Many people have the idea that the personality and quality of a guitar’s sound are subject to the manufacturing process and the materials used. However, the type of strings that you use also plays an important role in sound production.
Many experienced guitarists are well aware of this fact, which is why they are constantly searching for the best strings to pair with their guitar. As such, for the purpose of this read, we will be focusing on finding the best strings for Les Paul guitars.
But first, let’s talk about the different kinds of guitar strings available on the market.
Types of Guitar Strings
Guitar strings available in the market can majorly be divided into two categories – light strings and heavy strings. Both have their own purposes, as well as their set of pros and cons.
The heaviness or lightness of the strings depends on the string gauge – the diameter of the strings – and is measured in 1/1000 times an inch. Generally, those with their higher E gauge over 0.011 are considered to be heavy strings. Anything below that is categorized as medium to light.
Heavy Guitar Strings:
Talking about heavier strings, these are generally the choice of a lot of professional guitarists owing to their quality and loudness. It is mostly used by bassists who need to hit those heavy low tunes.
That being said, heavier strings are less flexible and hence harder to manage. One has to apply a lot more pressure than that of a lighter string set.
- Harder to play.
- Require more finger pressure.
- Outputs more volume.
- Preferred for low tuning.
Light Guitar Strings:
The lighter gauge strings are more flexible and require lesser finger pressure.
But at the same time, you sacrifice in loudness when compared to heavier strings. Lighter strings also suffer from fret buzzing – the noise created by the strings rattling against the frets.
This is why it is mostly suited for beginners who are just learning to play the guitar.
However, it also sees professional use, and many lead guitarists prefer to use light to medium strings because they are more flexible and easy to manage for those complicated guitar solos.
Different Types Of Guitar Strings Based on Materials
Keeping the thickness of the strings aside, another classification can be made based on the string material.
The retro-style fully-nickeled strings are still popular and are known for its tonal quality and greater playability. They are also light on the pocket.
While on the other hand, the newer coated strings are also seeing a rise in sales number, most because of their greater longevity, means you need to change/switch your strings less often.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different types of guitar strings and their various advantages and disadvantages, let’s talk about the 10 best strings for Les Paul.
All the strings mentioned below will help produce phenomenal sound with your Les Paul guitar. However, which one you will pick solely depends on the type of tones and melodies you are going for.
We have kept this as objective as possible by focusing on the merits and demerits of each string so you can pick something that best suits your requirements.
So with that being said, let’s get started with the list:
Fender is one of the oldest and one of the most trusted brands when it comes to guitar manufacturers. Manufactured in the United States of America (USA), Fender have maintained their promise of uncompromised quality and industry-leading engineering.
Now, the company has evolved a lot since its beginning, bringing upgraded versions of its classic products to suit modern needs. And currently, there are also one of the foremost manufacturers of electric guitar chords as well.
The most famous of them has to be the Fender 150R Pure Nickel strings. As the name suggests, it is an uncoated nickel set of strings. It gives the feel of vintage tones and is apt for players of classic rock, jazz or blues.
The strings have a ball-end to help with re-stringing and the ends are color-coded, for more ease.
- One of the best strings for guitars who play Rock, Jazz, or Blues.
- Produces classical, round, and fuller tones.
- Ideal for players looking for that vintage sound from their guitars.
Another company that took the guitar-game one notch higher is Ernie Ball. The manufacturer was a byproduct of the 1960s guitar revolution and the increased demands of guitar and its accessories.
The company boomed and became one of the world’s leading manufacturers of guitar strings. The regular Slinkys were the first to be manufactured in the series.
Ball, being a musician himself, put in all his experiences into making the revolutionary nickel-wound steel set of strings for electric guitars. It became an instant hit among the guitarists for its flexibility and lighter feel. Yet it had the touch and sound output of authentic heavy strings.
The High E for the Regular Slinkys has a gauge of 0.010 and it comes in the signature lemon-yellow packaging.
- The core wire is made using tin plated high carbon steel hex wire.
- Extremely durable.
- Balanced tone and good consistency and intonation.
- Comes with lock twists to help eliminate the slippery factor.
The Ernie ball shop was very close to Hollywood – the hub for music producers. This helped him understand the requirements of modern era musicians and cater to their needs.
It wasn’t long before his company went on to provide strings all across the country and become the leaders in the string manufacturing business.
After the Regular Slinkys, the next in the series was the Ernie Ball Super Slinky, which was the game-changer for the company.
With a High E gauge of 0.009, the strings promised even more flexibility. And despite being lighter, the strings proved to be extremely durable, thanks to the nickel-steel combination.
It naturally became the first choice for most of the leading musicians and is still maintaining its popularity.
The Super Slinky comes in the signature pink packaging many of you might be familiar with.
- More durable but lighter than the regular Slinkys.
- Balanced tones – capable of superb high and slows.
- Comes in the recognizable pink packaging.
Ernie Ball’s revolutionary flexible strings have attracted big names over the years.
