A Guide To The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners 

Choosing great strings for your acoustic guitar is essential for a beginner guitarist. The right strings can significantly affect playability, tone, and overall enjoyment of your playing experience. 

With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start, so in this comprehensive guide, we will explore acoustic guitar strings for beginners and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision on what’s best for you.

Finding the Right String Gauge

String gauge refers to the thickness of the strings. It plays a crucial role in both playability and tone. Different gauges offer different benefits, and understanding their impact will help you choose the right strings for your current ability and playing style.

Extra Light & Super Light Gauge Strings

The extra light gauge is the thinnest string set available for acoustic guitars. They are remarkably easy to play, requiring less effort for fretting and bending. 

Typically, sets in this category will be 9-45, 10-47, or 10-50.

However, they may result in a thinner, less full sound compared to heavier gauges, including the light gauge ones.

Light Gauge Strings

Light gauge strings for acoustic guitars are an excellent choice for beginner guitar players, as they increase playability and make it easier to develop the proper technique. 

Light string gauge sets can vary, but they’re most commonly found as 11-52, 12-53, or 12-54. 

If you want to prioritize ease of play while still getting a decent tone, this string gauge is a good starting point.

Medium Gauge Strings

Medium gauge strings are also viable for new players because they offer a balance between playability and tone. They are slightly harder to play than light gauge strings but provide a fuller and bigger sound. 

When it comes to medium gauge string sets for acoustic guitars, 13-56 is by far the most common.

Many players, both beginners, and professionals, prefer medium gauge strings for their versatility. You can count on these for many years, though you’ll have to take a little bit longer to get used to them.

Understanding Acoustic Guitar String Materials

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing guitar strings is the material they are made of. 

The two most common materials for acoustic guitar strings are Phosphor Bronze and 80/20 Bronze. Understanding the characteristics of each material will help you make an informed decision based on your desired tone and playing style.

Phosphor Bronze Strings

Phosphor Bronze strings are easily the most popular choice for acoustic guitarists and are highly recommended for beginners. Strings made with phosphor bronze are known for their warm, dark, and full tone, produce a softer pick attack, and have a slightly muted high end compared to 80/20 bronze strings. 

Phosphor bronze strings are preferred by players with brighter-sounding guitars, as they provide a more balanced tone when paired with these instruments. 

Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 3-pack, 11-52 Gauge (P03448)
  • Includes 3 individually wrapped sets
  • Warm, rich tone with excellent projection and clarity
  • Phosphor bronze wound on a hex-shaped, high-carbon steel core wire
  • Element Shield Packaging prolongs string life and keeps strings as fresh as the day they were made
  • Made in California, USA with the freshest and finest materials

80/20 Bronze Strings

80/20 Bronze strings are the second most popular choice, as these strings are known for their crisp, bright, and resonant sound. 

They offer clear highs and bassy lows, with fewer mids. Vintage guitar players often favor 80/20 bronze strings, as they were commonly used on classic recordings from the 60s and 70s.

Sale
D’Addario Guitar Strings – Acoustic Guitar Strings – 80/20 Bronze – For 6 String Guitar – Deep, Bright, Projecting Tone – EJ11-3D – Light, 12-53 – 3-Pack.
  • PRECISION WOUND – D’Addario 80/20 Bronze acoustic guitar strings are precision wound over a hexagonal high carbon steel core.
  • BOLD, BRIGHT SOUND – The 80/20 Bronze wrap wire provides bold, bright acoustic sound, with crisp projection that fills the room.
  • THE ORIGINAL ACOUSTIC STRING – 80/20 Bronze was originally created by John D’Addario Sr. and renowned guitar maker John D’Angelico in the 1930s.

Coated vs. Uncoated Strings

Coated strings are another consideration when choosing guitar strings. Typically made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), coatings protect the strings from sweat, oils, and corrosion, prolonging their lifespan. Coated strings offer some advantages, but they also have some drawbacks to consider.

Advantages of Coated Strings

Coated strings last longer than uncoated strings, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run. They also produce less string noise, allowing for a cleaner sound. 

Disadvantages of Coated Strings

One of the main disadvantages of coated strings is their impact on tone. The coating inhibits the strings’ ability to vibrate and resonate fully, resulting in a quieter guitar with less sustain. Some players also find that coated strings have a slightly different feel than uncoated strings. 

Additional Considerations

In addition to the material, gauge, and coating, there are a few more factors to consider when choosing guitar strings:

String Lifespan

The lifespan of a string refers to how long it maintains its tone and playability. Strings that lose their freshness not only corrode visibly but also lose their tonal vitality. Coated strings generally have a longer lifespan compared to uncoated strings.

Consider how frequently you want to change strings and choose accordingly, but you should still replace your strings regularly! Keep in mind that you can also prolong the life of your strings by wiping them with a microfiber cloth after each playing session or using a string cleaner.

