There are a ton of different things that can affect your  guitar‘s sound — the wood used, how often you clean it, and, of course, the strings that you decide on using. But just how much can different strings affect your sound? And what exactly do different strings sound like? We put together this guide to help you find out.

String Gauges

String gauge is all important when it comes to choosing the right acoustic strings for your guitar. Aside from the comfort and playability factors, the wrong set of strings can potentially damage your guitar.

These are the string gauge sets:

String materials

Strings can be built out of a number of different materials, and those different materials can have a pretty drastic effect on the sound of your guitar. There are a few popular string materials used, as you can probably see from the list of recommendations above — but there are also a few lesser-known string materials that could also be used, depending on what you’re looking for.

Here’s a list of the different string materials and how they sound, along with a recommendation for each.

Bronze : Bronze strings are quite clear and bright, making them perfect for those who need something somewhat metallic-sounding. Unfortunately, due to the fact that they oxidize easily, they age relatively quickly — so if you go for bronze strings make sure you’re prepared to replace them every now and then.

Phosphor bronze : Phosphor bronze strings oxidize far less easily than straight bronze strings, so they’ll be a lot easier on the wallet. They are a little warmer and darker than normal bronze strings, but they still sound relatively clear compared to some other string materials.

Aluminum bronze : Aluminum bronze strings offer slightly more bass than the other bronze string offerings, but they still have decently crisp highs and quite a lot of clarity. In fact, most argue that aluminum bronze strings offer more clarity than other bronze strings.

Brass : Brass strings are perhaps the most metallic-sounding of all the strings on offer, and you could describe them as “jangly.” As such, they’re also quite bright.

Polymer-coated : Polymer-coated strings don’t have as much sustain and aren’t as sonically bright as other strings. They’re also quite warm and present. One of their main draws, however, has nothing to do with their sound — instead it has to do with the fact that they’re available with different colorants, making them more visually appealing.

Silk and steel : Silk and steel strings are a little more delicate and soft, making them quite popular with filk guitarists. They generally have a steel core, though the lower strings are wound with silk.

When should you change guitar strings?

When to change the strings on your guitar is a question we get asked often, and one there’s really no one answer to. Some people change their guitar strings more often than others, and personal preference certainly comes into play. There are many factors that affect when you should change your guitar strings, which is why we created this helpful guide for you so you could make the best decision for yourself and your acoustic or electric guitar.

Here are the 5 most important things to consider when trying to decide how often you should change your guitar strings…

1. Frequency of Use

The most important factor to consider is how often you play the guitar. If you play the guitar for 2 hours every day, you’ll certainly want to change your strings at least once per month, and perhaps even more frequently depending on the other factors below. If you play less often, say about an hour or so every few days, you’re probably going to want to change your guitar strings every 6 or 8 weeks. If you rarely play, you’re probably fine if you change your guitar strings every 3 months or so.

2. Tuning & Performance

If you’re unable to tune your guitar properly (the guitar tuner is having trouble registering) or if you’re having trouble executing certain guitar techniques (such as sliding or bending), you know it’s time to change your guitar strings.

3. Sound

Do you prefer a “bright” sound or do you dig a more “dull” sound? It’s a question of personal preference and certainly also depends on what sort of vibe you’re looking for in your playing. If you like a brighter sound, you’ll definitely want to change your guitar strings more often than if you’re going for more of a “thud” sound.

4. Maintenance

Do you wipe your guitar strings down after you play or do you just put the instrument away? Wiping your stings off with a soft cloth will help them last longer, so if you are taking proper care of your guitar strings you won’t have to change them as often.

5. Money

The final factor to consider is your budget. Can you afford to change your strings every 3 weeks? Do you have the ability to try out different strings even if they might not work for you? The cost of buying new guitar strings constantly can add up, so make sure you factor that in to your decision.

If you’re just looking for a general ballpark estimate, we’d recommend you change your guitar strings every 6 weeks or so. But again, take into account all the factors above to decide what’s best for you.