Does String Gauge Really Matter?

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  • Writer:Alice
  • Time:2022-06-27

When it comes to instrument playing, many factors will affect the overall sound, such as cables, pickups, pedals, strings, etc. Strings are a crucial part of musical instruments, affecting the tone, feeling, etc.

String gauge is a term that indicates the thickness of a string or set of strings on an instrument. Different string gauges produce different effects, so string gauges have a huge impact on instrument performance.

This article will introduce the differences between different string gauges. Follow up and keep reading!

How to Tell Different String Gauges

String gauge is measured in thousands of an inch, mostly written on the front or back of string packages. String gauges range from 10 to 80. If the number is higher, the string is thicker. For example, a popular gauge for the E string (or 1st string) on electric guitars is .010 inches.

On the other hand, when writing or talking about string gauges, it is common to omit decimals and refer to a string gauge as a "10" gauge. Therefore, .010 inch gauge strings are often referred to as "10".

String sets are made up of many strings of different thicknesses, depending on the instruments' types. Typically, the range rises from the thinnest strings to the thickest strings. For example, the 9-42 and 10-46 are the most popular electric guitar gauges.

Different Effects of Different String Gauges

Different string gauges represent different thicknesses of strings, which will affect the tension or feeling of the strings. As a result, there will be different tones, intonations, fret buzz, and playing. Therefore, choosing the proper string gauge for different performances and instruments is important. The differences are as follows:


A small gauge produces less volume and tension than a larger gauge, so its tone is slightly lighter than the larger one. On the other hand, the larger the gauge, the more steel the strings contain and the heavier they are. Therefore, the pickup can produce more magnetic force, which results in more output and a better tone.

Fret Buzz

Heavier strings produce more tension. Therefore, they vibrate less and are more prone to causing fret buzz. Lighter strings induce fret buzz less often. But fret buzz is also affected by action height, nut height, neck curvature, etc.


Tension is proportional to the force required to press or bend the string. Lighter strings produce less tension than heavier strings. For example, small gauges are lighter in weight. Therefore, strings with smaller gauges are easier to hold on to the fretboard and easier to bend, making them easier to play.

Effect to Instruments

Since different gauges have different weights, they will change the instrument's neck and bridge. Thus, string gauges can considerably change the shape and lifespan of an instrument. Therefore, if you choose an extremely heavy string, we recommend consulting your guitar luthier before making adjustments.

Is One Gauge Better than Another?

This issue has aroused a heated debate in the music industry, and some people believe that the large string gauge can play better and more intense music. In theory, a large string gauge does have certain advantages in tone and texture. However, not everyone is suitable for a large string gauge considering the difficulty of their operation and the comfort of use. The best string gauge should be the one that fits your guitar. On the other hand, some of the most distinguished players globally have used light strings, such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Albert Lee, James Burton, etc.

How to Choose Suitable String Gauge?

The suggestion is to try as many gauges as possible:

In the beginning, try the popular and regular strings on the market and get used to them for a while.

Then slowly change to other gauges.

Finally, compare them and find the most suitable gauge.

How Alice Strings can Help

Alice Strings was established in 1999. The company is a professional and modern enterprise integrating R&D, manufacturing, and sales. In addition, Alice Strings is well-known in the musical instrument industry, and its products sell well at home and abroad.

On the other hand, we have gained plenty of industry honors, such as high-tech enterprises, famous Guangdong brand, ISO9001:2015 certification, and 50 invention patents.

We provide more than 2,000 kinds of products, including guitar strings, bowed instrument strings, traditional Chinese musical instrument strings, etc.

If you need a professional supplier. Contact us!