Be it Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page or a more modern Bruno Mars, or bands such as Iron Maiden, Metallica or Maroon 5 – across generations and genres, the Ernie Ball has earned its fans.
And to please their fanbase, the company is always trying to bring better and better products into the market. One of their latest inventions would be the Ernie Ball M-Steel Regular Slinky Set.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, M-Steel is a superalloy used in high-stress applications for aerospace and defence industries. So what happens when you use the material to create premium quality guitar strings?
Well, the result is access to superior tonality with highly expressive sound production. Also, needless to say, the strings are super durable and won’t break anytime soon.
- Made using super cobalt alloy wrapped around a maraging steel hex core wire.
- Superior magnetic attraction for better expressive sounds.
- Dynamic frequency response with increased output and added strength.
- Highly durable.
Renowned worldwide, Gibson started manufacturing string instruments such as guitars and banjos in the 1900s and have ever since been one of the most popular brands.
So naturally, we had to include strings from the original manufacturers of Les Paul.
Gibson entered the market with Brite Wires – a set of strings with High E of 0.010 and made of nickel-wound steel, the same formula that worked wonders for the Slinky. However, they added their own touch to it and earned a place among the most famous strings available.
Besides being long-lasting and flexible, the Gibson strings provide a better, crisper output. Made with Swedish steel, Gibson stands out for their distinct brighter sound.
- Has a Nickel plating which adds extra durability.
- Comes with a Swedish steel hex core.
- Specifically designed to produce crisp sounds.
D’Addario manufactured strings since the 1940s. That was the time when the nylon strings are going off the trend bringing lighter nickel strings to the foreground.
The NYXL1046 is one of D’Addario’s most popular products.
It was engineered with a high-carbon steel core and plain steel alloy. This allowed for a highly durable break-resistant set of strings which gave players a new level of freedom, power, and control.
Compared to some other brand of strings, the NYXL1046 provides 131% greater tuning stability.
- Comes with a high-carbon steel core coated with a plain steel alloy.
- Faster tuning thanks to the reinvested wire drawing process.
- Corrosion and break-resistant for better longevity.
The most prominent feature of D’Addario strings, besides durability, would be their extremely flexible strings. Their strings are known to be extremely easy to control, produce high-quality output and keep the strings from rusting.
Other famous D’Addario string would be their EXL110-10P range of strings.
It is one of D’Addario’s premium range of accessories. Made with best in the class material, the EXL110-10P promises of top output and longevity.
The core of these strings is made of six-sided steel with nickel-plated steel over it. The round wind provides sharper tones. High E of the strings is 0.010.
- A super-premium quality string designed with the high quality and sound production in mind.
- The strings are round wound with nickel-plated steel that produces a distinctive bright tone.
Moving to some relatively modern manufacturers, the first name that comes to mind is Elixir. Established in the late 1900s, Elixir shot to fame with their revolutionary inventions in electric guitar strings.
The company which started off by manufacturing electric guitar cables later brought some distinct features into electric guitar strings, which gave them a spot among the front-runners in the business.
At first, the came into the market with their series of POLYWEB coating guitar strings.
These are a fluorocarbon-based coating on top of nickel-plated steel wrap wires optimized for durability, and playing warm yet loud tones. Also, while playing, the strings feel extremely soft and slick which allows for smooth effortless playing experience.
- Engineered with nickel-plated steel wrap wire.
- Comes with the patented POLYWEB coating which gives a soft and slick feel while strumming the strings.
- Extremely durable trusted for longevity.
The 1990s was a time when lighter guitar strings were everywhere. Elixir followed suit and mostly manufactured lighter and medium strings with a focus on longevity. In the process, their patented NANOWEB coating came to the market.
Though Elixir started off with a POLLYWEB coating to their strings, they eventually brought in the NANOWEB feature.
It featured crisper, a clearer output coupled with a touch and feel like that of a pure nickel string. The strings come with a High E of 0.010.
Elixir took the game another step forward, by coating the strings from both outside and inside.
- Constructed with a nickel-plated steel wrap wire.
- Known for crisper and clearer sound output.
- Extremely durable.
- The coating is on both outside and inside of the string.
DR Strings entered the market at the same time Elixir did, and just like their competitors, introduced completely distinct features.
Their NMCE-10 Neon strings come with Neon K3 color coating, which helps it stand out among all the other strings available in the market. The wires not only come in six different colors but also glow in the dark. The coating gets activated under UV light as well.
It is also very flexible and strong. The company claims its breakability is 4 times less than its peers.
- Multi-color strings for added flare during playing.
- All 6 strings are of different colors.
- Colors glow in the dark and are activated by UV light.
- Comes with K3 coating which delivers better durability along with clarity of sound.
While there are plenty of options available in the market, some of which have been listed above, it is up to you to choose the strings you are the most comfortable playing.
Find out your favorite set by trying as many types of strings as you can, and get going on your journey with the guitar.