario strings.

To be more specific the string set includes:

  • E .009
  • B .011
  • G .016
  • D .024
  • A .032
  • E .042

I have used them for so long I know them inside and out. I buy them buy them by the box which saves a bit on price. Have I tried other strings? Yes, I have tried all of the major types of guitar strings like GHS, Dean Markley, Elixir, Martin, Ernie Ball, boutique and so-forth. Also, many lesser known string brands (even so-called generic) as well. Also I have tried multiple gauges and custom string size packs too.

In the end, I want something that I know is going to give me what I want. I need the strings to be long lasting, affordable and in the right size that I am comfortable with. The things that you do on your electric guitar are ultimately what make up your own individual style of playing. Find the electric guitar strings that suit your needs and stick with them. It is obviously important to try a variety of them so that you can honestly say that you have settled on the best electric guitar stings for your needs. Then stick with them and forget about it. If you want to work on finding the ultimate tone, take a look at your other gear like your guitars, pickups and amps. Trust your strings and move on to actually playing your guitar!