How to Perfectly Pick Strings for Acoustic Blues Guitar Players

pick-strings-for-acoustic-blues-guitarDo the strings on your guitar matter, when you want to play acoustic blues like a pro? It depends on whom you ask, really. Some of the old school style acoustic blues purists will argue that string selection is a non-issue: after all, the masters of the genre, most of whom were dirt poor, and playing in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s didn’t make such a big deal out of it. They simply went out to their favorite store, pick a set of strings and they were good to go. This mindset is tempting to adopt today, as someone who wants to pick strings for acoustic blues guitar playing purposes will also have to deal with the very wide range of brands on the market.

However, we believe it’s always better to make an informed choice, rather than just winging it, which is why today we’re going to deliver the 5 basic tips on how to pick strings for acoustic blues guitar players.

#1 String composition

When you play the acoustic blues, it’s just you and those strings. There’s no pickup or amp to help you out, so you’re going to be relying solely on the way the strings retain tonal qualities. This has everything to do with the material those strings are made of, as well as with how much money you’re willing to spend. Bronze is a good entry level choice, and then come phosphor bronze and coated strings, in order of price (increasing). Bronze will tend to fade away soon, while coated strings last longer, sound less bright, but are reasonably warm and noticeable.

#2 Go light

You may be tempted to opt for a heavier set of strings – and if you only play acoustic blues guitar, it can actually work out for you. However, most players also sometimes plug in their instruments, which is why they choose acoustic guitars with pickups. This, in turn, allows them to use lighter strings; alternatively, you can choose an electric set, like .10s, which play like electric guitars, but sound like acoustic blues guitar strings.

#3 Change, change, change

Electric guitars are amplified, which means the strings are not entirely responsible for projecting the volume of the sound. This is, however, the case, with acoustic blues guitars – so, to keep them sounding their best at all possible times, you need to make sure you’re changing the strings as often as you can. Clean the strings after playing them and check them for that inevitable wear and tear.

#4 Don’t cheap out

In the beginning, you might be tempted to give in to that school of thought which advertises the use of nylon strings. They bend easier than metal and will do less damage to your fingers. However, it your guitar calls for steel strings, that’s what you should be using. Nylon strings also have far less tension than steel, which, in the long run, is going to ruin your instrument in many ways – through warping, bride damage, and more. Needless to say, this tip goes the other way around, too: never use steel strings on a guitar that requires nylon.

#5 The Best Strings for Acoustic Blues Guitar Players Are Clean

This piece of advice actually applies to any and all types of guitars, be they electric or acoustic. If you want your strings to last for a long time and sound the way they’re supposed to, keep them clean. Play with clean hands, to avoid getting dirt caught up in the metal, dulling out the way they sound, and causing corrosion. Sweat will also promote corrosion heavily, so keep those fingers as dry as they are clean, too!

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