Before the speakers and pedals, before the amp and even before the pickups, there are the strings, impacting everything that comes after them in line. Fortunately, there are lots of options to choose from, so you can pick out a set of strings that will produce exactly the sound you're looking to get out of your instrument. It's possible to change the strings one at a time, but one part of routine guitar maintenance is replacing the full set from time to time, so they're mostly sold in complete packs. If you're doing a regular re-stringing or upgrading from stock strings, that's a great way to get a full matching set. For a touring musician or prolific player, you might even consider stocking up with a bulk box to make sure you're ready with a long-term supply of on-the-road replacements as you need them.
One of the most important things to look at when choosing strings is the material, just like with an acoustic guitar. The difference is that an electric guitar's strings need to be made of magnetic alloys for the pickups to "hear" them, so bronze and brass are out. Instead, your primary options are stainless steel, nickel or nickel-plated strings. Nickel alloys have their roots in the early electric guitars of the 1950s, which makes them the preferred choice for authentic vintage sounds. Steel, on the other hand, has a stronger, punchier sound. Steel strings also stand up well to corrosion, which makes them good options if you live in a humid climate. For a hybrid of the two, check out nickel-plated strings, which combine the clarity and strength of steel with a softer nickel surface that's a bit easier on your frets, picks and fingertips. Read More >