Free Video: Guitar String Gauge Guide - Make Sure You Pick The Right Strings For You
Wish you had a guitar string gauge guide that helped you choose the right strings for you and your specific playing style?
You've come to the right place!
Whether you want to play with lighter or heavier guitar string gauges...
...there are several reasons why you should pick one or the other.
The strings you choose will affect things like overall tone, how easy it is to use certain guitar techniques or how you go about approaching different speed-related challenges.
Get started learning about what strings to choose by watching this free guitar string gauge guide:
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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Now that you understand the pros and cons to choosing various guitar string gauges, review the points below to solidify your choice next time you go to put new strings on your guitar:
Choosing The Right Guitar String Gauge For: Sweep Picking
Sweep picking is much easier to pull off cleanly when you use thicker guitar string gauges for your strings.
Having thicker string gauges makes it easier to complete the release of a note.
This makes it much easier to mute strings using your fretting hand in order to prevent them from ringing together when you want them to sound separately.
Using a thinner guitar string gauge makes it easier to play sweep picking arpeggios fast but at the expense of making it harder to play them cleanly.
If you still want to play sweep picking arpeggios with a lighter guitar string gauge, try raising the action of the strings. This makes it much easier to mute the notes and release the strings properly so no extra noise occurs.
Choosing The Right Guitar String Gauge For: Guitar Sustain
Many of my guitar students ask me which strings to choose for the greatest level of sustain.
Here’s what I tell them:
It’s not about your strings.
It’s about your pick.
Use a heavy pick that slices right through the strings (versus a thin one that bends when you pick a note). Then pick with power and use vibrato in your fretting hand to sustain the note. This is all you need to sustain a note indefinitely until you decide to stop.
Choosing The Right Guitar String Gauge For: String Bending
The guitar string gauge you use greatly changes your approach to bending the strings.
Lighter strings: Easier to bend, more range, less energy required to bend
Heavier strings: Harder to bend, less range, more energy required to bend
Overall, if you like to bend the strings a lot, consider choosing lighter gauge guitar strings over heavy.
Choosing The Right Guitar String Gauge For: Legato Technique
Love the smooth sound of legato guitar technique?
It’s much easier to play this technique when you use lighter strings vs heavier ones. Using lighter strings helps you to easily create the initial note of a legato lick without needing to pick and without requiring a lot of energy.
Choosing The Right Guitar String Gauge For: Playing With Speed
Depending on what you want, either light or heavy guitar string gauges can be great for fast playing.
Heavier strings provide a nice tone for lower register/fretboard playing. They also make it easier to release a note after you play it – making cleaner play more easy.
Lighter strings require less overall force to get a note to sound and therefore make speed easier in this way. However, it is more difficult to control the release of a note with light strings. This can lead to sloppier playing.
Note: There can be many other reasons you may be playing sloppy too and choosing the right string gauge might not solve all your problems at once.
While playing fast guitar scales, make sure you are not slowing down at different points within the scale (such as during the times when you change position).
This is a matter of not having both hands in sync for every note you play in the scale.
To fix this issue, try isolating these problem notes by working on them separately from the other notes in the pattern that you’ve mastered. An excellent way to do this is to double pick each of these notes at a slower speed.
While changing fretboard positions during a scale, watch to make sure your fretting hand thumb is aligned with your middle finger (from behind the neck).
It’s also much easier to solve any specific problems in your guitar playing that you can’t seem to fix when you do one big thing:
Take lessons with a great guitar teacher and track your progress consistently.
A great guitar teacher gives you all the information, advice, coaching and training you need to fulfill your potential on guitar as fast as possible. This means no more struggling to make minimal progress and a massive increase in the motivation you feel to keep getting better (because you get consistent results).
I know this works because I've seen it in my own playing and designed special lesson plans and tools to help other guitarists get better while tracking their results along the way.
Here are just a few testimonials from some of my students who got big results by taking guitar lessons:
“I found Tom Hess on the net through articles, and I read quite a few of those before I went to Tom’s website. Even though I’m not a metal player at all, and Tom is obviously a metal player, I could still see that his ideas and way of teaching could really benefit me. So I pretty much signed up for online guitar lessons with Tom straight away once I’d gone through the website, and it’s just been a real eye opener with the way he teaches…”
... the integration of concepts that he’ll give you and having a really structured strategy… not just week to week lessons, but things that - you can see from one lesson to the next - really develop and continue to work on your technique and your theory and aural skills and those types of things. So I’d played a long time… 20 years before I really caught onto Tom, and I’d had a lot of lessons, and I’d taught and played but I can really see improvements in my technique, sweeping, and picking which weren’t strong parts of my playing.
