Are Expensive Guitar Strings Worth It?

You have been playing your guitar for some time and you realize that your strings are getting old and rusty. 

The time for replacing them has come but you are not very sure of which is the best option.

Should I get a pricy set of strings or should I consider paying less money for something of lower quality? 

Well, there might be an overwhelming situation for someone who is not really aware of this topic, so let me help you.

Expensive guitar strings will last longer due to the usage of better materials and coatings. This is not only for their lifespan before breaking but also for their tone, look and feel. Being this said, beginners should not worry about brand names, but rather look for what string gauge suits them better.

So, if you are looking for an answer this is the right place! I will guide you through this article and in the end, you will know everything related to this topic. 

Every relevant factor will be explained to you, from which aspects are important to determine string quality to the consequences of using cheaper strings.

Main factors that determine the quality of a guitar string

First of all, the price of guitar strings varies due to the quality of each type. 

But what features determine this? 

Well, there are four main aspects to consider when talking about string quality: 

  • String gauge
  • Construction materials
  • String core
  • Coating

String gauge is the thickness of the string, this aspect influences not only the tone but also the loudness. 

Although thicker gauge strings are not necessarily better than thinner ones, this is a very important qualitative factor to take into consideration when talking about strings.

Here is an article where I go deep into string gauges that you might enjoy:

There are three main string gauges defined by the tension: 009 light, 010 medium, and 011 heavy.

However, you can find sets with gauges lower and higher than that.

Rule of a thumb, the thicker the string gauge is, the warmer and louder the sound will be. 

Nevertheless, thicker strings are stiff and that makes it difficult to fret or bend them.

Contrarily to its counterpart, a lighter string gauge produces a brighter sound and makes playing easier. 

However, this kind of string may sound thin and tinny in some instruments.

As regards construction materials, there are six different types of materials, which include:

  • Nickel-plated
  • Pure nickel
  • Phosphor bronze
  • Aluminum bronze
  • 80/20 bronze
  • Nylon

The performance of the different sets of strings varies from each sort of guitar. 

If we talk about electric guitars, nickel-plated strings are the most commonly used because they give brightness and picking attack but stainless steel provides the best resistance to corrosion and a great bright sustain.

As regards acoustic guitars, the usually chosen strings are 80/20 bronze ones because they offer a bright, clean sound but this metal corrodes very fast. 

Silk and Steel strings are a good, more versatile option that provides a mellower tone.

In the case of classical guitars, the more commonly used are bronze and nylon strings. 

On the bass side, the bronze strings whereas the nylon is relegated to the first, second, and third strings.

The string core represents how the string is constructed but not all strings have a core. 

There are two types: hex core and round core.

Hex strings are better than round ones in most aspects. 

They have a stronger attack, a consistent, brighter tone and they are way thicker.

Last but not least, we have the coating being the way strings are covered, mainly referred to as strings coated with a plastic polymer. 

Nowadays, we can find two types of coating:

  • NANOweb is a light coating that feels and sounds pretty close to uncoated strings.
  • POLYweb is a heavier coating which produces a smoother feel and lasts longer.

Are expensive guitar strings less prone to breaking?

Expensive strings tend to be better in terms of quality, that’s why they are pricy, you are paying more for a better product. 

Nevertheless, that is not always the case and you can get good quality strings for a lower price.

In most cases, high-priced strings are made with higher-grade materials and they could be less prone to break. 

Cheaper strings are often inconsistent, they stretch too much which makes them break more easily.

Do expensive guitar strings retain tone for longer?

This aspect is mainly affected by the coating of strings. 

Expensive guitar strings are meant to retain the tone for a longer period mostly because of the material used in its construction.

For instance, Elixir strings can maintain the tone longer because they possess a protective layer wrapping them. 

This brand offers different types of coating such as polyweb, nanoweb, or even optiweb.

Do expensive guitar strings stay shiny for longer?

This feature may be influenced by different aspects being them also string coating and instrument use. 

As was previously mentioned, the string’s cover will make them stay shiny more time but how often you play will have an impact as well.

Do expensive guitar strings need to be broken in?

When installing a brand-new set of strings you require to break them in, it is always that way and there are no shortcuts. 

However, better quality strings could make this job quite simple.

As we have already discussed, low-cost strings tend to stretch far more than expensive ones. 

Furthermore, the break-in process will take longer and will be more difficult with low-quality strings.

Do expensive guitar strings last longer overall?

The durability of strings is intrinsically related to the way they are built. 

We have said that high-priced sets have the best materials to protect the strings which really helps them to last longer.

Nevertheless, the longevity of the strings will depend on how much the player sweats. 

If the musician sweats much, that will make the strings get dirty, consequently, they will last less.

If you experience this issue, what you can do to extend the lifespan of the strings is wash your hands regularly after some periods of playing. 

In that way, you will get your instrument away from dirtiness.

Another aspect to bear in mind is how much time you spend playing your instrument. 

The more you play, the less the strings last.

Are expensive guitar strings suitable for beginners?

High-cost strings are suitable for every player, from experienced musicians to first learners. 

Although beginners can get expensive strings, they wouldn’t notice the difference and it might not be the best option for them.

I recommend them to buy something they can afford and not overthink it. 

After some time playing, they will be able to perceive the differences, and at that time, they may go for a superior set of strings.

Are thicker guitar string sets better?

Sometimes thicker guitar strings are meant to be better or greater in quality but that’s not necessarily true. 

String gauge is always up to each player because is related to playability or setup.

Some players feel more comfortable with thicker strings while some other musicians are fond of a lighter gauge. 

Moreover, this also influences the tone being light strings brighter and thicker ones louder.

In addition, the tuning of your preference will be affected by the thickness of the strings. 

If you use standard tuning, light or medium string will be fine for you but if you tend to drop your tuning (D or C for instance) a heavier gauge will suit you better. 

How much should you spend on guitar strings?

How much you spend on guitar strings will depend on how often you play and your playing level. 

It is not the same being a starter who plays just at home to practice as being a pro, experienced guitar player who gigs once a week.

For those who are giving their first steps on guitar, I suggest you get anything between $5 or $8. 

D’addario XL are really good strings and they have a nice quality despite being one of the cheapest sets of strings.

Intermediate players could get a D’addario XL set too or even Earnie Ball Hybrid Slinky strings. 

Those strings are between $5 and $10 and they’ll do an excellent job.

For professional players the best choice is Elixir strings, they are between $11 and $20 per set. 

These strings provide the best quality and durability in the market. 

Needless to say, don’t overthink too much when getting a set of strings, plus I encourage you to try several kinds of strings and brands to test different qualities or find the one you like the most. 

What is more, check every string gauge too, it will be a different tone and feeling from one to the other.


To sum up, there are many types of strings and the price varies due to the quality and materials employed in their construction. 

High-priced tend to be the best option but it is true that not everyone can afford them.

What is more, some brands offer an acceptable choice for lower prices. 

You should get something that suits your playing and you can pay, try not to think too much about it.