Getting a good rock tone is a vital step for anyone’s path on the electric guitar, that’s why I put together this list of the best guitar strings for rock. There might be some who have never turned on the overdrive and smashed out power chords while rocking out in the bedroom but I bet there aren’t many. As with playing any style it’s important to get the right strings the best guitar strings for rock must have a thin gauge and be uncoated.
The best guitar strings for rock are a nice low gauge for easy bends and smooth vibrato. If you’re worried that thinner strings compromise tone you should know that ZZ-top sometimes used 8-38s and no one would dare call their tone soft! Now, if you play in Drop D then you will want to have a heavier bottom string, and if you’re wanting to tune down even further then check out the best guitar strings for metal!
Coated guitar strings became popular in the mid to late 90s so to get a true rock sound you want to stick with uncoated strings. Coated strings are designed to not compromise the tone in any way but I think there will always be a sound difference no matter how slight.So when choosing the best guitar strings for rock go with uncoated and accept that you will need to change them more often. Now rock music covers quite a large range of sounds so read on to find out which strings are best for you!
I’ve raved about Curt Mangan Strings before and I’ll do it again! Curt Mangan produces absolutely exceptional guitar strings and their pure nickel strings will bring you that classic rock and roll sound. Pure nickel strings were most popular during the 50s and 60s so you can more or less assume most guitarists of that era were using them. Pure nickel strings produce a really warm clean tone and these hex wound pure nickel strings are the best you can get. These strings are perfect for playing clean or with a little overdrive, a lot of distortion would be better suited elsewhere.
Since their introduction in 1962, Ernie Ball’s Super Slinky guitar strings have been a staple throughout rock history, played by icons such as Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Angus Young; so if they’re good enough for them they’re good enough for you! These nickel wound strings are one of the most versatile strings you can get, so regardless of what sound you want to play these strings will be up to the task! Ernie Ball Super Slinky’s are comfortable to play, produce a well-balanced tone, once they’re broken in of course, and they are really comfortable thanks to their thin gauge. The flip side is that there is nothing original about these mass produced guitar strings, like I said, nearly everyone has played using them. Despite this, they are tried, tested, and fantastic strings.
Rotosound are a British strings company who’s history of rock from the early 60s onwards. Used by heavyweights like Pink Floyd and the Who Rotosound strings definitely deserve a place on the best guitar strings for rock list. Rotosound have been supplying rock sounds for decades and their Orange 9-46 nickel wound strings are perfect for anyone looking for a bit more meat on the low E. The 46 gauge on the bottom gives you a sturdier feel for those looking to feel the strings beneath their fingers. Perfect for smashing out power chords with a heavy handed playing style while providing you enough slack up top for easy soloing and comfortable bends.
If you want the absolute softest playing experience then you want these D’Addario XL Extra Super Light guitar strings. 8-38s are the absolute thinnest gauge you can get. These Extra super Light strings come from a time when some of the biggest rock stars would use an 8 gauge banjo string for a super thin experience. This allowed for effortless playing which may have been preferential for some of the aging rock stars! Super thin and easy playing without the compromise in tone these strings are well worth trying out! Absolutely perfect for those looking for a classic sound and those battling with arthritis!
Finally, I thought I’d share with you the best acoustic guitar strings for rock. To get the acoustic rock sound you want to use Ernie Ball Earthwood Rock and Blues phosphor bronze strings. These are nice and comfortable on the fingers and provide great warm tone. You can play easy barre chords and strumming provides great tone and they were the favoured choice of Jimmy Page! The ideal guitar strings for rocking out on an acoustic guitar.
There you have it, the best guitar strings for rock. My overall favourites are the Ernie Ball Super Slinky’s, they have been tried, tested and come out on top for the last 50 years, there’s no arguing with that! Got another suggestion? Let me know in the comments below!