I feel like Tom has a good gauge of where you’re at as a guitar player and what you need, and there just seemed to be so much more stuff in the lessons week to week than what you’d ever get in an hour or so in a one on one lesson… way more. So yeah I think that and the forum. I think, I’d pay the money just for the forum. That alone would be fine… I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. So that alone is massive!
The price for the lessons, that’s nothing... nothing. You know, I think it’s, pretty cheap to be honest. I don’t mean that in a bad way, cheap. Cheap is not a good word, but I just think it’s great value… awesome value. I mean, you know, you could pay that for one-to-one lessons and you just don’t get the same results and support of the forum and the content and the strategies.
Other teachers I’ve had have been good players, and some have become good friends too. But when I’ve started lessons with Tom I’ve got something to compare that to and a lot of it is just sort of teaching songs from week to week… a lot of the lesson will be left up to you… you’ll go to your lesson and they’ll be like what do you want to do today? At the time I said, oh do this song or that song, but with Tom you start to realize that you know, there’s more to it… the goals and you know he’s sort of more in contact with what you want to be able to do as a player, because he’s asking you the questions and then setting up the strategies, so I find that really good.
Yeah I can see more results in 18 months in a lot of areas in my playing than you know 20 years. So it’s sort of, you know, would’ve been great 20 years ago to have met Tom.
Simon Candy, Melbourne, Australia
"When I came to Tom for online guitar lessons, I already had a decent overall level of technique and understood the basics of music theory pretty well. I had taken lessons with other teachers before, and went through several guitar method books that promised to teach me how to become a great lead guitar player. I learned all the materials in these books and courses and picked up some useful tips and knowledge along the way. Yet for some reason I still wasn't feeling like a musician. I struggled very much with writing my own songs, creating my own solos and pushing my guitar technique and speed to a higher level (especially sweep picking, alternate picking, and playing clean at high speeds).
When I started learning from Tom, the main thing that made him different from other teachers was that he was showing me how to excel in all aspects of my guitar playing by applying the skills that I already knew together with the new material that I was learning from him.
He made me aware of both strengths and weaknesses in my playing that I did not even know I had. From there he gave me the knowledge, tools and guidance to literally transform my guitar playing by enabling me to overcome things that were preventing me from becoming a truly creative and self-expressive guitar player. These were the kinds of things that none of my previous guitar teachers and books I studied were able to do for me.
After Tom made me aware of all the things I was missing in my guitar playing and provided me with the strategy and tools for solving them, I began to make very fast progress in all areas of my guitar playing.
I can now write my own music and can create lead guitar solos that I am happy and fulfilled with. I also have the technical skills to confidently and easily play anything that I want to express. I have overcome all of the lead guitar challenges that I struggled with before, and increased my guitar speed to virtuoso levels. More importantly, I have the knowledge and understanding of how to continually improve my guitar playing and musical skills to higher and higher levels to continue expressing myself with my music. Overall, I have definitely transformed in a huge way as a musician and as a person through my lessons with Tom Hess. I am grateful to him for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!"
Mike Philippov, Indiana, USA
“When I first heard about Tom Hess, I saw that he was a teacher that was very dedicated and serious about it, and that drew me in immediately. That this is a guy that has a plan, has a goal and really if you’re serious about learning guitar, this guy is equally as serious in a way. So it resonated with me straight away.”
I started out just learning by myself and as many others I got stuck. I had a few issues I wanted to get by, but when I met Tom and talked with him and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what guitar playing can be.
I feel very grateful that I found lessons from Tom since I then did what worked from the very beginning. Many guitarists I see that played way longer than I did, they have build up many bad habits. That from the very start, there was clear instruction of how to practice correctly. You build the ability for high speed and whatever you want from the very beginning and you don’t waste time doing inefficient things. So I’m very grateful that I did that, and now I really feel I am able to reach whatever level I want.
The reasons why I think I feel so motivated all the time is because I know that the thing I’m working on is relevant for me and it’s exactly the direct thing I need to get.
The forum just kicks ass. The people in the forum - it’s just like unconditional help all the time. They love to help out, and you also get very inspired by seeing someone just really getting speed really quick and then you say if he can do it, I can do it. It works on the mental side of being a guitarist and that of course that’s the most important thing. Just being around other musicians like that, is just you learn so much faster, is so much less frustration when you can see that all the people are having the same issues that you do, not anything special or anything. It’s just part of learning process, so it kicks ass.
Magnus Gautestad, Norway
Playing killer guitar solos requires both technical ability and the ability to create musical phrases with tons of musical expression. Learn how to do this with online guitar lessons - click the 'Start Now' button below to begin: