When it comes to modern music, there is no more iconic image than that of the guitar player. From the beach bum busker, singing for tips on the boardwalk, to the power-house axe man shredding a soul-searing solo to a packed arena, the guitar and its wrangler is perhaps the most important part of modern western music.
The guitar is well loved for a lot of reasons – not least because it can sound amazing in the right hands. However, unlike some instruments that can sound like a cat being given a root canal in the wrong hands (yes violins, we are looking at you), even with a few simple chords, guitar strings can sound really great even in the hands of a total beginner. Ludwig van Beethoven turned a great phrase when he said, ‘the guitar is a miniature orchestra in itself’, and what he meant was that the guitar is able to harmonise with itself, play chords and produce a melody in a way that few other instruments can. Combined with a resonant body, the guitar strings are able to produce a wide range of notes and chords with volume and control under the hands of a skilled guitar player. Let’s take a closer look at guitar strings, what guitar strings do and why they are so important.
The Importance of Guitar Strings
Whether you pick up a bass guitar, classical guitar or electric guitar, one of the first things you will notice is that they all have different strings. They all work in pretty much the same way, but the different guitar strings make a big difference to the style being played, the note and volume produced by the guitar and the feel for the player. Electric guitars almost always have metal wrapped guitar strings, meaning they have an exterior coating of very tightly wound metal wire, usually made from steel, nickel or tin.
Classical or acoustic guitars often have nylon guitar strings which offer a warmer tone and are easier on the fingers when playing without a plectrum. Finger picking guitar strings of any sort will leave you with well-earned callouses, but nylon guitar strings are definitely better for softer, more melodic playing and finger picking.
Bass guitars tend to have much thicker guitar strings than higher toned guitars, and this helps give the lower register notes. Bass guitars often have much more specific techniques, including slap, fingering and picking, and changing bass guitar strings will affect the sound and tone for the style that you are looking for.
Getting Help with Guitar Strings
There are lots of guitar strings to choose from, and a whole lot of information about each one. Whether you are confused by the huge range of gauges available, are not sure what will sound best on your instrument, or if you are looking for a particular feel or sound from your guitar strings, there is plenty of help out there. The team of dedicated music geeks at Curvy Sounds in Newcastle can help with any guitar string related questions you might have!