Sale
Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes String Cleaner, 20-pack (P04249)
  • 20 individually wrapped wipes
  • Maximizes life and tone
  • Lubricating formula
  • Eliminates acid, dirt, and grime

Playing Style

Your playing style also influences your string choice. If you primarily strum chords, you may prefer phosphor bronze strings that emphasize the midrange and provide a well-rounded sound. If you focus on fingerpicking or lead playing, you’ll probably like strings with more clarity and brightness, so 80/20s may be best for you.

Price

Price is always a consideration when purchasing guitar strings. Different brands and materials come at different price points.

You can also buy packs individually, but you’ll find that you’ll save money overall if you buy strings in bulk.

Consider your budget and find a set of strings that offer the best balance between quality and affordability.

Recommendations For The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings

Now that you know some factors that go into guitar strings, let’s look at some of my top picks. While these will focus primarily on light gauge sets, it’s also worth noting that you can find these in different gauges, too. 

So, if you want to go lighter or a little heavier, feel free to do so, depending on your comfort level! Also, many of these brands offer both phosphor bronze and 80/20s, so while these are just some popular suggestions for beginners, be aware you have other options available that you can look into.

Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 3-pack, 11-52 Gauge (P03448)
D’Addario Guitar Strings – Acoustic Guitar Strings – 80/20 Bronze – For 6 String Guitar – Deep, Bright, Projecting Tone – EJ11-3D – Light, 12-53 – 3-Pack.
GHS Strings S325-5 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 6 Pack (.012-.054)
Martin MA140 Authentic Acoustic SP 80/20 Bronze Light 12-54 (3-Pack Bundle)
Elixir Strings, Acoustic Guitar Strings, Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB Coating, Longest-Lasting Rich and Full Tone with Comfortable Feel, 6 String Set, Light 12-53
Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 3-pack, 11-52 Gauge (P03448)
D'Addario Guitar Strings - Acoustic Guitar Strings - 80/20 Bronze - For 6 String Guitar - Deep, Bright, Projecting Tone - EJ11-3D - Light, 12-53 - 3-Pack.
GHS Strings S325-5 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 6 Pack (.012-.054)
Martin MA140 Authentic Acoustic SP 80/20 Bronze Light 12-54 (3-Pack Bundle)
Elixir Strings, Acoustic Guitar Strings, Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB Coating, Longest-Lasting Rich and Full Tone with Comfortable Feel, 6 String Set, Light 12-53
$19.24
$14.79
$40.72
$18.99
$19.97
Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 3-pack, 11-52 Gauge (P03448)
Ernie Ball Earthwood Light Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 3-pack, 11-52 Gauge (P03448)
$19.24
D’Addario Guitar Strings – Acoustic Guitar Strings – 80/20 Bronze – For 6 String Guitar – Deep, Bright, Projecting Tone – EJ11-3D – Light, 12-53 – 3-Pack.
D'Addario Guitar Strings - Acoustic Guitar Strings - 80/20 Bronze - For 6 String Guitar - Deep, Bright, Projecting Tone - EJ11-3D - Light, 12-53 - 3-Pack.
$14.79
GHS Strings S325-5 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 6 Pack (.012-.054)
GHS Strings S325-5 Phosphor Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings, Light, 6 Pack (.012-.054)
$40.72
Martin MA140 Authentic Acoustic SP 80/20 Bronze Light 12-54 (3-Pack Bundle)
Martin MA140 Authentic Acoustic SP 80/20 Bronze Light 12-54 (3-Pack Bundle)
$18.99
Elixir Strings, Acoustic Guitar Strings, Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB Coating, Longest-Lasting Rich and Full Tone with Comfortable Feel, 6 String Set, Light 12-53
Elixir Strings, Acoustic Guitar Strings, Phosphor Bronze with NANOWEB Coating, Longest-Lasting Rich and Full Tone with Comfortable Feel, 6 String Set, Light 12-53
$19.97

Conclusion

Choosing the best guitar strings for beginners is a personal decision that depends on your guitar, playing style, and tonal preferences. 

To summarize, phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze strings are the most popular choices for acoustic guitars, offering warm and bright tones, respectively. 

Lighter gauge strings are ideal for beginners due to their ease of play, while medium gauge strings strike a balance between playability and tone. 

Coated strings provide longevity and reduced string noise but may affect your guitar’s overall tone and feel. Depending on the individual, this can be a positive thing, though.

Consider all these factors when selecting your guitar strings, including your budget, and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the perfect set that enhances your playing experience. I certainly hope that my suggestions will lead you to them!

Guitar strings are essential for all guitarists, and you’ll always want to have some extras on hand; however, there are other accessories all beginner acoustic players should own. If you’re starting, check out my guide to essential acoustic guitar accessories and find many useful items to benefit your overall experience!