Why Are All Guitar Strings Different Thicknesses?

Strings are of paramount importance. 

After all, playing guitar without strings is simply impossible. 

You could play without a pick or even without a guitar amp. 

But without strings? Not at all! 

Strings are always a must.

When buying a set of strings, it is expected to find dissimilarities between all of them. 

You may find varieties in their thickness. Some will be thinner, some others will be thicker. 

One might wonder why this happens and of course, there’s a reason behind it. 

Guitar strings have different thicknesses because they play a role in the pitch and tension. Low strings are thicker so they have the same tension whenever they are tuned lower than thinner strings. 

Keep with us to the end of this article. Find out whether it is a good idea or not to mix and match strings, and why tension is so important for them. 

Is there a point for guitar strings being all different?

The differentiation in thickness is not a matter of looks. There’s a reason for it. 

The tension and the thickness of the strings play a drastic role in the pitch they create. 

More specifically, thicker strings are used for the lower pitches. On the contrary, thinner strings are used for the higher ones. 

Additionally, low strings are thick so they can have the same tension whenever someone tunes it lower than the thinner strings. 

Why can’t you use all strings of a uniform thickness?

Having six strings of the same thickness would be total madness. 

The result would be a dissimilar tension between them. 

Don’t forget that there has to be a tonal quality over the range of the instrument. 

Playing on standard tuning with all the strings of the same thickness would be a mess. 

It could possibly work on a strange tuning, but still, I do not recommend it at all. 

Does string thickness define pitch?

More than pitch, what thickness defines is the tension the string applies to the guitar (or bass) when it is tuned to a certain pitch. 

When one tunes down strings from the standard tuning to a lower one, thickness helps to maintain tension. 

However, the thickness can also vary the sound the guitar produces. 

This is especially the case for acoustic guitars. In this situation, thicker strings will create more volume, resonance, and overall warmth. 

Does string thickness determine tension?

Tension is the number one factor related to string thickness. 

When strings are tuned to the same pitch, the thicker ones will have higher tension than the thinner ones.  

This is especially important for low tunings, such as Drop C tuning or even lower ones. 

Tension is a relevant factor. Without it, the strings cannot vibrate adequately. 

Are thinner strings easier to play?

One could argue that thinner strings are easier to play with than thicker ones. 

In reality, it’s just a matter of personal taste and preference. 

Some may find no problems at all when dealing with thick strings. 

Furthermore, if the thick strings are tuned lower, then they might be even easier to play with compared to standard tuning. 

Above all, it is a fact that thinner guitar strings have less tension. 

So, even if all of them are tuned to the same pitch, the thinner strings may be easier to manipulate. 

Having a lesser tension makes it simpler to play certain techniques. 

For example, vibratos and bending will require applying less amount of strength.  

Do thicker strings sound better?

Thicker strings don’t sound better. However, they neither sound worse. 

They just sound different from thinner strings, having a scooped mid-range.  

The gauge of guitar strings always affects the final tone. Although they can be compensated with some modifications in the Eq of the amp. 

To find more information related to this topic, I encourage you to read the following article we did some time ago.

What would happen if you mixed up your guitar strings?

When you buy a set of strings, they will all come in different thicknesses. 

However, once you put them on the guitar, and once you tune them, the tension will be balanced. 

More specifically,  the tension applied by the tuning peg foils with the normal tension of the string thickness. In the end, they all match the same amount of force despite the different pitches. 

Whenever you mixed up strings, you are dismantling that balance. 

The result? Different string tensions across the fretboard

This isn’t necessarily a big problem. In fact, you can mix and match guitar strings… 

Can you mix and match different guitar strings?

It is possible to mix and match guitar strings. 

You can even combine strings that are from different brands, types, or thicknesses. 

Also, you could combine old strings with newer ones. 

Needless to say, the feel and the sound will change. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing.

Lastly, consider that some brands sell strings sets that come with different gauges. 

For example, the thicker strings could be 10s, and the thinner ones could be 09s. 

Do you want to find out why? 

Then you’ll find the answer (and other answers as well) in this article below.